Gallery: On the Nature of Journeys

~A Guest Post by The Oinops Study Group~

And such is the nature of journeys that when one ends another begins.

Before the Oinops Study Group moves on to another adventure, we would like to share with you this gallery of our journey together, and this last posting of our shared thoughts.

ἐν δ᾽ ὑμῖν ἐρέω πάντεσσι φίλοισι.
I will tell it in your company – since you are all near and dear [philoi]. (Iliad IX 528)


In this study of one word–just one word–we encountered all that that makes us human–our desires, environments, religion, grief, myths, sense of justice, and the eternal search for light and self-definition.  All this pulled into a force of creativity tightly woven as a beautiful tapestry–shining and glowing, shape shifting with colors mutating upon changing light, but always intertwined.  A pull on one thread results in a tug on many more. The word study created a connection to the Homeric heroes and a deeper understanding of their journey.

Additionally the experience created a tighter intellectual and emotional bond between the five members of our team embodying content, community, and conversation—the heart of Hour 25.

There are many more word journeys to embark upon, and we hope that the Hour 25 Community will come together to create more word studies.  For us the study of oinops has triggered even more questions:  the use of–ops–in proper names, the study of color or hue words such as grey/dark, other modifiers of pontos and bous, etc. All questions begging a new study journey! We thought it might be a good idea to share with you all our process and personal thoughts. So, here we are in our own words:

It was Jenna who first brought this descriptor, “wine-dark sea,” to my attention via a post on the HeroesXv1 discussion board; and many a conversation about its meaning resulted!  We never did come to a conclusion and, sure enough, this word came up again during HeroesXv2.  More discussion, more theories, but the meaning was still elusive.  I did some searching on the internet to see if there was anything more, but did not come up with much. However, I saw that “wine-dark” was used in poetry, music, and book titles, so it is a term that resonates.  I could only conclude that a phrase/descriptor this specific would have a specific meaning, or a specific set of connotations attached to it, but I had no idea what it could be. The mystery nagged at me to the point where I started writing blog posts about it on the Hour 25 website. That’s when I had the notion to start a word study. I just had to know.

What I loved about the word study was that it opened up so many beautiful thoughts and experiences about the poetry. I especially loved the time spent with the team reading, puzzling, discovering. The experience pushed me, expanded my skills as a close reader and as a writer. At the end of it all, I felt a great sense of accomplishment and a deeper connection to the poetry, to my word study friends, and to the CHS Hr 25 community.

For anyone interested in word studies, I heartily recommend working together in a team of 4-6 people. Having a common repository of research/translations/passages is critical. (We created a shared folder on Google Drive.)  Given the global span of our community, one must have a place where we all can share our work at any time of the day. Close reading out loud together in hangouts promoted comprehension, discovery, and made for efficient methodology and progress. There are many, more details we can share–and we are happy to do so.

I was really interested when Jacqui suggested we do a word study together, and I thought this word oinops was so intriguing because it clearly meant more than just some vague color. What I didn’t know until we got underway was just how much fun it was going to be. The excitement of sharing our discoveries and comparing notes each week meant that we discovered more than we could have done individually. We experimented with the online tools that are available and this enabled us quickly to find and compare passages in different ways.  I found the process of this word study group helped me to refine and develop my ability to slow read, and to come closer to understanding how words ripple out and weave through the narratives with a wide range of associations. I’m now curious about other epithets used for pontos and bous, and indeed epithets in general, but the main thing for me is that almost any word can be interesting and rewarding to study—especially in the company of fellow-enthusiasts!

I was surprised how many times different translations ignored the word. They did not know what to do with it. During the hangouts we had, we enjoyed looking into the notion of time and geography; the selection of different “sea” words; the idea of seeing a color, hues and the role of light; and the idea of danger and coming out of it. The amount of work my friends did (special nod to Jacqui)  impressed me. As current readers, we are still finding something new to explore in Homeric poetry. Hour 25 provides the place to explore along side of my friends. Waiting for the next word study session! Please join us, it is so much fun!

When Jacqui suggested that we all work together to study the word oinops, I jumped at the chance.  That one word had interested me since the first time I participated in HeroesX, in the spring of 2013.  Even though as Sarah mentions above, I knew it must have meaning beyond color, oinops is a very visual word to me and I would daydream about what a world with a “wine-dark sea” looked like.  Prior to our studies, I had very little background in the ancient Greek language.  I had learned the letters of the alphabet, and had taken time to try to locate our Hourly key words in the ancient Greek versions of the focus passages found in the footnotes of The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours. This word study allowed me to learn more about Homeric Greek while figuring out the multi-faceted meanings of oinops. And it encouraged me to take related side journeys, for example looking at images of a thousand year old manuscript to see the word and search for more clues about its meaning. Perhaps best of all, though, are the friendships that developed while working together on this project.  It was always fun to see the emotions on my friends’ faces while reading passages, learning new tools, and making connections with the texts and with each other.

Researching Homeric diction has been one of my passions for many years now and the beauty of the poetic system never fails to leave me dazzled, but in the past this has generally been a solitary activity. Working on this collaborative project has been one of the highlights of my time on the HeroesX and Hour 25 projects. We each learned so much from the other members of the team. I’m grateful that these amazing and busy women shared their time, creativity, knowledge, and reading skills! Our dialogues changed my understanding of ancient Greek myth and poetics in important ways. Above all, I cherish the friendships that we strengthened over the course of our work. Now, I hope others will join us in new Word Study Groups as we seek to foster connections in our community while rebuilding the rich network of meaning conveyed by these beautiful and ancient formulas.

Word Study Toolbox

These are some of the resources that we used in our word study.

Chicago Homer
Perseus Under Philologic
Hour 25 Learning Modules
Google+ Hangouts  [UPDATE: We now use Zoom for video discussions]
An Exploration of Homeric Multi-text blog

Oinops Archive

To recap, here is a complete listing of all previous oinops word study blog posts and forum threads.

Blog Posts
1. Return to the Wine-dark Sea  Creating a study group on the Greek word ‘oinops’, which is sometimes translated as ‘wine-dark’.
2. Searching for Oinops   First steps in using Perseus for word study, with screenshots documenting our process.
3. Connecting with Oinops   Identifying themes in the relevant passages, and an exploration of the significance of time of day with ‘oinops’.
4. Seeing Oinops through a Different Lens   The relationships between light, seeing, and ‘oinops’.
5. οἴνοπα πόντον: Oinops and the Wide Open Sea   Other words for ‘sea’ in Greek, and an investigation of the grammatical context of ‘oinops’ using Chicago Homer and PhiloLogic on Perseus.
6. Oinops and Oxen  ‘Oinops’ as a descriptor of oxen, and relationships between seafaring, agricultural activities, and heroes in Greek epic.
7. Hesiodic Advice on Oinops   A synthesis of the many themes related to ‘oinops’ as found in Works and Days, with focus on the importance of the ‘right time’.
8. Oinops, Sacrifice and Ritual   The connections of ‘oinops’ with the theme of sacrifice and ritual.
9. Oinops and Myth   The mythology throws light on how the pieces fit together.
10. Journey’s End   Turning points and a summary of our thoughts on the meaning of ‘oinops’ in early Greek epic.

Forum Threads
1. Return to the Wine-dark Sea, Part I
2. Return to the Wine-dark Sea, Part II
3. Return to the Wine-dark Sea, Part III
4. Return to the Wine-dark Sea, Part IV

The Oinops Word Study Group—Who We Are

Jacqui Donlon is a freelance Design Director for K-12 educational publishing, a participant in Hour 25, and a Community TA for HeroesX. Jacqui is grateful to the HeroesX and CHS community for providing the portal into this beautiful new world of ancient poetry.

Jenna Cole is a participant on Hour 25 and was a Community TA in HeroesX v2.  She currently lives in the Bluegrass State with her husband and two young children, and teaches geology and anthropology at a local university.

Claudia Filos is the Manager for Curriculum and Community Development at Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, an active member of the HeroesX Team since its inception, and a grateful member of Hour 25. Through the study and creation of open access resources, she seeks to build community and to support life-long learners and citizen scholars who want to engage with ancient Greek poetry, in translation or in the original, outside the traditional university setting.

Sarah Scott is a technical author who lives in Scotland. She has taken part in all three iterations of HeroesX, being one of the Community TAs in v2 and v3, and has a lifelong love of language, literature, and learning.

Janet Ozsolak is a part-time teacher who lives in New York. She is enjoying the life changing experience with the HeroesX project since 2013 and looking forward to new endeavors with her dear friends at Hour 25.

Telos has been reached.

The baton has passed

onto you.

Sail away!

Photo Credits/Word Study Passages

On the Nature of Journeys Photo Credits (PDF)
Oinops Word Study Passages (PDF)