Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.239–251: Harpies, suitors and all the Achaeans

We are pleased to share this segment in the series on reading Homeric epic in ancient Greek. In each installment we read, translate, and discuss a small passage in the original Greek in the most accessible way. If you’ve ever dreamed of reading Homer in the original, here is your chance to do so with teachers who have spent a lifetime thinking about this poetry. With their guidance even new readers can enjoy “the poetry of grammar and the grammar of poetry” that make Homeric epic so exquisite and rewarding.

In this segment Douglas Frame, Leonard Muellner, and Gregory Nagy discuss Odyssey 1.239–251. Topics include the Pan-Achaeans, as a parallel to Panhellenes; the contra-factual tomb of Odysseus at Troy and an implicit comparison to the tomb of Achilles; the verb ‘to smash’ and the troubles of Telemachus.

Odyssey 1.239–251:

τῷ κέν οἱ τύμβον μὲν ἐποίησαν Παναχαιοί,
ἠδέ κε καὶ ᾧ παιδὶ μέγα κλέος ἤρατ᾽ ὀπίσσω.                   240
νῦν δέ μιν ἀκλειῶς ἅρπυιαι ἀνηρείψαντο:
οἴχετ᾽ ἄιστος ἄπυστος, ἐμοὶ δ᾽ ὀδύνας τε γόους τε
κάλλιπεν. οὐδέ τι κεῖνον ὀδυρόμενος στεναχίζω
οἶον, ἐπεί νύ μοι ἄλλα θεοὶ κακὰ κήδε᾽ ἔτευξαν.
ὅσσοι γὰρ νήσοισιν ἐπικρατέουσιν ἄριστοι,                       245
Δουλιχίῳ τε Σάμῃ τε καὶ ὑλήεντι Ζακύνθῳ,
ἠδ᾽ ὅσσοι κραναὴν Ἰθάκην κάτα κοιρανέουσιν,
τόσσοι μητέρ᾽ ἐμὴν μνῶνται, τρύχουσι δὲ οἶκον.
ἡ δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἀρνεῖται στυγερὸν γάμον οὔτε τελευτὴν
ποιῆσαι δύναται: τοὶ δὲ φθινύθουσιν ἔδοντες                   250
οἶκον ἐμόν: τάχα δή με διαρραίσουσι καὶ αὐτόν.

Greek text from: Homer. The Odyssey with an English Translation by A.T. Murray, Ph.D. in two volumes. 1919 Cambridge, MA., Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann, Ltd. Available online:
Odyssey 1.230–279, on Perseus
Odyssey 1.239–251, on Scaife

‘Reading Homer’ series