Homeric Greek | Odyssey 1.255–266: Wish or condition?

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 read, translate, and discuss Odyssey 1.255–266, with a focus on the grammar, a discussion of the paratactic nature of the passage, and of a rhetorical control of the oral poet.

Odyssey 1.255–266[1]

εἰ γὰρ νῦν ἐλθὼν δόμου ἐν πρώτῃσι θύρῃσι         255
σταίη, ἔχων πήληκα καὶ ἀσπίδα καὶ δύο δοῦρε,
τοῖος ἐὼν οἷόν μιν ἐγὼ τὰ πρῶτ᾽ ἐνόησα
οἴκῳ ἐν ἡμετέρῳ πίνοντά τε τερπόμενόν τε,
ἐξ Ἐφύρης ἀνιόντα παρ᾽ Ἴλου Μερμερίδαο—
ᾤχετο γὰρ καὶ κεῖσε θοῆς ἐπὶ νηὸς Ὀδυσσεὺς        260
φάρμακον ἀνδροφόνον διζήμενος, ὄφρα οἱ εἴη
ἰοὺς χρίεσθαι χαλκήρεας: ἀλλ᾽ ὁ μὲν οὔ οἱ
δῶκεν, ἐπεί ῥα θεοὺς νεμεσίζετο αἰὲν ἐόντας,
ἀλλὰ πατήρ οἱ δῶκεν ἐμός: φιλέεσκε γὰρ αἰνῶς—
τοῖος ἐὼν μνηστῆρσιν ὁμιλήσειεν Ὀδυσσεύς:        265
πάντες κ᾽ ὠκύμοροί τε γενοίατο πικρόγαμοί τε.

[1] 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.
Odyssey 1.230–279 on Perseus
Odyssey 1.255–266 on the Scaife Viewer

Note: some editions have different punctuation (all of which is editorial), for example no colon at line 265.

‘Reading Homer’ series