Commentary on the Odyssey (1886)

Commentary on the Odyssey (1886)
By W. Walter Merry
Oxford Clarendon Press 1886-1901

Perseus Documents Collection Table of Contents

Book 1 (α)

Book 2 (β)

Book 3 (γ)

Book 4 (δ)

Book 5 (ε)

Book 6 (ζ)

Book 7 (η)

Book 8 (θ)

Book 9 (ι)

Book 10 (κ)

Book 11 (λ)

Book 12 (μ)

Book 13 (ν)

Book 14 (ξ)

Book 15 (ο)

Book 16 (π)

Book 17 (ρ)

Book 18 (ς)

Book 19 (τ)

Book 20 (υ)

Book 21 (φ)

Book 22 (χ)

Book 23 (ψ)

Book 24 (ω)

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Book 24

Book 24 (ω)

Commentary on line 1

1-204. This passage, which contains the Second Νέκυια of the Odyssey, was rejected by Aristarchus. His objections, together with the replies to them which satisfied later grammarians, are preserved by the scholiasts, in a summary of remarkable brevity (see Sch. M.V.). The replies are often successful in showing that particular arguments are inconclusive: but the cumulative effect of the reasoning can hardly be resisted. Moreover, it is reinforced by other considerations. The most obvious is that in an epic poem such as the Odyssey the introduction of a second descent into Hades must be, poetically speaking, a failure. The scholiasts argue that the eleventh book describes a piece of soothsaying by means of the dead, while the present passage is in the full sense a visit to the dead (καὶ Νεκυομαντείαν μὲν ἄν τις εἰκότως τὴν Λ εἶπεν, Νέκυιαν δὲ ταύτην). But the dialogues in the two books are similar to a degree that renders the second a frigid repetition of motifs already exhausted. We may add that the language shows clear traces of a later period. The objections made by Aristarchus are noticed in the notes on ll. 1, 2, 11 ff., 23, 50, 60, 63, 150; for other traces of spuriousness see ll. 1 (Ἑρμῆς), 19, 28 (πρῶϊ), 30, 52, 57, 79, 88-89, 128, 155, 158, 166, 198.

*(ermh=s. This contraction is doubtless post-Homeric (cp. 14. 435). The Homeric form appears in l. 10, in the phrase Ἑρμείας ἀκάκητα. The use of Ἑρμείας in that archaic phrase is no reason for attempting to correct the first line (ψυχὰς δ' Ἑρμείας Van Leeuwen). The old form subsists as a poetical archaism along with the new one.

*kullh/nios, as Aristarchus observed, is a post-Homeric epithet of Hermes. It is common in the Homeric Hymns (H. Merc. 318, &c., xvii. 1., xviii. 31). The word occurs in Il.15. 518, not in reference to Hermes or Mount Cyllene, but as the adj. from Κυλλήνη, a town in Elis.