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τάφουἐπιψαύειν. Odysseus cannot be allowed to touch the body, or to assist in carrying it to the grave, or to join in pouring the “χοαί” at the time of interment. It is this intimate participation which is poetically expressed by the phrase “τάφου ἐπιψαύειν”. (Morstadt wished to read “νεκροῦ” instead of “τάφου”, but this would unduly narrow the sense.)

On the other hand, Odysseus is at liberty to assist in protecting the funeral from interruption by the Greek army. He may be a spectator of the rites, though not a participator; and he may bring with him (κομίζειν) any one he pleases. This is what seems to be meant by τὰ δ᾽ ἄλλα καὶ ξύμπρασσε: where it should be noted that “καὶ” is not ‘both’ (as if answering to the “καὶ” in “κεἴ τινα στρατοῦ”), but emphasises the verb,—‘in all else do cooperate’—as you wish to do. That is, “ξύμπρασσε” alludes to the request of Odysseus in 1378 f., “συνθάπτειν..καὶ ξυμπονεῖν”, and must therefore refer, in part at least, to something connected with the obsequies —not solely to friendly offices of a different kind, such as care for Tecmessa and Eurysaces; though it may include these.

μὴ τῷ θανόντι κ.τ.λ. It might be unpleasing to the spirit of the dead if Odysseus were allowed to touch the body, or to have any active part in the rites. So in El. 442 ff. the spirit of Agamemnon is conceived as refusing Clytaemnestra's “χοαί” at his grave; and in the same play, when (1123) Electra is allowed to handle the funeral urn, the pretended Phocian justifies the boon by saying that she is evidently not “δυσμενὴς” to the dead. The wrath of Ajax against Odysseus was conceived as enduring in the world below: “οἴη δ᾽ Αἴαντος ψυχὴ Τελαμωνιάδαο νόσφιν ἀφεστήκει” ( Od. 11. 543)—when Odysseus approached.


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hide References (2 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (2):
    • Euripides, Electra, 442
    • Homer, Odyssey, 11.543
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