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κἂν ἄποπτος ᾖς ὅμως. The general sense of “ἄποπτος” here is, ‘far from my sight’; the question is whether this means, (1) ‘seen only at a distance,’ ‘dimly seen’; or (2) ‘unseen.’ I formerly preferred the first view, for which we may compare Ph. 467, “πλοῦν μὴ ᾿ξ ἀπόπτου μᾶλλον ᾿γγύθεν σκοπεῖν”, ‘to watch the weather near our ship, rather than from afar.’ But I now feel two difficulties which it involves. (1) The emphasis on voice and thought—“φθέγμα, φώνημα, ξυναρπάζω φρενί”—is so strong as to imply that he does not see her, even at a distance. (2) There can be no doubt that she was visible to the audience. She was probably on the “θεολογεῖον”,—a sort of platform, which projected from the wings, at the back of the proscenium, and close to its upper edge. If, then, Odysseus spoke of her as ‘seen only afar,’—a dim vision in the clouds,—the effect would be scarcely happy for the spectators, whose eyes could measure the actual distance between goddess and hero. On the other hand, there would seem nothing strange in her remaining invisible to him. In the Hippolytus, Aphroditè speaks the prologue, and was certainly visible to the spectators; but not to Hippolytus, who says, “κλύων μὲν αὐδήν, ὄμμα δ᾽ οὐχ ὁρῶν τὸ σόν”.

When Ajax comes forth, he, indeed, appears to see her (v. 91, “ χαῖρ᾽ Ἀθάνα, κ.τ.λ.”); while to Tecmessa she is invisible (301). But this, again, would not be inconsistent with Greek belief. In Il. 22. 277Athena restores the spear to Achilles, yet is unseen by Hector. In Il. 1. 198 she appears to Achilles, but the others see her not.

For “ἄποπτος” as=‘out of sight,’ cp. El. 1488(of Aegisthus) “πρόθες ἄποπτον ἡμῶν”: Dionys. Hal. 2. 54ἐν ἀπόπτῳ τίθενται τὸν χάρακα” (‘in a place out of sight’). It may be added that we might suppose Athena to be invisible to Odysseus now, without necessarily excluding the idea that she becomes visible to him at a later moment in the dialogue. Thus in Eur. Hipp. 1391 the presence of Artemis is known to Hippolytus only by a divine fragrance, though to the spectators she is doubtless visible; but a little later he beholds her (1440).—See Appendix.

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hide References (5 total)
  • Commentary references from this page (5):
    • Euripides, Electra, 1488
    • Euripides, Hippolytus, 1391
    • Homer, Iliad, 1.198
    • Homer, Iliad, 22.277
    • Sophocles, Philoctetes, 467
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