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[51] The episode of Elpenor has given great offence to commentators, and the genuineness of the passage is open to doubt. As Hermann Ad.remarks (De xi^{ma} Odyss. Rhapsodia, Götting. 1833), ‘Mirum est quod unius socioli sortibus atque animae tantae partes tribuuntur, cum ceterorum quos Ulixes perdidit nulla mentio fiat.’ And Lauer (Quaest. Hom. i^{ma} Berol. 1843) puts the fact more strongly, remarking that the interview with Teiresias, the great purpose for which Odysseus visited the kingdom of Hades, is needlessly delayed by the colloquy with a man who is described (10. 552) as “νεώτατος οὐδέ τι λίην

ἄλκιμος ἐν πολέμῳ οὐδὲ φρεσὶν ᾗσιν ἀρηρώς”. Again, we gather from v. 53 that Odysseus knew of the fact and mode of Elpenor's death, and that hot haste alone forbade the delay of burial. How then does Odysseus ask him “πῶς ἦλθες”? It may be said that the gist of the question is, ‘How didst thou come so quickly?’ But Elpenor's answer implies that he understood the question to apply to the circumstances of his death. The claim for burial urged by Elpenor—“μή τοί τι θεῶν μήνιμα γένωμαι”—is a post-Homeric refinement. The gods are not represented as taking offence at the sight of an unburied corpse (cp. Antig. 1064 foll.); for the passage quoted from Il.22. 358 foll. does not refer to the denial of burial to Hector, but to the indignities perpetrated on his corpse. Again (v. 69 foll.), the knowledge that Elpenor shows of the issue of Odysseus' voyage is unaccountable. Where did he learn the revelations made by Circe to Odysseus? Eustath. suggests that Elpenor speaks “μαντικῶς”, and Nitzsch attempts to weaken the force of “οἶδα” (69) into an expression of strong belief, comparing Od.10. 266; 14.363; Il.4. 163.As to the request which Elpenor prefers to Odysseus, that he may have a cairn surmounted by his oar to mark the place of his burial, Eustath. says, not amiss, “ὅρα ὅτι καὶ οὐδὲ ἐν Αἵδου φρεσὶν ἄρηρεν Ἐλπήνωρ, οὐ μόνον ὅτι ἀφελῶς περὶ εὐτελῶν ἀξιοῖ, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅτι εἰς οὐδὲν χρήσιμον ζητεῖ τὸ τύμβου χῶμα ἐπὶ θινὶ θαλάσσης καὶ τὴν ὡσανεὶ διὰ τοῦ ἐρετμοῦ ἀναστήλωσιν”, for no one would see it in the remote Aeaean isle. On the whole it seems difficult to accept the passage as genuine. It is probably a later addition belonging to a period when the “νέκυια” was recited as a separate rhapsody, and when there were temptations to enlarge and develope the original story. The interpolator seems to have designedly made the beginning and the end of the episode tally in form with the beginning and the end of the scene between Odysseus and Anticlea; cp. v. 51 with 84, and 48-50 with 81, 82. Lauer (l. c. p. 19) gives a list of the sources from which he supposes the lines forming this episode have been ‘collecti et quasi corrasi,’—v. 51 = vv. 84, 90; v. 55 = v. 87; 56 = 395; 57, 58= 155 foll.; 59 = Od.9. 506; 60=92, 405, 473, 617, etc.; 63, 64, 65= Od.10. 558 foll.; 66 = Il.15. 665; 67 = Od.1. 435; 72 = Il.23. 386; 73 = Il.23. 358; 76 = Od.3. 204 Od., 21. 255 Od., 24. 433; 77 = Od.12. 15; 79 = 138, 163, 435, 462, 477, 504; 81 = 465, cp. 225; 82 = cp. 48 foll.; 83 = cp. Od.21. 368 Od., 22. 211.
Πρώτη. Elpenor's ghost is represented as appearing first, because not being buried he was unable to pass right within the gates of Hades and take his place among the rest of the departed. Cp. Il.23. 71, where the ghost of Patroclus beseeches Achilles, “θάπτε με ὅττι τάχιστα, πύλας Ἀίδαο περήσω”.

τῆλέ μ᾽ ἐέργουσι ψυχαὶ, εἴδωλα καμόντων”,
οὐδέ μέ πω μίσγεσθαι ὑπὲρ ποταμοῖο ἐῶσιν”,
ἀλλ᾽ αὔτως ἀλάλημαι ἀν᾽ εὐρυπυλὲς Ἄιδος δῶ”. Cp. Plutarch. Sympos. 9. Q. 5. 3 “τῶν Ὁμηρικῶν ψυχῶν ὅσας ἐν νεκυίᾳ κατωνόμακεν μὲν Ἐλπήνορος, οὔπω καταμεμιγμένη ταῖς ἐν ᾄδου διὰ τὸ μὴ τεθάφθαι τὸν νεκρὸν ὥσπερ ἐν μεθορίοις πλανᾶται”. See also crit. note on vv. 52-54.

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