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[42] “Οὔλυμπόνδ᾽, ὅθι φασί”. Cp. Il.2. 783εἰν Ἀρίμοις ὅθι φασὶ Τυφωέος ἔμμεναι εὐνάς”, Il.24. 615ἐν Σιπύλῳ ὅθι φασὶ θεάων ἔμμεναι εὐνάς”. No doubt the words “ὅθι φασί” sound strange in the present passage, which one might suppose to be the enunciation of a universal belief, and not the quoting of a local tradition. The Schol. Q. E. maintains that “ὅθι φασί” is appropriate here if “Ὄλυμπος” be taken as the mountain of that name, but unsuitable if it be regarded as equivalent to “οὐρανός”. Eustath. seems to interpret the words just the other way, and to consider that if “οὐρανός” be intended here, “τότε τὸ φασὶν οὐ κατ᾽ ἐνδοιασμὸν κείσεται ἀλλὰ κατὰ κοινὴν δόξαν”. But many modern editors see in the words “ὅθι φασί” a distinct indication of the later introduction of the whole passage, as Köchly, Diss. 1. p. 17 ‘pulchros illos versus non ab initio hic positos fuisse non solum ex isto prorsus inaudito “ὅθι φασί”, quod toto caelo ab omni nostri carminis indole distat; sed etiam inde concludi potest quod emblema splendidissimum vix loco minus commodo inseri poterat.’ But this seems needlessly strong; the verses are possibly suspicious, because the context requires no special allusion to Olympus; but the actual description is not irreconcileable with the general Homeric picture of Olympus. Olympus may be called an idealised mountain on which Zeus and the gods of heaven have their home, and on the highest peak of which is the palace of the great king. No doubt every soaring height presented itself to an imaginative mind as a natural throne for the powers of heaven. But Olympus was peculiarly regarded by the Greeks as their Holy Hill, like the mountain Meru of the Indians, or Elburz of the Persians. The epithets which Homer applies to Olympus are “μακρόςHom. Od.10. 307; Hom. Il.5. 398, “αἰπύςHom. Il.5. 367, “νιφόειςHom. Il.18. 616, “ἀγάννιφοςHom. Il.1. 420, “μέγαςHom. Il.1. 530, “πολύπτυχοςHom. Il.8. 411, “πολυδειράςHom. Il.5. 754, and “αἰγλήειςHom. Il.1. 532; Hom. Od.20. 103.Thus Olympus is placed before us as a lofty mountain with several peaks and deep valleys; and on some one of its heights the gods dwell, “Ὄλυμπος ἵν᾽ ἀθανάτων ἕδος ἐστίHom. Il.5. 360.But Olympus and all its scene soon passes into legendary ground; its height is such that Hephaestus, when thrown from it, is a whole day reaching the level of the earth, Hom. Il.1. 590 foll.; and it is coupled with “οὐρανός”, as being under the special charge of the “Ὧραι”, to raise or drop the cloud-curtains that hang before its celestial palaces. Aristarchus decides that Homer always means by Olympus the mountain of that name; a mountain never actually identified with Heaven, yet rising far into it.

But the picture of Olympus as one of the mountains of Greece takes away all meaning from the boast of Zeus—that he could fasten a cord to the summit of Olympus, and draw up thereto earth and gods and all, Il.8. 18 foll. It is a further question how far the present passage can be reconciled with the usual Homeric conception of Olympus. Is the phrase “αἴθρη ἀνέφελος” compatible with the epithets “νιφόεις” and “ἀγάννιφος” quoted above? Is the conception of Olympus in the Odyssey more supramundane than in the Iliad? To these questions it may be answered, that there is no difficulty in supposing that “νέφη” and “αἴθρη” are both appropriate. The mountain has its clouds, which make a sort of boundary between the mundane and celestial regions, while the topmost summit stands up clear in the blue sky, above the storms, in serene calm, like the land of the Hyperboreans, ‘at the back of the North Wind.’ So Eustath. “τοιοῦτος μὲν Ὄλυμπος τάγε ἄνω, τὰ γὰρ κάτω καὶ μετὰ τὰ νέφη ἀγάννιφός που λέγεται”.

A similar picture is given by Lucan, 2. 271 ‘nubes excedit Olympus

lege deum: minimas rerum discordia turbat;
pacem summa tenent.’ Cp. Lucr.3. 18 seq. ‘apparet Divum numen sedesque quietae,
quas neque concutiunt venti, neque nubila nimbis
aspergunt, neque nix acri concreta pruina
cana cadens violat, semperque innubilus aether
integit, et large diffuso lumine ridet.’ Also Seneca de IraLucr., 3. 6‘pars superior mundi et ordinatior ac propinqua sideribus nec in nubem cogitur, nec in tempestatem impellitur, nec versatur in turbinem.’ Tennyson imitates the passage in his ‘Morte d'Arthur,’ describing the ‘island valley of Avilion;’ compare also Coleridge's ‘Hymn in the Vale of Chamouni.’
θεῶν ἕδος. Compare Pind. Nem.6. 5 δὲ χάλκεος ἀσφαλὲς αἰεὶ ἕδος μένει οὐρανός”.

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