Λάμου. Fäsi notes the two names, Ἀντιφάτης (“φένω, πέφαται”), and Λάμος (“λαμός, λαιμός”), as the double title of the murderous king of the land: with the latter name we may further compare “Λαμία”, the child - devouring ogress. Λαιστρυγόνες may be compounded of the intensive “λαι” or “λα” and “τρύχειν” or “τρύγειν”, ‘to devour.’ Cp. “Λά-μα-χος, λαμυρός, λαιδρός”. Some commentators have taken Lamus as the name of the town, comparing with “Λάμου αἰπὺ πτολίεθρον” the expression “Ἰλίου πόλις” Il.5. 642.But Lamus, as the proper name of the king, is used by Cicero, ad Att. 2. 13. 2; Ovid, Met.14. 233; Horace, Od.3. 17. 1; and Ital.8. 531.The Scholl. too adopt the same view, describing Lamus as a son of Poseidon. We may also take Τηλέπυλος as the actual name of the town, and Λαιστρυγονίην as the geographical epithet; cp. Od.23. 318.The signification of “Τηλέπυλος” depends upon the meaning assigned to “τηλύγετος”; the etymology of the first part of the two words being the same. See note on Od. 4.11, where it is urged that “τηλύ-γετος” meant ‘big-grown;’ and similarly “τηλέ-πυλος” is ‘big-gated.’ There is no reason for accepting the refinements of modern commentators, who picture for us a town with a straight street through it, and gates at either end, ‘far apart.’ All that we have here is a town with ‘big gates,’ on an appropriate scale for those who were “οὐκ ἄνδρεσσιν ἐοικότες ἀλλὰ Γίγασιν” inf. 120; and, we may add, big enough to let the in-coming and out-going herds pass abreast. The next point to examine is the meaning of ποιμένα and ποιμήν. It is not necessary that we should understand “ποιμήν” always to signify ‘shepherd;’ though we accept this as its usual meaning, as in Il.5. 137; 12.451; 13.493; 16. 354; Od.4. 87; but it is frequently used of the herdsman generally, without any allusion to sheep; and such expressions as “Βουκολίων . . ποιμαίνων ἐπ᾽ ὄεσσι” Il.6. 23, and “ἵπποι βουκολέοντο” Il.20. 221(cp. “νέκταρ ἐῳνοχόει” Il.4. 3), show that there is frequent confusion between the notion of shepherd and neatherd. We may then render both “ποιμένα” and “ποιμήν” here as ‘herdsman,’ understanding by the former the neatherd, by the latter the shepherd. The scene is evening. A herdsman, driving out before him his kine, meets in the gateway a shepherd driving in his flock. As they pass, the shepherd hails (ἠπύει, connected with “εἰπεῖν”) the neatherd, who answers with his greeting (ὑπακούει, Od.4. 283). Thus far then we may translate, ‘on the seventh day we reached the lofty city of Lamus, the Laestrygonian Telepylus, where a herdsman, as he drives in his flock, hails an (out-coming) herdsman; and he, as he drives forth his herd, answers him.’ Thus far all is simple; except that we have to account for the surprising fact that though it is nightfall and the sheep are coming home, yet at the same moment the kine are coming out to pasture. And so, says the poet, ‘a man who could do without sleep might earn there two sets of wages; one for minding cattle, and another for feeding white sheep.’ The Scholl., who lay the scene in Sicily, suggest an absurd interpretation. They maintain that the swarms of gad - flies there made it dangerous for the cattle to feed except after sundown; while the sheep, being protected by their woolly fleeces, could pasture during the day. Therefore, if any man could spend his days as a shepherd and his nights as a neatherd, he could earn wages in both capacities; and this would be all the easier, for (said they) the pasturages, or rather ‘the ways to the pasturages for the day and night feeding are near the city’ (ἐγγὺς γὰρ … κέλευθοι). Cp. Schol. H. “β. τοῦτο λέγει ὅτι νυκτὸς μὲν βουκολοῦσι διὰ τοὺς μύωπας . . διὰ τὸν οἶστρον. Δύναται οὖν τις ἐκεῖ λαμβάνειν δύο μισθοὺς, ἐπειδὴ τῆς ἡμέρας καὶ τῆς νυκτὸς αἱ νομαὶ ἐγγύς εἰσι καὶ οὐ πόρρω”, or, in other words, “αἱ ἡμεριναὶ καὶ αἱ νυκτεριναὶ νομαὶ ἐγγύς εἰσι τῆς πόλεως”, or, as Eustath. adds, “αἱ εἰς αὐτὰς ὁδοί”. This interpretation is nothing more than a simple invention to explain the meaning of the text. But the right line had been already touched by Crates, whose explanation is thus quoted by Schol. H.: “Κράτης βραχείας αὐτοῦ ὑποτίθεται τὰς νύκτας. καὶ γάρ φησιν αὐτοὺς εἶναι περὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ δράκοντος” (sc. the constellation), “περὶ ἧς Ἄρατός φησι ‘κείνη που κεφαλὴ τῇ νείσεται, ἧχί περ ἄκραι”“μίσγονται δύσιές τε καὶ ἀντολαὶ ἀλλήλῃσιν.’ ὅθεν συνεγγὺς οὐσῶν τῶν ἀνατολῶν ταῖς δύσεσι λέγειν τὸν ποιητὴν ‘ἐγγὺς γὰρ νυκτός τε’ καὶ τὰ ἑξῆς, παρὰ τὸ πλησιάζειν τὰς τῆς νυκτὸς κελεύθους ταῖς τοῦ ἤματος κελεύθοις, ἢ τὴν νύκτα ἐγγὺς τετάχθαι τῆς ἡμέρας βραχυτάτην οὖσαν”. Or, as Eustath. quotes, “ὥστε φασὶ καὶ πλείω μὲν εἶναι τὴν ἡμέραν, ὀλίγην δὲ τὴν νύκτα, οὗ τὸ ἀνάπαλιν παρὰ τοῖς Κιμμερίοις”. The whole sentence may be rendered, ‘There a man who took no sleep might have earned two sets of wages, one by minding cattle, the other by pasturing white sheep; for the outgoings of night and day are close together.’ Hardly has Night stepped forth upon the scene, when Day reappears too; and so we may suppose that the interval of darkness between the two periods of light is actually inappreciable. Thus a man who has had his flock at pasture from morning till just the fall of evening, brings it home before the darkness sets in; but as he enters the city-gate with his flock, he meets his fellow driving out his herd of oxen to pasture, for already daylight is beginning again— the evening twilight is melting into the dawn. The notion then strikes the poet, that if a man should take no sleep he might play the part both of the εἰσελάων and the ἐξελάων. He would bring home his sheep, change them for a herd of oxen and be off again to pasture without delay, thus earning wages in the double capacity of neatherd and shepherd. An interesting question is raised by this description of Laestrygonia. How far was Homer acquainted with the existence of land to the far north? We have suggested (see sup. v. 3) that the description of the isle of Aeolus is an attempt to represent an iceberg, of which the poet may have heard through some Phoenician sailors, who had sailed up beyond the coast of Britain. And we have seen how Welcker (Klein. Schrift. 2. 14; see on Od. 5.34; 8. 562) finds in the Phaeacians, who transported Odysseus across the sea in their ship, the reproduction of the Northern legend of the Ferrymen of the Dead. Now the story of the Laestrygonian herdsmen seems certainly to point to the phenomenon of the short nights and midnight sun of high latitudes. But the story changes in the poet's hands. He has heard of the long days and short nights, but he numbers them among the marvels of the West: they have no connection with the North in his mind. And naturally so—for it is evident that the apparent path of the sun is to his mind like the course in the chariot race, the startingpoint being the east. The extreme western point in this course was to him like the “νύσσα”, or turning-post, in the “δρόμος” (see Il.23. 327 foll.), and when the sun has reached this westernmost point, he naturally begins “κάμψαι διαύλου θἄτερον κῶλον πάλιν”. The city of Telepylus lies just at this point, so that the momentary passage of the sun round the “νύσσα” (“στήλη”, meta) is the only interval of darkness that is possible. Of course if we choose to subject this view to criticism, nothing is easier than to show that it is incorrect from first to last; that it virtually makes the sun appear to travel from East to West, and then from West to East—and so on. But we are after all only dealing with a fairy story, and not examining a system of cosmogony; we are listening to a tale of marvel from the wonder-land of the West, where the nights are reduced to a mere nothing, for the sun has scarce disappeared before he appears again. This notion of the sun turning round when he has finished his course seems to be alluded to in Od.15. 404“νῆσός τις Συρίη . . Ὀρτυγίης καθύπερθεν ὅθι τροπαὶ Ἠελίοιο”, on which Seiler remarks (Hom. Lex. s. v. “τροπαί”) that it is the description of a place situated in the furthest west: and Autenrieth (Wörterb. s. v.) translates “τροπαί” as ‘the change of direction, when at evening the sun turns round his car eastward.’ See note on “Αἰαίη” and “ἀντολαί” Od.12. 3 Od., 4.This view seems to find additional support from a passage in Hesiod ( Hesiod Theog.746 foll.). He describes the place where Atlas is supporting the heavens on his head and shoulders—a place notoriously in the west;—and there, says Hesiod , “Νύξ τε καὶ Ἡμέρη ἆσσον ἰοῦσαι”
“ἀλλήλας προσέειπον”, though the rest of the description does not tally.
The words of Tacitus in the Agricola, c. 12, are well known, ‘nox extrema Britanniae parte brevis, ut finem et initium lucis exiguo discrimine internoscas.’