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[154] Cp. 10. 374 “κακὰ δ᾽ ὄσσετο θυμός”, where the v. l. “θυμῷ” is impossible.

158-303. The scene which now follows has been recently discussed by Kirchhoff, Wilamowitz, Seeck and others, from the points of view suggested by their different theories of the Odyssey. Confining ourselves here to the immediate context, we may notice briefly some of the suggestions which bear on the meaning and character of the passage.

The whole scene, as Wilamowitz observes (Hom. Unt. p. 30), may be struck out without causing any break in the narrative. It is now late afternoon (“δείελον ἦμαρ” 17. 606), and the Suitors have interrupted their usual dance and song (ibid.) to enjoy the combat between Ulysses and Irus. When this is over, the story naturally goes on as in 18. 304 “οἱ δ᾽ εἰς ὀρχηστύν τε καὶ ἱμερόεσσαν ἀοιδὴν τρεψάμενοι τέρποντο, μένον δ᾽ ἐπὶ ἕσπερον ἐλθεῖν”. Moreover, as the poet has given us these indications, there is force in the remark that the appearance of Penelope, with the sending for the gifts which she requires from the Suitors, would take up too much time. Other arguments are found in the character of Penelope—who suddenly throws aside the restraint of so many years, and descends to arts hardly consistent with modesty—and in the tone and style.

We may add, surely, that the narrative betrays some want of the Homeric finish. The sleep of Penelope (187-197) begins and ends while Eurynome is calling the maids from the “μέγαρον”—a space of time which would naturally be neglected altogether. On the other hand, when the Suitors send to fetch costly presents for Penelope (291-303), a considerable interval must be supposed, during which the action in the palace is at an absolute standstill. This is surely a violation of one of the most fundamental rules of Epic art. There are many examples of the care which the poet takes to avoid any sensible pause of the kind: see Il.1. 493. Il., 3. 121.

The tendency of the considerations put forward by Seeck (Quellen, pp. 3440) is to show that the passage has suffered some mutilation, and that this is due to its having originally been part of a shorter poem, one of those which, on his theory, were combined to form the existing Odyssey. His argument is somewhat as follows. He finds traces of mutilation in the speech of Eurynome (170-176), which must have conveyed more than finds expression in the present text. Penelope, as we see, does not merely appear to the Suitors in order to gain their admiration and their gifts. She announces the end of her long refusal of their advances, and puts this on the ground that Telemachus has now reached man's estate (269 “ἐπὴν δὴ παῖδα γενειήσαντα ἴδηαι”). Now this is precisely what Eurynome had said (176). Hence Eurynome must have meant to urge Penelope to make the declaration that she consented to marriage. The lines in which she did so are wanting: hence, they were cut out in the process of ‘working up’ the Odyssey. The advice to adorn herself must have been merely a consequence. The ‘word to Telemachus,’ again, cannot have been the trivial warning of l. 167, but the announcement that he would thenceforth be master in the house.

The reasons now adduced, and especially the comparison of l. 176 and l. 269, make it probable that Seeck's interpretation of the speech of Eurynome is the true one. The question, then, is whether the desired meaning is to be gathered from the present text. Surely this may be done without too much forcing, or reading between the lines. Eurynome, it may be understood, could not venture to advise her mistress in so many words to accept one of the Suitors. But when Penelope declared her intention to show herself to them, she took this as meaning all that (as we see from the sequel) it did mean. She did not use the word marriage (any more than Nausicaa did to her father, 6. 66), but merely said: ‘Do so, my child: but adorn yourself, lay aside your mourning; your son, who has been your care till now, is a bearded man.’

On the whole it seems not improbable that the passage in question is an interpolation as regards the context in which we now find it. There are some traces of post-Homeric language: as “χρῶτα” (172, 179), “τέως” (190), “θησαίατο” (191), “πλέονες” scanned “πλεῦνες” (247), “ἀνέσει” (265), “κάλλος”=‘a cosmetic’ (192). Cp. also the scanning “δα^κρύοισι” (173).

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