οἱ δὲ … ἔεδνα. Nitzsch gives an elaborate interpretation of the passage, of which the substance is as follows. First, “οἱ” cannot be the suitors (as Schol.), but “οἱ ἀμφὶ τὸν πατέρα” (as Eustath.); for (1) in Od.2. 196 the same words are used by one of the suitors, Eurymachus, and (2) it was the business of the bride's family to provide the “γάμος”. Cp. Od.4. 3, where Menelaus is found “δαινύντα γάμον πολλοῖσιν ἔτῃσιν”, on the occasion of the marriage of his son and his daughter. But then to assign to the same family the duty of “ἕδνα ἀρτύνειν” involves two difficulties; (a) it seems to contravene the general custom, which was that the suitor should present the “ἕδνα”—should, in fact, bid for the bride, as Od.16. 390“ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ μεγάροιο ἕκαστος”“μνάσθω ἐέδνοισιν διζήμενος”, Od.8. 318“εἰς ὅ κε πατὴρ ἀποδώσει ἔεδνα”
“ὅσσα οἱ ἐγγυάλιξα”, Od.11. 282“τήν ποτε Νηλεὺς”
“γῆμεν ἑὸν διὰ κάλλος ἐπεὶ πόρε μυρία ἕδνα”, Od.6. 159“ἐέδνοισιν βρίσας”. And (b） it also runs counter to the custom recognised elsewhere by these same suitors; Od. 11. 117 “μνώμενοι ἀντιθέην ἄλοχον καὶ ἕδνα διδόντες”, Od.15. 16“ἤδη γάρ ῥα πατήρ τε κασίγνητοί τε κέλονται”
“Εὐρυμάχῳ γήμασθαι: ὁ γὰρ περιβάλλει ἅπαντας”
“μνηστῆρας δώροισι καὶ ἐξώφελλεν ἔεδνα”.
It may be noticed parenthetically that the suitors made two sorts of offerings; “δῶρα”, presents to the bride herself, cp. “πολύδωρος” of Andromache, Il.6. 394; of Penelope, Od.24. 294; and “ἕδνα” (consisting of cattle, whence Il.18. 593“παρθένοι ἀλφεσίβοιαι”) to her family: cp. Od.18. 278“αὐτοὶ τοί γ᾽ ἀπάγουσι βόας καὶ ἴφια μῆλα”, “κούρης δαῖτα φίλοισι, καὶ ἀγλαὰ δῶρα διδοῦσι”.
It is an insufficient explanation of our passage, and of Od.2. 196, to assimilate “ἕδνα” here to the later “προῖξ”, a dower: for (1) though we find instances in Homer of such a dower being given, they are the exceptional cases of the father taking a fancy to some man and offering him his daughter; cp. Il.9. 141 foll., where Agamemnon, giving a choice of his daughters to Achilles, says, “φίλην ἀνάεδνον ἀγέσθω”, “πρὸς οἶκον Πηλῆος, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐπὶ μείλια δώσω”
“πολλὰ μάλ̓, ὅσσ᾽ οὔ πώ τις ἑῇ ἐπέδωκε θυγατρί”, and Od.7. 311-316, where Alcinous expresses a wish that Odysseus would take his daughter to wife, “οἶκον δέ τ᾽ ἐγὼ καὶ κτήματα δοίην”—and (2) such exceptional gifts are never called “ἕδνα”.
The probable solution is that the “ἕδνα” were applied by the bride's friends, wholly or in part, to furnish her outfit and provide the wedding feast; and thus they were, so far at least, indirectly returned to the bridegroom's side. If such a restoration was sometimes in full, and sometimes in part, as has been just supposed, then the expressions “φίλην ἀνάεδνον ἀγέσθω” ( Il.9. 146, quoted above), and “πολλὰ . . ἕπεσθαι” in the present passage admit of explanation. For we may imagine that ordinarily the father retained a part of the “ἕδνα”, but that he might, where the daughter was a great favourite, or the bridegroom a man of special merit, expend and so return all of it in the bride's outfit: thus she would be “ἀνάεδνος”, given away without any of the “ἕδνα” being retained. In conformity with this interpretation “ἑδνοῦσθαι θύγατρα”, Od.2. 53, is to expend the “ἕδνα” or part of them upon her; and “ἑδνωτὴς κακός” ( Il.13. 382) is a father-in-law who exacts large “ἕδνα” and returns but a small part of them. This passage from the Iliad shows also that terms might be agreed upon beforehand as to the disposal of the “ἕδνα— Ἀλλ᾽ ἕπευ, ὄφρ᾽ ἐπὶ νηυσὶ συνώμεθα ποντοπόροισιν” “ἀμφὶ γάμῳ ἐπεὶ οὔ τοι ἐεδνωταὶ κακοί εἰμεν”.
But, after all, this interpretation seems forced; and, if we retain the line (see crit. note), it is much simpler to take οἱ δέ of the suitors, who will ‘make a marriage of it,’ and so bring to an end this long wooing; and ‘will make ready the bride-price.’ which must be expected in this case to be costly. Not till Pindar ( Pyth.3. 94; Ol.9. 10) is “ἕδνα” used in the later sense of dowry. See on the “ἕδνα”, Grote's Greece (ii. 113, 2nd edit.), ‘Among the ancient Germans of Tacitus, the husband gave presents not to his wife's father, but to herself (Tacit. Germ. 18); the customs of the early Jews were in this respect completely Homeric; see the case of Shechem and Dinah (Gen. xxxiv. 12), and Ex. 22. 16. Grote goes on to point out the exact correspondence between the Greek “ἕδνα” and the mundium of the Lombard and Alemannic laws. See especially on the whole subject Nägelsbach, Hom. Theolog. (Autenrieth's ed. p. 255 foll.). “ἕδνα” or “ἔ-εδ-να” for “σϝεδνα” is referred by Curt. G. E. p. 206, to root “ἀδ” (“σϝαδ”), seen in “ἁνδάνω, ἕαδον, ἡδύς”, suavis.