εἰπέ μοι … ὀμφῇ. Here ὑποδάμνασαι is semi-middle in sense; literally, ‘allowest thyself to be oppressed:’ see on Od. 2.33. The two conditions contrasted by “ἠέ . . ἦ” are those of submission in the presence of available help, and submission in the consciousness of having alienated the people, and so having no ally to whom to turn.By the words ἐπισπόμενοι θεοῦ ὀμφῇ no explicit divine communication by oracle or sign is meant, any more than by “ὄσσαν ἀκούσῃς ἐκ Διός” Od.1. 282.Nitzsch however, who takes “ὄσσαν ἐκ Διός” in that passage to mean a rumour of untraced origin, here deserts that line of interpretation, and with Eustath. and others finds a reference to setting aside a king under sanction of an oracle or an omen. But against this view, (1) we find very scanty attestation of the existence of such a practice at all. In the only case alleged from Homer, Od.16. 402, the suitors' desire for a sign to countenance their murderous intentions against Telemachus merely exemplifies the common phenomenon of wickedness leaning upon superstition. And (2) dislike of a king, or even murmuring against him, is not equivalent to setting him aside, and, surely would not in any case wait for a divine sanction. (Of the Trojans' feeling towards Paris it is said, Il.3. 454“ἶσον γάρ σφιν πᾶσιν ἀπήχθετο κηρὶ μελαίνῃ”). Mark that the aorist “ἐπισπόμενοι” shows that obedience has been already given to the “θεοῦ ὀμφή”, whatever that may mean. As then “ὄσσα ἐκ Διός” is a primitive description of a rumour, not referable to a human source; in like manner a primitive age would regard a feeling, the grounds of which are not consciously realized, as a kind of inspiration, where one might perhaps talk of it as a hidden impulse. It is not difficult to illustrate this notion of “θεοῦ ὀμφή” in the sense of such an impulse, cp. Virg. Aen.9. 183.When Hera, anxious for Achilles' safety, has proposed, ( Il.20. 120) “ἤ τις ἔπειτα καὶ ἡμείων Ἀχιλῆι” “παρσταίη, δοίη δὲ κράτος μέγα, μηδέ τι θυμοῦ”
“δευέσθω”, she presently alludes to this secret inspiration of courage in the words (129) “εἰ δ᾽ Ἀχιλεὺς οὐ ταῦτα θεῶν ἐκ πεύσεται ὀμφῆς”. Again in Il.2. 41“θείη δέ μιν ἀμφέχυτ᾽ ὀμφή” is the description of a man waking after a dream, when he is unconscious of the dream itself, but the state of feeling infused by the dream remains. In Od.9. 339“ἤ τι ὀισάμενος ἢ καὶ θεὸς ὣς ἐκέλευσε”—‘whether upon some thought of his own (cp. Od.3. 26; 7. 263) or because a god so commanded him’—means, in the latter part, no more than, ‘by some unaccountable impulse.’ Cp. Od.12. 38“σὺ δ᾽ ἄκουσον”
“ὥς τοι ἐγὼν ἐρέω, μνήσει δέ σε καὶ θεὸς αὐτός”, where Circe prefaces her sketch of the adventures through which Odysseus is to pass with the remark that, as the events arrive, her descriptions of them will come back to him; of which ‘law of association’ Homer has no other account to give than “μνήσει σε θεὸς αὐτός”. And once more, when Eumaeus says of the suitors, Od.14. 89, “οἵδε δὲ καί τι ἴσασι, θεοῦ δέ τιν᾽ ἔκλυον αὐδήν”,
“κείνου λυγρὸν ὄλεθρον”, he cannot mean an oracle (which they would have made as widely known as possible), nor yet an omen (for the word is inappropriate), but a presentiment originating in themselves. We have seen how the name of ‘divine voice’ is given to an instinctive feeling or hidden impulse. And bodies of men so acted upon might, even more naturally than individuals, be spoken of as ‘following a divine voice.’ Nothing so baffles the attempt to trace it, or to explain it, as the unspoken, contagious, unanimous sentiment of a multitude. And of this, the preceding line suggests a pre-eminently striking instance, and one thoroughly characteristic of heroic times,—when both love and hatred were strong— hatred entertained by a nation towards its prince, not indeed breaking out into rebellion, but stifling all the impulses of loyalty.
ὀμφῇ, from root “ϝεπ”, gains its form by the effect of the inserted nasal in aspirating the tenuis, compare “ἔγχος” from root “ἀκ”.