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[231] οὖλαι κόμαι here, and in Od.23. 157, represent the thick hair of a vigorous man, with which we may contrast the description of the old man with bare and shining head, Od.18. 354.The same word “οὖλος” is used as an epithet of “τάπητες” and “χλαῖναι”, Od.4. 50; Il.10. 134; 16.224. So in Od.19. 246 we find “μελανόχρους οὐλοκάρηνος” (quite different in meaning from “οὐλοκάρηνος” in h. Hom. Merc. 137), and in Hdt.7. 70οὐλότατον τρίχωμα”, of the bushy hair of the negro; and “οὐλόθριξ” with the same meaning, ib. 2. 104. Buttm. refers οὖλος in this sense to “εἰλέω”, ‘squeeze;’ but Curt. assigns it to the same root as “ἔρ-ιον”, Skt. Ur-na, Lat. vellus, WolleGerm. , and our ‘wool.’ Authorities are divided as to what flower is meant by ὑάκινθος, some understanding by it a variety of the gladiolus, others the hyacinth, as we know it, and Voss, followed by Nitzsch, the blue iris. But in Il.14. 347 foll. “ὑάκινθος”, together with “κρόκος” and “λωτός”, is represented as forming a carpet for Zeus and Hera, on the top of Gargarus; which would be a very unlikely soil for the iris, but which might well be covered with the ordinary hyacinth or blue-bell. The epithets to “ὑάκινθος”, in the passage quoted, are “πυκνὸς καὶ μαλακός”, which suggest that the point of resemblance here is in the clustering flowers with curling petals, and not in the colour. The Greeks seemed to regard the hyacinth as decidedly dark in hue, as Theocr. 10. 28 “καὶ τὸ ἴον μέλαν ἐντὶ καὶ γραπτὰ ὑάκινθος”. However, there is a real difficulty about the colour of Odysseus' hair. In Od.13. 399 it is spoken of as auburn, “ξανθὰς δ᾽ ἐκ κεφαλῆς ὀλέσω τρίχας”, while in Od.16. 175 his restoration to manly beauty is thus described, “ἂψ δὲ μελαγχροιὴς γένετο, γναθμοὶ δὲ τάνυσθεν”,

κυάνεαι δ᾽ ἐγένοντο γενειάδες ἀμφὶ γένειον”. These two statements are generally regarded as irreconcileable; but it is not impossible to suppose that his beard was some shades darker than his hair, and further, the thicker parts of an auburn beard would look so much darker than the immediate surface, that they might well be described by the epithet “κυάνεος”. See Houben (‘qualem Homerus finxerit Ulixem,’ Trever. 1856, p. 9), ‘neque minus dubitatur quo consilio verba “ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει ὁμοίας” a poeta adiecta sint. Veteres enim Eustathius, Hesychius, alii ideo esse factum putant, ut indicent “κόμας” esse “μελαίνας κατὰ τὸν ὑάκινθον τὸ ἄνθος, ὁποίας καὶ τοῖς Ἰνδοῖς περιηγητὴς χρώζει τὰς κόμας”. Eust.1561.Eustathium “μελαίνας” ad colorem, non ad densitatem, retulisse apparet ex iis quae adiecta sunt, “ὁποίας κ.τ.λ.” At haec opinio reiicienda mihi videtur; nam quemcumque florem sub voc. “ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει” latere statuis, sive nostrum hyacinthum, sive iridum speciem quandam, quum dubitari non possit quin diversorum generum diversi sint colores, dubii haeremus quemnam colorem poeta designare voluerit. At, si quid video, Homerus in talibus imaginibus nullum fere dubitationis locum relinquit. Itaque verba adiecta “ὑακινθίνῳ κ. τ. λ.” non ad “κόμας” solas, sed ad “οὔλας κόμας” referenda esse puto, ut poeta his verbis additis nobis imagine quadam pingat qualem sibi densitatem et plenitudinem capillorum in animo finxerit. Quum igitur verbum “καθῆκε” premendum sit, Ulixi tribuenda est caesaries longa, demissa, non quidem horrens et rigida, sed mollis, tenera, cirrata.’ [Cp. Aristaen. 1. 1. p. 3 “ δὲ κόμη φυσικῶς ἐνουλισμένη ὑακινθίνῳ ἄνθει καθ᾽ Ὅμηρον ἐμφερής”, quoted by Nitzsch.] ‘Et sane tali fere modo omnia capita, monimentis antiquis servata, sunt ornata. Quae res, quanquam non magnam vim ei tribu endam esse sponte apparet, tamen quum per totam fere antiquitatem omnes et poetas tragicos et pictores et statuarios ex Homero tanquam ex fonte perenni hausisse inter omnes constet, in tanto imaginum consensu et quasi conspiratione haud scio an nullam vim ac pondus habeat. (Notum est, ut unum ex multis afferam exemplis, Phidiam, Il.1. 528 seqq. sequentem, Iovis imaginem finxisse. Schol. “α. ἀπὸ τούτων δὲ λέγεται τῶν στίχων Φειδίαν τὸν ἀγαλματοποιὸν ποιῆσαι τὸν ἐν Ἤλιδι χαλκοῦν ἀνδριάντα οὕτως καμπτόμενον καὶ ξυνωθούμενον”.) Hoc igitur modo ille versus mihi quidem explicandus esse videtur; non nova quidem est haec opinio, quum iam apud Eustathium legatur “ καὶ ἄλλως οὐ κατὰ μελανίαν πρὸς ὑάκινθον τῆς κόμης ὁμοίωσις, ἀλλὰ πρὸς τὸ οὖλον αὐτῆς, ἤγουν πρὸς τὸ οὐλότριχον”.’

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