AS Greek set text 2017-18,
A Level Group 1 text 2018-19
Translation and commentary by C. C. Wright
καὶ τότ᾽ ἐγὼν ἐμὸν ἔγχος ἑλὼν καὶ φάσγανον ὀξὺ 145
καρπαλίμως παρὰ νηὸς ἀνήϊον ἐς περιωπήν,
εἴ πως ἔργα ἴδοιμι βροτῶν ἐνοπήν τε πυθοίμην.
ἔστην δὲ σκοπιὴν ἐς παιπαλόεσσαν ἀνελθών,
καί μοι ἐείσατο καπνὸς ἀπὸ χθονὸς εὐρυοδείης
Κίρκης ἐν μεγάροισι, διὰ δρυμὰ πυκνὰ καὶ ὕλην. 150
But when the Dawn with her lovely locks had brought the third day, then it was that taking my spear and sharp sword, I swiftly went up from the ship to a vantage point, in case, perhaps, I might see the activities of men and hear any noise. Going on to a craggy outcrop, I stood up and through the thick woodland and the forest there appeared to me some smoke from the broad countryside – it was at Circe’s palace.
All of this book is part of the great flash back as it is being told by Odysseus to the Phaeacians; by the time he is giving this account, Odysseus has lost all his men and also his ship.
150 – Here Odysseus knows that the smoke is from Circe’s house; in 197 when he speaks to his men he does not know so much. At this earlier point he is including detail which he finds out later in the story.
ἐλθεῖν ἠδὲ πυθέσθαι, ἐπεὶ ἴδον αἴθοπα καπνόν.
ὧδε δέ μοι φρονέοντι δοάσσατο κέρδιον εἶναι,
πρῶτ᾽ ἐλθόντ᾽ ἐπὶ νῆα θοὴν καὶ θῖνα θαλάσσης
δεῖπνον ἑταίροισιν δόμεναι προέμεν τε πυθέσθαι. 155
I wondered in my heart and mind, whether to go and find out, since I saw the gleaming smoke. And what seemed best to me as I thought it out was this: to go first to the swift ship and the sea shore, to give my men dinner and to send out a party to find out.
καὶ τότε τίς με θεῶν ὀλοφύρατο μοῦνον ἐόντα,
ὅς ῥά μοι ὑψίκερων ἔλαφον μέγαν εἰς ὁδὸν αὐτὴν
ἧκεν· ὁ μὲν ποταμόνδε κατήϊεν ἐκ νομοῦ ὕλης
πιόμενος· δὴ γάρ μιν ἔχεν μένος ἠελίοιο. 160
τὸν δ᾽ ἐγὼ ἐκβαίνοντα κατ᾽ ἄκνηστιν μέσα νῶτα
πλῆξα· τὸ δ᾽ ἀντικρὺ δόρυ χάλκεον ἐξεπέρησε,
κὰδ δ᾽ ἔπεσ᾽ ἐν κονίῃσι μακών, ἀπὸ δ᾽ ἔπτατο θυμός.
But as I went along, when I came near to the curved ship, just then one of the gods took pity on me as I was alone, and he sent a large high-antlered stag right into my path; it was coming down from the pasture in the woodland to drink, for the power of the sun had really got to it. I shot him right in the middle of the back between the shoulders as he was getting out; but the bronze spear pierced right through and he fell down in the dust bleating, and his life was gone.
157 – καὶ τότε ‘just then’.
160 – πιόμενος – future participle, for purpose.
εἰρυσάμην· τὸ μὲν αὖθι κατακλίνας ἐπὶ γαίῃ 165
εἴασ᾽· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼ σπασάμην ῥῶπάς τε λύγους τε,
πεῖσμα δ᾽, ὅσον τ᾽ ὄργυιαν, ἐϋστρεφὲς ἀμφοτέρωθεν
πλεξάμενος συνέδησα πόδας δεινοῖο πελώρου,
βῆν δὲκαταλοφάδεια φέρων ἐπὶ νῆα μέλαιναν
ἔγχει ἐρειδόμενος, ἐπεὶ οὔ πως ἦεν ἐπ᾽ ὤμου 170
χειρὶ φέρειν ἑτέρῃ· μάλα γὰρ μέγα θηρίον ἦεν.
Stepping on him, I drew the bronze point out of the wound; I leant it back again on the earth, I let it be. But I pulled brushwood and withies and plaiting a rope well twisted from both ends as long as a fathom, I tied together the feet of this terrific beast, and I went off carrying it to the black ship, leaning on my spear, since it was not possible to carry it on my shoulder with the other hand; for it was a really big beast.
167 – ‘from both ends’ – probably refers to the method of plaiting the rope, but could mean that he tied it at both ends.
171 – ἑτέρῃ – he is holding the spear in the other hand.
μειλιχίοις ἐπέεσσι παρασταδὸν ἄνδρα ἕκαστον·
“ Ὦ φίλοι, οὐ γάρ πω καταδυσόμεθ᾽ ἀχνύμενοί περ,
εἰς Ἀΐδαο δόμους, πρὶν μόρσιμον ἦμαρ ἐπέλθῃ. 175
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγετ᾽, ὄφρ᾽ ἐν νηῒ θοῇ βρῶσίς τε πόσις τε,
μνησόμεθα βρώμης μηδὲ τρυχώμεθα λιμῷ.”
And I threw it down before the ship, and I addressed my companions with honey-sweet words, standing close by each one: ‘My friends, we will not yet go down to the halls of Hades, troubled though we are, before our appointed day comes. But, come on, so long as there is food and drink in the swift ship, let us think of feasting, and let us not be worn out by hunger!’
174 – Odysseus‘ men are shocked by their recent problems with the Laestrygones.
ἐκ δὲ καλυψάμενοι παρὰ θῖν᾽ ἁλὸς ἀτρυγέτοιο
θηήσαντ᾽ ἔλαφον· μάλα γὰρ μέγα θηρίον ἦεν. 180
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ τάρπησαν ὁρώμενοι ὀφθαλμοῖσι,
χεῖρας νιψάμενοι τεύχοντ᾽ ἐρικυδέα δαῖτα.
ὣς τότε μὲν πρόπαν ἦμαρ ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα
ἥμεθα δαινύμενοι κρέα τ᾽ ἄσπετα καὶ μέθυ ἡδύ·
ἦμος δ᾽ ἠέλιος κατέδυ καὶ ἐπὶ κνέφας ἦλθε, 185
δὴ τότε κοιμήθημεν ἐπὶ ῥηγμῖνι θαλάσσης.
So did I speak, And they swiftly obeyed my words; and unveiling themselves they marvelled at the stag on the shore of the unharvested sea, for it was a really big beast! But when they had been delighted in seeing this with their eyes, having washed their hands, they prepared a glorious feast. And we sat like this the whole day till sunset, feasting on an unaccountable amount of meat and sweet wine. But when the sun set and darkness came, then indeed did we sleep on the beach of the sea.
179 – They had their heads veiled in mourning for their companions who had been killed.
180 – repeats 171 (after the caesura). Is this just an oral poet filling the line, or does it enhance the real size of the stag as it is now seen through their eyes as well as Odysseus’?
183-5 & 187 – Nightfall and morning are expressed like this many times in the Odyssey. This moment of repeated composition both gives a break from the tension that builds throughout this (and many other) episodes; perhaps it also mirrors that nature continues, whatever Odysseus and his crew are up to.
καὶ τότ᾽ ἐγὼν ἀγορὴν θέμενος μετὰ πᾶσιν ἔειπον·
“ Κέκλυτέ μευ μύθων, κακά περ πάσχοντες ἑταῖροι·
ὦ φίλοι, οὐ γάρ ἴδμεν ὅπῃ ζόφος οὐδ᾽ ὅπῃ ἠώς, 190
οὐδ᾽ ὅπῃ ἠέλιος φαεσίμβροτος εἶσ᾽ ὑπὸ γαῖαν
οὐδ᾽ ὅπῃ ἀννεῖται· ἀλλὰ φραζώμεθα θᾶσσον
εἴ τις ἔτ᾽ ἔσται μῆτις· ἐγὼ δ᾽ οὔκ οἴομαι εἶναι.
But when the early rising rosy-fingered dawn appeared then did I call a meeting and spoke amongst them all: ‘Listen to my words, even though you suffer hardships, my men. We do not know, my friends, where is west and where is east; nor where the sun which brings light to mortals goes below the earth not where it will rise; but let us consider rather fast, if we still have any plan – but I feel we do not!
191-2 ζόφος, ἠὼς = west, east. An overstatement to convey their reaction to a stressful situation.
νῆσον, τὴν πέρι πόντος ἀπείριτος ἐστεφάνωται. 195
αὐτὴ δὲ χθαμαλὴ κεῖται· καπνὸν δ᾽ ἐνὶ μέσσῃ
ἔδρακον ὀφθαλμοῖσι διὰ δρυμὰ πυκνὰ καὶ ὕλην.”
Ὣς ἐφάμην, τοῖσιν δὲ κατεκλάσθη φίλον ἦτορ
μνησαμένοις ἔργων Λαιστρυγόνος Ἀντιφάταο
Κύκλωπός τε βίης μεγαλήτορος, ἀνδροφάγοιο. 200
κλαῖον δὲ λιγέως, θαλερὸν κατὰ δάκρυ χέοντες·
ἀλλ᾽ οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις ἐγίγνετο μυρομένοισιν.
For going up to a rocky vantage point, I saw the island, which the unbounded sea encircles; but it lies low; and I saw with my eyes smoke through the thick undergrowth and woodland.’ So did I speak, and their own hearts were downcast when they remembered the doings of Antiphates the Laestrygonian and the might of the great-hearted Cyclops, the cannibal. And they wept loudly, pouring down copious tears, but there was no benefit to them in crying.
198 – smoke had been their first sign of the Cyclops – and that turned out badly.
200 – “Great-hearted” seems a rather inappropriate tag for the cannibal Cyclops.
ἠρίθμεον, ἀρχὸν δὲ μετ᾽ ἀμφοτέροισιν ὄπασσα·
τῶν μὲν ἐγὼν ἄρχον, τῶν δ᾽ Εὐρύλοχος θεοειδής. 205
κλήρους δ᾽ ἐν κυνέῃ χαλκήρεϊ πάλλομεν ὦκα·
ἐκ δ᾽ ἔθορε κλῆρος μεγαλήτορος Εὐρυλόχοιο.
βῆ δ᾽ ἰέναι, ἅμα τῷ γε δύω καὶ εἴκοσ᾽ ἑταῖροι
κλαίοντες· κατὰ δ᾽ ἄμμε λίπον γοόωντας ὄπισθεν.
But I numbered off all my well-greaved companions into two, and I appointed a leader for each party. I was the leader of one group, and godlike Eurylochus of the other. Straightaway we shook lots in a bronze helmet, and the lot of great-hearted Eurylochus came out, and he went off to set out and with him twenty two companions who were in distress, and they left us in tears behind them.
ξεστοῖσιν λάεσσι, περισκέπτῳ ἐνὶ χώρῳ.
ἀμφὶ δέ μιν λύκοι ἦσαν ὀρέστεροι ἠδὲ λέοντες,
τοὺς αὐτὴ κατέθελξεν, ἐπεὶ κακὰ φάρμακ᾽ ἔδωκεν.
οὐδ᾽ οἵ γ᾽ ὁρμήθησαν ἐπ᾽ ἀνδράσιν, ἀλλ᾽ ἄρα τοί γε
οὐρῇσιν μακρῇσι περισσαίνοντες ἀνέσταν. 215
ὡς δ᾽ ὅτ᾽ ἂν ἀμφὶ ἄνακτα κύνες δαίτηθεν ἰόντα
σαίνωσ᾽· αἰεὶ γάρ τε φέρει μειλίγματα θυμοῦ·
ὣς τοὺς ἀμφὶ λύκοι κρατερώνυχες ἠδὲ λέοντες
σαῖνον· τοὶ δ᾽ ἔδεισαν, ἐπεὶ ἴδον αἰνὰ πέλωρα.
They found Circe’s well-built dwelling in the glens in a place with a good all-round view. And round it there were wolves and lions reared on the mountain, and she bewitched them when she gave them sinister drugs. But they did not rush at the men, but they actually stood their ground, fawning with their long tails. And as whenever dogs fawn around their master as he comes from the feast, for he always has something to sooth their spirit, so did the wolves with their powerful claws and the lions fawn around them; and they were afraid when they saw the terrible creatures.
211 – περισκέπτῳ – probably ‘with a view all round’ (σκέπτομαι) though possibly ‘sheltered’ (σκέπω).
213 – Magic is a stronger element in the Circe story than the rest of the Odyssey.
Κίρκης δ᾽ ἔνδον ἄκουον ἀειδούσης ὀπὶ καλῇ,
ἱστὸν ἐποιχομένης μέγαν ἄμβροτον, οἷα θεάων
λεπτά τε καὶ χαρίεντα καὶ ἀγλαὰ ἔργα πέλονται.
τοῖσι δὲ μύθων ἄρχε Πολίτης, ὄρχαμος ἀνδρῶν,
ὅς μοι κήδιστος ἑτάρων ἦν κεδνότατός τε· 225
“ Ὦ φίλοι, ἔνδον γάρ τις ἐποιχομένη μέγαν ἱστὸν
καλὸν ἀοιδιάει, δάπεδον δ᾽ ἅπαν ἀμφιμέμυκεν,
ἢ θεὸς ἠὲ γυνή· ἀλλὰ φθεγγώμεθα θᾶσσον.”
They stood in the doorway of the goddess with the beautiful hair, and they heard Circe as she sang with her beautiful voice going to and fro at her great everlasting weaving, such as are the fine and delicate and lovely works of the goddesses. Polites, a leading man, who was dearest and most respected of the companions to me, started saying to them: ‘My friends, someone working at a great loom is singing beautifully and the whole space is echoing around; it is either a goddess or a woman; but let us call her at once!’
221-4 – Circe has much in common with Calypso (V, 61-2). Both live alone on a wooded island, both weave & sing, both have strange powers. Circe is more of a challenge, but does in the end give Odysseus vital information for his next trip – to the Underworld.
225 – κήδιστος … κεδνότατος: nice balance of two superlatives enhancing each other.
ἡ δ᾽ αἶψ᾽ ἐξελθοῦσα θύρας ὤϊξε φαεινὰς 230
καὶ κάλει· οἱ δ᾽ ἅμα πάντες ἀϊδρείῃσιν ἕποντο·
Εὐρύλοχος δ᾽ ὑπέμεινεν, ὀϊσάμενος δόλον εἶναι.
εἷσεν δ᾽ εἰσαγαγοῦσα κατὰ κλισμούς τε θρόνους τε,
ἐν δέ σφιν τυρόν τε καὶ ἄλφιτα καὶ μέλι χλωρὸν
οἴνῳ Πραμνείῳ ἐκύκα· ἀνέμισγε δὲ σίτῳ 235
φάρμακα λύγρ᾽, ἵνα πάγχυ λαθοίατο πατρίδος αἴης.
So did he speak, and they shouted out to call her. And she coming straightaway opened the shining doors and called, and in their stupidity they all followed in with her. But Eurylochus stayed back, thinking there was a trick. And bringing them in, she set them on couches and chairs and she stirred up cheese and barley and fresh honey for them but she mixed in sinister drugs, so that they would forget their homeland.
228-232 = 255-258, excepting that 229 is not necessary in the latter passage, and Εὐρύλοχος δ’ ὑπέμεινεν alters to αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὑπέμεινα to change the person.
231 – κατὰ . . . ἐέργνυ: take these together; a standard tmesis.
235 – Pramnean wine is also served in Iliad XI; but we have no knowledge of where Pramnos was.
236 – cf. the men with the Lotus-Eaters (IX, 94-7).
ῥάβδῳ πεπληγυῖα κατὰ συφεοῖσιν ἐέργνυ.
οἱ δὲ συῶν μὲν ἔχον κεφαλὰς φωνήν τε τρίχας τε
καὶ δέμας, αὐτὰρ νοῦς ἦν ἔμπεδος ὡς τὸ πάρος περ. 240
ὣς οἱ μὲν κλαίοντες ἐέρχατο· τοῖσι δὲ Κίρκη
πάρ ῥ᾽ ἄκυλον βάλανόν τ᾽ἔβάλεν καρπόν τε κρανείης
ἔδμεναι, οἷα σύες χαμαιευνάδες αἰὲν ἔδουσιν.
But when she had given this to them and they had consumed this, at that moment she struck them with her stick and shut them in the pigsties. They had the heads and voice and hair and body of pigs, but their mind inside was as as before. So off they went in sorrow, but Circe threw in some nuts, acorns and cornel berries, such as pigs which grovel on the ground always eat.
238 – Circe uses her wand or stick to herd swine; she uses potions to work the magic.
239 – The men look like pigs & eat pig food rather than becoming pigs.
242 – πάρ … ἔβαλεν ‘threw in besides’ Another tmesis, or consider πάρ as an adverb.
ἀγγελίην ἑτάρων ἐρέων καὶ ἀδευκέα πότμον. 245
οὐδέ τι ἐκφάσθαι δύνατο ἔπος, ἱέμενός περ,
κῆρ ἄχεϊ μεγάλῳ βεβολημένος· ἐν δέ οἱ ὄσσε
δακρυόφιν πίμπλαντο, γόον δ᾽ ὠΐετο θυμός.
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δή μιν πάντες ἀγασσάμεθ᾽ ἐξερέοντες,
καὶ τότε τῶν ἄλλων ἑτάρων κατέλεξεν ὄλεθρον· 250
But Eurylochus came back again to the swift black ship to tell the news and the grim fate of his companions. But he was not able to say a word, though he was keen to do so, being struck in the heart with great grief; his eyes were welling up with tears and his mind was intent on wailing. But when we all asked him lots of questions and were confused, then it was he told us the downfall of the other comrades:
εὕρομεν ἐν βήσσῃσι τετυγμένα δώματα καλὰ
ξεστοῖσιν λάεσσι, περισκέπτῳ ἐνὶ χώρῳ.
ἔνθα δέ τις μέγαν ἱστὸν ἐποιχομένη λίγ᾽ ἄειδεν
ἢ θεὸς ἠὲ γυνή· τοὶ δ ἐφθέγγοντο καλεῦντες. 255
ἡ δ᾽ αἶψ᾽ ἐξελθοῦσα θύρας ὤϊξε φαεινὰς
καὶ κάλει· οἱ δ᾽ ἅμα πάντες ἀϊδρείῃσιν ἕποντο·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ὑπέμεινα, ὀϊσάμενος δόλον εἶναι.
οἱ δ᾽ ἅμ᾽ ἀϊστώθησαν ἀολλέες, οὐδέ τις αὐτῶν
ἐξεφάνη· δηρὸν δὲ καθήμενος ἐσκοπίαζον.” 260
‘We went, noble Odysseus, as you ordered through the woods; we found in the glens those fine apartments built with polished stones in a place with a good all-round view. And there someone working at a great loom was singing in a piercing tone, either a goddess or a woman; and they shouted out and called her. And she came straight away and opened the shining doors and called them in; and in their stupidity they all followed in together. But I hung back, thinking it was a trick. They have been destroyed all together, and not one of them reappeared – I sat there for a long time and watched.’
254 (roughly) = 226/7; nice development of a formula.
259 – Eurylochus says they have vanished, but at 431 he clearly realises that they have been transformed. A slight disjoint in the story, unless it is to show Eurylochus emotionally stressed and not able to think straight. He is the only one who ever challenges Odysseus’s authority (268-9).
ὤμοιϊν βαλόμην, μέγα χάλκεον, ἀμφὶ δὲ τόξα·
τὸν δ᾽ ἂψ ἠνώγεα αὐτὴν ὁδὸν ἡγήσασθαι.
αὐτὰρ ὅ γ᾽ ἀμφοτέρῃσι λαβὼν ἐλλίσσετο γούνων
καί μ᾽ ὀλοφυρόμενος ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα· 265
“ Μή μ᾽ ἄγε κεῖσ᾽ ἀέκοντα, διοτρεφές, ἀλλὰ λίπ᾽ αὐτοῦ.
οἶδα γάρ, ὡς οὔτ᾽ αὐτὸς ἐλεύσεαι οὔτε τιν᾽ ἄλλον
ἄξεις σῶν ἑτάρων· ἀλλὰ ξὺν τοίσδεσι θᾶσσον
φεύγωμεν· ἔτι γάρ κεν ἀλύξαιμεν κακὸν ἦμαρ.”
So did he speak and I buckled my great bronze silver-studded sword on my shoulders and my arrows; and I told him to lead me back along the same route. But he, grabbing me with both hands around my knees, and appealing piteously spoke winged words to me: ‘Do not take me there against my will, godlike one, but leave me here! For I know that you will not come back yourself and will not bring back anyone else. But let us flee quickly with these men, for we would still escape the day of disaster!’
“ Εὐρύλοχ᾽, ἦ τοι μὲν σὺ μέν᾽ αὐτοῦ τῷδ᾽ ἐνὶ χώρῳ
ἔσθων καὶ πίνων, κοίλῃ παρὰ νηῒ μελαίνῃ·
αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν εἶμι· κρατερὴ δέ μοι ἔπλετ᾽ ἀνάγκη.”
So did he speak, but in reply I addressed him: ‘Eurylochus, yes, you stay in this place, eating and drinking by the hollow black ship! But I shall go; I have a serious duty!’
273 – ἀνάγκη: Odysseus is clearly driven.
ἀλλ᾽ ὅτε δὴ ἄρ᾽ ἔμελλον ἰὼν ἱερὰς ἀνὰ βήσσας 275
Κίρκης ἵξεσθαι πολυφαρμάκου ἐς μέγα δῶμα,
ἔνθα μοι Ἑρμείας χρυσόρραπις ἀντεβόλησεν
ἐρχομένῳ πρὸς δῶμα, νεηνίῃ ἀνδρὶ ἐοικώς,
πρῶτον ὑπηνήτῃ, τοῦ περ χαριέστατος ἥβη·
ἔν τ᾽ ἄρα μοι φῦ χειρὶ, ἔπος τ᾽ ἔφατ᾽ ἔκ τ᾽ ὀνόμαζε· 280
So speaking I went up from the ship and the sea. But when as I went along through the enchanted glades, when I was about to get to the great house of Circe with her many drugs, there Hermes with his golden wand met me as I was going to the house; he looked like a young man, growing a beard for the first time, and his youth is particularly pleasing, and he took my hand and spoke and addressed me:
275-80 – A long sentence with many paratactic clauses which moves the story along.
277 – We are not told how Odysseus knows it is Hermes; he may infer it later from Circe (330-20). This, along with other stories told by Odysseus, may have originally been a third person account, rather than Odysseus’ account to the Phaeacians.
χώρου ἄϊδρις ἐών; ἕταροι δέ τοι οἵδ᾽ ἐνὶ Κίρκης
ἔρχαται, ὥς τε σύες, πυκινοὺς κευθμῶνας ἔχοντες.
ἦ τοὺς λυσόμενος δεῦρ᾽ ἔρχεαι; οὐδέ σέ φημι
αὐτὸν νοστήσειν, μενέεις δὲ σύ γ᾽ ἔνθα περ ἄλλοι. 285
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε δή σε κακῶν ἐκλύσομαι ἠδὲ σαώσω·
τῆ, τόδε φάρμακον ἐσθλὸν ἔχων ἐς δώματα Κίρκης
ἔρχευ, ὅ κέν τοι κρατὸς ἀλάλκῃσιν κακὸν ἦμαρ.
πάντα δέ τοι ἐρέω ὀλοφώϊα δήνεα Κίρκης.
‘Where indeed are you going on your own through the wilds you poor man, who does not know the country? These companions of yours are going round like swine at Circe’s house, and have crowded sties. I tell you that you will not come back again yourself, but you will stay there just where the others are. But come now, I shall release you from your problems and will save you. Here! Go to Circe’s house, keeping this good drug, which will avert the evil day from your person. And I shall tell you Circe’s deadly schemes.
283 – ἔρχαται: plural; N.B. –αται for –νται.
285 – μενέεις: future; this would be contracted in Attic Greek.
ἀλλ᾽ οὐδ᾽ ὣς θέλξαι σε δυνήσεται· οὐ γὰρ ἐάσει
φάρμακον ἐσθλόν, ὅ τοι δώσω, ἐρέω δὲ ἕκαστα.
ὁππότε κεν Κίρκη σ᾽ ἐλάσῃ περιμήκεϊ ῥάβδῳ,
δὴ τότε σὺ ξίφος ὀξὺ ἐρυσσάμενος παρὰ μηροῦ
Κίρκῃ ἐπαΐξαι, ὥς τε κτάμεναι μενεαίνων. 295
ἡ δέ σ᾽ ὑποδείσασα κελήσεται εὐνηθῆναι·
She will make you a potion, but she will cast drugs in your food; but not even so will she be able to bewitch you; for this fine drug, which I shall give to you will not let it happen, and I shall tell you all the details. Whenever Circe strikes you with her very long stick, right then you must draw your sharp sword from beside your thigh and rush at Circe as if intending to kill her. She will be terrified of you and will invite you to go to bed with her.
290 – κυκεῶ is the accusative of κυκεῶν, shortened from κυκεῶνα.
ὄφρα κέ τοι λύσῃ θ᾽ ἑτάρους αὐτόν τε κομίσσῃ·
ἀλλὰ κέλεσθαί μιν μακάρων μέγαν ὅρκον ὀμόσσαι
μή τί τοι αὐτῷ πῆμα κακὸν βουλευσέμεν ἄλλο, 300
μή σ᾽ ἀπογυμνωθέντα κακὸν καὶ ἀνήνορα θήῃ.”
Then you must not refuse the goddess’ bed so that she may both free your companions and set you on your way; but tell her to swear a great oath of the blessed gods not to plot any other awful problem for you nor to get the better of you and make you feeble when you are unarmed.’
297 – ἀπανήνασθαι, and κέλεσθαι in 299: these infinitives translate as if imperatives (perhaps imagine ‘I tell you to . . .’)
300-1 μή first in two consecutive lines has to be emphatic; the first is with an infinitive of what she will swear; the second is a subjunctive ‘so she does not’ but could also translate as part of the oath that she will swear.
ἐκ γαίης ἐρύσας, καί μοι φύσιν αὐτοῦ ἔδειξε.
ῥίζῃ μὲν μέλαν ἔσκε, γάλακτι δὲ εἴκελον ἄνθος·
μῶλυ δέ μιν καλέουσι θεοί· χαλεπὸν δέ τ᾽ ὀρύσσειν 305
ἀνδράσι γε θνητοῖσι· θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα δύνανται
Speaking thus, the Slayer of Argus provided a drug having pulled it from the ground and he showed me its nature. It was black at the root and its flower was like milk; the gods call it ‘moly’. It is difficult for mortal men to dig up, but the gods can do everything.
302 – Argeiophontes = Hermes.
304 – ἔσκον is epic imperfect of εἰμί.
305 – moly – only the gods’ name for this is given and we have no idea what it is. ‘moly’ probably means a root of some kind. Odysseus seems to do nothing with it, but its mere presence protects him.
νῆσον ἀν᾽ ὑλήεσσαν, ἐγὼ δ᾽ ἐς δώματα Κίρκης
ἤϊα, πολλὰ δέ μοι κραδίη πόρφυρε κιόντι.
ἔστην δ᾽ εἰνὶ θύρῃσι θεᾶς καλλιπλοκάμοιο· 310
ἔνθα στὰς ἐβόησα, θεὰ δέ μευ ἔκλυεν αὐδῆς.
ἡ δ᾽ αἶψ᾽ ἐξελθοῦσα θύρας ὤϊξε φαεινὰς
καὶ κάλει· αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν ἑπόμην ἀκαχήμενος ἦτορ.
Hermes then went off through the wooded island to high Olympus, but I went to Circe’s house; as I went along my heart was heaving. I stood in the doorway of the goddess with the beautiful hair; standing there I called and the goddess heard my voice. She came out straight away and opened the shining doors and called me in; but I followed troubled in heart.
καλοῦ δαιδαλέου· ὑπὸ δὲ θρῆνυς ποσὶν ἦεν· 315
τεῦχε δέ μοι κυκεῶ χρυσέῳ δέπᾳ, ὄφρα πίοιμι,
ἐν δέ τε φάρμακον ἧκε, κακὰ φρονέουσ᾽ ἐνὶ θυμῷ.
αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δῶκέν τε καὶ ἔκπιον, οὐδέ μ᾽ ἔθελξε,
ῥάβδῳ πεπληγυῖα ἔπος τ᾽ ἔφατ᾽ ἔκ τ᾽ ὀνόμαζεν·
“ Ἔρχεο νῦν συφεόνδε, μετ᾽ ἄλλων λέξο ἑταίρων.” 320
And leading me in, she set me on a fine worked silver-studded chair and beneath my feet there was a stool. She made me a potion in a golden cup, so that I would drink it, and she put in a drug, devising trouble in her mind. But when she gave it and I drank it and she did not bewitch me, striking me with her stick she spoke and addressed me: ‘Go now to the sty and lie down with your other companions!’
Κίρκῃ ἐπήϊξα ὥς τε κτάμεναι μενεαίνων.
ἡ δὲ μέγα ἰάχουσα ὑπέδραμε καὶ λάβε γούνων,
καί μ᾽ ὀλοφυρομένη ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·
“ Τίς πόθεν εἰς ἀνδρῶν; πόθι τοι πόλις ἠδὲ τοκῆες; 325
θαῦμά μ᾽ ἔχει ὡς οὔ τι πιὼν τάδε φάρμακ᾽ ἐθέλχθης.
οὐδὲ γὰρ οὐδέ τις ἄλλος ἀνὴρ τάδε φάρμακ᾽ ἀνέτλη,
ὅς κε πίῃ καὶ πρῶτον ἀμείψεται ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
σοὶ δέ τις ἐν στήθεσσιν ἀκήλητος νόος ἐστίν.
So she spoke, but drawing my sharp sword from beside my thigh, I rushed at Circe as if intending to kill her. She shrieked loudly and ducked down and grabbed my knees, and imploring me she spoke winged words: ‘Who are you and where on earth are you from? Where are your home town and your parents? I am amazed that when you drink these drugs you are not at all bewitched. For no! No other man has resisted these drugs who has drunk them and they have once passed his teeth! You have a mind in your breast that is proof against enchantment.
326 – θαῦμά μ’ ἔχει ὡς οὔ τι πιὼν τάδε φάρμακ’ ἐθέλθχης. This alliterative line (τ,θ; π,φ; κ,χ), following the short questions of 325 express Circe’s confusion. If Circe really knows that this is Odysseus (l.330-2) these are rhetorical questions.
327 – The repetition of οὐδὲ is very emphatic.
φάσκεν ἐλεύσεσθαι χρυσόρραπις ἀργειφόντης,
ἐκ Τροίης ἀνιόντα θοῇ σὺν νηῒ μελαίνῃ.
ἀλλ᾽ ἄγε δὴ κολεῷ μὲν ἄορ θέο, νῶϊ δ᾽ ἔπειτα
εὐνῆς ἡμετέρης ἐπιβήομεν, ὄφρα μιγέντε
εὐνῇ καὶ φιλότητι πεποίθομεν ἀλλήλοισιν.” 335
For sure, you are Odysseus the schemer who Hermes with his golden wand always said would come here returning from Troy with his swift ship! But come on now, put your sword in its scabbard and let the pair of us go to our bed, so joining in passion in bed we shall trust one another.’
333 – θέο = aor middle imperative of τίθημι, usually written θοῦ.
334 – ἡμετέπης: is Circe really meaning just ‘my’ or is this the start of drawing him in to a longer relationship; he does stay for a year (l. 467-8).
335 – εὐνῇ καὶ φιλότητι – Standard expression, but a rather nice hendiadys.
“ ὦ Κίρκη, πῶς γάρ με κέλεαι σοὶ ἤπιον εἶναι,
ἥ μοι σῦς μὲν ἔθηκας ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἑταίρους,
αὐτὸν δ᾽ ἐνθάδ᾽ ἔχουσα δολοφρονέουσα κελεύεις
ἐς θάλαμόν τ᾽ ἰέναι καὶ σῆς ἐπιβήμεναι εὐνῆς, 340
ὄφρα με γυμνωθέντα κακὸν καὶ ἀνήνορα θήῃς.
So she spoke, but I replied and addressed her: ‘Circe, how can you order me to be kind to you, who have turned my companions into pigs in your house, and are holding me myself here, and you cunningly tell me to go to your bedroom and to get into your bed, so that you can get me unarmed and make me feeble?
337 – Odysseus’ two sentences in 337-344 are longer than usual to deliver a relatively complex idea.
εἰ μή μοι τλαίης γε, θεά, μέγαν ὅρκον ὀμόσσαι
μή τί μοι αὐτῷ πῆμα κακὸν βουλευσέμεν ἄλλο.”
Ὥς ἐφάμην, ἡ δ᾽ αὐτίκ᾽ ἀπόμνυεν ὡς ἐκέλευον. 345
αὐτὰρ ἐπεί ῥ᾽ ὄμοσέν τε τελεύτησέν τε τὸν ὅρκον,
καὶ τότ᾽ ἐγὼ Κίρκης ἐπέβην περικαλλέος εὐνῆς.
I would not want to mount your bed, unless you were prepared, goddess, to swear a great oath not to plot any more evil trouble for myself!’ So did I speak, and she swore at once as I had told her to. But when she had sworn and completed her oath, only then it was that I mounted Circe’s lovely bed.
346 – If Odysseus seems more interested in Circe’s bed, it is what Hermes told him to do.
347-374– This scene is a splendid description of hospitality in Circe’s house ; in this respect she behaves as she should, despite her tendency to turn men into swine. Dramatically it works well to delay the return of the men to their human form, and there is no issue that Odysseus has not been keen for this to happen – rather the opposite; he will not eat till this is done.
τέσσαρες, αἵ οἱ δῶμα κάτα δρήστειραι ἔασι.
γίγνονται δ᾽ ἄρα ταί γ᾽ ἔκ τε κρηνέων ἀπό τ᾽ ἀλσέων 350
ἔκ θ᾽ ἱερῶν ποταμῶν, οἵ τ᾽ εἰς ἅλαδε προρέουσι.
τάων ἡ μὲν ἔβαλλε θρόνοις ἔνι ῥήγεα καλά,
πορφύρεα καθύπερθ᾽, ὑπένερθε δὲ λῖθ᾽ ὑπέβαλλεν·
Meanwhile four maidservants were busy in the house, who were her workers around the home. They are born from the springs and the groves and the sacred rivers which run to the sea. One of them was casting fine linen on the chairs and purple covers on top;
ἀργυρέας, ἐπὶ δέ σφι τίθει χρύσεια κάνεια· 355
ἡ δὲ τρίτη κρητῆρι μελίφρονα οἶνον ἐκίρνα
ἡδὺν ἐν ἀργυρέῳ, νέμε δὲ χρύσεια κύπελλα·
ἡ δὲ τετάρτη ὕδωρ ἐφόρει καὶ πῦρ ἀνέκαιε
πολλὸν ὑπὸ τρίποδι μεγάλῳ· ἰαίνετο δ᾽ ὕδωρ.
the second was setting out silver tables before the chairs, and was putting on them golden dishes; the third was mixing sweet wine that relieves care in a silver mixing bowl and was arranging golden goblets, and the fourth was bringing water and lighting a good fire under a great tripod and the water was getting hot.
ἔς ῥ᾽ ἀσάμινθον ἕσασα λό᾽ ἐκ τρίποδος μεγάλοιο,
θυμῆρες κεράσασα κατὰ κρατός τε καὶ ὤμων,
ὄφρα μοι ἐκ κάματον θυμοφθόρον εἵλετο γυίων.
But when the water was boiling in the bronze cauldron, she set me in a bath and washed me from the great cauldron, mixing it to please me, from my head and shoulders, so that she would relieve the soul-destroying pain from my limbs.
361 – λό’: a version of λούω in the imperfect.
ἀμφὶ δέ με χλαῖναν καλὴν βάλεν ἠδὲ χιτῶνα, 365
εἷσε δέ μ᾽ εἰσαγαγοῦσα ἐπὶ θρόνου ἀργυροήλου,
καλοῦ δαιδαλέου· ὑπὸ δὲ θρῆνυς ποσὶν ἦεν·
χέρνιβα δ᾽ ἀμφίπολος προχόῳ ἐπέχευε φέρουσα
καλῇ χρυσείῃ, ὑπὲρ ἀργυρέοιο λέβητος,
νίψασθαι· παρὰ δὲ ξεστὴν ἐτάνυσσε τράπεζαν. 370
But when she had washed me and anointed me with oil, she put around me a fine cloak and tunic, and taking me in she sat me on a silver-studded chair which was fine and elaborate. A maid carried washing water in a fine golden jug and poured it over a silver basin to wash in; and she put out a polished table.
εἴδατα πόλλ᾽ ἐπιθεῖσα, χαριζομένη παρεόντων·
ἐσθέμεναι δ᾽ ἐκέλευεν· ἐμῷ δ᾽ οὐ ἥνδανε θυμῷ,
ἀλλ᾽ ἥμην ἀλλοφρονέων, κακὰ δ᾽ ὄσσετο θυμός.
A dignified steward brought food and put it by me, setting out many choice things, treating me from her stores, and she told me to eat. But it did not please my spirit; I rather sat thinking of other things and my mind was having grim thoughts.
χεῖρας ἰάλλοντα, κρατερὸν δέ με πένθος ἔχοντα,
ἄγχι παρισταμένη ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·
“ Τίφθ᾽ οὕτως, Ὀδυσεῦ, κατ᾽ ἄρ᾽ ἕζεαι ἶσος ἀναύδῳ,
θυμὸν ἔδων, βρώμης δ᾽ οὐχ ἅπτεαι οὐδὲ ποτῆτος;
ἦ τινά που δόλον ἄλλον ὀΐεαι· οὐδέ τί σε χρὴ 380
δειδίμεν· ἤδη γάρ τοι ἀπώμοσα καρτερὸν ὅρκον.”
But when Circe saw that I was sitting and not stretching out my hands to the food, and that I was feeling great grief, she stood by me and spoke winged words: ‘Why ever are you sitting here, Odysseus, like a dumb man eating your heart out, and not touching the food and drink? Is it that you somehow think it is some other trick? You should not be afraid; for I have already sworn a powerful oath to you.’
“ ὦ Κίρκη, τίς γάρ κεν ἀνήρ, ὃς ἐναίσιμος εἴη,
πρὶν τλαίη πάσσασθαι ἐδητύος ἠδὲ ποτῆτος,
πρὶν λύσασθ᾽ ἑτάρους καὶ ἐν ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ἰδέσθαι; 385
ἀλλ᾽ εἰ δὴ πρόφρασσα πιεῖν φαγέμεν τε κελεύεις,
λῦσον, ἵν᾽ ὀφθαλμοῖσιν ἴδω ἐρίηρας ἑταίρους.”
So she spoke, but I addressed her in reply: ‘Circe, what man who is of good mind would manage to taste food and drink, before getting his companions freed and seeing them with his own eyes? But if you are indeed being thoughtful in asking me to drink and eat, free them, so that I can see my trusty companions with my eyes.’
ῥάβδον ἔχουσ᾽ ἐν χειρί, θύρας δ᾽ ἀνέῳξε συφειοῦ,
ἐκ δ᾽ ἔλασεν σιάλοισιν ἐοικότας ἐννεώροισιν. 390
οἱ μὲν ἔπειτ᾽ ἔστησαν ἐναντίοι, ἡ δὲ δι᾽ αὐτῶν
ἐρχομένη προσάλειφεν ἑκάστῳ φάρμακον ἄλλο.
So I spoke, and Circe went off through the hall, holding her stick in her hand and she opened the door of the pigsty and she drove them out like fat hogs. While they stood in front of her, she went among them and smeared another ointment on each one.
φάρμακον οὐλόμενον, τό σφιν πόρε πότνια Κίρκη·
ἄνδρες δ᾽ ἂψ ἐγένοντο νεώτεροι ἢ πάρος ἦσαν 395
καὶ πολὺ καλλίονες καὶ μείζονες εἰσοράασθαι.
ἔγνωσαν δ᾽ἐμὲ κεῖνοι, ἔφυν τ᾽ ἐν χερσὶν ἕκαστος.
πᾶσιν δ᾽ ἱμερόεις ὑπέδυ γόος, ἀμφὶ δὲ δῶμα
σμερδαλέον κονάβιζε· θεὰ δ᾽ ἐλέαιρε καὶ αὐτή.
The bristles fell off their limbs, the bristles which the deadly drug which the lady Circe had given them had first produced, and they became men again, younger than they were before and much more handsome and larger to behold. They recognised me I embraced each one. An affectionate wailing arose from us all and it re-echoed tremendously around the house; and even the goddess herself pitied us.
399 – σμερδαλέον κανάχιζε: this onomatopoeia marks an emotional climax.
In Our Time: The Odyssey
BBC Radio discussion about the content, history and impact of the Odyssey.
Listen to the whole of Book 10 of the Odyssey, translated into English by Robert Fagles, read by Ian McKellen.
Oxford University: Homer and Oral Performance
Chris Pelling (Regius Professor of Greek, Oxford University) talks about Homer and Oral performance.
Homer’s “Odyssey”: A Companion to the English Translation of Richmond Lattimore by Peter Jones (BCP 1991)
The Odyssey by Homer (Author), Dominic Rieu (Editor), Peter Jones (Introduction), E. V. Rieu (Translator) (Penguin 2003)
Homer’s Odyssey (W.W. Merry and J. Riddell) (Oxford 1886)