III.2. Tears in a Different World: The Odyssey

The “world of Odysseus” presents us with the disorder in Ithaca, a kingdom without a king, ruled in the interim by a woman, and the strange universe of the journey where “from the Lotus-eaters to Calypso, passing by way of the Cyclops and the Underworld, Odysseus does not encounter a single human being, technically speaking.” [1]
In this radically different context from the Iliad, the act of crying seems to be situated, through a shift in meaning, to another plane. Nowhere in the Iliad is it ever stated that tears must be contained or controlled; things are different in the Odyssey. Tears are at times forbidden and at times allowed. What are the criteria for making this distinction? Focusing on the character of Odysseus, I will try to clarify the discrepancy between the Odyssey and the Iliad.

When and Why Does Odysseus Hold Back Tears?

Though Odysseus cries often, he does not do so the same way in every case. A prisoner of Calypso, he spends his days apart, crying over the impossibility of his return. Far from the nymph’s cave, “on the shore of this island where, with a word, he could become immortal, sitting on a rock, facing the sea, Odysseus wails and sobs all day long.” [2] Not until nightfall does he return to Calypso (Odyssey 5.154–155). [3] The first appearance of the character Odysseus in the poem is thus placed under the sign of grief. The essence of his character, the polutlas ‘he who has suffered greatly’, resides as much in his suffering as in his heroism.
While with the Phaeacians, when the bard Demodocus is singing, he raises his mantle over his head to hide his tears from the audience:
Thus sang the bard, but Odysseus drew his purple mantle over his head and covered his face, for he was ashamed to let the Phaeacians see that he was weeping. When the bard left off singing he wiped the tears from his eyes, uncovered his face, and, taking his cup, made a drink-offering to the gods.
Odyssey 8.83–89 [4]
After each of Demodocus’ performances, Homer emphasizes Odysseus’ desire to hide his tears. Even in his sorrow, Odysseus practices dissimulation, as if the act of hiding—literally behind a mantle or figuratively behind lies and ruses—were a defining characteristic of his nature. [5] At other moments in the narrative, the need to refrain from crying and to hold back tears is emphasized. For instance, Odysseus orders those of his men who escaped the wrath of the Cyclops not to cry: this is a matter of not wasting enthusiasm or the time needed to embark (Odyssey 9.468–469).
Once he has returned to Ithaca, we see him struggling against the emotion that overtakes him upon seeing his son and holding back his tears as long as possible. Odysseus only yields to his weeping afterwards, when on the order of Athena he reveals his true identity to Telemachus. Transformed by Athena’s golden wand, he regains his stature and beauty; the “long-suffering hero” can then cry:
As he spoke he kissed his son, and a tear fell from his cheek on to the ground, for he had restrained all tears till now.
Odyssey 16.190–191 [6]
Later, transformed for the needs of the plot into an unrecognizable old beggar, Odysseus himself expresses the idea that tears are useless and improper, during a conversation with Penelope. Crying too much in someone else’s house can easily be compared to another type of excess, drunkenness (19.118–122). [7] Holding back tears is the best form of conduct for a man, as is made clear in the last exchange between Odysseus “the stranger” and Penelope (19.209–211):
… even so did her cheeks overflow with tears … Odysseus felt for her and was for her, but he kept his eyes as hard as horn or iron without letting them so much as quiver, so cunningly did he restrain his tears.
It is worth lingering a bit on these three verses, since several notable layers of meaning can be observed, especially if we digress and connect them with another crucial passage from the Odyssey: the contest of the bow in Odyssey 21. There, horn and iron are also associated: the great bow of Odysseus is made of horn (kera, 21.395), and the arrows must pass through iron axes (21.81, 97, 114, 328). [8] The emphasis is placed on the hardness and solidity of these elements.
In the Iliad, we observe parallel, but inverted, play on the value of horns as a theme. Two characters draw our attention: Paris and Pandarus, both archers. Pandarus’ bow is described precisely: it is made from the horns of a wild ibex (Iliad 4.105). And Paris is the target of insults that have been interpreted in various ways since antiquity: “Archer [toxota], you who without your bow are nothing, you who take pride in your locks [kerai aglae], slanderer and seducer” (11.385). [9] The expression kerai aglae could refer to a particular hairstyle in the shape of a horn, [10] to the bow, or to Paris’ immoderate use of his sexuality. In any case, these different themes are interlaced around the figure of the archer, who in the Iliad might sometimes be a gunaimanês ‘womanizer’ (3.39; 13.769), but who is always a coward or a traitor.
To the extent that horns have a value as a “symbol of vital masculine energy,” [11] there is a clearly drawn boundary in the epic between good and bad masculinity—associated, obviously, with a heroic and anti-heroic way of fighting. In this respect, the Odysseus of the Odyssey belongs, without any doubt, to the first category.
“He kept his eyes as hard as … iron”: if the value of horns is inscribed in the semantic field of sexuality, iron itself is associated with war. Achilles, in the middle of the fray, possesses a menos equal to blazing fire (Iliad 20.372), a heart of iron (22.357), and a voice of brass (18.222). From the glimmer of armor to the inflexible determination of a brave heart, it is as if there is no difference in register: iron and bronze are the obligatory referents of war and masculinity. [12]
Odysseus holding back his tears in front of Penelope is then doubly characterized by words with connotations of masculinity: horn and iron. The joining of these two terms of comparison is reinforced further by the adverb atremas ‘immobile, without even a tremble’. Ultimately, his eyes, like the horn and iron, play a role similar to that of his mantle when he is with the Phaeacians: in both cases, Odysseus is hiding behind something to cry (Odyssey 8.83–89). [13] Hiding his tears behind the appearance of a hard and horned exterior, which resembles weapons and armor, Odysseus, the true Odysseus, i.e. the one who is hiding, is crying in the interior of his heart. The time has not yet come for him to surrender to tears; his apparent impassivity only underlines his andreia, his masculine bravery.
This self-mastery in the Odyssey is indeed the mark of a superior quality, of a valorous essence. The poet on two other occasions reprises this image of a man able to contain his emotion and handle the fury in his heart. These deal with the sons of the two principal heroes of Homeric epic.
As he endures the spectacle of his father’s mistreatment by the suitors, Telemachus is able to contain his emotion: “No tear fell from him, he shook his head in silence and brooded on his revenge” (Odyssey 17.490–491).
In the Underworld, Odysseus recalls for Achilles the bravery of his son Neoptolemus: his ardor exceeded that of all others, never was he afraid, never did emotion take hold over him. Odysseus recounts the ruse of the wooden horse:
Though all the other leaders and chief men among the Danaans were drying their eyes and quaking in every limb, I never once saw him turn pale nor wipe a tear from his cheek.
Odyssey 11.526–530 [14]
The absence of trembling, the hardness of horn or iron, impassivity—all are qualities that mark the difference between an ordinary nature and a superior soul. [15] In the world of the Odyssey, where the external war is over, imposing the necessary hardness to hold back tears is, perhaps, a way for a man to remember what it is to be a hero.

When Tears are Uncontrollable

Just as Achilles’ grief appears throughout the Iliad from beginning to end, the suffering, hardship, and sorrow of Odysseus are central motifs of the Odyssey. The situations Odysseus confronts push him time and again to the limits of human suffering. His unwavering resistance and active resignation (“Heart, be still,” Odyssey 20.18; also 10.153) make him a model of endurance, the polutlas, who has suffered greatly. During all his wanderings, his primary, inescapable adversary is death, against which he struggles desperately. One cannot fail to note that, when Odysseus falls prey to his tears, he is among non-humans, where the values of human society are not operative. The moral of the Iliad—die in combat or return victorious—is no longer in place in the supernatural worlds that Odysseus traverses. While he is, indeed, one of the victorious heroes of Troy, the terms of his return are clouded. And it is no small paradox in the poem to see this model of bravery, this champion of virility, become the prisoner of women in worlds where a warrior’s values are no longer strictly relevant.
The Iliad constantly evokes the hard necessities of the feminine condition during times of war: the woman, more often with her children, is taken prisoner by the man who has overcome her husband. She becomes his slave. This is a bit like what happens to Odysseus; unable to return to his native land, he is the captive of Circe, then Calypso. His life has been suspended, and it is precisely his weeping and sobbing that preserve him from the hand of death, that are the mark of his humanity. [16] When his return to Ithaca is finally set by the gods, Calypso requests that he put an end to his tears (Odyssey 5.151–158):
She found him sitting upon the beach with his eyes ever filled with tears, his sweet life wasting away as he wept for his homecoming; for he had got tired of Calypso, and though he was forced to sleep with her in the cave by night, it was she, not he, that would have it so. As for the daytime, he spent it on the rocks and on the seashore, weeping, crying aloud for his despair, and always looking out upon the sea. [17]
Certain details further specify the strangeness of Odysseus’ situation. Calypso and Circe are described in specific gold and silver clothing that they put on at sunrise (Odyssey 5.230–232 = 10.543–545). The bright clothing, the breaking of the day, and the love of the two goddesses are themes that recall the affairs of Aphrodite and Eos with their mortal lovers. [18] Odysseus, in his own way, is also a victim of abduction, as Orion and Tithonus are. He is virtually the prisoner of Calypso. For purely erotic reasons, the brave warrior Odysseus is in turn the prisoner of a nymph and of a magician. The reversal is total: the reasons for and conditions of his detention with Circe and Calypso are the antithesis of the ideal warrior. Thus, as a complete “anomaly,” the prisoner of a goddess in a supernatural land, Odysseus can no longer avoid being invaded by extreme suffering; no longer having masculine recourse, he can only abandon himself to tears.
Nor is it a surprise to find Odysseus in tears and terrified in the Under­world. In fact, “the extreme point of this exploration where Odysseus encounters different degrees of inhumanity is precisely what lies beyond death, the other side of the world from those living under the light of the sun.” [19] This exceptional ordeal, which by itself would broadly justify the tears of the hero, brings about new sorrow for Odysseus: seeing his mother among the other shadows, he learns at that moment of her death (Odyssey 11.87).
Throughout his travels, Odysseus is, in the end, only facing a single adversary: death, whether it be peaceful (the inhuman love of Circe or Calypso, forgetting in the land of the Lotus-eaters), violent and wild (the Laestrygonians, the Cyclops, the Sirens, Scylla and Charybdis), or dramatically immediate (the Nekyia). The sobs of Odysseus are a sign of the superposition of fabulous but terrible worlds, a “muddling” in which mortal man has neither place nor possible response.
The raging seas, cannibalistic monsters, and overly loving goddesses are not the only sources of tears that Odysseus experiences. His stay with the Phaeacians, the final stage in nonhuman lands, also brings its share of sorrow.
It is significant that during his time in Scheria Odysseus plunges back into a context that reminds him more of the world of war than of peaceful times suitable to the bonds of hospitality. With Alcinous, Odysseus reconnects completely with his past and his warrior’s nature. The restoration of his hero status becomes possible only because a bard, Demodocus, sings the epic of Troy.

Mediation by the Bard: The Tears of Odysseus, Hero of Troy

Scheria represents, as Pierre Vidal-Naquet has observed, a hinge between the inhuman world of stories and the real world of Ithaca. [20] The manner in which this episode functions as a passage or transition is implied on all levels of interpretation.
From the reputation of the Phaeacian sailors to the location and configuration of their island, everything in Scheria indicates that this is a place and moment of essential passage in the destiny of Odysseus. He is far from indifferent to whether the songs of the Phaeacian bard recover his heroic identity as conqueror of the Trojans; his tears act to reveal his identity. The three songs of Demodocus illustrate perfectly the two functions of the epic: to sing of warriors made famous for eternity by great deeds of war, and to entertain aristocrats at banquet [21] in a prosperous society at peace.
After the first banquet given in honor of Odysseus, the bard thus rises (Odyssey 8.73–75):
… the Muse inspired Demodocus to sing the glories of heroes. In particular it was something that had a kleos that reached all the way to the sky in its full breadth. It was the quarrel between Odysseus and Achilles.
While this story delights the Phaeacians, it immediately provokes tears in Odysseus (Odyssey 8.86, 92): it is his identity as the hero of Troy that he retrieves here, because he remembers. The song of the bard places him, in a sense, back in heroic circumstances: after all of the strange adventures that he has known in supernatural lands, he relives at this moment the siege of Troy and the suffering of war. His tears are as much a sign of his current plunge back into the world of warrior’s exploits as of his setting aside this heroic world of men, specifically because it fails to return the victor to his homeland.
In the same way, when he hears Demodocus celebrating the ruse of the Trojan Horse, he can no longer hold back his tears:
So these were the things that the singer most famed was singing. As for Odysseus, he dissolved into tears. He made wet his cheeks with the tears flowing from his eyelids, just as a woman cries, falling down and embracing her dear husband, who fell in front of the city and people he was defending, trying to ward off the pitiless day of doom that is hanging over the city and its children. She sees him dying, gasping for his last breath, and she pours herself all over him as she wails with a piercing cry. But there are men behind her, prodding her with their spears, hurting her back and shoulders, and they bring for her a life of bondage, which will give her pain and sorrow. Her cheeks are wasting away with a sorrow that is most pitiful. So also did Odysseus pour out a piteous tear from beneath his brows.
Odyssey 8.521–531 [22]
As Pietro Pucci has correctly observed, the song of heroic exploits “brings forth irresistible tears,” [23] and it is at this point that the actual metamorphosis of Odysseus takes place. Through his tears, Odysseus regains his past; the song of the bard pulls him again toward the realm of war, of the Iliad. What Gérard Genette calls the “oblique relationship” between the Odyssey and the Iliad [24] can be clearly observed in this passage. In memory of Ilion, Odysseus sheds the tears of a hero, tears significant on two levels: first, it is when the bard sings of Odysseus’ victory over Deiphobus (nikēsai, Odyssey 8.520) that his crying interrupts the story. On this first level, Odysseus is the “ransacker of cities,” the ptoliporthos [25] hero. On a second level, the tears of Odysseus and the comparison that they cause bring about the end of the interrupted story. [26] The mention of the hero who fell outside the walls of the city while defending his people and the widow taken off into slavery clearly refer to the story of Hector and Andromache. The female Trojan prisoners, implicitly evoked in Demodocus’ song (“He sang how the steep citadel was destroyed by different men [the Greeks] in different places,” 8.516), [27] can be found in the comparison to the anonymous woman sobbing over her husband.
The structure of this passage, however, remains highly complex, “as if swirling:” [28] in fact, from Demodocus’ story to the comparison that associates Odysseus with a widow, there is a double shift in perspective: from the Greeks destroying Ilion (plot) to the Trojan perspective (comparison: the Trojans are the vanquished in question); and from men in combat to a woman in tears.
Nevertheless, in order to describe great pain, the poet chooses once again to refer to a woman who is suffering. But the tears, so abundant that they justify this extreme comparison where Odysseus is himself likened to the most vulnerable of victims, [29] give Odysseus the full dimension of his heroic figure, illuminated by the reminder of his painful exploits.
On the other hand, when Demodocus entertains the audience with the love story of Ares and Aphrodite, Odysseus, like the Phaeacians, takes pleasure in the bard’s song. The poetic words are also entertaining:
Thus sang the bard, and both Odysseus and the seafaring Phaeacians were charmed as they heard him.
Odyssey 8.367–369 [30]
In a sense, the song of the bard sweeps away Odysseus’ time adrift at sea. By way of poetry, Odysseus returns to his identity as a great warrior; [31] having been, for the duration of two of the bard’s songs, a spectator to another version of himself celebrated by men, he can now return to Ithaca.

Odysseus the Bard

The song of the bard restores a trajectory of possible return for Odysseus. But the ties that the hero maintains with poetry are much more profound and essential. He is one of the Achaeans most celebrated by the bards (Odyssey 8.74–75), and at the same time, once his identity has been revealed, he occupies the place of the bard himself, telling his stories in the hall of Alcinous (9.19–20 and 37–38):
I am Odysseus son of Laertes, renowned among humankind for all manner of subtlety, so that my kleos ascends to the sky … I will tell you of the many hazardous adventures which by Zeus’ will I met with on my return from Troy.
The Sirens evoke this same glory of Odysseus, the hero of Troy, using terms from the Iliad. [32] Odysseus also, while with Alcinous, tells his story, which is an exceptional occurrence: [33] Odysseus is the only character in the epic to tell the tale of his own kleos, [34] his own glory.
Just as Achilles, withdrawn from combat, enjoys playing the cithara and singing the deeds of heroes (Iliad 9.189), Odysseus is both the hero and the bard of the Odyssey. The connections between the figure of the bard and of the hero become still more specific if we take into account where Achilles obtains his cithara: the very instrument of the bard is “part of the spoils that he had taken when he destroyed the city of Eëtion” (9.188). It is as if, between the hero ransacking cities and the bard at the lyre, there exists an obligatory complementarity. [35] It is not irrelevant that Achilles has struggled to obtain (the verb is arnumai) the lyre specifically, which he plays like a bard. When singing, “[Patroclus] sat in silence, facing him” (Iliad 9.190), just as the Phaeacians are attentive to Odysseus’ story (Odyssey 11.333–334; 13.1–2). The Phaeacian audience is charmed by Odysseus, and Alcinous praises him in these terms: “there is a style about your language as artful as a bard which assures me of your good disposition” (11.368). [36] Great heroes are also singers: “The supreme exploit is then to master language, the gift of poetry … the only true hero is the one who knows how to speak.” [37]
In this other world—the city of Scheria—which is not one of war, Odysseus regains access to his heroic path thanks to poetic song; his tears are those of a hero who remembers. It is as if, among the Phaeacians, his tears are another way for him to recall the valor in his limbs, a means to rediscover his identity. The art of the bard—first hearing it and then practicing it himself—is an obligatory transition from the complete, non-heroic anonymity to which he had been reduced in his wanderings to the all-powerful state he embodies at the end of the Odyssey, when he lands in Ithaca as much conqueror of Troy as king.
For Menelaus, another veteran of Troy, even when filled with all the prosperity of his kingdom, does he not cry? Specifically over his memories of Troy and his comrades in arms? “I often grieve, as I sit here in my house, for one and all of them. At times I cry aloud for sorrow” (Odyssey 4.100–101), he says to Telemachus.
Heroes, then, through their ability to remember, or more immediately through the powers of epos ‘poetry’, reunite with the essence of their heroic nature by way of their tears. In times of peace, the ability to cry while under the influence of poetic song acts, for the hero, like an extension of his ability to fight during times of war.

The Tears of Odysseus, King of Ithaca

Odysseus’ path to winning back his power is fraught with difficulties and hardships, yet, until he is fully reinstated as king, no tears fall from his eyes. [38] It is only after the contest of the bow and the massacre of the suitors, which marks the final transition of his return to royalty, that, with Penelope close, he ceases to contain his emotion and his tears:
Then Odysseus in his turn melted, and wept as he clasped his dear and faithful wife to his bosom.
Odyssey 22.231–232 [39]
By the feats he has accomplished, Odysseus has proven himself worthy of royalty and worthy of his wife; in the context of heroic qualification, his tears are possible. In a similar way, he is unable to hold back the emotion that overtakes him when confirming his identity to Laertes; Odysseus cries when reuniting with his father (Odyssey 24.234, 318–319). [40]
At the moment when Odysseus accomplishes the feat that confirms his heroism, the comparison that expresses his talent and ability refers once again to his close ties with the art of poetry (Odyssey 21.406–411):
But resourceful Odysseus, when he had taken it up and examined it all over, strung it as easily as a skilled bard strings a new peg of his lyre and makes the twisted gut fast at both ends. Then he took it in his right hand to prove the string, and it sang sweetly under his touch like the twittering of a swallow.
The figure of Odysseus is, in this moment, at the height of his power: handling the agonistic bow with ease, as the bard handles his cithara, making the string “sing” (aeise), he completes the act that definitively establishes his preeminence and restores order in Ithaca. [41] He is about to inflict great suffering upon the suitors, and only the bard Phemius will be spared (Odyssey 22.344–347).
This episode should be compared with the passages in Odyssey 8 and 9 where Odysseus reveals his true identity to the Phaeacians. In both cases his status changes: the stranger and guest becomes the lauded hero; the beggar mistreated by the suitors rises to the top of the social ladder in Ithaca. In Scheria, the song of the bard is a source of sorrow for him and a source of pleasure for the Phaeacians (terpsis, Odyssey 8.91, etc.); in Ithaca his skill, similar to that of a bard, leads to agony (achos) for the suitors and joy (gêthêsen, 21.414) [42] for himself. In the first case, under the effect of epos, he cries and then reconnects with his heroic past; in the second, the archer-bard and the bow-lyre permit a similar movement from anonymity to “recognition.”


[ back ] 1. Vidal-Naquet 1981:47: “des Lotophages à Calypso, en passant par la Cyclopie et le pays des morts, Ulysse ne rencontre pas un seul être humain à proprement parler.”
[ back ] 2. Vernant 1982a:17: “sur la rive de cette île où il n’aurait qu’un mot à dire pour devenir immortel, assis sur un rocher, face à la mer, Ulysse tout le jour se lamente et sanglote.”
[ back ] 3. For his tears, see Odyssey 5.82–84, 151–153, 156–158. Like Achilles, he goes off alone to express his despair; see J. B. Hainsworth’s commentary ad loc. in Hainsworth and Privitera 1982.
[ back ] 4. The same image is applied to Telemachus who, hearing Menelaus tell the story of his father’s exploits, hides behind his purple mantle to cry, Odyssey 4.115–116.
[ back ] 5. See Odyssey 8.532. We see the same idea, but from another perspective, when he hides his tears (lathōn) from Eumaeus after seeing his old dog Argos, 17.304–305. At other moments in the plot, an extensive field of associations with the hidden and the invisible is constructed around the character of Odysseus, a specialist in the art of dissimulation: He is disguised in rags as an unrecognizable beggar (in Troy, 4.245 and following; in Ithaca, 13.429 and following); hidden inside a wooden horse (8.502 and following), etc.
[ back ] 6. The expression nōlemes aiei ‘obstinately, without respite’ shows the extent to which Odysseus held back his emotion before the revelation of his identity.
[ back ] 7. The man who is “heavy” (19.122) with wine and whose moistened eyes “swim with tears” (dakruplōein).
[ back ] 8. Amory 1966:43–47.
[ back ] 9. See the detailed remarks on the possible meaning of this line in Onians 1954:242–243.
[ back ] 10. As P. Mazon’s French translation suggests: “homme fier de sa mèche” (“the man who takes pride in his locks”).
[ back ] 11. Amory 1966:56; see also Onians 1954:238–244.
[ back ] 12. Aeschylus, in his Seven against Thebes (50–53), summarizes this remarkably. If the seven leaders cry when thinking of their families “no piteous wailing escaped their lips. For their iron-hearted spirit heaved, blazing with courage, as of lions with war in their eyes” (trans. Smyth 1926).
[ back ] 13. See pp. 91–92 above.
[ back ] 14. “Quaking” is cowardly and not masculine. On the tresas, see Loraux 1977:108–114.
[ back ] 15. Remember, for example, Odysseus’ companions who spend their time crying; it is very often Odysseus who puts an end to their sobbing. See the comparison that presents him as a “mother” for his companions in tears, Odyssey 10.410–414.
[ back ] 16. On Odysseus’ predisposition to tears, which was condemned by the Stoics, see Stanford 1968:121–122 and 265–266n9.
[ back ] 17. On the aiōn being shed along with his tears, cf. p. 119 below.
[ back ] 18. For an overview of the question, see Boedeker 1974:64–84.
[ back ] 19. “Le point extrême de cette exploration où Ulysse rencontre différents degrés d’inhumanité, c’est précisément l’au-delà qu’est la mort, l’envers du monde des vivants sous la lumière du soleil” (Frontisi-Ducroux 1976:544).
[ back ] 20. Vidal-Naquet 1981:60 and following.
[ back ] 21. Odyssey 8.248: “We are extremely fond of good dinners, music, and dancing,” Alcinous says to Odysseus. In his commentary on the Odyssey, J. B. Hainsworth (Hainsworth and Privitera 1982) shows that this verse is modeled, though in inverted form, on Iliad 1.177 and 5.891, verses addressed to Achilles and Ares.
[ back ] 22. On the meaning of tēkō ‘dissolve’, see p. 113 below.
[ back ] 23. Pucci 1979:126.
[ back ] 24. Genette 1982:200.
[ back ] 25. See the remarks in Clay 1983:103–104.
[ back ] 26. Nagy (1979:101–102) has demonstrated this in detail.
[ back ] 27. See Hainsworth and Privitera 1982: ad loc.
[ back ] 28. Genette 1982:201: “comme tournoyante.”
[ back ] 29. Foley 1978:7; see also Schadewaldt 1965:382–383.
[ back ] 30. For an inversion of this scene, we could compare it to Odyssey 8.90–92 (Odysseus weeps, while the Phaeacians are delighted by Demodocus’ verses); cf. Diano 1963:418–419; Burkert 1960:136.
[ back ] 31. The kleos of the Achaeans sung by the bards is, especially, the tale of their painful trials; Odysseus states this explicitly to Demodocus (Odyssey 8.489–490): “ … in such good order do you sing the fate of the Achaeans with all their sufferings and adventures.”
[ back ] 32. On this point, see Pucci 1979.
[ back ] 33. See Segal 1983.
[ back ] 34. Segal 1983:24 points out that Odyssey 9.20 is the only passage in Homer where melō, often used in the third person, is used in the first person.
[ back ] 35. On the lyre and the bow, see Ramnoux 1962:102; Carlier 1981.
[ back ] 36. See also Odyssey 18.518–521 where Eumaeus tells of how Odysseus entranced him with his stories in the manner of a bard.
[ back ] 37. Frontisi-Ducroux 1976:543: “L’exploit suprême, c’est donc la maîtrise du langage, le don de la poésie ... le seul vrai héros est celui qui sait dire.” See also, from a more strictly philological perspective, Di Donato 1969:270–271.
[ back ] 38. With one exception: when he sees Telemachus at Odyssey 16.216–217; see p. 92 above.
[ back ] 39. Note the contrast between this passage and Odyssey 19.209–211 (cited above, p. 93) Odysseus cannot cry when disguised.
[ back ] 40. When thinking of Peleus, Achilles also cries, Iliad 24.511.
[ back ] 41. Segal 1962:51.
[ back ] 42. On the alternation of joy and sorrow while under the effect of epic song, see Segal 1983 passim.