Homeric Imagery and the Natural Environment

  Brockliss, William. 2019. Homeric Imagery and the Natural Environment. Hellenic Studies Series 82. Washington, DC: Center for Hellenic Studies. http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:hul.ebook:CHS_BrocklissW.Homeric_Imagery_and_the_Natural_Environment.2019.

5. Anchises’ Pastures, Laertes’ Orchards: Images of Civilization and Its Opposite

Having explored Homeric vegetal imagery that describes order and threats to that order at the cosmic level, we turn now to a set of images that explores similar concepts on the human scale. We found in Chapter 4 that the Homeric poets associated trees and pillars with stability in the cosmos and flowers with challenges to that order, and thereby offered their audiences insights into these abstract concepts. As we shall see, floral and arboreal images also accompany Homeric descriptions of civic order and its opposite.

But there are important distinctions to be drawn between the two sets of images. Firstly, the images of uncivilized wildernesses that we shall study do not, in fact, distinguish between floral and arboreal growths. Both kinds of growth are associated with the wild lands haunted by Pan or with the exotic locations visited by Odysseus. Secondly, Homeric images of cosmic and civic order differ in their treatment of wild and cultivated plants. The sorts of images of cosmic order that we considered in Chapter 4 all describe wild growths. There is no indication in any of these images that the growths in question were the result of human tendance: the heaven-high fir of Odyssey 5, the date-palm of the Hymn to Apollo, and the fir tree of the Διὸς ἀπάτη are all natural growths, no less than the flowers in the relevant passages. But as we shall see, the Homeric poems associate good order in human societies not simply with images of trees but more specifically with managed growths of trees, particularly those found in orchards. In the Odyssey, the labor required to maintain such plantations is associated with the work of kings, which upholds the good order of their communities. [1]

In this way, the Homeric poets suggested the comparative difficulty of maintaining order on earth. Only through the constant labor of kings can the good order of human societies be preserved; appropriately, the Homeric poets associate the maintenance of that order with the careful management of arboreal growths. By contrast, the images of wild arboreal growths that we studied above do not suggest that careful labor is needed to maintain order in the cosmos. And this is in keeping with the depictions of potential threats to Zeus’ supremacy that we discussed in the last chapter. Either these threats are not carried through or, if they are, they are not of a very serious nature. We might think, for instance, of the potential threat from Apollo in his Homeric hymn, which is never actualized, or of Hera’s brief challenge to Zeus’ rule in the Διὸς ἀπάτη, which he is able to face down with relative ease. Zeus’ power and might is much greater than that of kings; accordingly, his cosmic order is much more strongly established than the order of human communities.

Arboreal and Floral Imagery of Flourishing Cities in Hesiodic Poetry

We can set in relief the particular choices made by the Homeric poets in fashioning such imagery if again we consider equivalent images from the Hesiodic tradition. In Chapter 4, we studied comparanda from the Theogony for Homeric vegetal imagery of cosmic order. This time we shall focus on the Works and Days, which not only provides advice on farming but also depicts just and unjust human societies. Like their Homeric counterparts, the Hesiodic poets use vegetal imagery to explore the notion of the well-functioning polity. There is, however, an important difference between the uses of such imagery in the two poetic traditions. The Hesiodic poets associate both wild and cultivated growths with well-ordered societies, but as we shall see the Homeric images of flourishing polities focus on managed growths.

The differences between the treatments of wild growths in the Homeric and Hesiodic corpora become still more apparent when we compare further details from the Hesiodic description of the Just City with a Homeric image that at first sight appears closely to resemble the relevant lines from the Works and Days. At Works and Days 232–237, we learn that the city whose rulers give straight judgements to citizen and foreigner alike will be blessed with fertility of soil and womb:

          τοῖσι φέρει μὲν γαῖα πολὺν βίον, οὔρεσι δὲ δρῦς
          ἄκρη μέν τε φέρει βαλάνους, μέσση δὲ μελίσσας·
          εἰροπόκοι δ’ ὄιες μαλλοῖς καταβεβρίθασιν·
235    τίκτουσιν δὲ γυναῖκες ἐοικότα τέκνα γονεῦσιν·
          θάλλουσιν δ’ ἀγαθοῖσι διαμπερές· οὐδ’ ἐπὶ νηῶν
          νίσονται, καρπὸν δὲ φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα.

Works and Days 232–237

          To them the earth bears much livelihood; in the mountains the oak
          Bears acorns on high and bees in its middle;
          The woolly sheep are weighed down by their fleeces;
235    Women bear children that are like their parents;
          They flourish with good things continually; nor do they journey
          On ships, but the grain-giving plow-land bears fruit.

This passage alludes to numerous kinds of human, animal, and vegetal flourishing, including that of trees: children are born, resembling their parents; [
6] sheep are heavy with wool; the fields abound with fruit; oaks bear both acorns and bees.

At first glance, Odysseus’ description of the blessings brought by a just king at Odyssey 19.108–114 would seem to offer a close parallel for this Hesiodic passage:

                          ἦ γάρ σευ κλέος οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἱκάνει,
          ὥς τέ τευ ἢ βασιλῆος ἀμύμονος, ὅς τε θεουδὴς
110    ἀνδράσιν ἐν πολλοῖσιν καὶ ἰφθίμοισιν ἀνάσσων
          εὐδικίας ἀνέχῃσι, φέρῃσι δὲ γαῖα μέλαινα
          πυροὺς καὶ κριθάς, βρίθῃσι δὲ δένδρεα καρπῷ,
          τίκτῃ δ’ ἔμπεδα μῆλα, θάλασσα δὲ παρέχῃ ἰχθῦς
          ἐξ εὐηγεσίης, ἀρετῶσι δὲ λαοὶ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ.

Odyssey 19.108–114

                          Your fame reaches the wide heaven,
          As that of some excellent, god-fearing king,
110    Who among many men upholds justice,
          Ruling mighty subjects, and the black earth bears
          Wheat and barley, and the trees burgeon with fruit,
          And the flocks constantly bear young; through his good leadership
          The sea provides fish, and the people excel under him.

As with Works and Days 232–237, these lines associate just rulership with a flourishing realm. Due to the king’s good leadership (ἐξ εὐηγεσίης, 19.114) and to the justice he upholds (εὐδικίας ἀνέχῃσι, 109), not only do his people flourish—they are many, strong, and excellent (110, 114)—but the earth and its waters burgeon with life. The land bears cereal crops; trees are weighed down with fruit (111-112). Sheep moreover increase constantly, and the sea provides the king’s people with fish (113).

There are differences however between the vegetal images of the two passages and, indeed, between this passage of the Works and Days and the imagery of the Odyssey more generally. Odysseus’ allusion to trees heavy with fruit at Odyssey 19.112 might suggest an orchard—that is, a plantation within the spaces belonging to a human community. Note that it follows a reference to wheat and barley, the sorts of species that we would expect to find in agricultural fields (111–112). In any case, these trees are not explicitly associated with wild spaces. Our passage from the Works and Days, however, not only describes “grain-giving plow-land” but also oaks growing in the mountains—that is, in wild places beyond the control of the city. The flourishing of the Just City is associated, then, with both wild and domesticated spaces.

Wild Growths and Uncivilized Lands: The Hymns to Aphrodite and Pan, and Odyssey 5

Aphrodite takes on the outward appearance of a civilized human being, but this masks her affiliation with wild nature. We have already explored intersections of Aphrodite’s costume and speech with the themes of seduction and deception. But these elements of the hymn also interact with the theme of civilization. In order to seduce Anchises, Aphrodite dons the sorts of accoutrements that he might associate with a civilized maiden: she is decked in perfumes, oils, beautiful clothes, and dazzling jewelry (61–65, 85–90). In her lying speech at lines 108–142, she complements her refined appearance with allusions to civilized life, mentioning such details as a Trojan nurse and illustrious parents. And most importantly, she raises the prospect of marriage with Anchises—that is, the prospect of a union within the bounds of civilized mortal institutions.

But such promises are not borne out in her encounter with the Trojan prince, which turns out to be a brief erotic dalliance rather than the prelude to a marriage. What is more, events earlier in the hymn reveal Aphrodite to be not so much a civilized maiden as a goddess of wild nature. She has power over all creatures (lines 3–5), and while Anchises hunts wild animals and thus asserts dominance over them, Aphrodite encourages their natural proclivities: she causes them to mate as she journeys from Olympus to Ida (69–74). Under her influence, “they all at once / lay down two-by-two in their shady haunts” (οἱ δ’ ἅμα πάντες / σύνδυο κοιμήσαντο κατὰ σκιόεντας ἐναύλους, 73–74). The latter detail is echoed in her lying speech, despite its general focus on civilized themes. She describes how Hermes led her not only over environments controlled by mankind—their “many fields” (πολλὰ … ἔργα, 122)—but also over undefined spaces: she witnessed “unapportioned and unsettled land through which wild / flesh-eating beasts wander in their shady haunts” (ἄκληρόν τε καὶ ἄκτιτον ἣν διὰ θῆρες / ὠμοφάγοι φοιτῶσι κατὰ σκιόεντας ἐναύλους, 123-124). The phrase κατὰ σκιόεντας ἐναύλους thus appears both in Aphrodite’s speech (74) and in the narrator’s description of the wild places that she visits on her real journey to Ida (124) and gives emphasis to the goddess’ associations with wild nature. Anchises’ efforts to control the landscape of Ida, then, contrast with the wild forces associated with Aphrodite.

These pastures are, then, at once the haunt of wild animals and spaces that are exploited by herdsmen for civilized purposes: this is a landscape contested by forces of the wild and the civilized—the forces represented in the hymn by Aphrodite and Anchises. And such a contest is reflected in the descriptions of vegetation in these pastures. This vegetation is described in different ways before and after the lovemaking of Aphrodite and Anchises: the pastures are “grassy” ποιήεντας (78) on Aphrodite’s arrival, but “flowery” ἀνθεμοέντων (169) immediately after their lovemaking. The first phrase, νομοὺς κατὰ ποιήεντας, defines the lands of Ida in terms of their use by Anchises and his fellow pastoralists: they provide grassy fodder for their cows. It reflects the civilized purpose for which these lands are being exploited by the herdsmen. But the second phrase, νομῶν ἐξ ἀνθεμοέντων, describes these lands in terms of wild flowers.

Pan’s landscapes are likewise characterized by disorderliness, in contrast with the civilized order that Anchises and his companions have attempted to impose on the wild spaces of Ida. The first half of the hymn describes the untamed wilderness through which the god wanders. He visits snowy peaks (λόφον νιφόεντα, 6), rocky paths (πετρήεντα κέλευθα, 7), soft streams (ῥείθροισιν … μαλακοῖσιν, 9), and sheer rocks (πέτρῃσιν ἐν ἠλιβάτοισι, 10). The hymn mentions also the wild vegetation of Pan’s haunts, which include wooded groves (πίση / δενδρήεντ’, 2–3) and dense thickets (ῥωπήϊα πυκνά, 8). When the description of Pan’s haunts resumes in lines 25–26, we are once more offered an image of wild disorder. The god is depicted cavorting with nymphs in a disorderly meadow of saffron and hyacinth flowers. Pan’s saffron and hyacinth flowers are said to mingle “indiscriminately” (ἄκριτα, 26) with grass—in contrast with the discriminate (κριτά) spaces of civilization. [21] As in the case of Pan’s body, then, the root μι(σ)γ- describes a disorderly mingling. The description of disorderly mingling in the natural environment would have helped audiences to imagine the disorderly nature of Pan himself:

ἐν μαλακῷ λειμῶνι τόθι κρόκος ἠδ’ ὑάκινθος
εὐώδης θαλέθων καταμίσγεται ἄκριτα ποίῃ.

Hymn to Pan 25–26

… in a soft meadow where saffron and fragrant
Flourishing hyacinth mingle indiscriminately with the grass.

The indiscriminate mingling of this vegetation recalls the allusions to wild spaces and wild growths in the Hymn to Aphrodite, rather than the order that Anchises and other humans have tried to introduce to such spaces. As with the description of the “unapportioned and unsettled” (ἀκληρόν τε καὶ ἄκτιτον) haunts of wild beasts at Hymn to Aphrodite 123–124, lines 25–26 of the Hymn to Pan emphasize the lack of differentiation in Pan’s meadows; and as with the “flowery pastures” of Hymn to Aphrodite 169, which suggest the invasion of Aphrodite’s wild powers, these lines focus on the wild growths of flowers in the landscapes of Pan. Despite their occupying similar mountainous landscapes, then, Pan’s association with the disorder of wild nature contrasts sharply with Anchises’ attempts to impose order on such wildernesses.

The passages considered thus far draw on the wild floral and arboreal growths of the Greek natural environment to illustrate the notion of a lack of civilization: in the Hymn to Aphrodite, the description of flowery pastures accompanies the irruption of Aphrodite’s wild power into the spaces that Anchises and his fellow shepherds have attempted to control. The indiscriminate mingling of flowers in the meadow of Hymn to Pan 25–26 echoes the disorderly nature of the god himself and encapsulates the wild disorder of his favorite haunts.

We turn now to the vegetation that the Odyssey depicts in its account of Odysseus’ return home to Ithaca. The descriptions of the lands of Odysseus’ travels, both those of the main narrator and those of Odysseus, are remarkable for their sensitive portrayals of vegetation. As with the descriptions of Pan’s haunts in the Hymn to Pan, the relevant passages from the Odyssey focus on wild growths, particularly those of flowers and trees, and on the absence of cultivation. And as in the Hymn to Pan, such features reflect the lack of civilized order in the places that are being described. The Lotus-Eaters, for instance, consume what Odysseus calls a “flowery food” (ἄνθινον εἶδαρ, 9.84) and a “honey-sweet fruit” (μελιηδέα καρπόν, 94), rather than the diet of an agricultural people. It is ironic that on arrival in their land Odysseus sends out scouts to determine “which men they are eating grain on the earth” (οἵ τινες ἀνέρες εἶεν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες, 89). The Cyclopes for their part have neither laws nor assemblies; in keeping with their general avoidance of civilized institutions, they do not engage in the civilized practices of agriculture (108-115). [26] Nevertheless wheat, barley, and vines grow for them with the help of rain from Zeus (108-111). [27] An island facing their territory (often called Goat Island by critics) hosts abundant growths of wild plants: Odysseus observes poplars, vines, and well-watered meadows (132–133, 141). When he arrives on Aeaea, he spies Circe’s dwelling “through thick brush and woodland” (διὰ δρυμὰ πυκνὰ καὶ ὔλην, 10.150). And there are no agricultural fields on Circe’s island. [28]

Of all the wild lands of Odysseus’ travels the vegetation of Ogygia, the island of Calypso, is described in the most detail. And as with the other lands that he visits, the wild vegetation of Ogygia is indicative of an absence of civilization. But in order to see this, we need to distinguish between mortal and immortal perspectives on the island. While a god might associate the island with cosmic order and experience simple joy at the island’s vegetal abundance, for Odysseus it is an isolated land far from the civilized environment of Ithaca.

The description of Odysseus soon afterwards creates a clear contrast with this depiction of Hermes’ positive reaction to Calypso’s vegetation: Odysseus sits on the seashore, weeping and looking out at the sea (82–84). His grief is said to arise from two sources—his disenchantment with Calypso and his longing for Ithaca. As we learn from line 153, where Odysseus’ emotions are once more described, his life was wasting away “as he mourned for his return, since the nymph was no longer pleasing to him” (νόστον ὀδυρομένῳ, ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι ἥνδανε νύμφῳ, 153).

Homeric Vegetal Imagery and Descriptions of Civilized Spaces

We turn now to Homeric vegetal imagery that, in clear contrast with the wild flowers and trees discussed above, is associated with civilized order and, in particular, with the good order ensured by patriarchal social structures. Most of these images fall into one of two categories: they either describe cereal crops and the labor required to maintain them, or they focus on managed arboreal growths. As we shall see, both of these kinds of image are present in the Iliad, which does not associate one more closely than the other with civilized order. The Odyssey, however, does in fact distinguish between them. While some passages of the Odyssey associate agriculture with civilization, the poem places particular emphasis on managed growths of trees, especially on those associated with the orderly spaces of orchards.

Only one passage from the Iliad focuses on royal orchards without also mentioning agricultural fields. Achilles abducts Lycaon, son of Priam, from his father’s orchard (ἐκ πατρὸς ἀλωῆς, 21.36), where he was exploiting these growths of trees for a particular purpose: “he was cutting new branches from a fig tree with the sharp bronze, so that they might form the rails of a chariot” (ὁ δ’ ἐρινεὸν ὀξέϊ χαλκῷ / τάμνε νέους ὄρπηκας, ἵν’ ἅρματος ἄντυγες εἶεν, 37–38). The association of these orchards with Lycaon’s homeland and with the royal estate of Priam is highly reminiscent of the description of Laertes’ orchards in the Odyssey, which as we shall see are associated with Odysseus’ homecoming and with his patriarchal inheritance on Ithaca.

From this Iliadic evidence it would not be possible to conclude that agricultural fields or managed allotments of trees were associated more closely with civilized order and with the royal authority that guarantees such order—the Iliad does not rank these two kinds of vegetal growth in its allusions to orderly societies. The Odyssey, however, places greater emphasis on associations of orchards and arboricultural labor with civilized order than on equivalent associations of agricultural fields and agricultural labor: a series of images of managed trees accompanies Odysseus’ reintegration into the patriarchal society of Ithaca. We shall discuss the relevant evidence below, before considering in Chapter 6 what characteristics of agricultural and arboricultural growths in the environments familiar to early poets and audiences might have justified such differentiation in the Odyssey.

The Odyssey’s depictions of more civilized lands—Ithaca and Scheria, land of the Phaeacians—allude to agriculture, but place greater emphasis on orderly plantations of trees. In three out of four cases, these plantations are defined by enclosures, and in two out of four cases they are associated with human labor. We should firstly consider the descriptions of Scheria, since it is not only Odysseus’ last stopping-off point before reaching Ithaca, but also forms a thematic point of transition between the uncivilized lands mentioned above and the Ithacan environments that we shall discuss below. Scheria is a land with many of the trappings of civilization—a royal court, athletic games, religious rites, fine clothes, guest-gifts, feasting, and epic song. Nevertheless, aspects of Phaeacian culture mark a clear departure from the characteristics of civilized lands such as Ithaca. For instance, while the Phaeacians are known for their seamanship, their ships have no helmsmen or rudders: they are able simply to read the minds of the sailors (8.555–562).

And yet in other ways these plantations depart markedly both from the managed growths of Ithaca, which we shall discuss below, and from the managed growths with which audiences would have been familiar from their own communities. No human tendance is required to nurture these plants, since they grow automatically and throughout the year. The garden beds, for instance, “burgeon unfailingly” (ἐπηετανὸν γανόωσαι, 128). In the description of the orchards, which forms the greater part of the depiction of the Phaeacian plantations (112-121), particular emphasis is placed on such impressive qualities. Rather than following the cycles of nature, the fruit ripens all year round (117-118); and this is not the result of any human tendance but of the West Wind (118-119):

          ἔκτοσθεν δ’ αὐλῆς μέγας ὄρχατος ἄγχι θυράων
          τετράγυος· περὶ δ’ ἕρκος ἐλήλαται ἀμφοτέρωθεν.
          ἔνθα δὲ δένδρεα μακρὰ πεφύκασι τηλεθόωντα,
115    ὄγχναι καὶ ῥοιαὶ καὶ μηλέαι ἀγλαόκαρποι
          συκέαι τε γλυκεραὶ καὶ ἐλαῖαι τηλεθόωσαι.
          τάων οὔ ποτε καρπὸς ἀπόλλυται οὐδ’ ἀπολείπει
          χείματος οὐδὲ θέρευς, ἐπετήσιος· ἀλλὰ μάλ’ αἰεί
          Ζεφυρίη πνείουσα τὰ μὲν φύει, ἄλλα δὲ πέσσει.
120    ὄγχνη ἐπ’ ὄγχνῃ γηράσκει, μῆλον δ’ ἐπὶ μήλῳ,
          αὐτὰρ ἐπὶ σταφυλῇ σταφυλή, σῦκον δ’ ἐπὶ σύκῳ.

Odyssey 7.112-121

          Outside the courtyard and near the gates was a great orchard
          Of four guai; a wall has been driven around it on both sides;
          There tall, flourishing trees have grown,
115    Pears and pomegranates and apples with shining fruit,
          Sweet figs and flourishing olives.
          Of these the fruit never perishes nor fails,
          Neither in winter nor summer—it is there throughout the year; but the West Wind
          Always blows, growing some and ripening others.
120    Pear on pear matures, apple on apple,
          And grape on grape, fig on fig.

We have already mentioned one of the arboreal images from the latter books of the Odyssey. At 19.108-114, Odysseus, still in his beggar disguise, compares Penelope’s fame to that of a Just King who inspires flourishing in trees, crops, and animals alike, and whose people excel. I quote the passage for the second time, for ease of reference:

                          ἦ γάρ σευ κλέος οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἱκάνει,
          ὥς τέ τευ ἢ βασιλῆος ἀμύμονος, ὅς τε θεουδὴς
110    ἀνδράσιν ἐν πολλοῖσιν καὶ ἰφθίμοισιν ἀνάσσων
          εὐδικίας ἀνέχῃσι, φέρῃσι δὲ γαῖα μέλαινα
          πυροὺς καὶ κριθάς, βρίθῃσι δὲ δένδρεα καρπῷ,
          τίκτῃ δ’ ἔμπεδα μῆλα, θάλασσα δὲ παρέχῃ ἰχθῦς
          ἐξ εὐηγεσίης, ἀρετῶσι δὲ λαοὶ ὑπ’ αὐτοῦ.

Odyssey 19.108-114

                          Your fame reaches the wide heaven,
          As that of some excellent, god-fearing king,
110    Who among many men upholds justice,
          Ruling mighty subjects, and the black earth bears
          Wheat and barley, and the trees burgeon with fruit,
          And the flocks constantly bear young; through his good leadership
          The sea provides fish, and the people excel under him.

The allusions to animal and vegetal flourishing in these lines would have helped audiences to imagine the human well-being that results from the beneficial rule of a just king. The king’s citizens will abound in excellences like plants at the peak of health. The Homeric poets thus referenced more concrete concepts associated with the natural environment—the flourishing of animals and plants—to aid their audiences’ understanding of a more abstract kind of well-being.

But there is one thing about this passage that remains unclear, and it is of relevance to our analysis of the associations of trees in the Odyssey. As noted above, the trees described in line 112 are the sort of fruit trees we would find in orchards—civilized spaces under the control of human societies. Audiences, however, when they heard Odysseus’ image of flourishing fruit trees, had the choice of imagining two different kinds of planatation. They might have remembered the descriptions of the anomalous, automatic growths of Scheria from Book 7 (or from other, similar passages of Homeric poetry), which bear fruit without the need for human labor. Alternatively, they might have associated the fruit trees of 19.112 with the carefully managed growths that they would have known from their own homelands. But the lines quoted above refer explicitly neither to the management of trees nor to automatic growths. In this way, the image of the Just King helps to form a bridge between the preternatural orchards of Scheria, which produce fruit without the need for human intervention, and the trees of Ithaca, which must be carefully managed by human hands: the trees in our passage from Book 19 represent a neutral term between these two extremes, and they could be assimilated to either in the minds of listeners.

The two most important stages in Odysseus’ bid to regain his place in Ithacan society, the recognitions of him by his wife and his father, are both associated with images of managed trees. The first of the relevant passages is found in Book 23, where the marriage of Penelope and Odysseus is re-established. We noted in Chapter 2 that Penelope accepts Odysseus in the enhanced form that Athena has granted him, but that she hesitates before doing so. Odysseus overcomes her initial hesitation by describing the origins of their marital bed. Penelope has set him a test. She asks Eurycleia to set up their marriage bed outside the bedchamber, so that she may see if he is able to relate the secret of its construction (23.177-181). If this is truly Odysseus, he will be aware that the bed cannot be moved, since he himself built it around an olive-tree, still rooted in the ground.

And these allusions to stability in Odysseus’ and Penelope’s speeches also carry important implications for our understanding of Book 23 as a whole. Specifically, they counterbalance the unsettling notes introduced by the description of Odysseus’ appearance in lines 156-162. As noted in Chapter 2, Odysseus’ hyacinthine hair has deceptive qualities: Athena lends him the appearance of a young man in his prime. Moreover, we never hear that Odysseus is reunited with his wife in his regular, unenhanced form. But the allusions to stability in this scene emphasize the fact that their marriage has endured, even if Odysseus’ appearance is not quite what it seems.

Nevertheless, there is something not quite right about the scene before Odysseus’ eyes, which can only be remedied by his reunion with Laertes. Odysseus continues:

          “ἄλλο δέ τοι ἐρέω, σὺ δὲ μὴ χόλον ἔνθεο θυμῷ·
          αὐτόν σ’ οὐκ ἀγαθὴ κομιδὴ ἔχει, ἀλλ’ ἅμα γῆρας
250    λυγρὸν ἔχεις αὐχμεῖς τε κακῶς καὶ ἀεικέα ἕσσαι.
          οὐ μὲν ἀεργίης γε ἄναξ ἕνεκ’ οὔ σε κομίζει,
          οὐδέ τί τοι δούλειον ἐπιπρέπει εἰσοράασθαι
          εἶδος καὶ μέγεθος· βασιλῆι γὰρ ἀνδρὶ ἔοικας.
          τοιούτῳ δὲ ἔοικας, ἐπεὶ λούσαιτο φάγοι τε,
255    εὑδέμεναι μαλακῶς· ἡ γὰρ δίκη ἐστὶ γερόντων … ”

Odyssey 24.248–255

          “But I will tell you this, and place no anger in your heart:
          No good care attends your own person, but you possess a grievous
250    Old age; and at the same time you are dirty and dressed in an unseemly fashion.
          Not for the sake of your idleness does your lord not care for you,
          And your appearance and size are impressive to look at,
          Not at all those of a slave; you seem like a king.
          You seem like the sort of man who should sleep softly,
255    Once he has washed and eaten; such is the right of old men … ”

Properly, then, Laertes’ care for the trees (κομιδή, 245, 247) should be matched by the care of his lord for Laertes’ own person (κομιδή, 249; κομίζει, 251). And in the context of this meeting of Odysseus and Laertes—that is, of the king of Ithaca and of his aging father—these references to a lord and to proper care in old age take on a particular relevance: Laertes’ care for the orchards should have been matched by Odysseus’ care of his father. Odysseus is the ἄναξ, “lord,” whose duty it was to care for Laertes. He owes this care for two reasons: Laertes has grown old (255) and he is a man of the royal family (253). In his absence, Odysseus has been unable to fulfill his duties; accordingly, Laertes has suffered neglect. [
64] The problem caused by Odysseus’ absence is solved soon afterwards, when Odysseus reveals his identity to Laertes and the royal line of Ithaca is thereby restored. Presumably, Odysseus will now be able to ensure his father does not suffer neglect: Laertes’ labor will now be matched by Odysseus’ own care of Laertes.

The trees in Laertes’ orchards are crucial to the restoration of ties between royal father and royal son: Odysseus proves his identity not only by showing Laertes the scar that he sustained in a boar hunt (24.331–335; cf. 19.428–466), but also by demonstrating his knowledge of the trees. Odysseus describes how, as a child, Laertes led him through the orchard, naming and numbering the trees that were to be his:

          εἰ δ’ ἄγε τοι καὶ δένδρε’ ἐϋκτιμένην κατ’ ἀλωὴν
          εἴπω, ἅ μοί ποτ’ ἔδωκας, ἐγὼ δ’ ᾔτεόν σε ἕκαστα
          παιδνὸς ἐών, κατὰ κῆπον ἐπισπόμενος· διὰ δ’ αὐτῶν
          ἱκνεύμεσθα, σὺ δ’ ὠνόμοσας καὶ ἔειπες ἕκαστα.
340    ὄγχνας μοι δῶκας τρισκαίδεκα καὶ δέκα μηλέας,
          συκέας τεσσαράκοντ’·

Odyssey 24.336–341

          Come on, let me also tell you the trees throughout the well-built
          Orchard, which you once gave to me; still a child, I was asking you
          For each type, following you through the plantation; we were walking
          Through them, and you named and told me each kind.
340    You gave me thirteen pear-trees and ten apple-trees,
          Forty fig-trees.

We have, then, observed a progression from the wild lands of Odysseus’ travels to the managed vegetation of Ithaca, which is associated with his journey back to the civilization of Ithaca and his re-assumption of his place at the head of Ithacan soceity. Much as the lack of civilization on Ogygia contrasts with the good order of Scheria and Ithaca, the wild flowers and trees of Calypso’s island contrast with the orderly plantations of those more civilized lands. And we have traced a progression through three descriptions of trees in an enclosure (ἕρκος)—from the orchard of the Phaeacians, which requires no human tendance, through the managed olive tree of Book 23 to the orchards managed by Laertes in Book 24. In each case, Odysseus comes closer to the completion of his homecoming. The Phaeacian orchards more closely resemble the orderly allotments of Ithaca than any other vegetation that Odysseus encounters on his travels; Odysseus’ description of the olive-tree bed leads to his reunion with Penelope; and the royal orchard hosts his reunion with Laertes.

In this way, the Homeric poets offered images drawn from the natural environment to help their audiences understand the abstract concepts of civilization and its opposite. Uncivilized places were like the wild growths that they would have seen beyond the bounds of settlements, fields, and plantations. The orderliness of civilized societies could be imagined in terms of the orderly vegetation that they would have seen in orchards. As in those plantations, however, constant labor was required to maintain their good order.

But there are still aspects of such vegetal imagery and, indeed, of the cosmic imagery discussed in Chapter 4 that we have yet to explain. As noted above, the Odyssey makes comparatively little mention of fields of cereal crops in its definitions of civilized and uncivilized spaces. We need to consider why the Odyssey poets might have focused on the managed growths of trees to convey the notion of civilized spaces, rather than on the agricultural fields that would also have been familiar to early audiences. And we have yet to explain why, in the Homeric imagery of cosmic order, flowers should be imagined as antithetical to the growth of trees. I shall address these questions in the following chapter, where I consider the relationship of such images with beliefs about the modes of reproduction of flowers, trees, and cereal crops.


[ back ] 1. Previous studies have tended to note only similarities between these two sets of Homeric arboreal images. Nagler (1996), for instance, argues for an equivalence between the bedpost and pillar in Odysseus’ house and the images of pillars and trees associated with goddesses such as Calypso (for the latter see Chapter 4 above), which in his opinion are associated with the structure of the cosmos. For such equivalences, see also Evans 1901 and Bakker 2001.

[ back ] 2. West 1978 ad loc.

[ back ] 3. Most 2006:107.

[ back ] 4. Theophrastus develops such ideas in combination with the Aristotelian notions of the teleological development and division into parts of living animals. When plants grow, bloom, and bear fruit, they have reached the peak of excellence and beauty: Βλαστάνοντα γὰρ καὶ θάλλοντα καὶ καρπὸν ἔχοντα πάντα καλλίω καὶ τελειότερα καὶ δοκεῖ καὶ ἔστιν (“When sprouting, flourishing and in possession of fruit all things appear and are more beautiful and more perfect,” Historia Plantarum 1.1.2).

[ back ] 5. The only possible parallel for associations of flowers and civic disorder in extant Hesiodic poetry is offered by the description of the winds that blow from the prone Typhoeus “throughout the boundless, flowery earth”: κατὰ γαῖαν ἀπείριτον ἀνθεμόεσσαν (Theogony 878). These winds throw agricultural lands into confusion: ἔργ’ ἐρατὰ φθείρουσι χαμαιγενέων ἀνθρώπων, / πιμπλεῖσαι κόνιός τε καὶ ἀργαλέου κολοσυρτοῦ (“they destroy the lovely fields of earth-dwelling men, / filling them with dust and grievous tumult,” Theogony 879–880). If we take the adjective ἀνθεμόεσσαν proleptically, it would be an indication of the disordered state of the earth after Typhoeus’ winds have passed over it. Alternatively, however, these lines could refer simply to the fertility of the earth, without any suggestion of disorder. For this image, see also Chapter 4 n2. A clearer parallel for Homeric associations of flowers and civic disorder is offered by Solon’s description of Εὐνομία, Good Order in the city, that “withers the flowers of delusion [ἄτη]” (fr. 3.35–36 West2). In marked contrast with the Hesiodic image of the Just City, which “flourishes” (ἀνθεῖ) as a result of righteous judgements, Solon here associates the root ἀνθο/ε- with those who pervert justice and thus threaten the functioning of the political community.

[ back ] 6. As West (1978 ad loc.) points out, the reference may be to children who resemble their fathers and are hence legitimate, or to children without deformities.

[ back ] 7. For further reflections on the similarities and differences between the Homeric image of the Just King and the Hesiodic description of the Just City, see Slatkin 1986:265–266.

[ back ] 8. See Chapter 3 above.

[ back ] 9. Cf. Segal 1974, Ory 1984, and Olson 2012 on Hymn to Aphrodite 68 and 122–124.

[ back ] 10. According to Faulkner (2008 on Hymn to Aphrodite 158–160), mention of the pelts at this point in the scene suggests Anchises’ momentary ascendancy over Aphrodite. See below for Anchises’ loss of control over the encounter when he sleeps with her.

[ back ] 11. For such liminal spaces and for their associations with herdsmen in Homeric poetry, see Redfield 1994:189–192.

[ back ] 12. Cf. the description of oaks in the mountains (οὔρεσι) at Works and Days 232, discussed above.

[ back ] 13. Manuscript M preserves another possible reference to flowers at line 175: the goddess is given the epithet ἰοστεφάνου, “violet crowned.” This adjective would contrast with her more regular epithet, ἐϋστέφανος, found both at the beginning of the hymn (line 6) and at the end (line 287). Faulkner (2008 ad loc.) tentatively adopts the reading of M on the principle of lectio difficilior, as do Càssola (1975) and van Eck (1978:63). If this reading is accepted, the change in the goddess’ epithets mirrors the change in Anchises’ pastures and thereby associates the goddess more directly with the new description of the pastures. For the Διὸς ἀπάτη, see Chapters 3 and 4 above.

[ back ] 14. Smith 1981:37: “Aphrodite is nature’s most powerful agent in the invasion of the settlements of men.”

[ back ] 15. The hymn survives in a version usually assigned to late archaic or early classical times: see Janko 1982:184–186, Borgeaud 1988:54. But scholars have shown that the hymn contains elements typical of Homeric poetry of the archaic period: Villarrubia 1997, Germany 2005, Thomas 2011:166–172. The similarities that we shall observe between the metaphorical systems of the hymn and those of Hymn to Aphrodite and the Odyssey support such arguments. This would not necessarily imply an early date for our version of the Hymn to Pan. But it would indicate that the hymn was composed by and prepared for people familiar with traditional Homeric diction, perhaps as part of an ongoing tradition of composition-in-performance: see Thomas 2011:169–170.

[ back ] 16. Likewise a phrase from the description of Pan’s haunts, ἀκροτάτην κορυφὴν μηλοσκόπον (“a very high peak, a lookout for sheep,” 11) alludes to pastoralism (Borgeaud 1988:61). But Pan is not said to look out for flocks; rather, he glares (δερκόμενος, 14) at the wild beasts that he hunts. Unlike Pan himself, his father Hermes engages in pastoralism: “he pastured flocks / beside a mortal man” (μῆλ’ ἐνόμευεν / ἀνδρὶ πάρα θνητῷ, 33).

[ back ] 17. Note also the hare’s pelt in which Hermes wraps the young Pan at line 43. For associations of Pan with civilized activities, see Cardete del Olmo 2016.

[ back ] 18. We see this, for instance, at Odyssey 1.153, where a herald hands a κίθαρις to the bard Phemius.

[ back ] 19. Moreover, if Borgeaud’s analysis (1988:74–89) is correct, Pan’s music is associated with a wild eroticism. Such an eroticism is more reminiscent of the depiction of Aphrodite than that of her lover Anchises in her Homeric Hymn.

[ back ] 20. On Pan’s associations both with disorder and with wild places, see Borgeaud 1988. See also Elliger 1975:162 on the correspondence in the hymn between Pan’s directionless wanderings and the “diffuseness” (“Diffusität”) of the elements that make up his landscape.

[ back ] 21. Such associations of the lexeme ἄκριτος are also operative on a cosmic level: as we saw in Chapter 4 above, Hera’s promise to resolve the “indiscriminate quarrels” (ἄκριτα νείκεα, Iliad 14.205, 304) of Oceanus and Tethys suggests a fantasy of returning the cosmos to a primal chaos. For the association of κρίνω with civilized order in early hexameter, cf. Theogony 535–536: ἐκρίνοντο θεοὶ θνητοί τ’ ἄνθρωποι / Μηκώνῃ (“gods and men were being distinguished / at Meconē). According to the scholium to Theogony 535, this statement, which introduces the description of Prometheus’ encounter with Zeus, alludes to the distinctions drawn between gods and men in the relevant episode: ἐκρίνετο τί θεὸς καὶ τί ἄνθρωπος ἐν τῇ Μηκώνῃ (“it was judged what was a god and what was a man at Meconē”; text from di Gregorio 1975:83). If Vernant (1974, 1989) and Clay (2003:100–118) are correct, the scholiast thus refers to the definitions of mortals and immortals that Prometheus establishes with his invention of sacrifice: men are allotted perishable meat, but the gods receive imperishable smoke.

[ back ] 22. West 2001, 2003. Flowers are not mentioned directly in the surviving fragments of the hymn, but at line 9 forests are described with the verb ἀνθέω, which is used to refer to wild floral growths elsewhere, as at Hymn to Apollo 139. For the semantics of ἀνθέω and for other Homeric instances of the verb, see the Appendix.

[ back ] 23. West 2001:2. For allusions to Orphic traditions in Homeric poetry, see the discussion of the Διὸς ἀπάτη in Chapter 4 above.

[ back ] 24. See Richardson 1974 on Hymn to Demeter 17.

[ back ] 25. On parallels between the meadows of Hymn to Pan and Hymn to Demeter, see Thomas 2011:158.

[ back ] 26. Cf. 9.191–192: Odysseus likens the Cyclops himself to “a wooded peak” (ῥίῳ ὑλήεντι), rather than to a “grain-eating man” (ἀνδρί … σιτοφάγῳ).

[ back ] 27. See also 9.357–358, where Polyphemus explains that “the grain-giving plow-land bears wine with many grapes for the Cyclopes, and Zeus’ rain increases it for them” (Κυκλώπεσσι φέρει ζείδωρος ἄρουρα / οἶνον ἐριστάφυλον, καί σφιν Διὸς ὄμβρος ἀέξει).

[ back ] 28. We shall study other uncivilized lands in Chapter 8 below, together with their vegetation: both the island of the Sirens and, surprisingly, the lightless land of the dead possess flowery meadows (11.539, 12.159); the Underworld also boasts fruit trees (10.509–510, 11.588–560).

[ back ] 29. Indeed, elsewhere in Homeric poetry the lexeme ὀμφαλός describes a nub in the middle of an object, whether a shield boss, a human navel, or a knob on a carriage (cf. Iliad 4.525, 11.34, 13.192, 568, 21.180, 24.273). On the basis of such usages, audiences would have imagined Calypso’s island as having the appearance of a nub of land surrounded by the sea (cf. νήσῳ ἐν ἀμφιρύτῃ, “on a sea-girt isle,” Odyssey 1.50)—much as a boss is a nub in the middle of a shield.

[ back ] 30. Cf. 1.51, where Athena describes Ogygia as νῆσος δενδρήεσσα (“a wooded island,” 1.51).

[ back ] 31. For associations of this lexeme with dread and the divine, see also Prier’s analysis (1989:84–97) of θαῦμα and related terms, and my discussion of reactions of wonder in the Phaeacian episode below.

[ back ] 32. The phrase “there, even an immortal if he came would wonder” (73–74) seems to anticipate the same reaction from both mortal and immortal visitors. Perhaps, then, a casual mortal visitor, who was not trapped on the island like Odysseus, might share Hermes’ joy. But there is no indication that any other mortal has ever visited Ogygia.

[ back ] 33. Calypso is once more associated with her surroundings at line 155: unwillingly, Odysseus lies with her at night “in her hollow caves” (ἐν σπέεσσι γλαφυροῖσι).

[ back ] 34. See Elliger 1975:128–131 and the discussion of Calypso’s vegetation in Chapter 6 below.

[ back ] 35. As de Jong puts it (2001 on Odyssey 5.76–91), “he literally turns his back on [Calypso] and her idyllic surroundings.” Moreover, if Odysseus is indeed disenchanted with Calypso’s vegetation, this would explain his choice of environs. He sits “on rocks and sand” (ἂμ πέτρῃσι καὶ ἠϊόνεσσι, 156), looking out “at the harvestless sea” (πόντον ἐπ’ ἀτρύγετον, 158; also 84). This standard epithet for the sea gains particular salience when juxtaposed with allusions to rocks and sand. Odysseus seems to have chosen the only infertile place on this wondrously fertile island. For the distinction between divine and mortal perspectives in these lines, see also Rinon 2008:51.

[ back ] 36. Calypso also supplies an ax and an adze, with which Odysseus fashions his raft (234–237).

[ back ] 37. The Cyclops’ cave (e.g., Odyssey 9.216) is likewise indicative of a lack of civilization.

[ back ] 38. We can contrast Hermes’ reluctance to visit Ogygia with Poseidon’s journey to the distant but fully inhabited land of Ethiopia, where he receives hecatombs (Odyssey 1.22–26).

[ back ] 39. For the remoteness of Calypso’s island, see also Odyssey 5.55 and 80.

[ back ] 40. The description of Calypso’s meadow of violets and celery at Odyssey 5.72 may also suggest that Odysseus’ stay on Ogygia, cut off from civilization, is a kind of death for him. In particular, celery was closely associated with death in wider Greek culture. It was used as a floral offering to the dead, and it also marked the houses of the recently deceased: see Erasmo 2012:6 and Garland 1985:116, 171. See also, in general, Zusanek 1996:114: celery was “eine allgemein verwendete Totenpflanze” in Greek lands. For further associations of flowery meadows and death in the Odyssey, see Chapter 8 below.

[ back ] 41. In fact, the Golden Age itself may have carried ambiguous connotations for a Greek audience. It is a time both of unstinting vegetal abundance, as on Calypso’s island, and of barbarous behavior: Cronus, who was then king of the gods, swallowed his own children; see Nieto Hernández 2000.

[ back ] 42. For the importance of agriculture to the value systems of the Homeric poems, see Redfield 1994:189–192, 2009:275–276; Vidal-Naquet 1996; H. P. Foley 2009:197–198.

[ back ] 43. Most other Iliadic similes that describe agricultural labor—of which there are many—do not explicitly allude to structured societies. For such similes, see also Chapter 8 n1.

[ back ] 44. The societies of Iliad 11.67–71 and 18.541–572, however, represent an ideal from which the incompetent leadership of Agamemnon departs: his quarrelling with a subordinate (Book 1), his unwise attempt to test his troops (Book 2), and his readiness to despair (Books 9 and 14) contrast with the orderly, patriarchal governance depicted in the simile and in the scene from the shield.

[ back ] 45. For the associations of the roots φυτο/ε- and ἀρο- in these and other passages, see Chapter 6 below.

[ back ] 46. Critics have associated Goat Island with the colonization of new lands in Ionia: see, for instance, Elliger 1975:143. Clay (1980), however, suggests that it used to be the home of the more civilized Phaeacians, who were the neighbors of the Cyclopes (Odyssey 6.4–6).

[ back ] 47. See also 7.26, where Odysseus professes ignorance of the men who “exploit the fields” (ἔργα νέμονται) of Scheria.

[ back ] 48. We find further indications of the ambiguous status of the vegetation of Scheria on Odysseus’ arrival. At line 5.463, the wild growths of reeds around the river are juxtaposed with the “grain-giving plowland” (ζείδωρον ἄρουραν) that Odysseus kisses on his arrival. See also Ahl and Roisman (1996:97, 100), who argue that the “half-wild and half-cultivated” olive under which Odysseus sleeps when he first arrives in Scheria (5.477) reflects the Phaeacians’ and (at that moment) Odysseus’ ambiguous status, caught between civilization and its opposite.

[ back ] 49. According to de Jong (2001:176), the scene as a whole is focalized by Odysseus.

[ back ] 50. Presumably human labor is required to collect all this produce; and perhaps workers would need to keep pests off the ever-ripening fruit. But such activities are mentioned nowhere in this passage. And the fact remains that the Phaeacian trees, unlike the plantations described in Odyssey 24, would produce fruit whether tended or not. By contrast, the description of orchards on Ithaca in Book 24 focuses on the hard work of Laertes.

[ back ] 51. For the contrasts between Laertes’ orchard and that of the Phaeacians, see Vidal-Naquet 1996:48.

[ back ] 52. On the themes of the human and the divine in the descriptions of the Phaeacian plantations and Laertes’ orchards, see also de Romilly 1993 and Bonnafé 1984–1987, 1:153–155. For the Phaeacians’ closeness to the gods, see also Odyssey 6.203 and 7.201–203.

[ back ] 53. Cf. Prier 1989:84–97 and Iliad 18.466–467, where Hephaestus predicts that mortals will feel wonderment before the Shield of Achilles, which is the product of his divine craftsmanship: οἱ τεύχεα καλὰ παρέσσεται, οἷά τις αὖτε / ἀνθρώπων πολέων θαυμάσσεται … (“he will have beautiful armor, such that any one / of the many mortals will wonder …”). The negative connotations of this wonderment are made clear at Iliad 19.14–15, when none of the Myrmidons can summon the courage to look at the shield.

[ back ] 54. Furthermore, in Books 23–24 Ithaca with its managed trees is set against an agricultural civilization that Odysseus will visit after the events of the Odyssey. At 11.121–128, Tiresias describes the journey that Odysseus must undertake in order to propitiate Poseidon, a prophecy that is repeated by Odysseus himself at 23.266–275, shortly before the description of Laertes’ orchards in Book 24. Odysseus will travel inland, carrying an oar, until he comes to a place where the inhabitants have no knowledge of the sea. They are, however, an agricultural people: they know of the use of winnowing-fans, for which the oar will be mistaken (274–275). This land forms the opposite pole to Ithaca in Odysseus’ second journey, and in Books 23–24 its association with agriculture creates a contrast with the ordered trees of Odysseus’ homeland.

[ back ] 55. On the importance of arboreal imagery to Odysseus’ νόστος, see in general Thalmann 1992:74 and Henderson 1997.

[ back ] 56. As we learn from Odyssey 20.88–90, Penelope imagines Odysseus returning as he was when he left for Troy as a younger man: see Chapter 2 and the discussion below.

[ back ] 57. See H. P. Foley 2009.

[ back ] 58. As we have seen, trees and pillars carry similar associations in Homeric poetry. The description of an olive tree “thick like a pillar” reinforces this sense of an equivalence between the two kinds of image. But in its immediate context the phrase also suggests the dual status of the tree: it is both a natural growth and an architectural feature, like a pillar.

[ back ] 59. Cf. 23.110, where Penelope refers to the hidden σήματα known only to her and Odysseus; also 19.250, where Penelope recognizes the “constant signs” (σήματ’ … ἔμπεδα) that seem to prove that “the beggar” once met Odysseus. On the bed as an image of the stability of Odysseus’ and Penelope’s marriage, see Murnaghan 1987:116, Arthur (Katz) 1991:178, Zeitlin 1995.

[ back ] 60. Minchin (2007:268–269) comments on this theme but not in connection with Odysseus’ and Penelope’s marriage: according to her, Odysseus’ description of his own labor suggests a man’s interest in technical details.

[ back ] 61. For the association of the olive-tree bed with Laertes’ orchards, see Henderson 1997:94, and Vernant and Frontisi-Ducroux 1997:284.

[ back ] 62. For the implications of the lexeme φυτόν, see Chapter 6 below.

[ back ] 63. See Zusanek 1996:108–109.

[ back ] 64. Achilles acknowledges a similar duty and similar regrets towards the end of the Iliad. At Iliad 24.540–541 he recognizes that he is unable to care for Peleus in his old age (οὐδέ νυ τόν γε / γηράσκοντα κομίζω, “nor may I care for him as he grows old”). Achilles, then, employs the lexeme κομίζω to refer to his duty of care to his father. Odysseus uses the same lexeme of the care that Laertes should have enjoyed (cf. Odyssey 24.249, 251).

[ back ] 65. See Arthur (Katz) 1991:178–179, who argues that Odysseus here reenacts the speech with which Laertes passed his inheritance to him many years previously and thus accepted him into the patriarchal lineage of Ithaca. Arthur links this speech of Odysseus with his description of the bed—both are performances of Odysseus’ identity. On the re-establishment of Odysseus as Laertes’ heir through his description of the trees, see also Whitman 1958:304–305.

[ back ] 66. Cf. Pucci 1996 and Henderson 1997. Pucci sees Laertes as hoping that Odysseus, fixed in the soil, will flourish along with his people, like the subjects of the Just King in Odyssey 19. Henderson argues that Laertes’ planting and tendance of trees is as one with his planting and tendance of the young Odysseus, and that his gift of trees to his son constitutes an attempt to anchor the boy in the Ithacan soil and in his paternal inheritance.

[ back ] 67. For these trees as “constant signs” (σήματ … ἔμπεδα), see Henderson 1997. According to him, the adjective suggests signs that are “well-grounded” like the trees themselves (p. 89).

[ back ] 68. Some versions of Odyssey 19.114 have ἐξ εὐεργεσίης (“through his good works”) in place of ἐξ εὐηγεσίης (“through his good leadership”): see Allen 1912–20 ad loc. Such versions associate the flourishing of the Just King’s realm directly with his labor; cf. 24.250, where Odysseus notes that Laertes’ squalid state is not the result of his idleness (ἀεργεσίη).