Fighting Words and Feuding Words: Anger and the Homeric Poems

Chapter 8. Fighting Words

{140|141} In his definition, Calchas suggests that khólos, unlike kótos, can be brought under control. In this chapter, I will elaborate on the limitations of that control, by showing that certain kinds of speech may stimulate khólos, whereas for kótos that is an impossibility. First, responses to khólos can be styled as formal challenges, often in the manner of the invective. Second, I will show that besides such speech acts, actions of an immediate and violent nature can just as likely result from khólos.

Taunting Gods, Taunting Heroes

Helen incurs Aphrodite’s wrath when she rejects her with these words:

There will I not go—it would be regrettable—to clamber onto his bed.

Indeed Helen’s refusal of Aphrodite’s enticement (Il. 3.390-94) could be specifically designed to incur a god’s wrath; first, on seeing through Aphrodite’s disguise, Helen notices (enóēse, Il. 3.396) the parts of her appearance that Aphrodite could not brook to conceal (Il. 3.396-97; cf. thámbēsen, Il. 3.398 and daimoníē, Il. 3.399). Helen suggests that the goddess shun immortal haunts (Il. 3.406) and tend to Paris as his (mortal) wife. [
6] In this passage, Helen thus calls to mind, in her challenge to Aphrodite, a potent part of the Iliad‘s mythology, and a painful part of Aphrodite’s own mythical narrative in her marriage to Anchises (Il. 3.408-9). At least it is so taken by Aphrodite, who responds with a kind of anger that is to be associated with verbal display: she responds with a threat motivated by khólos, as quoted above (Il. 3.413-15). The vocative skhetlíē, directly preceding the threat (Il. 3.414), presents Aphrodite’s khólos as a product of Helen’s impulsive slight, an insult that damages Aphrodite’s honor. By {142|143} treating Aphrodite as if she were the Lacedaemonian maidservant that is her disguise, Helen thus slights Aphrodite’s sense of honor in a way that leads to khólos. All this is underscored by an accumulation of wrath-terms including the prohibition in mḗ m’ érethe (Il. 3.414, “do not enrage me”) and khōsaménē (Il. 3.414, “having come to be angry”). [7] All of this anger is sufficient to motivate Helen, out of fear (éddeisen, Il. 3.418, “she feared”), [8] to yield to Aphrodite’s request (Il. 3.418-20). [9]

Thus in both the Odyssey and the Iliad a verbal contest arouses khólos, which in turn leads to an invective laced with specialized language. In the passage {143|144} from Iliad 23, as mentioned, Ajax directly criticizes his manner of speaking, in response to which Idomeneus becomes infuriated, to the extent that he replies to Ajax with a slight followed by a direct challenge, all of this posed in the form of a wager:

Τὸν δὲ χολωσάμενος Κρητῶν ἀγὸς ἀντίον ηὔδα-
“Αἶαν, νεῖκος ἄριστέ, κακοφραδές, ἄλλα τε πάντα
δεύεαι Ἀργείων, ὅτι τοι νόος ἐστὶν ἀπηνής.
δεῦρο νυν, ἢ τρίποδος περιδώμεθον ἠὲ λέβητος,
ἴστορα δ’ Ἀτρεḯδαν Ἀγαμέμνονα θείομεν ἄμφω,
ὁππότεραι πρόσθ’ ἵπποι, ἵνα γνώῃς ἀποτίνων.”

(Il . 23.482-87)

Having come to have khólos , the leader of the Cretans spoke in address to him, “Ajax best at contention, ill of intention, you are lacking in all things among the Argives, in that your mind is mean. Come now, either let us bet a tripod or cauldron, and make Agamemnon the son of Atreus the judge for us both, as to whichever pair of mares is ahead, in order that you might learn, when you have paid up.”

Thus, Homer uses kholōsámenos in the context of a dialogue of a kind that involves invective accompanied by judgment. In such “fighting words” passages, an exchange such as this can lead to a direct confrontation, whether it be between Helen and her patron goddess, or a wager proposed by Idomeneus, or fisticuffs on Ithaca (as in the fight between Irus and Odysseus).

In Od. 18.25, when Irus, the beggar, becomes enraged at Odysseus, his reaction to Odysseus’s previous speech is characterized through the participial form kholōsámenos; here Odysseus refuses Irus’s order that he leave the doorway (Od. 18.9-12), going on then to make it clear that he will resist him even to the point of violence (Od. 18.20-21); in fact, he specifically points to the cause of khólos as being a public challenge (Od. 18.20: khersì dè mḗ ti líēn prokalízeo, mḗ me kholṓsēis “And lest you contend with me physically, don’t make me angry”). As in Helen’s speech to Aphrodite, the invective has spurred on the khólos of Iros, [12] so that Irus’s subsequent speech is given with the rhetorical force appropriate to khólos, despite Odysseus’s attempt to deflect that reaction. [13] Irus’s angry speech continues the challenge by including a threat along with the invective: [14]

τὸν δὲ χολωσάμενος προσεφώνεεν Ἶρος ἀλήτης·
“ὢ πόποι, ὡς ὁ μολοβρὸς ἐπιτροχάδην ἀγορεύει,
γρηὶ καμινοῖ ἶσος· ὃν ἂν κακὰ μητισαίμην
κόπτων ἀμφοτέρῃσι, χαμαὶ δέ κε πάντας ὀδόντας
γναθμῶν ἐξελάσαιμι συὸς ὣς ληιβοτείρης.
ζῶσαι νῦν, ἵνα πάντες ἐπιγνώωσι καὶ οἵδε
μαρναμένους· πῶς δ’ ἂν σὺ νεωτέρῳ ἀνδρὶ μάχοιο;”

(Od. 18.25-31) {144|145}

With khólos , Iros, the beggar, spoke to him, “Oh my, how roughly this bum runs off at the mouth, like some hag at her cooking! Him I would treacherously plot against, trouncing him with both of these, and to the ground I’d send his teeth, all of them, from his jaws, like some crop-gourging sow. Gird up now, so that all of these here might come to know us as we fight. How would you fight a younger man?”

As in the other instances of the participle kholōsámenos, a provocative speech (that of Odysseus) leads to a threatening challenge (from Iros). [
15] Because Irus’s speech, following from his khólos, includes a threat and a challenge, it bears comparison with Aphrodite’s speech to Helen as well as with the speech of Idomeneus to Ajax. [16] And in the Odyssey, Irus’s angry response to the disguised Odysseus includes boldly insulting invective and a challenge to fight.

Hera’s anger at Artemis in Iliad 21 is a little more complicated. Here Apollo has backed down from a challenge by Poseidon, in which the perfidy of the Trojans is thrown in Apollo’s face (Il. 21.455-60), so that he is made to withdraw and leave the Trojans to their fate (Il. 21.462-63). In response to this, Artemis taunts Apollo,

φεύγεις δή, ἑκάεργε, Ποσειδάωνι δὲ νίκην
πᾶσαν ἐπέτρεψας, μέλεον δέ οἱ εὖχος ἔδωκάς·
νηπύτιε, τί νυ τόξον ἔχεις ἀνεμώλιον αὔτως;
μή σευ νῦν ἔτι πατρὸς ἐνὶ μεγάροισιν ἀκούσω
εὐχομένου, ὡς τὸ πρὶν ἐν ἀθανάτοισι θεοῖσιν,
ἄντα Ποσειδάωνος ἐναντίβιον πολεμίζειν.”

(Il. 21.472-77)

Do you flee, I say, far-worker, and cede the entire victory to Poseidon, and have you given an idle boast to him? Senseless one, why thus do you now have a bow that is useless? Let me now hear you no longer in the halls of your father, giving a boast, as before among the immortal gods, that you can fight one-on-one with Poseidon.

This has much in common with Helen’s taunting of Aphrodite, including the rhetorical question (Il. 3.399 ~ Il. 21.474); a teasing vocative (daimoniē, Il. 3.399 ~ nēpútie, Il. 21.474); a proposal for future action (“woo Paris yourself,” Il. 3.406-9 ~ “boast no longer,” Il. 21.475-77). Moreover, the focus on idle discourse has much in common with Ajax’s taunting of Idomeneus (méleon … eûkhos, Il. 21.473, cf. Il. 21.475-76 ~ tí páros labreúai, Il. 23.474, cf. Il. 23.478-79).

I would expect Apollo to respond aggressively, but since he has already withdrawn, Hera steps into the breach and it is her khólos that is aroused. The text emphasizes this by making it clear that Apollo’s silence is unexpected after Artemis’ taunt: {145|146}

Ὣς φάτο· τὴν δ’οὔ τι προσέφη ἑκάεργος Ἀπόλλων,
ἀλλὰ χολωσαμένη Διὸς αἰδοίη παράκοιτις
νείκεσεν ἰοχέαιραν ὀνειδείοις ἐπέεσσι.

(Il. 21.478-80)

Thus she spoke; but far-working Apollo said nothing at all to her, but Hera, came to have khólos , Zeus’s wife, and challenged the arrow-shooter [Artemis] with contentious words.

This passage shows the flexibility of Homeric poetic practice, where the context shifts together with the formal structure accommodating the shift. The pattern should, in other words, call for Apollo to respond to Artemis’s taunt, but Hera takes the initiative instead, as she does one other time with Apollo.

At the beginning of Iliad 24, though Hera refrains from directly calling out to Apollo, her speech pits Achilles’ timḗ (“honor”) and that of Hector against one another, as she insults Apollo directly (at Il. 24.63). [17] Hera’s scolding has the familiar characteristics that we can attribute to the speeches marked by khólos in this context, including a kind of Homeric epideictic high-style:

Τὸν δὲ χολωσαμένη προσέφη λευκώλενος Ἥρη·
“εἴη κεν καὶ τοῦτο τεὸν ἔπος, ἀργυρότοξε,
εἰ δὴ ὁμὴν Ἀχιλῆι καὶ Ἕκτορι θήσετε τιμήν.
Ἕκτωρ μὲν θνητός τε γυναῖκά τε θήσατο μαζόν·
αὐτὰρ Ἀχιλλεύς ἐστι θεᾶς γόνος, ἣν ἐγὼ αὐτὴ
θρέψα τε καὶ ἀτίτηλα καὶ ἀνδρὶ πόρον παράκοιτιν,
Πηλέι, ὃς περὶ κῆρι φίλος γένετ’ ἀθανάτοισι.
πάντες δ’ ἀντιάασθε, θεοῖ, γάμου· ἐν δὲ σὺ τοῖσι
δαίνυ’ ἔχων φόρμιγγα, κακῶν ἕταρ’, αἰὲν ἄπιστε.”

(Il. 24.55-63)

And having come to be angry white-armed Hera addressed him. “This word of yours would be true, silver-bowed one, if you give equal honor to Achilles and Hector. Hector, a mortal, nursed at a woman’s breast. But Achilles is the offspring of a goddess, whom I myself nursed and reared and gave as wife to a mortal, Peleus, who was beloved in their heart to the immortals. All of you gods attended the marriage. There you were a guest, with your lyre, companion of evils ever untrustworthy.”

As in the other examples of this kind of speech, the rhetoric is remarkable. Note the playful alliteration in lines 57-59 (thḗsete / thnētós / thḗsato / theâs / thrépsa) as well as the placement of thḗsete / thḗsato in the dactylic portion of the adonic clausula of successive lines. In keeping with the rhetoric of the khólos passages under discussion, Hera’s challenge to Apollo consists of questioning the notion that mortals and immortals should be equally judged (Il. 24.57-61). Finally, the characteristic scolding vocatives occur at the end of the speech.

{146|147} In summary, the aorist participle derived from khólos can indicate that anger has provoked certain types of invective or taunts that arise specifically from a character’s speech. That kind of anger in this case leads not to action but to a kind of social challenge, whether it be regarding status (as in, for example, Aphrodite’s threat to Helen), or a judgment (as when, for example, Ajax threatens Idomeneus).

A Taunting Formula: kholōtoîsin epéessin

That khólos marks certain kinds of verbal discourse is made even more clear in the passages identified by Group 8a in Appendix 2. These four lines consist of the verb neikeiō (“to quarrel”) followed by a dative form of the adjective kholōtós (“displaying anger”) modifying the noun épea (“words”). The formula kholōtoîsin epéessin occupies the slot from the trochaic caesura to the end of the line. Khólos is closely associated with neîkos (“quarrel”), as for example, when Idomeneus (kholōsámenos “having come to be angry”) challenges Ajax, he calls him neíkei áriste (Il. 23.483, “best at contention”), and when Hera challenges Artemis in Iliad 21 she does so also in a neîkos (Il. 21.479-80, discussed above).

Consider the following lines (Appendix 2, 8a):

Il. 4.241 τοὺς μάλα νεικείεσκε χολωτοῖσιν ἐπέεσσιν·
Od. 22.26 νείκείον δ’ Οδυσηα Ύολωτοΐσίν έπέεσσί·
Od. 22.225 νείκεσσεν δ’ ’Οδυσηα Ύολωτοΐσίν έπέεσσίν·
Il. 15.210 νείκείεν έθέλη σί χολωτοΐσίν επέεσσίν.

The lines have neikeíō 3 out of four times in line-initial position, with a structure of the type: #Verb + Object + Dative. [
20] The traditional phrase structure, featuring a verbal form of neik- at the beginning of a line, with kholōtoîsin epéessin concluding the line, varies in response to a local phenomenon, namely, the syntax of the surrounding utterance. In this case note the syntax of antecedent and resumptive in:

Οὕς τινας αὖ μεθιέντας ἴδοι στυγεροῦ πολέμοιο,
τοὺς μάλα νεικείεσκε χολωτοῖσιν ἐπέεσσίν.

(Il. 4.240-41)

Whomever he saw holding back from the dreadful war, he would chide them the more with words of khólos.

{147|148} The object, a resumptive pronoun, based on ho, , , or the like, syntactically comes first in its clause, thereby pushing the verb (here neikeíeske) back from the front of the line. The adverb mála, in following Wackernagel’s law, leaves the verb as the third element in the line, in what G. Holland has called a modified sentence initial position: the variation between the two lines from Odyssey 22 and Iliad 4 are, that is to say, directly related to features of archaic Greek syntax and poetics. [
21] Thus, though we can say that Il. 4.241 is a variation of the traditional phrase, the variation itself is based on old syntactic patterns. [22]

Agamemnon’s review of his troops presents our first example of this phrase as part of a sequence of speeches, each speech varying in style depending on whether Agamemnon is speaking to troops who are reluctant to enter battle or those who are enthusiastically preparing for war. As Martin has shown (1989, 69-77), in this scene Agamemnon is trying to get his troops to fight by using the kind of speech act that speech-act theorists call “directives.” [23] But Agamemnon’s directive speech-acts, though all functioning in a similar fashion, have different surface representations. [24] For those troops who are moving forward, the directive comes as encouragement (tharsúneske, Il. 4.233, “he would rouse them”), but for those who are “holding back” (methiéntas, Il. 4.240), a scolding is appropriate (neikeíeske, Il. 4.241, “he would rile them”); for those whose preparations, please him, sweet words are the reward (meilikhíoisin, Il. 4.256, “with sweet [words]”); when he finds the two Ajaxes, Agamemnon speaks (with joy gḗthēsen, Il. 4.283, “he rejoiced”) winged words to them, [25] as he does again to Nestor at Il. 4.311-12, when he finds him rousing the Pylians. But Menestheus and Odysseus fare worse in getting Agamemnon’s blame (neíkessen “he riled them,” and cf. épea pteróenta, Il. 4.337, “winged words”), which succeeds in angering Odysseus. [26] This is the same treatment afforded to Diomedes and Sthenelus (Il. 4.418), the last of the ranks treated to Agamemnon’s attention. [27]

The variations possible within the speech-acts of this scene identify the rhetorical purpose of khólos within a given speech. In this context, khólos is part of the rhetoric of blame in that when Agamemnon blames one of his warriors for being less than he can be, he expects his reaction to be one of khólos, and that anger, as we will see below, is particularly to be identified with the warrior’s violent function. Thus, in the orchestration of this passage, beginning as it does generally with a set of warriors that is moving forward in their preparations (Il. 4.232-39) and a second set that hangs back (Il. 4.240-49); the latter are blamed with words designed to instill khólos (see above Il. 4.240-41). And those words, as we saw in the loquitur formulas discussed above, include invective epithets (Argeîoi iómōroi, elenkhées “Argive compulsive archers, deserving of reproach”), [28] and strong denunciation. I want to suggest here that this couplet (Il. 4.240-41) makes precise the kind of rhetorical approach that Agamemnon uses against the two groups of warriors of which he is critical, namely Odysseus and Menestheus and Diomedes and Sthenelus. Even more, the frequentative form of the verb neikeíō (“to chide,” “to challenge”), as well as the indefinite relative {148|149} (hoús tinas, Il. 4.240, “whomever”) along with the structure of the past general condition are to be taken closely with the phrase kholōtoîsin epéessin “with words of khólos,” as looking forward to Agamemnon’s scolding of these last two groups of Achaeans.

Odysseus demonstrates that the warrior’s khólos is at issue when he responds in anger, as indicated by the loquitur formula: tòn d’ ar hupódra idṓn proséphē polúmētis Odusseús (Il. 4.350, “And looking darkly many-minded Odysseus addressed him”). [30] And hupódra idṓn (“looking darkly”), closely associated with khólos, is repeated at the end of the review of the troops, when Sthenelus intervenes to defend Agamemnon against Diomedes’ critique (Il. 4.404-10). The effect, then, of Agamemnon’s review is to instill khólos in the reluctant troops, so that when the scene is over they are ready to fight, with the result that they form a fearful spectre before the enemy. [31] Thus the meaning of the formula toùs mála neikeíeske kholṓtoisin epéessin is “he blamed them with words that inspire khólos.” In this case the khólos is something Agamemnon wants to instill in his lackadaisical warriors, just as in Od. 22.225, Athena tries with the same phrase to get Odysseus to fight: she rouses his khólos through a rebuke (neíkessen) that reminds him of his previous valor (Od. 22.226-35). [32] Earlier in the same book, the suitors rebuke the disguised Odysseus for killing Antinoos (neíkeion d’ Odusêa kholōtoîsin epéessin, Od. 22.26, “They chided Odysseus with words that inspire khólos”). The passage from the Odyssey shows a different use of the formula from that of the Iliad in that the suitors are ignorant of the consequences of rousing the Odysseus’s khólos. Homeric usage tells us right away that only out of their own ignorance (tò dè nḗpioi ouk enóēsan, Od. 22.32, “The fools did not realize this”) have the suitors managed to enrage Odysseus. But that they have succeeded in rousing Odysseus’s soldierly wrath is {149|150} clear from the occurrence of the key phrase toùs d’ ár’ hupódra idṓn, Od. 22.34 “And he looked darkly at them.” [33] Moreover, the relationship between khólos and hupódra idṓn is secured in the course of this exchange, when Eurymachus tries to strike a deal by forgiving Odysseus for his previous anger, if only he would accept bronze and gold as payment for their violations:

“Χαλκόν τε χρυσόν τ’ ἀποδώσομεν, εἰς ὅ κε σὸν κῆρ
ἰανθῇ· πρὶν δ’ οὔ τι νεμεσσητὸν κεχολῶσθαι.”
τὸν δ’ ἄρ ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς·

(Od. 22.58-60)

“We will compensate you with gold and bronze, until your very heart melts; before this, yes, there could be no criticism of your khólos.” But looking darkly up spoke manyminded Odysseus.

Thus khólos, with its preeminent place in the warrior’s vocabulary, as the anger of the warrior par excellence, is here inadvertently aroused in the suitors’ worst nightmare, Odysseus, king and warrior both. [

Calchas’s informed definition reveals the significance of mâllon (“more”) at the end of this phrase. The ability of human agents to affect and control khólos suggests that it can be described in terms of degree, unlike kótos which we have seen must exist until it reaches its télos. In these instances, a speech launches the addressee into a greater state of khólos.

This particular sequence shows the speech formula hṑ (e)phatos (“thus he [or she] spoke”) preceding (e)kholósato kēróthi mâllon (“he became the more enraged in his heart”), a formulaic sequence that thereby marks the preceding speech as provoking another’s wrath. The enraged party then commits an act of violence in response, against the speaker, who is located at a doorway or other liminal spot. The subsequent act of violence takes the form of a missile shot. The motif sequence has, thus, the following elements:

1. Provocation: Speech

2. Emotional response: Anger

3. Location: Liminal area

4. Action: Missile shot {151|152}

The most dramatic examples form a doublet in the Ithacan scenes of the Odyssey. [44] In Books 17 and 18 of the Odyssey, Odysseus is assaulted by suitors or their representatives. The first such assault directly leads to this motif sequence, when Melanthius meets Odysseus and Eumaeus as they make their way into the city. Odysseus has already encountered his old dog, Argos, in a dungheap, before the gates of the house, a thematic point of some importance, as we will see. After this, Melanthius contemptuously predicts that the beggar, Odysseus in disguise, will meet with violence (Od. 17.230-33):

αἴ κ’ ἔλθῃ πρὸς δώματ’ Ὀδυσσῆος θείοιο,
πολλά οἱ ἀμφὶ κάρη σφέλα ἀνδρῶν ἐκ παλαμάων
πλευραὶ ἀποτρίψουσι δόμον κάτα βαλλομένοιο.

If he arrives at the house of Odysseus the godlike, throughout the house his ribs will wear out many stools, as he is hit about the head.

This prediction proves true as both Eurymachus and Antinoos will hurl furniture at Odysseus. As preparation for these scenes, Melanthius’s scornful threat focuses both on the body of the victim (pluraí “ribs”) and on the location of the assault (pròs dṓmat’, dómon káta “at the house,” “throughout the house”). Much is made of the physical location that the beggar takes in the house of Odysseus, [
45] a position that puts him just next to “outside the house,” even as Argus is outside, in the household dungheap. Odysseus leaves this spot at Telemachus’s and Athena’s insistence (Od. 17.345-47; 360-64) in order to beg in a formal manner from the assembly. [46] The disorder of the household is clearly presented when Melanthius, [47] interrupts the beggar’s process through the hall, thereby provoking Antinoos to chide Eumaeus for bringing him there in the first place. Even Antinoos’s boorishness doesn’t upset the ritual begging, so strong an institution must it be, [48] though both Eumaeus and Telemachus each get a confrontational word in against Antinoos (Od. 17.381-404).

At this point, Odysseus continues his ritual begging, and the others give him something (Od. 17.411), while the text prepares the scene for Antinoos’s violent outburst by focusing attention on a footstool (Od. 17.409-10) that he is using to relax, ostentatiously not giving to the beggar. Clearly Antinoos is the last [49] in the ritual order, since Odysseus is turning back to the threshold (Od. 17.413) as he makes this request, (“dós, phílos,” Od. 17.415, “give, friend”), including an extended lying speech (Od. 17.415-44), one that Antinoos mocks (Od. 17.446-52). Having made his formal request, only to be rejected by one suitor, Odysseus turns to a provocative four-line speech:

ὢ πόποι, οὐκ ἄρα σοί γ’ ἐπὶ εἴδεϊ καὶ φρένες ἦσαν·
οὐ σύ γ’ ἂν ἐξ οἴκου σῷ ἐπιστάτῃ οὐδ’ ἅλα δοίης,
ὃς νῦν ἀλλοτρίοισι παρήμενος οὔ τί μοι ἔτλης
σίτου ἀποπροελὼν δόμεναι· τὰ δὲ πολλὰ πάρεστιν.

(Od. 17.454-57) {152|153}

Ah, so your mind doesn’t match your appearance. No, you would not give even salt from your own house’s store, though you sit now with others’ things without enduring to take and give a little bit from your plate. And there is a great deal left.

This is not a restrained speech, since it cuts to the core of the suitors’ violation and irritates an already visibly provocable Antinoos. At this point, we get the central element of this motif-sequence, namely, the anger of Antinoos:

ὣς ἔφατ’, Ἀντίνοος δ’ ὲχολώσατο κηρόθι μᾶλλον,
καί μιν ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν ἔπεα πτεροέντα προσηύδα·
“νῦν δή σ’ οὐκέτι καλὰ διὲκ μεγάροιό γ’ οίω
ἂψ ἀναχωρήσειν, ὅτε δὴ καὶ ὀνείδεα βάζεις.”

(Od. 17.458-62)

Thus he spoke, but Antinoos came to be the more angry in his heart, and having looked darkly at him he spoke winged words. “But now no longer will you make a fair retreat from the hall, since in fact you have spoken words of reproach.”

Antinoos’s khólos displays those same elements we have seen accompanying khólos before, including the glowering look (hupódra idṓn) and the reproaching words (oneídea). But here the gesture and the speech is followed by action: Antinoos takes the footstool that he has only just recently set in place (Od. 17.409-10) and throws it at the beggar, hitting him in the right shoulder (Od. 17.463-65). With his ears ringing, Odysseus finally returns to his threshold seating place (Od. 17.464-65) and delivers a stinging speech against the suitors (Od. 17.468-75) only to elicit another threat from Antinoos (Od. 17.478-80), received in turn with some trepidation by the other suitors (Od. 17.480-87).

Taking the phrase kholósato kēróthi mâllon as an index marker for this motif sequence, I schematize the sequence in the following way:

Motif 1: Flyting speech: a character at a liminal point between danger and safety challenges a character who seems more powerful. The liminal point may be expressed either literally or symbolically.

Motif 2: Reaction of addressee: described in a speech formula + kholósato kēróthi mâllon; followed by a speech in which he denigrates the flyting speech as so much persiflage.

Motif 3: Missile shot—addressee hurls an object, doing some—but not total— damage to the object of his attack.

Schematically Antinoos’s outburst is congruent with the scene in Book 18, where Eurymachus hurls furniture at Odysseus. [50] The line that serves as an index to this sequence is kholósato kēróthi mâllon, with the elements of the scene easily identified from this example. After defeating Irus, Odysseus has returned {153|154} to his position at the threshold (Od. 18.109), and following a digression in which Penelope comes to the hall in order to extract gifts from the suitors (Od. 18.159306), Odysseus tries to dismiss the serving women (Od. 18.313-19); at this point Eurymachus insults Odysseus before the assembled suitors, with the claim that the hall can be lit from the gleam off the beggar’s bald pate (Od. 18.352-56); he continues with a flyting speech directed to Odysseus, challenging him to work for a living instead of living off what he can get begging (Od. 18.338-65). Here begins Odysseus’s response in his own flyting speech in which he boasts that he can best him in both work (Od. 18.367-76) and warfare (Od. 18.377-82), with a final fillip about his seating position at the edge of the social group:

εἰ δ’ Ὀδυσεὺς ἔλθοι καὶ ἵκοιτ’ ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαv·
αἶψά κέ τοι τὰ θύρετρα, καὶ εὐρέα περ μάλ’ ἐόντα,
φεύγοντι στείνοιτο διὲκ προθύροιο θύραζε.

(Od. 18.384-86)

Were Odysseus to come and return to his fatherland, right now these doors here, though they seem truly broad, would be too narrow for you to flee outside through the entrance.

With the beggar standing at the threshold, the vision of Odysseus’s blocking the way out is the more powerful for the audience, especially with the threefold repetition of the root -thúr-. [

At this point, we have our key line followed by the same phrase that followed that line in Odyssey 17:

ὣς ἔφατ’, Εὐρύμαχος δ’ ὲχολώσατο κηρόθι μᾶλλον,
καί μιν ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν ἔπεα πτερόεντα προσηύδα·

(Od. 18.387-88)

Thus he spoke; and Eurymachus came to be angry the more in his heart and looking grimly spoke winged words to him.

The provocative speech obviously has gotten Eurymachus’s goat and he accuses Odysseus of being drunk (Od. 18.391) and (continuing the second part of the sequence) prattling nonsense (metamṓnia bázeis, Od. 18.392). With that, Eurymachus takes a stool (sphélas, Od. 18.394) and hurls it at Odysseus who ducks just in time to miss it, though it hits a wine-steward (Od. 18.396).

{154|155} Our indexical key for the Mounting Rage sequence (kholṓsato kēróthi mâllon) also occurs in Od. 9.480. The narrative has just shown Polyphemus talking to his lead ram, treating his animal tenderly and with compassion (kriè pépon, Od. 9.447, “good ram”) at the beginning of the speech and giving closure to it with a violent image, one that Odysseus overhears:

“τῷ κέ οἱ ἐγκέφαλός γε διὰ σπέος ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ
θεινομένου ῥαίοιτο πρὸς οὔδεï, κὰδ δέ κ’ ἐμὸν κῆρ
λωφήσειε κακῶν, τά μοι οὐτιδανὸς πόρεν Οὖτις.”
ὣς εἰπὼν τὸν κριὸν ἀπὸ ἕο πέμπε θύραζε.

(Od. 9.458-61)

“So his brains would be sprinkled through the cave hither and thither, once he is struck at the threshold, and my heart would be relaxed of their evils, which this no-account Noman gave me.” Thus having spoken he sent his ram off outside.

The scene is thus set for the motif sequence, with a character at the threshold (Odysseus) and a threat from a thug (Cyclops), though in this case the thug’s speech is merely overheard by Odysseus. [
53] Having established Odysseus as the man at the threshold, Odysseus and his crew scramble to their vessel and steal Polyphemus’s livestock (Od. 9.469-70). As they are about to get away, Odysseus provokes the Cyclops:

ἀλλ’ ὅτε τόσσον ἀπῆν, ὅσσον τε γέγωνε βοήσας,
καὶ τότ’ ἐγὼ Κύκλωπα προσηύδων κερτομίοισι·
“Κύκλωψ, οὐκ ἄρ’ ἔμελλες ἀνάλκιδος ἀνδρὸς ἑταίρους
ἔδμεναι ἐν σπῆι γλαφυρῷ κρατερῆφι βίηφι.
καὶ λίην σέ γ’ ἔμελλε κιχήσεσθαι κακὰ ἔργα,
σχέτλι’, ἐπεὶ ξείνους οὐχ ἅζεο σῷ ἐνὶ οἴκῳ
ἐσθέμεναι· τῷ σε Ζεὺς τίσατο καὶ θεοὶ ἄλλοι.”

(Od. 9.473-79)

But when I was as far as one might be heard with a shout, even then I spoke to the Cyclops with scornful words: “Cyclops, you were about to eat savagely the companions of a powerless man in your hollow cave. Yes, evil deeds were truly to find you, wretch, since you did not take care about eating the guests in your house; therefore Zeus has paid you back, and the other gods too.”

That Odysseus specifies that the distance between him and the Cyclops amounts to a restatement of the “threshold” element of this sequence, [
54] where just as the principal character is about to get away, Odysseus cannot resist taunting the thug. The content of Odysseus’s flyting speech, to the effect that the rules of xenía have been flaunted and retribution has been exacted by Zeus, resembles the beggar Odysseus’s taunt of Antinoos’s stinginess at Od. 17.454-57 {155|156} (discussed above). Finally, unlike the suitors, the Cyclops does not speak a word, [55] but moves directly to the major action of this sequence, after the indexical phrase:

ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δ’ ἔπειτα χολώσατο κηρόθι μᾶλλον,
ἧκε δ’ ἀπορρήξας κορυφὴν ὄρεος μεγάλοιο,
κὰδ δ’ ἔβαλε προπάροιθε νεὸς κυαvοπpῴοιο
τυτθόν, ἐδεύησεν δ’ οἰήιον ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι·

(Od. 9.480-83)

Thus I spoke, but thereupon he came to have khólos the more in his heart; he broke off and flung the peak of a great mountain, and cast it down before the dark-prowed ship, right near it, but it failed to reach the rudder’s tip.

The violence of the missile shot [
56] coupled with its ineffectuality [57] secures the parallel to the scenes in Odysseus’s palace. The threshold motif emerges in a number of ways: at the cave, at the boundary between the sea and the shore, and at the tip of the rudder (Od. 9.483). Thus the parallel between the Cyclops’ failure to practice xenía and the evil-doing of the suitors is bolstered by a doublet on Ithaca among the major suitors that clearly evokes Odysseus’s escape from Polyphemus’s island. As it is a doublet, the passage from Odyssey 9 is the most elaborated of the Mounting Rage sequences. [58]

More can be said about this sequence, in particular since mounting rage characterizes a flyting speech of Athena’s directed against Odysseus as the slaughter of the suitors proceeds to its conclusion. Here, in Odyssey 22, the doors are prominent, from the first line where Odysseus displays himself at the threshold, where only shortly before he had been cowering,59 even while Melanthius, seized by Eumaeus and Telemachus at the threshold (182), is tied up (188-89) and the doors are closed on him (201). In this passage the mounting rage is that of Athena, who disguised as Mentor, has been recruited by Odysseus but is threatened by Agelaus (213-22) and responds with mounting rage and a rebuke, not to Agelaus but to Odysseus:

ὣς φάτ’, Ἀθηναίη δὲ χολώσατο κηρόθι μᾶλλον
νείκεσσεν δ’ Ὀδυσῆα χολωτοῖσιν ἐπέεσσιν·

(Od. 22.224-25)

Thus he spoke; but Athena came to be more angry in her heart, and she reviled Odysseus with words designed to anger.

{156|157} Here a form of khólos is used twice, once of the response that Athena has to Agelaus’s threat of violence against Mentor, and a second time of the response she wishes to elicit from Odysseus through her speech.

Thus the Odyssey makes use of a motif-sequence, marked by khólos in a formula repeated 4 times, a phrase poised at key thematic moments crucial to the revelation of Odysseus’s identity, both in the apologue and in the Ithacan books, where this motif-sequence speech and violence play a crucial role: Homeric narrative uses a poetic tool to stitch together the relationship that provides a link between Odysseus’s enemies, the suitors, and the Cyclops. From a post-traditional perspective, it is fair to say that the thematics of the Odyssey preserve this sequence, since the Iliad did not make use of the Mounting Rage sequence in the same overtly structured manner as did the Odyssey.

The Iliad has that formula only once at 21.136, where this motif-sequence is presented in a muted but effective way; Achilles has just slain Lycaon and launched an invective against him; this invective causes Scamander to have khólos. Note that Achilles speaks winged words to Lycaon at Il. 21.122-35, boasts again to Asteropaeus, and indirectly challenges Scamander (Il. 21.126-35 and again, later, at Il. 21.194-98); in Scamander’s metamorphosis, he becomes angry—the mounting rage formula presenting itself at Il. 21.136—and as his rage increases he finally confronts Achilles, with an angry speech (Il. 21.212, khōsámenos) and violent missile shots, this time, grotesquely, in the form of Trojan corpses jettisoned from the river’s waters (Il. 21. 235-37):

πάντα δ’ ὄρινε ῥέεθρα κυκώμενος, ὦσε δὲ νεκροὺς
πολλούς, οἱ ῥα κατ’ αὐτὸν ἅλις ἔσαν, οὓς κτάν’ Ἀχιλλεύς·
τοὺς ἔκβαλλε θύραζε,

And he impelled in his turbulence all the streams, and pushed out the corpses, in their numbers, which were in him in a swarm—the ones Achilles had killed; he threw them outside.

The elements of the motif-sequence are all here, even where their denotation is metaphorical rather than literal, as in thúraze, the banks of the river pointing to the threshold motif in the Mounting Rage sequence The nonhuman creature (as in the Cyclops’ case, or even in the suitors’ case, where they have excluded themselves from human ways) is pushed into a state of rage by Achilles, the representative of human activity, so that the monster fires missiles (dead bodies) and provides a temporary setback to the hero’s victory. Here Achilles has indeed gone too far, as Nagler clearly shows (1974, 147-66). Since we only have one example of this khólos phrase in the Iliad, it would be difficult to determine its rhetorical force within the Mounting Rage sequence, where we not to have the Odyssey passages. How many more such moments of Homeric artistry are only such potentially (as is kholósato kēróthi mâllon at Il. 21.136), waiting to be {157|158} elaborated in their appropriate generic context, such as their own Odyssey or Iliad?


[ back ] 1. The aorist shows 26 examples, with the perfect having 27 examples.

[ back ] 2. The aorist active and the perfect (excluding the future perfect) each show 15 participles. The details are presented in Appendix 2, Group 7.

[ back ] 3. Parry 1971, 15-16; he goes on to discuss these predicate formulae as belonging to “a type consisting of pronoun-conjunction-participle-verb” followed by a “subject expression made up of a noun and one or two epithetic words” (15). “And finally, we could also establish in the case of these predicate expressions a formula type composed of a pronoun, a conjunction, a participle, and of προσε φή or προσε φής” (16).

[ back ] 4. See above Chapter 4.

[ back ] 5. Note the use of némesis here as above to indicate the last straw, the point beyond which one cannot go: to go this far has been bad enough but to go further, that would involve némesis. The word némesis frequently occurs in khólos contexts: Il. 6.335, Il. 9.523, Il. 16.541, Il. 8.407, 421, Il. 5.757-62 (in ring form); Il. 9.872, Il. 15.223, 227; Il. 15.103, Il. 15.208, 211, Il. 23.494, Il. 24.53-55; Od. 22.58. This list is not exhaustive. Ebeling takes the two concepts to be synonymous (Ebeling 1880-1885, 11372 s.v. nemesízomai). See the cautious statements on synonymy by Martin (1989, 14).

[ back ] 6. On a mortal male wedded to an immortal, see the example of Thetis (Slatkin 1991, 55-56, with 38-39, and on the relation of this mythic motif to Thetis’ anger, see her Chapter 3).

[ back ] 7. On éris see Hogan 1981 and Nagler 1988 and 1992. As to khṓomai, it has a special relationship to khólos, especially in the light of this passage and many others where khólos seems related to khṓomai (e.g., Il. 21.136 with Il. 21.212; Il. 23.482 with Il. 23.489; and Od. 12.348 with Od. 12.376).

[ back ] 8. This is a comparable fear to that of Chryses in Iliad 1 (éddeisen d’ ho gérōn kaì epeítheto múthōi, 33, “And the old man was taken with fear and obeyed the speech”), since in both cases the reproach is met with silent acquiescence when the defeated person leaves (cf. Il. 1.34, bê d’ akéōn “He went off in silence” with Il. 3.419-20, bê … sigêi “He went off in silence” where the word for silence receives emphasis, through placement at the beginning of the line).

[ back ] 9. I will show that khólos frequently has its place in response to another speech: Il. 8.460: Hera’s response to a speech of Zeus; Il. 4.24; Il. 6.166, a response to the false accusation of Proetus’s wife against Bellerophon; cf. Od. 9.480; Od. 17.458 (=18.387; cf. Od. 22.224); and of course Calchas’s fear is that Agamemnon will have khólos in response to proclamation as to the source of the plague (Il. 1.76-78).

[ back ] 10. 474, 478, and the compound labragórēn, 479; cf. Richardson’s note at 473-81 (1993, 222), for a discussion of labrós, its derivatives and usage.

[ back ] 11. Note that in Iliad 23, Achilles steps in on hearing that Agamemnon is being set up as the judge. Indeed, throughout Book 23 and 24, Achilles is made to intervene in situations of anger.

[ back ] 12. Cf. hupódra idṓn “looking darkly,” and mḗ me kholṓsēis “Don’t make me angry,” 20. See the discussion of hupódra idṓn below, Chapter 11.

[ back ] 13. Line 20, quoted above.

[ back ] 14. And for that matter with the Idomeneus’s speech to Ajax discussed below.

[ back ] 15. Cf. hupódra idṓn and mḗ me kholṓsēis, 20.

[ back ] 16. This speech is consistent with the others just discussed in having an insult (ho molobrôs), with the demonstrative used contemptuously as the Attic orators used hoûtos (LSJ, s.v., c.3); see also tragedy, e.g., Sophocles, Ajax 89.

[ back ] 17. See again the list of examples, Appendix 2, Group 8.

[ back ] 18. On neîkos see Nagy 1979, 223-24, with an explication of how the concept is deployed in Homeric speech in Martin 1989, 68-69 and 71-76.

[ back ] 19. As a formulaic phrase, kholōtoîsin epéessi can be compared with expressions such as: oneideíois epéessi(n) (Il . 1.519, Il . 2.277 [with neik-], Il . 16.628, Il . 21.480 [with neik-], Od . 18.326); kertomíois epéessi(n) (Il . 4.6, Il. 5.419, Od . 24.240); ekpáglois epéessin (Il . 15.198, Od . 8. 77); atartēroîs epéessin (Il . 1.223); antibíoisi … epéessin (Il . 1.304); khalepoîsin … epéessi(n) (Il . 23.492, Od . 3.148, cf. Il . 23.489); aiskhoîs epéessi(n) (Il . 3.38, Il . 6.325 [with neík-], Il . 13.768, cf. Il . 24.238 [épess’ aiskhroîstrin], epéessin … stugeroîsin (Od . 11.81, 465); épesín te kakoîsin (Od . 24.161); and contrasts with phrases such as epéessi malakoîsin (Il . 1.582, cf. Il . 6.337 [malakoîs epéessi(n)], Od . 20.16.286, Od . 19.5, Od . 10.422; and Od . 10.70 [malakoîsi … epéessin] with Hymn Dem . 336); aganoîs epéessi(n) (Il . 2.164, 180, 189, Il . 24.772); and épessí te meilikhíoisi[n] (Il . 9.113, Il . 10.542, cf. meilikhíois epéessi[n] in Il . 11.137, Il . 21.339, Od . 9.493, Od . 10.442, Od . 16.279, Od . 18.283, Od . 24.393, with Od . 6.143, 146, Od . 19.415 [epéessin{n} ] meilikhíoisi[n].) The force of these phrases is clarified in Martin’s study of the relationship between mûthos and épos. See Martin 1989, 20-22.

[ back ] 20. Instrumental, cf. Chantraine 1953, 76 (§102).

[ back ] 21. Wackernagel observed that sentence particles and enclitic pronouns tend to be placed after the first stressed element in the clause. See Wackernagel 1892. For modified sentence initials, see Holland 1980, 34; and note the structure of the relative clauses in Il. 12.265-69 and Il. 4.240-41. On the traditional and regular variation of formulas either at line beginning or at the main caesura, see Muellner 1976, 34-35 with n. 42.

[ back ] 22. On the special nature of neîkos in Homeric poetry, see Nagy 1979, 223-28. Most apt for the present discussion is the formulation that “the words éris/neîkos apply not only to the language of blame but also to the action of physical combat” (Nagy 1979, 228). I only add that the kind of anger that moves in this way between language excludes kótos but includes khólos.

[ back ] 23. Martin 1989, 31.

[ back ] 24. Martin 1989, 32.

[ back ] 25. On the directive function of épea pteróenta, see Martin 1989, 30-35.

[ back ] 26. Note hupódra idṓn at 349, and khōoménoio at 357. See also n. 7 above.

[ back ] 27. Note again that Diomedes’ anger is aroused (hupódra idṓn, 411).

[ back ] 28. One can hold back from this kind of anger as one can from war. Resisting an aggressive action is associated with holding back from khólos, as in tô s’ aû nûn kélomai methémen khólon huîos heêos (Il. 15.138, “Thus, I now order you to relax your khólos for your son”), líssom’ Akhilēi methémen khólon (Il. 1.283, “I entreat Achilles to relax his khólos”); and cf. methíete thoúridos alkês (Il. 4.234 “you are relaxing from your raging valor”).

[ back ] 29. Again see Martin 1989, 32-34.

[ back ] 30. As recognized by Agamemnon at Il. 4.357 (hôs gnô khōoménoio, “as he saw that he was angry”). As for hupódra idṓn, see Lakoff’s summation (1987, 394): “Aggressive visual behavior stands for anger”; and in Homeric poetry see the close relationship of khólos to hupódra idṓn in Od. 8.165, with 205.

[ back ] 31. Cf. Il. 4.419-21, closing the scene with the notion of déos (“fear”) (one result of the display of khólos) to be contrasted with ptṓssein and ptōskazémen (371, 372, “to cower”), characteristics of the coward. Note how the Diomedes and Odysseus sections respond to each other. In the former, Agamemnon rouses Odysseus by criticizing Menestheus, to whose defence Odysseus comes; in the second case, the narrator tells us Agamemnon chides Diomedes for being less than his father so that Sthenelus intervenes, only to have Diomedes close the scene (hupódra idṓn 411, “looking darkly”), by recognizing Agamemnon’s rhetorical task (otrúnonti mákhesthai, 414, “rousing them to fight”) for what it is, a pose to stimulate the slackers and encourage the bold. See Holoka 1983, 6.

[ back ] 32. To be discussed in the next section; and note the repetition of kholṓsato … kholōtoîsin in 224-25.

[ back ] 33. And note the fear at l. 42 (déos heîle).

[ back ] 34. Note that Eurymachus’s rhetorical ploy is the same as that of Phoenix in Iliad 9, who also says prìn d’ oú ti nemessētòn kekholôsthai (523), indicating that khólos is appropriate but only to the point of having received an offer of material goods in recompense for the slight that led to the anger. Both attempts are futile. The quality of khólos that Calchas originally singled out, its ability to be limited by human action, leads both Eurymachus and Phoenix to try to quell the warrior’s khólos. In both cases, the warrior is given a way out of a troublesome situation only to reject it. For the conflictual situation posed by an act of violence by the head of the household in his oîkos see Nagler 1993.

[ back ] 35. Il. 15.157, épea pteróenta prosēúda, “he spoke winged words”; again see Martin 1989, 30-35.

[ back ] 36. Il. 15.176-83 quoting 160-67.

[ back ] 37. Il. 15.184; Scully (1984) presents a discussion of the formula, but mostly in the context of passages of deliberation.

[ back ] 38. And see the closure provided for this speech by the repeated critique of Zeus’s rhetoric at Il. 15.197-98: thugatéressin gár te kaì huiási kérdion eín / ekpánglois epéessin enissémen, hoùs téken autós, “It would be better to criticize with outrageous words his daughters and sons, since he is their father.”

[ back ] 39. Though, significantly, he points out that an uncurable khólos can still be an option (217).

[ back ] 40. I use the term in the manner of Thornton 1984 and Nagler 1974, 113-44.

[ back ] 41. Outside of this sequence we have only one other example of the third singular aorist middle of this verb (Il. 15.155), located in a different position (O’Neill’s position 10), and requiring the augment after idṓn. All the examples of kholṓsato in this motif sequence can be produced with preceding the unaugmented form, with the exception of Od. 9.480.

[ back ] 42. See also, Il. 4.241, Il. 13.660, Il. 17.399, Il. 17.710, Il. 18.322, Il. 23.543; Od. 15.214, Od. 19.324; and compare also Il. 9.678, Il. 19.16, Od. 16.425 (líēn), Od. 19.324 (mála). On kēróthi with khólos, see Caswell 1990, 34, and 39 and see the useful list on 69. In a separate study, I explore khṓomai and its close relation to khólos. For now see Il. 21.305-6 and n. 7 above.

[ back ] 43. Nagler recognizes that the importance of this line at least partly resides in its implication of a “growing provocation” (1974, 148 and note). I emphasize again that such shifting parameters for the anger in question are characteristic of khólos, but not even possible for kótos. For now note that (e)kholṓsato kēróthi mâllon is an expansion of the formula kēróthi mâllon, which occurs otherwise 7 times in the Odyssey, one time in the Hymns and 2 times in the Iliad. At Od. 5.284 the verb is ekhṓsato (“he came to be angry”); ákhos (“grief” completes the phrase at Od. 11.208); forms of philéō occur in Od. 15.370 (phílei dé me, “and he loves me”) and H. Apoll . 138 (phílēse dé, “he came to love me”). See also apḗkhtheto (“he was hated”) at Il. 9.300.

[ back ] 44. As for example at îze d’ epì melínou oudoû éntosthe thuráōn, / klinámenos stathmôi kuparissínōi (Od. 17.339-40), “He sat at the ash threshold within the doors, leaning on a post of cypress”; and again at 413 and 465.

[ back ] 45. The formal manner is for the beggar to go from left to right, begging from one man after another: bê d’ ímen aitḗsōn endéxia phôta hékaston (Od. 17.365, “and he went to ask each man singly clockwise”), after he has consumed the portion given by the head of the household (which Telemachus presented to him through a known servant, Eumaeus (Od. 17.345-47; see ḗsthei, Od. 17.358, “he ate”). This domestic ritual is related to the “hero’s portion,” cf. Il. 7.50-51, 73-75, with the discussion at Nagy 1979, 133 n. 48.

[ back ] 46. As he sits near Eurymachus (Od. 17.256-57), where he is offered food (Od. 17.257-60).

[ back ] 47. Cf. Eumaeus’s defence of the process, Od. 17.381-83.

[ back ] 48. But not worst, Odysseus says (Od. 17.415-16).

[ back ] 49. On Antinoos and Eurymachus as “character doublets” see Fenik 1974, 198-207, with discussion of the “throwing scenes” at 201-2 and 206 (“the throwing scenes characterize the suitors and show them losing the upper hand”).

[ back ] 50. And note the demonstrative in Od. 18.385. There is a thematic contrast between the nóstos “return” of Odysseus as expressed doubly in two verbs of motion (élthoi kaì híkoit’, Od. 18.384) and the narrowing of the passage way for Eurymachus as he flees (pheúgonti, Od. 18.386), possibly with an iconic figure in the juxtaposition of prothúroio “through the door” and thúraze “out the doorway.” On the relation of expression with pheúgō “to flee” and the notion of nóstos “return,” see Frame 1978, 91-92.

[ back ] 51. Again see Fenik 1974, Part II, for detailed discussion of how such doubling works in Homer.

[ back ] 52. Notice the wordplay on Odysseus’s pseudonym and the word for threshold: oúdei at the bucolic diaeresis responded to by Oûtis at the end of line 460, supported by outidanós (noted by Rank, below) in the middle of line 460. (Add this to Louden’s discussion of puns on Odysseus’s name (1995, 34-37; cf. Rank 1951, 63-65). Compare the threefold repetition of -thur- at Od. 18.384-86; these grand flourishes of Homeric style highlight the thematic markers of the motif-sequence. The importance of wordplay of many kinds for early literature is developed in Schwartz’s important work on Zoroaster’s poetics (Schwartz 1986).

[ back ] 53. See the discussion of these types of phrases in Homeric usage in Nagler 1974, 29-37, presenting a full discussion of the “make oneself heard by shouting” family.

[ back ] 54. There may have been a felt incongruity with using hupódra idṓn to accompany the verb of speaking for the blinded Cyclops.

[ back ] 55. Note that the line initial verbs, #hêke, #kàd d’ébale, typical of a “sudden blow,” are presented iconically (cf. Il. 1.52).

[ back ] 56. That Cyclops just misses the rudder anticipates Eurymachus’s missing Odysseus as he ducks behind Amphinomos, only to hit the wine-pourer instead (Od. 18.394-96). Antinoos is more accurate, when he hits Odysseus with full force, with Odysseus, unlike the wine-pourer, withstanding the blow (Od. 17.460-65); also compare the fall of the wine-pourer (pésen húptios en koníēisi, Od. 18.398) with Odysseus returning to his place at the threshold (and note oudòn at Od. 17.465).

[ back ] 57. The second part of the doublet continues after the Cyclops’ recognition of the identity of Odysseus. At that point, Odysseus presents a second flyting speech (Od. 9.523-25) to which Polyphemus responds with a prayer (Od. 9.528-35) introduced by a two-line loquitur formula including a gesture that signals a prayer (Od. 9.526-27):

ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δ’ ἔπειτα Ποσειδάωνι ἄνακτι

εὔχετο, χεῖρ’ ὀρέγων εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀστερόεντα·

Thus I spoke, but thereupon he prayed to king Poseidon, stretching his hands to starry heaven

after which he hurls a far larger rock (polù meízona lâan, Od. 9.537), with initial placement of the verbs for throwing (#hêk’, Od. 9.539, #kàd d’ ébalen, Od. 9.540) parallel to that of the first member of the doublet (at Od. 9.481-82, discussed above), and with the same result (Od. 9.540 = 483).

[ back ] 58. The use of kótos in the Cyclops passage at Od. 9.501 is discussed above in Part I.

[ back ] 59. Od. 22.2 âlto d’epì mégan oudón. Cf. Od. 22.72, where Eurymachus identifies Odysseus’s spot as the oudoû … xestoû from which they must, to survive, drive him away: eí ké min oudoû apṓsomen ēdè thuráōn, / élthōmen d’ anà ástu, boḕ d’ ṓkista génoito, Od. 22.76-77 (“If we push him from the threshold and the door, let us then go through the city, and let the swiftest outcry arise” [Cf. the echo of this phrase at Od. 22.132-34]). The latter calls to mind the “contact” phraseology that signaled the threshold motif in the Cyclops passage, with boḗ signalling that point in their longed-for escape that the suitors need to reach if they are to attain safety and génoito a substitute for gégōne (see Nagler 1974, 30, n. 5). But the tables have been turned, and Odysseus and his team are the hunters with the suitors the hunted. The suitors trying to escape the oîkos of Odysseus are like Odysseus and his crew making their hairy escape from Polyphemus’s cave, the passage way obstructed by the lord of the manor. Odysseus thinks it imperative that he stay at the doorway (Od. 22.107: mḗ m’ apokinḗsousi thuráōn “lest they move me off from the doors”). Later on, a side door (orsothúrē, Od. 22.126) becomes important (and see Od. 22.132-34); cf. Od. 22.250, Od. 22.275.