Micro-multiformity and Tradition: Clues to the Odyssey’s Composition
3. The Variants
πέμψω δ’ ἐς Σπάρτην (vulgate)
κεῖθεν δὲ Σπάρτηνδε παρὰ ξανθὸν Μενέλαον (vulgate)
μέγα δέ σφιν ὄρος (vulgate)
4. Cretan Lies
5. Phaeacian Truths
φάσκεν ἐλεύσεσθαι χρυσόρραπις Ἀργεϊφόντης,
ἐκ Τροίης ἀνιόντα θοῇ σὺν νηῒ μελαίνῃ
330 YOU are the much-shifting Odysseus—the one whom always
the golden-staffed Argeiphontes kept telling me would come,
upon leaving from Troy with his swift black ship.
Given the illocutionary effect of the formulaic question, I have emphasized the “always” in line 330 in that Odysseus’ tale up to this point is relatively fated, or fixed, from a narrative point of view—or at least the Odyssey presents it this way by disallowing Odysseus to speak of his identity in this interrogation. If there is to be an alteration or re-presentation of a nostos-multiform involving Circe and Odysseus’ identity, it does not occur here. Odysseus typically lies in response to this interrogation on Ithaca but remains mute here, suggesting no need for a calibration, but also no chance to overcome the traditional inertia of his path at this point in his nostos.
ἐκπομπῆς ἀνιοῦσαν ἐν ἠεροειδέι πόντωι
ῥαίσεσθαι, μέγα δ᾿ ἡμῖν ὄρος πόλει ἀμφικαλύψειν.
570 ὣς ἀγόρευ᾿ ὁ γέρων. τὰ δέ κεν θεὸς ἢ τελέσειεν,
ἤ κ᾿ ἀτέλεστ᾿ εἴη, ὥς οἱ φιλον ἔπλετο θυμῷ
He [Nausithous] clamed that someday a well-made ship of Phaeacian men
after returning from an escort upon the misty sea
would be shattered, and a great mountain would conceal our city.
570 Thus declared the old man. The god could either fulfill these things
Or they could be left open-ended, in whatever way it was pleasing to his heart.
εἶδός τε μέγεθός τε ἰδὲ φρένας ἔνδον ἐΐσας;
ξεῖνος δ’ αὖτ’ ἐμός ἐστιν, …
“Phaeacians, how does this man appear to you—
his nature, his stature, and the measured mind within?
Again, he is my guest, …
6. Big Rock, No Rock?
7. Textual Variance and Traditional Flexibility: Political or Poetic?
Nagy’s view is attentive to the multiform nature of the Homeric tradition and he sees this multiformity persisting in the reception of the tradition via textual transmission. His view of the variants places them in distinct stages of development amid this process. So, even if symbiotic, they are chronologically, geographically, and aesthetically distinct.