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The Odyssey (Butler)

For other English-language translations of this work, see The Odyssey.

 

THE ODYSSEY

 

RENDERED INTO ENGLISH PROSE FOR THE USE OF
THOSE WHO CANNOT READ THE ORIGINAL,

 

BY

SAMUEL BUTLER,

AUTHOR OF "EREWHON," "SHAKESPEARE'S SONNETS RECONSIDERED,"
"THE ILIAD FOR ENGLISH READERS," ETC.

 

"From some points of view it is impossible to take the Odyssey seriously enough; from others, it is impossible to take it seriously at all; but from which ever point of view it be regarded, its beauty is alike unsurpassable."

Private letter to the translator.

 

London: A. C. FIFIELD.

 

 

AL PROFESSORE

CAV. BIAGIO INGROIA,

PREZIOSO ALLEATO

L'AUTORE RICONOSCENTE.

 

Odyssey (Butler) Map.png
(Frontispiece).
Walker & Boutall sc.
 

 

PREFACE.




This translation is intended to supplement a work entitled The Authoress of the Odyssey, which I published in 1897.[1] I could not give the whole Odyssey in that book without making it unwieldy, I therefore epitomised my translation, which was already completed and which I now publish in full.

I shall not here argue the two main points dealt with in the work just mentioned; I have nothing either to add to, or to withdraw from, what I have there written. The points in question are:—

(1) that the Odyssey was written entirely at, and drawn entirely from, the place now called Trapani on the West Coast of Sicily, alike as regards the Phæacian and the Ithaca scenes; while the voyages of Ulysses, when once he is within easy reach of Sicily, resolve themselves into a periplus of the island, practically from Trapani back to Trapani, via the Lipari islands, the Straits of Messina, and the island of Pantellaria.

(2) that the poem was entirely written by a very young woman, who lived at the place now called Trapani, and introduced herself into her work under the name of Nausicaa.

The main arguments on which I base the first of these somewhat startling contentions, have been prominently and repeatedly before the English and Italian public ever since they appeared (without rejoinder) in the Athenæum for January 30 and February 20, 1892. Both contentions were urged (also without rejoinder) in the Johnian Eagle for the Lent and October Terms of the same year. Nothing to which I should reply has reached me from any quarter, and knowing how anxiously I have endeavoured to learn the existence of any flaws in my argument, I begin to feel some confidence that, did such flaws exist, I should have heard, at any rate about some of them, before now. Without, therefore, for a moment pretending to think that scholars generally acquiesce in my conclusions, I shall act as thinking them little likely so to gainsay me as that it will be incumbent upon me to reply, and shall confine myself to translating the Odyssey for English readers, with such notes as I think will be found useful. Among these I would especially call attention to one on xxii. 465—473 which Lord Grimthorpe has kindly allowed me to make public.

I have repeated several of the illustrations used in The Authoress of the Odyssey, and have added two which I hope may bring the outer court of Ulysses' house more vividly before the reader. I should like to explain that the presence of a man and a dog in the upper illustration is accidental, and was not observed by me till I developed the negative. In an appendix I have also reprinted the paragraphs explanatory of the plan of Ulysses' house, together with the plan itself. The reader is recommended to study this plan with some attention.

In the preface of my translation of the Iliad[2] I have given my views as to the main principles by which a translator should be guided, and need not repeat them here, beyond pointing out that the initial liberty of translating poetry into prose involves the continual taking of more or less liberty throughout the translation; for much that is right in poetry is wrong in prose, and the exigencies of readable prose are the first things to be considered in a prose translation. That the reader, however, may see how far I have departed from strict construe, I will print here Messrs. Butcher and Lang's translation of the first sixty lines or so of the Odyssey. Their translation runs:—

Tell me, Muse, of that man, so ready at need, who wandered far and wide, after he had sacked the sacred[3] citadel of Troy, and many were the men whose towns he saw and whose minds he learnt, yea, and many the woes he suffered in his heart on the deep, striving to win his own life and the return of his company. Nay, but even so he saved not his company, though he desired it sore. For through the blindness of their own hearts they perished, fools, who devoured the oxen of Helios Hyperion: but the god took from them their day of returning. Of these things, goddess, daughter of Zeus whencesoever thou hast heard thereof, declare thou even unto us.

Now all the rest, as many as fled from sheer destruction, were at home, and had escaped both war and sea, but Odysseus only, craving for his wife and for his homeward path, the lady nymph Calypso held, that fair[4] goddess, in her hollow caves, longing to have him for her lord. But when now the year had come in the courses of the seasons, wherein the gods had ordained that he should return home to Ithaca; not even there was he quit of labours, not even among his own; but all the gods had pity upon him except Poseidon, who raged continually against godlike Odysseus, till he came to his own country. Howbeit Poseidon had now departed to the distant Ethiopians, the Ethiopians that are sundered in twain, the uttermost of men, abiding some where Hyperion sinks and some where he rises. There he looked to receive his hecatomb of bulls and rams, there he made merry sitting at the feast, but the other gods were gathered in the halls of Olympian Zeus. Then among them the father of men and gods began to speak, for he bethought him in his heart of noble Ægisthus, whom the son of Agamemnon far-famed Orestes slew. Thinking upon him he spoke out among the Immortals.

'Lo you now, how vainly mortal men do blame the gods! For of us they say comes evil, whereas they even of themselves, through the blindness of their own hearts have sorrows beyond what is ordained. Even as of late Ægisthus, beyond that which was ordained, took to him the wedded wife of the son of Atreus and killed her lord on his return, and that with sheer doom before his eyes, since we had warned him by the embassy of Hermes the keen-sighted, the slayer of Argus, that he should neither kill the man, nor woo his wife. For the son of Atreus shall be avenged at the hand of Orestes, as soon as he shall come to man's estate and long for his country. So spake Hermes, yet he prevailed not on the heart of Ægisthus, for all his good will; but now bath, he paid one price for all.'

And the goddess, grey-eyed Athene, answered him, saying: 'O father, our father Cronides, throned in the highest; that man assuredly lies in a death that is his due; so perish likewise all who work such deeds! But my heart is rent for wise Odysseus, the hapless one, who far from his friends this long while suffereth affliction in a sea-girt isle, where is the navel of the sea, a woodland isle, and therein a goddess hath her habitation, the daughter of the wizard Atlas, who knows the depths of every sea, and himself upholds the tall pillars which keep earth and sky asunder. His daughter it is that holds the hapless man in sorrow: and ever with soft and guileful tales she is wooing him to forgetfulness of Ithaca. But Odysseus yearning to see if it were but the smoke leap upwards from his own land, hath a desire to die. As for thee, thine heart regardeth it not at all, Olympian! What! Did not Odysseus by the ships of the Argives make thee free offering of sacrifice in the wide Trojan land? Wherefore wast thou so wrath with him, oh Zeus?'

The Odyssey (as every one knows) abounds in passages borrowed from the Iliad; I had wished to print these in a slightly different type, with marginal references to the Iliad, and had marked them to this end in my M.S. I found, however, that the translation would be thus hopelessly scholasticised, and abandoned my intention. I would nevertheless again urge on those who have the management of our University presses, that they would render a great service to students if they would publish a Greek text of the Odyssey with the Iliadic passages printed in a different type, and with marginal references. I have given the British Museum a copy of the Odyssey with the Iliadic passages underlined and referred to in M.S.; I have also given an Iliad marked with all the Odyssean passages, and their references;[5] but copies of both the Iliad and Odyssey so marked ought to be within easy reach of all students.

Any one who at the present day discusses the questions that have arisen round the Iliad since Wolf's time, without keeping it well before his reader's mind that the Odyssey was demonstrably written from one single neighbourhood, and hence (even though nothing else pointed to this conclusion) presumably by one person only—that it was written certainly before 750, and in all probability before 1000 B.C.—that the writer of this very early poem was demonstrably familiar with the Iliad as we now have it, borrowing as freely from those books whose genuineness has been most impugned, as from those which are admitted to be by Homer—any one who fails to keep these points well before his readers, is hardly dealing equitably by them. Any one on the other hand, who will mark his Iliad and his Odyssey from the copies in the British Museum above referred to, and who will draw the only inference that common sense can draw from the presence of so many identical passages in both poems, will, I believe, find no difficulty in assigning their proper value to a large number of books here and on the Continent that at present enjoy considerable reputations. Furthermore, and this perhaps is an advantage better worth securing, he will find many puzzles of the Odyssey cease to puzzle him on the discovery that they arise from over-saturation with the Iliad.

Other difficulties will also disappear as soon as the development of the poem in the writer's mind is understood. I have dealt with this at some length in pp. 251—261 of The Authoress of the Odyssey. Briefly, the Odyssey consists of two distinct poems: (1) The Return of Ulysses, which alone the Muse is asked to sing in the opening lines of the poem. This poem includes the Phæacian episode, and the account of Ulysses' adventures as told by himself in Books ix—xii. It consists of lines 1—79 (roughly) of Book i., of line 28 of Book v., and thence without intermission to the middle of line 187 of Book xiii., at which point the original scheme was abandoned.

(2) The story of Penelope and the suitors, with the episode of Telemachus's voyage to Pylos. This poem begins with line 80 (roughly) of Book i., is continued to the end of Book iv., and not resumed till Ulysses wakes in the middle of line 187, Book xiii., from whence it continues to the end of Book xxiv.

In The Authoress of the Odyssey, I wrote:—

The introduction of lines xi., 115—137 and of line ix., 535, with the writing a new council of the gods at the beginning of Book v., to take the place of the one that was removed to Book i., 1—79, were the only things that were done to give even a semblance of unity to the old scheme and the new, and to conceal the fact that the Muse, after being asked to sing of one subject, spends two-thirds of her time in singing a very different one, with a climax for which no one has asked her. For roughly the Return occupies eight Books, and Penelope and the Suitors sixteen.

I believe this to be substantially correct.

Lastly, to deal with a very unimportant point, I observe that the Leipsic Teubner edition of 1894 makes Books ii. and iii. end with a comma. Stops are things of such far more recent date than the Odyssey, that there does not seem much use in adhering to the text in so small a matter; still, from a spirit of mere conservatism I have preferred to do so. Why Ἦμος at the beginning of Books ii. and viii., and Ὧς at the beginning of Book vii. should have initial capitals in an edition far too careful to admit a supposition of inadvertence, when ὧς at the beginning of Books vi. and xiii., and ἦμος at the beginning of Book xvii. have no initial capitals, I cannot determine. No other Books of the Odyssey have initial capitals except the three above mentioned, unless the first word of the Book is a proper name.

S. BUTLER.

July 25, 1900.

 

  1. Longmans Green & Co.
  2. Longmans Green & Co. 1898.
  3. I omit Messrs. Butcher & Lang's note on this word, the Greek for which admits of more than one interpretation.
  4. I again omit Messrs. Butcher & Lang's note.
  5. The press marks of these books are, for the Odyssey, Bks. 3, c. 3, 1893, 80, and for the Iliad, Bks. 3, c. 2, 1894, 80.

 

CONTENTS.




BOOK I.
THE GODS IN COUNCIL—MINERVA'S VISIT TO ITHACA—THE CHALLENGE FROM TELEMACHUS TO THE SUITORS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
1–12
BOOK II.
ASSEMBLY OF THE PEOPLE OF ITHACA—SPEECHES OF TELEMACHUS AND OF THE SUITORS—TELEMACHUS MAKES HIS PREPARATIONS AND STARTS FOR PYLOS WITH MINERVA DISGUISED AS MENTOR
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
13–24
BOOK III.
TELEMACHUS VISITS NESTOR AT PYLOS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
25–38
BOOK IV.
THE VISIT TO KING MENELAUS WHO TELLS HIS STORY—MEANWHILE THE SUITORS IN ITHACA PLOT AGAINST TELEMACHUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
39–61
BOOK V.
CALYPSO—ULYSSES REACHES SCHERIA ON A RAFT
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
62–73
BOOK VI.
THE MEETING BETWEEN NAUSICAA AND ULYSSES
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
74–82
BOOK VII.
RECEPTION OF ULYSSES AT THE PALACE OF KING ALCINOUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
83–92
BOOK VIII.
BANQUET IN THE HOUSE OF ALCINOUS—THE GAMES
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
93–107
BOOK IX.
ULYSSES DECLARES HIMSELF AND BEGINS HIS STORY—THE CICONS, LOTOPHAGI, AND CYCLOPES
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
108–123
BOOK X.
ÆOLUS, THE LÆSTRYGONES, CIRCE
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
124–138
BOOK XI.
THE VISIT TO THE DEAD
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
139–154
BOOK XII.
THE SIRENS, SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS, THE CATTLE OF THE SUN
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
155–167
BOOK XIII.
ULYSSES LEAVES SCHERIA AND RETURNS TO ITHACA
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
168–180
BOOK XIV.
ULYSSES IN THE HUT WITH EUMÆUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
181–193
BOOK XV.
MINERVA SUMMONS TELEMACHUS FROM LACEDÆMON—HE MEETS WITH THEOCLTMENUS AT PYLOS AND BRINGS HIM TO ITHACA—ON LANDING HE GOES TO THE HUT OF EUMÆUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
194–208
BOOK XVI.
ULYSSES REVEALS HIMSELF TO TELEMACHUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
209–220
BOOK XVII.
TELEMACHUS AND HIS MOTHER MEET—ULYSSES AND EUMÆUS COME DOWN TO THE TOWN, AND ULYSSES IS INSULTED BY MELANTHIUS—HE IS RECOGNISED BY THE DOG ARGOS—HE IS INSULTED AND PRESENTLY STRUCK BY ANTINOUS WITH A STOOL—PENELOPE DESIRES THAT HE SHALL BE SENT TO HER
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
221–236
BOOK XVIII.
THE FIGHT WITH IIRUS—ULYSSES WARNS AMPHINOMUS—PENELOPE GETS PRESENTS FROM THE SUITORS—THE BRAZIERS—ULYSSES REBUKES EURYMACHUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
237–247
BOOK XIX.
TELEMACHUS AND ULYSSES REMOVE THE ARMOUR—ULYSSES INTERVIEWS PENELOPE—EURYCLEA WASHES HIS FEET AND RECOGNISES THE SCAR ON HIS LEG—PENELOPE TELLS HER DREAM TO ULYSSES
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
248–262
BOOK XX.
ULYSSES CANNOT SLEEP—PENELOPE'S PRAYER TO DIANA—THE TWO SIGNS FROM HEAVEN—EUMÆUS AND PHILŒTIUS ARRIVE—THE SUITORS DINE—CTESIPPUS THROWS AN OX'S FOOT AT ULYSSES—THEOOLYMENUS FORETELLS DISASTER AND LEAVES THE HOUSE
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
263–273
BOOK XXI.
THE TRIAL OF THE AXES, DURING WHICH ULYSSES REVEALS HIMSELF TO EUMÆUS AND PHILŒTIUS
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
274–285
BOOK XXII.
THE KILLING OF THE SUITORS—THE MAIDS WHO HAVE MISCONDUCTED THEMSELVES ARE MADE TO CLEANSE THE CLOISTERS, AND ARE THEN HANGED
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
286–299
BOOK XXIII.
PENELOPE EVENTUALLY RECOGNISES HER HUSBAND—EARLY IN THE MORNING ULYSSES, TELEMACHUS, EUMÆUS AND PHILŒTIUS LEAVE THE TOWN
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
300–309
BOOK XXIV.
THE GHOSTS OF THE SUITORS IN HADES—ULYSSES AND HIS MEN GO TO THE HOUSE OF LAERTES—THE PEOPLE OF ITHACA COME OUT TO ATTACK ULYSSES, BUT MINERVA CONCLUDES A PEACE
.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .
310–323
324–326




CORRIGENDA.


Page 4, line 12, for "lead" read "led."
Page 16, line 13 from bottom of page, for "vigorously" read "rigorously."
Page 102, line 11, for "graces" read "Graces."
Page 124, line 9, for "in their" read "on their."
Page 144, line 1, for "now" read "how."
Page 157, line 7, for "some" read "one."
Page 159, line 4, after "extreme," add a comma.
Page 177, In Note. Three lines from bottom of page, add inverted commas before "I venture."
Page 211, line 10, for "and they will" read "for they will."




LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.


Frontispiece, The map of Ulysses' voyages
Two views of Selinunte courtyard to face p. 38
Views of the Salt works of S. Cusumano, and of the old exit of the inlet up which Ulysses swam to face p. 72
Map of Trapani and neighbourhood to face p. 80
Maps of Ægadean islands and of the Ionian islands to face p. 108
Views of the cave of Polyphemus to face p. 113
A coin representing the brooch of Ulysses to face p. 253
Plan of the house of Ulysses to face p. 324