The Greek reading group I’m in is translating through Book IX of the Odyssey. Today we came across one of my favorite parts – where Odysseus and his crew jam the red-hot μοχλος (spike) into the Cyclops’ eye. The dialogue that takes place afterward is one of the funniest things in ancient literature, in my opinion. It is as follows:
ἱστάμενοι δ’ εἴροντο περὶ σπέος ὅττι ἑ κήδοι.
“Τίπτε τόσον, Πολύφημ’, ἀρημένος ὧδ’ ἐβόησας νύκτα δι’ ἀμβροσίην, καὶ ἀΰπνους ἄμμε τίθησθα;
ἦ μή τίς σευ μῆλα Βροτῶν ἀέκοντος ἐλαύνει;
ἦ μή τίς σ’ αὐτὸν κτείνει δόλῳ ἠὲ Βίηφιν;”
Τοὺς δ’ αὖτ’ ἐξ ἄντρου προσέφη κρατερὸς Πολύφημος.
“ὦ φίλοι, Οὖτις με κτείνει δόλῳ οὐδὲ Βίηφιν.”
Standing around the cave they asked him what was troubling him.
“What has come upon you, Polyphemus, that you yell in the divine night and keep us from sleeping?
Is some mortal driving off your flocks against your will?
Is a man killing you by trick or violence?”
Then out of the cave spoke strong Polyphemus,
“Oh Friends, Nobody is murdering me by trickery, not with violence.”
I really enjoy this section of Homer as there is a lot of wordplay, but this in particular is really funny to me. When learning a language, it’s nice to be able to read through something that you genuinely enjoy reading. I wonder about what other bloggers find funny in ancient literature, so I’m tagging them to see what they come up with. My tags go to Mike Aubrey, Stephen Carlson, and my fellow Classicists, Brandon Wason and Esteban Vázquez.
Also, back in line 389 – why in the world is ὀφρύας (eyebrows) in the plural? Did Cyclopses have two eyebrows?