tŰn d'ÍmeÓbet' epeÓta . . . . . . . . . . . . the‚ glaŻkŰpis AthÍna
speaking to him then answered . . the goddess bright-eyed Athena
tÍn d'ÍmeÓbet' epeÓta . . . . . . . . . . . . GerÍnios hÓppota NÍstor
speaking to her then answered . . the horseman Gerenian Nestor
tÍn d'ÍmeÓbet' epeÓta . . . . . . . . . . . . PoseÓd‚Űn enosÓchthŰn
speaking to her then answered . . the great earth-shaker Poseidon
tŰn d'ÍmeÓbet' epeÓta . . . . . . . . . . . . polŻtl‚s dÓos OdysseŻs
answering him then spoke . . . . . . . much suffering noble Odysseus
tÍn d'ÍmeÓbet' epeÓta . . . . . . . . . . . . boÍn agathŰs Menel‚os
answering her then spoke . . . . . . . the great crier of war MenelŠos
tÍn d'apameÓbomenŰs prosephÍ . . . . . . . nephelÍgeret‚ Zeus
answering her in return spoke forth . . the cloud-gathering god Zeus
tŰn d'apameÓbomenŰs prosephÍ . . . . . . . x‚nthŰs Menel‚os
answering him in return spoke forth . . light-haired MenelŠos
tŰn d'apameÓbomenŰs prosephÍ . . . . . . . polumÍtis OdysseŻs
speaking to him then answered . . . . . . . . Odysseus of many devices
tÍn d'apameÓbomenŰs prosephÍs, . . . . . . EŻmaÓŽ subŰt‚
Then in answer to her you spoke, . . . . . . Eumaios the swineherd
Other musical formulaic lines mark the passage of time, especially sunrise and sunset:
ÍmŰs d'ÍrigeneÓa phanÍ rhodod‚ktylos ÍŰs
Soon as the dawn shone forth rose-fingered at earliest day-break
dŻseto t'ÍŽliŰs, skioŰnto te p‚sai aguÓaÓ
Then did the sun go down and the ways were all shadowed in darkness
The repetition, one might say the reprise, of more extended passages helps to give the epic a musical unity to supplement
that of the narrative. These lines from Book 1 (146-152) recur several times in the work, and some of them occur in the other
great Homeric poem, the Iliad. They mark the decorum, even the ceremony, of meals in a social setting.
Heralds at once poured over their hands clean water for washing;
bread they were served by maids, who had heaped it high in the baskets;
young men filled to the brim great wine-bowls, ready for drinking.
They put forth eager hands to partake of the food lying ready.
When they had quite satisfied their appetites, drinking and eating,
into the minds of the suitors came other affairs to attend to,
singing and joining in dance, since these are adornments of dining.
Beyond such reprises of formulaic passages for recurrent events, Homeric epic repeats passages of narrative, especially of
speeches: for example, a messenger hears a message from its sender, then repeats it almost line-for-line to its receiver.
This can happen on a larger scale too: the most notable such repetition in the Odyssey is the famous story of the way Penelope
kept putting off the suitors. It occurs first in Book 2 (93-110), when one of them, AntŪnoŲs, tells it as evidence of Penelope's
perfidy in refusing to decide on a husband; in Book 19 (138-156), PenelopŤ herself tells it to Odysseus disguised as a beggar,
thereby unwittingly showing him her shrewdness and fidelity; and in Book 24 (128-146) we hear it yet again from the spirit
of Amphimťdon, one of the suitors whom Odysseus has killed, again as a complaint, but for us a triumphant vindication of Penelope's
astuteness. So the audience gets to hear a good story set to verse-music three times, like an aria in opera or a song in
musical comedy and its reprises.
"This is another deception that she in her spirit invented:
putting her great loom up in her chamber, she set about weaving
delicate fabric of amplest measure, and thereupon told us:
'Young men, suitors for me, since noble Odysseus has perished,
wait, hold off from the marriage you urge upon me, until I can
finish the mantle, lest all of the yarn be uselessly wasted.
It is a burial robe for the hero LaŽrtes, for when he
falls in the ruinous doom of his death so long in the mourning,
lest in the town some woman among the Achaians reproach me
that this man who acquired so much should be lying unshrouded.'
So she spoke, and the valorous spirits in us were persuaded.
Then each day she would weave at the loom, enlarging the fabric,
while each night she undid it, when torches she had set beside her.
So three years by her craft she fooled and convinced the Achaians,
but when the fourth year came with the passing of hours and of seasons,
finally one of the maids spoke out who knew of it plainly,
so that we came upon her undoing the glorious fabric.
Thus she completed the cloth unwillingly, under compulsion."