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Classical Greek Tutoring
Newsletter, 31st May 2020

Hello everyone, I trust this finds you well. 

Welcome to the latest newsletter from Classical Greek Tutoring.  In this fortnightly newsletter, I bring you the latest news in the classics world, as well as hints and tips for learning Greek.  Best wishes, Helen

Classics Escape Room

The Actors of Dionysus have created a digital Classics themed Escape Room with challenges based on various Classics themes! Put your ancient Greek hats on and help Lysistrata escape the building where the men have trapped her, hoping to foil her wicked plots. This highly secretive mission is for those 16 and older. Click here.

Online Courses

Belfast Summer School in Latin and Classical Greek

In response to the unusual times in which we presently find ourselves, the Belfast Summer School in Latin and Classical Greek is pleased to announce that for 2020, it is moving online.

Online classes will begin on Monday 20th July and conclude on Friday 24th July. Lessons will be conducted on Zoom each day from 10:00-11:00 & 12:00-13:00 BST, and work will be set for independent study.

Students may choose from Beginners Greek, Intermediate Greek, Beginners Latin or Intermediate Latin.

Beginners classes will assume no prior knowledge although students of Greek will be asked to learn the alphabet in advance, for which a worksheet will be provided.

Classes in Intermediate Greek and Latin will begin with a revision session, while successive lessons will be tailored to the needs of the students. Those registering for an intermediate class should inform the co-ordinator of previous courses attended and which textbooks have been used.

All course material will be provided by email.

Email with questions or to register. You should include in your email which course you wish to register for, where you are from, and whether you have studied classical languages before. The fee for the week is £70 and this may be paid by bank transfer, Paypal or sterling cheque. You will be given payment instructions when you register. Your place on the course is guaranteed once payment has been made.

**UPDATE** I have been overwhelmed by the response to the summer school online courses. The Intermediate Greek class is full, but will be repeated the following week, Monday 27th - Friday 31st July. Places are still available for the repeated course.

Ancient Greek Literature

The End of the Odyssey

According to a scholium, two ancient critics, Aristarchus of Samothrace (c.220 – c.143 BC) and his teacher, Aristophanes of Byzantium (c. 257 – c. 185/180 BC), asserted that the Odyssey actually ended at book 23 line 296. 

"οἱ μὲν ἔπειτα ἀσπάσιοι λέκτροιο παλαιοῦ θεσμὸν ἵκοντο." (Od. 23.295-6)

"Finally, at last, with joy the husband and the wife arrived back in the rites of their old marriage bed." (23.293-295, trans. Wilson)

The scholium reads “Aristarchus and Aristophanes say that this is the end of the Odyssey”. Together the grammarians established the most historically important critical edition of the Homeric poems, and may have been responsible for the division of the poems into 24 books.

The continuation of the Odyssey, from book 23 line 297 to the end of book 24, consists of four episodes. In the first, Odysseus gives Penelope a brief, and tactful, account of his adventures. Odysseus then sets out for the countryside to find his father (book 23 lines 297-end).

The second episode, from book 24 lines 1-204, sees the ghosts of the suitors conducted to Hades by Hermes. There is a conversation between Achilles and Agamemnon, and Amphimedon, one of the suitors recounts the whole story of the return and revenge of Odysseus. This section of the poem uses the late contraction of Ἑρμης instead of the Homeric Ἑρμείας and this is the only mention in the Homeric poems of the archaic function of Hermes as conductor of ghosts. Elsewhere in the Odyssey, Hermes has been a messenger between the gods and mortals. In addition, the geography and location of Hades is new. The ghosts of the suitors, whose bodies are still unburied, enter Hades without delay and mingle with other ghosts. Achilles and Agamemnon discuss Achilles’ funeral – a subject completely outside the scope of the Odyssey. Scholars have pointed out an inconsistency with a verb at the beginning of this episode, concluding that the entire section must have been transferred from another source.

Next is the reunion of Odysseus and Laertes (book 24 lines 205-411). Abnormalities of vocabulary, syntax and style occur sporadically through the Odyssey but a study of the language of reunion of Odysseus and Laertes (24.205-411) confirms that this scene is exceptional in this respect. Linguistic evidence suggests relatively late composition and scholars conclude that the scene as a whole must have been composed by a poet familiar with the idioms, syntax and vocabulary of at least the 6th century, but who had limited understanding of older epic language. Earlier references to Laertes in the Odyssey lead to an expectation of a meeting between father and son before the end of the poem but there is no reason why Odysseus should not explain at once to his father who he is, especially since time is pressing and danger threatens at home. The aimless and heartless lying tale to Laertes plays upon his father’s emotions then he suddenly springs the truth.

Finally, the battle takes place between Odysseus and his supporters on one side and the relatives of the dead suitors on the other. Athene brings peace (book 24 lines 412-end). The fourth section describes the battle with the suitors’ families: we are with the families in the agora deciding to attack Odysseus, then suddenly we are with Athene on Olympus with no transitional phrase, as is the norm in Homer. From this moment the story rushes to its conclusion. 

Athene appears as Mentor, ordering the families to stop fighting and separate without bloodshed, but men have already been killed and wounded. This poet is in a hurry to be finished and the last few events are crowded together in unHomeric fashion.

In Professor Emily Wilson's translation, the poem concludes thus:

"Then Athena made the warring sides swear solemn oaths of peace for future times - still in her guise as Mentor." (24.547-9).

Do you agree that the poem ends unusually abruptly? What is your opinion of the last lines of the Odyssey?

Do write and tell me your thoughts.

If you have enjoyed this newsletter, please feel free to forward it to anyone you think may be interested. Click on the buttons below to visit my social media pages and website.

Classical Greek Tutoring

39 Old Mill Grove, Belfast
United Kingdom

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