A Narratological Commentary on the Odyssey

By Irene J. F. De Jong | Go to book overview
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Book 2 covers the second day (cf. Appendix A), which brings the Ithacan assembly announced the previous day by Telemachus (1–259; cf. 1.373–5), the preparations for Telemachu's trip ('Mentor' /Athena promises to help him with a ship: 260–97; the Suitors ridicule his plan to go and hope that he will fare ill: 298–336; Euryclea, helping him with provisions, shows motherly concern: 337–81), and his secret departure (382–434).

1–5 According to the principle of 'reverse order' †, Telemachus, who was the last to go to bed, is the first to rise.

1 The beginning of a new day is almost without exception marked in the Odyssey, as is the end (1.423n.). The narrator has nine different ways to describe a sunrise:1 2.1=3.404=491=4.306=5.228=8.1=13.18=15.189 =17.1; 3.1–3; 5.1–2; 5.390; 6.48–9; 13.93–5; 15.56=20.91; 15.495; 23.344–8; and cf. 5.263, 279, where we find no sunrise but a number, 'on the fifth/eighteenth day'. The present version is the most common one, which is also used by characters in their embedded stories: 4.431, 576; 9.152, 170, 307, 437, 560; 10.187; 12.8, and 316.

2 The narrator refers to Telemachus by means of a periphrastic denomination †: 'dear son of Odysseus'. It occurs fourteen times in the Odyssey, but this (and cf. 35) is the first instance; it prepares for the 'assembly' scene, in which Telemachus will first publicly present himself as Odysseus'son.

3–4 An instance of the 'dressing' type-scene, which occurs at daybreak or before a departure: 1.96–101; 4.308–9; 5.44–8, 229+230–2; 10.542+ 543–5; 14.528–31; 15.60–2, 550–1; 16.154–5; 17.2–4; and 20.125–7.2 Male

Austin (1975: 67–8), Vivante (1980), and Radin (1988).
Arend (1933: 97–8) and Bowra (1952: 188–91).


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