MISCELLANEA WHY IS THE INCIDENT ON THRINACIA MENTIONED IN OD. 1, 7-9? The mere fact that the slaughtering of Helios' oxen is mentioned in the proem of the Odyssey as well as the emphasis laid on that event have puzzled many scholars. As Stephanie West puts it (introductory note on p. 68): "It (the proem) ... gives disproportionate emphasis to a single inci- dent", a judgement which is repeated in slightly different terms in her notes on lines 7-9. She adds (ibidem) that "this severe condemnation of Odysseus' companions is not borne out by the narrative" (sc. in 12, 260 ff.). "Eleven of his twelve ships are destroyed by the Laestrygonians ... and even on board Odysseus' own ship there are several casualties before Thrinacia is reached". Whether or not there is a discrepancy between the way the behaviour of the companions is judged in 1, 7-9 and in 12, 260 ff. will not be my concern here. Rather, I want to argue that any disasters which occurred before the incident on Thrinacia are irrele- vant for the proem. In fact, this incident and its consequences serve a clear narrative purpose with respect to lines 11-15. Having mentioned
Mnemosyne – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 1993
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