Reference address :

ELPENOR - Home of the Greek Word

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

D. Snider
A Commentary on the Odyssey of Homer - Part II

From, Homer's Odyssey: A commentary
[Please note that the Table of Contents here published, is created by Elpenor and is not to be found in the print version]

Table of Contents \ Odyssey Complete Text \ Greek Fonts \ More Greek Resources













Page 44

It is interesting to note the significance of this Phoenician background, with its universal commerce. The Phoenician traded already in remote antiquity with the extremes of the Aryan race, from India in the East to Britain in the West, including the whole intervening line of Aryan migration, Persia, Greece, Italy, Gaul. The Aryan race is indeed a separative, self-repellent, distracted race, always on the move out of itself, without returning into itself. The Phoenician, on the contrary, in his farthest voyages, came back home with news and merchandise; the remotest Phoenician settlements kept up their connection with the mother country. Deep is the idea of the Return to the parent city in the Semitic consciousness for all time; the Phoenician returned anciently to Tyre and Sidon; the Arab Mahommedan returns to-day to Mecca, home of the Prophet; the Jew experts to return to Jerusalem, the holy city of his fathers. The entire Odyssey may well be supposed to show a Semitic influence, in distinction from the Iliad, for the Odyssey is the account of many returns and of the one all-embracing Return to home and country. It is, therefore, very suggestive that the Odyssey has this Phoenician background of a world-commerce, which is only possible for a city whose people, going forth, come back to it as a center. Moreover this world-commerce is a kind of unification of the ever-separating Aryan race, a bond created through the exchange of commodities. Thus the Semitic character has always shown itself as the unifier and mediator of Aryan peoples, first through an external tie of trade, which was the work of Phoenicia, and, secondly, through the far deeper spiritual tie of religion, which was the later work of Judea. The Semitic mind has always been necessary to the inherently centrifugal Aryan soul in order to bring it back to itself from its wanderings, inner and outer, and to reconcile itself with itself and with the Divine Order. The Semite has been and still is the priest to all Arya, by the deepest necessity of the spirit.

Another word we may add in this connection. The Semitic race has also separated itself, and shown three main branches—Phoenician, Hebrew, Arab—a sea-people, a land-people, and a sand-people. In all three cases, however, they have a returning and therewith a mediating character. In their wildest wanderings, on water, and in the desert, and in the soul, they have the power of getting back; and that which they do for themselves, they aid others in doing.

So much by way of tracing the universal relations of this poem with its Phoenician background of commerce as well as with its Semitic character of Eumaeus. For, somehow, we cannot help seeing in this latter certain traits of the old Hebrew.

III. The last part of the Book returns to Telemachus and his ship; he has escaped the men in ambush, and has reached the Ithacan shore at a distance from the palace; he sends the vessel to the town while he goes to the hut of the swineherd in accord with the plan of the Goddess.

But he has on his hands the seer Theoclymenus, whom he first thinks of sending to one of the Suitors; but when the seer utters a favorable prophecy, Telemachus sends him to one of his own friends for entertainment. A curious touch of policy; it was well to have the prophet in a friendly house, where he might be ready for service; even prophetic vision can be colored by personal attachments.

Previous Page / First / Next

Cf. Pharr, Homer and the study of Greek * Odyssey Complete Text
Iliad Complete Text * Homer Bilingual Anthology and Resources * Livingstone, On the Ancient Greek Literature
More OnLine Resources on Greek History, Places, Texts, Language

The Greek Word Library

Three Millennia of Greek Literature

Greek Literature - Ancient, Medieval, Modern

Learned Freeware

Reference address :