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Linguistic, Mycenaean, and Iliadic traditions behind Penelope's recognition of Odysseus.


At Odyssey 18.163, achreion is best etymologized as being derived from achri "until". There is thereby an explicit indication that Penelope is "biding her time" when she appears before the Suitors. Subsequently, at 19.250, 23.94-95, 23.206, and 24.346, there are four references to recognition. Against the perspective of Linear B, a Bronze Age writing system, "read" emerges as a potentially defining nuance for forms of anagigno*sko* "recognize" in these passages. One of the four, 23.94-95, has regularly been considered from a perspective of non-recognition; however, agno*saske, the verb form which supposedly indicates this, is unparalleled in Homer. It is therefore reasonable to consider reading aggno*saske, viz., a form, with apocope, of anagigno*sko*. Corroborating the importance of Mycenaean Greek for the Odyssey are various Iliad parallels, especially the ivory simile associated with the wounding of Menelaos at Il. 4.139-147; this resonates both with various Knossos tablets which combine ivory and crimson and with Od. 23.200-201, describing how Odysseus's and Penelope's bed was decorated. Finally, book 24 rounds out the treatment of recognition and suggests an identification of Aktoris, who had been mentioned at 23.228, as Dolios' wife.

1. The Meaning of achreion at Od. 18.163.

At 18.163, Penelope laughs achreion just before speaking (164-68) of her intention to appear before the Suitors. Achreion, which appears also at Il. 2.269, is pretty clearly a neuter adjective used adverbially. Forms of the word also occur at Hesiod, Works and Days, 403 and in various later passages, in most of which an interpretation as a compound of a- (negative prefix) with chreos (Homeric chreios) "need, needful matter, business matter, debt" seems likely; correspondingly, "useless," "unprofitable," and "helpless" are representative of the definitions offered by LSJ (Liddell-Scott-Jones) for achrelos.

At Od. 18.163, though, "uselessly" seems out of place. Instead, something like "anticipatory glee," mentioned by Hewitt (1927-28, 441) and cited with apparent approbation by Levine (1983, 174), seems better. Such a nuance would fit much better with our hearing or reading the situation in terms of Penelope's realizing, from the Stranger's actions in book 17 (cf. Vlahos's discussion) that he is really Odysseus, who has finally retuned home.

But how could such a nuance for achreion be etymologically justified? As far as I know, the suggestion has not been previously made, but I submit that there is a connection of this word with achri "until". The only complication would be the phonological development of -i- to -ei-, and for this a good parallel is provided by the place-name Ampheia. Pausanias (second century CE), in his Description of Greece, at 4.5.9, lines 3 and 7, describes Ampheia as lying on the border between Laconia and Messenia. Consequently, a derivation of the name from amphi "around / on both sides" and a corresponding meaning on the order of "Border Town" seems plausible. With a comparable derivation from achri "until," the adjective achreios will mean "waiting until / biding one's time."

There is, to be sure, an alternative derivative amphion from amphi, with a sense of "garment, clothing" (i.e., something that is around its wearer). In view of (1) the existence of this form and (2) the fairly ubiquitous conflation of -ei- and -i- in post-Classical Greek, it might be thought that Pausanias's Ampheia is some sort of mistake for a more "correct" Amphia. The genuineness of the spelling with the diphthong, though, is supported by the appearance of Ampheia in a list of formations in -ei- given by the ancient grammarian Herodian, de prosodia catholica, 277.20.

2. Other Uses of achreios.

It is also a fairly straightforward matter to explain the pervasive post-Homeric use of achreios as "useless." In Homer, there are four occurrences of achri(s) and only two of an alternative word for "until," viz., mechri(s). The pattern of distribution is sharply the reverse, though, in other archaic writers. Through the sixth century BCH, TLG (Thesaurus Linguae Graecae) gives only four additional occurrences of achri(s) "until," but 61 other occurrences of mechri(s) "until." Inasmuch as achri was evidently becoming a more or less obsolete form, the usage of achreios can readily have been displaced from achri in post-Homeric times and instead associated with chreos "use."

Despite a preponderance of instances, though, in which achreios fairly clearly means "useless" or the like, there are also a couple of post-Homeric passages in which a different analysis is likely.

In Aeschylus's Prometheus Bound, the title character refers to Typhon with the word achreion. (2) The immediate context (Prometheus's and others' punishment by Zeus) might suggest that "useless" or "helpless" would be perfect here, and Grene so translates achreion (italics added to highlight the word):
  now a sprawling mass
useless he lies, hard by the narrow seaway
pressed down beneath the roots of Aetna. (Prometheus Bound, ll. 363-65)

The original trilogy itself, though, included Prometheus's release--which must constitute, in some sense, his victory over Zeus. In connection with Typhon too, a comparably more positive treatment is evident within Prometheus Bound itself, inasmuch as the next few lines go on to state that Typhon's pent-up rage will, on occasion, break out in a volcanic eruption, described in lines 367-72. In view of this, then, one could recast Grene's translation as follows (suggested change in italics):
  "now a sprawling mass
biding his time he lies, hard by the narrow seaway
pressed down beneath the roots of Aetna." (Prometheus Bound, 11.

Still another Attic passage involves the compound achreogelo*s, in which -gelo*s must be connected with the stem of geldo* "laugh." (3) It thus parallels Od. 18.163, in which the reference is to Penelope's laughing in an achreion fashion. According to LSJ, achreogelo*s means "untimely laughing." At fr. 360 of the comic dramatist Cratinus, though, the context appears to be one of the dramatist's appealing to his audience as appreciative critics of his poetic skill. To refer to presumably sophisticated critics as laughing at the wrong time seems pointless. Instead, Cratinus is much more likely to be saying that his audience is composed of critics who are biding their time until his play emerges victorious in the dramatic competition at Athens and so gets the last laugh at the expense of other, inferior plays.

3. The Rest of the Homeric Evidence.

Even more important as evidence for the meaning of achreion at Od. 18.163 is a Scholion on Il. 2.269b: epi de tes Pe*nelope*s "achreion de gilasse," epiplaston kai hupokekrimenon mechri tod ta chelle* motion dianoigein. "But in connection with Penelope's achreion de gelasse, 'feigned and made up until only opening the lips."' (4) In this comment, the phrase "feigned and made up" would be entirely compatible with the idea of "biding one's time" as a translation of Penelope's achreion de gelasse; in fact, the Scholion actually goes on to include mechri "until," which is regularly used in post-Homeric times as the equivalent of Homeric achri.

The Scholion on Il. 2.269 appears to contrast the Iliad and Odyssey usages of achreion, assigning the meaning "feigned and made up" only to the Odyssey. Both Homeric passages, though, can be considered from the same general perspective. The Iliad setting is that Thersites has been railing against Agamemnon. Finally, Odysseus intervenes. He beats up Thersites, who then looks achreion and sits down. Murray and Lattimore respectively translate this as "with helpless looks" or "looking helplessly." The immediately following line (Il. 2.270), however, states that the Achaian army remains bothered, even as Thersites has been silenced. Like Prometheus Bound, then, in which there is a reference to a volcanic eruption in connection with Typhon, we may hear the Iliad passage in terms of the Achaians' being afraid that Thersites is somehow "biding his time" as he glares at them.

There is also a connection of the Iliad passage with laughter, just as both Od. 18.163 and the Cratinus fragment are so connected. As my student W. Gerald Heverly points out, the Iliad scene has been introduced in terms of Thersites's liking to create situations that he thought would be laughable--geloiion (2.215). As the scene develops, this point seems completely sidetracked, from Thersites's point of view, since the Achaians' laughter is directed at him (2.270), rather than at his target, Agamemnon. Despite this seeming denouement, though, it would still be possible, through the adverb achreion, to allude to Thersites's imagining that he will have the last laugh on some future occasion.

4. Penelope Recognizes Signs in Book 19.

Od. 19.249-250 reports as follows concerning Penelope's reaction to "Aithon", the disguised Odysseus:
Ho*s phato, tei d' eti mallon huph' himeron orse gooio,
se*mat' anagnouse*i, ta hoi empeda pephrad' Odusseus.

Murray's translation is as follows:
So he spoke, and in her heart aroused yet more the desire for weeping,
as she recognized the sure tokens that Odysseus told her.

Since the exact phrasing of the second line, 19.250, reappears at 23.206--a passage that many critics take to refer to Penelope's definitively recognizing Odysseus--the passage in book 19 might also seem to refer to this. Mention of the two passages together, though, raises a seeming paradox: If there is recognition in book 19, why would Penelope need to recognize Odysseus for what would then be a second time in book 23? (5)

5. Homer and Writing.

As a means of dealing with this seeming paradox, it will be helpful to consider Homer's stance vis-a-vis writing--a point that too often gets lost when one approaches this author from the vantage point of oral tradition.

At Il. 6.145-211, we hear how the wife of the Argive king Proitos made the false accusation that Bellerophon had sexually assaulted her. (Actually, she had propositioned Bellerophon, and he had rebuffed her.) Believing his wife, but regarding Bellerophon as his guest and hence under his protection while in Argos, Proitos sends Bellerophon off to Lykia with a folded tablet, on which there are some se*mata lugra "baleful / destructive signs." Upon his arrival, Bellerophon is straightway sent on various dangerous tasks, pretty clearly as a result of the Lykian king's perusal (6.176-178) of the tablet. (Bellerophon, though, survives all these tasks and eventually the king makes him his son-in-law.)

The ancient Scholiasts' first suggestion in dealing with Il. 6.168-169 is in terms of grdmmata "letters," implying, apparently, something on the order of the Classical Greek alphabet; however, they also go on to mention zo*idia "pictures (of animals)" and eido*la "pictures." Eustathius, in his Iliad commentary (2.272), specifically rejects an interpretation in terms of grdmmata, as being anachronistic for Homer, and instead focuses on the Scholiasts' interpretation in terms of zo*idia or eido*la. Likewise, in discussing Il, 7.189, in which various Achaian warriors put their own mark on some token, Eustathius once again (2.437) specifically says that grdmmata would be inappropriate in a Homeric context. For a long time, the line of thought that was suggested by Eustathius dominated modern treatment of the Iliad. Instead of real writing, scholars had in mind something more like the buffalo hides, decorated by American Indians and found in various museums, which have pictures representing the major events of one year or another. Supposedly, Proitos sent something of this sort along with Bellerophon.

Such "picture-writing," though, is pretty hard to imagine in connection with the Bellerophon story. The buffalo hides just mentioned, for example, seem to have functioned more as mnemonic devices for one individual than as a means of conveying a message from one person to another. In the case of the Iliad, that would work in book 7--but not in book 6. Accordingly, with the development, in the second half of the twentieth century, of a better view of the history of Greek writing, Willcock 1978 suggests that Il. 6.168-69 incorporates a "dim memory, preserved in the poetic tradition, of the Mycenaean syllabic script." (6)

The Mycenaean script to which Willcock refers is Linear B. In his early twentieth-century excavations at Knossos in Crete, Sir Arthur Evans identified two types of second millennium BCE writing. He called the earlier of these systems Linear A (in the opinion of most, this remains undeciphered), and he used the term "Linear B" for the later system. In the early 1950s, this was deciphered as an early form of Greek by Michael Ventris. (7)

Linear B utilizes a separate, distinct symbol for each syllable. Some readers will be familiar with such a system of writing as manifested by Japanese. Sequoyah's system for writing Cherokee is also somewhat similar in basis. For these languages, a syllabic system of notation works fairly well, and this was probably also the case with the non-Greek language for which Linear A, the predecessor of Linear B, was devised. For Greek, though, quite a few problems arise, inasmuch as the only syllables that are specifically represented in Linear B are (1) vowels and occasionally diphthongs and (2) sequences of consonant plus vowel or diphthong. E.g., the five vowels a, e, i, o, u and the d- series, da, de, di, do, du are written with ten different symbols all together. Also, a few symbols seem to represent CCV (consonant + consonant + vowel) combinations, such as pte. There was, however, no way of representing most syllable-final consonants. As a result, there is quite a bit of potential ambiguity. For example, the combination that is regularly transcribed by modern scholars as pa-te, can be pate*r "father" (so PY An607) or pantes "all" (so KN B1055). (8)

Since Linear B had long gone out of use by the eighth century BCE, Homer can scarcely have known specific details, such as the preceding, concerning it. Another syllabic script, though, was still in use in his time. The Cypriote syllabary is not as familiar to most Classicists as Linear B is. Quite a few signs, though, are very similar in the two syllabaries. For example, for na, pa, po, se, ti, and we the Linear B and Cypriote forms are very similar. (9) In view of these and other similarities, there must have been some continuous tradition of syllabic writing in Cyprus from the Bronze Age to the early Hellenistic period, when the Cypriote syllabary finally ceased to be used. We can therefore imagine a Cypriote visitor to Ionia around 725 BCE showing off his own kind of writing to Homer, as something much more ancient than the alphabet, which was then first coming into use in the Greek world. Moreover, our hypothetical visitor from Cyprus could have quite legitimately referred to his script as a heritage from the heroic past and so have vivified for Homer the "dim memory ... of the Mycenaean syllabic script" that Willcock suggests.

6. The Meaning(s) of the Verb anagigno*sko*.

The ordinary Classical Greek way of expressing the concept "read" is with the compound verb anagigno*sko*. The literal meaning of this is "know again" (gigno*sko* "know," combined with the prefix ana-), and the word itself is attested from an early period with the meaning "recognize." The secondary meaning "read," though, is regularly thought to be first attested in the fifth century BCE (Pindar, Olympian 10.1); for this, see the entry s.v. anagigno*sko* in LSJ.

The semantic development from "know again / recognize" to "read" would, however, fit Linear B better than it would alphabetic writing, which, in most of the Greek world, had completely replaced the ancient syllabary by Pindar's time. In view of the frequent ambiguity in Linear B, a typical scenario for working with it must have been that an individual scribe would go back to his own ledger to corroborate or "know again" the details concerning the personnel on call somewhere, or what stores of goods or equipment were available or were supposed to be distributed, or whatever, rather than that another individual, unfamiliar with the details, would read the document, getting information from it from scratch, so to speak. Correspondingly, the extension of meaning of the compound of ana + gigno*sko* ("know again") to the semantic area "read" seems more appropriate to dealing with Linear B than to alphabetic writing, which is more comprehensive in representing consonant clusters, etc. (10)

7. "Reading" at Od. 19.250, etc.

An early date for "read" as a meaning for anagigno*sko* also provides a solution to the paradox, previously noted, that arises from juxtaposing Od. 19.250 and 23.206. In both passages, Penelope could be reading / pondering something, instead of actually recognizing anything. I.e., "Aithon"-Odysseus presents information which Penelope ponders, and correspondingly, in book 23, Penelope will somehow weigh what Odysseus has said; it is not a matter of her actually recognizing Odysseus on either occasion. With this in mind, then, one could rewrite Murray's translation of 19.249-250 as follows (change in the second line is indicated in italics):
So he spoke, and in her heart aroused yet more the desire for weeping,
as she read the sure tokens that Odysseus told her.

Besides fitting the overall setting in both 19.250 and 23.206, a Linear B/ Mycenaean background for the scene in book 19 is also suggested by the fact that various tablets (such as KN Ld571, included at Colvin 2007: 73-74) refer to stores of clothing (pa-we-a2 or pa-we-a "cloaks, etc."), just as "Aithon" has focused on Odysseus's clothing at 19.225-26 and 232-35. Although not knowing specifically of such tablets, Homer can have been familiar with traditions, stretching back hundreds of years, concerning the opulence of Bronze Age palaces as manifested in their rich sartorial resources. Even more specifically, various tablets refer to clothing as ke-se-nu-wi-ja (so KN Ld573, Ld574, Ld585, and Ld649+8169) or ke-se-ne-wi-ja (so KN Ld649+8169). Both terms apparently mean "appropriate for guests" (cf. Ventris and Chadwick 1973: 318 and 487) and so attest to the distribution of clothing to guests--a point raised by "Aithon" at 19.236-240-as a feature of Mycenaean culture. Moreover, the "meeting" of "Aithon" and Odysseus, recounted in book 19, took place at Knossos--which happens to be the place of provenance for these various clothing tablets. This point is not, perhaps, entirely serendipitous, inasmuch as, in the traditions available to Homer, Knossos may very naturally have featured prominently, as a preeminent example of Bronze Age opulence.

Before we leave consideration of book 19, we should perhaps glance at the widely-held assumption that the scribes who were skilled in Linear B were male. For example, the cover of Chadwick's more or less popularizing 1976 work, The Mycenaean World, depicts a bearded scribe. If this sort of mindset was also Homer's, should we find him ascribing the "reading" of "signs" to a woman? There is not, I would say, any real difficulty. In fact, at Od. 18.266-268, Homer has already prepared us for 19.250 through Penelope's report that Odysseus had turned over the management of the household to her; accordingly, it is entirely reasonable to associate her, in Book 19, with the kind of record-keeping that one finds in Mycenaean palaces.

8. Penelope's Stance at 23.94-95.

After the slaughter of the Suitors, Penelope goes down to the great hall to look at Odysseus, perusing the situation as follows:
opsei d' allote men min eno*padlo*s esidesken,
allote d' agno*saske kaka chroi heimat' echonta. (Od. 23.94-95) (11)

Lattimore translates this as follows:
Sometimes she would look at him, with her eyes full upon him,
and again would fail to know him in the foul clothing he wore.

About ten lines later, though, at 23.106-107, Penelope says that she cannot look at Odysseus (oude ti ... dunamai .. /. eis opa idesthai enantion). This seems in direct contradiction with the verb esidesken (Lattimore's "she would look at him") in 23.94. Moreover, Odysseus appears to confirm Penelope's own words (as contrasted with the bard's previous report at 23.94) when he says (23.115-116) that Penelope fails to recognize him because of his foul clothing.

The solution to the apparent contradiction lies, I submit, in reconsidering 23.94-95.

For the form immediately preceding esidesken in line 94, most manuscripts have eno*pidio*s, but some have eno*padio*s. The latter reading, although occurring in only a few manuscripts, has regularly been preferred by editors, and it was accordingly printed at the beginning of this Section. Apparently, editors' preference for it arises from the existence of various other eno*pad- words in later epic, such as eno*padls "before / in one's face" in Apollonius, Argonautica 4.354 and eno*padon (similar meaning) in Quintus of Smyrna, Post-Homerica 2.84. (12) There is not, however, any intrinsic "correctness" about eno*padio*s itself, inasmuch as neither this form nor eno*pidi*s appears anywhere in ancient Greek literature except at Od. 23.94 and in Scholiastic comments on the Homeric passage.

At one stroke, we can (1) correlate 23.94 quite closely with 23.106-07, and yet (2) work in terms of the predominating manuscript tradition in 23.94. Dividing the alternative (and better attested) reading eno*pidio*s into two words, we get enop' idio*s, with two perfectly reasonable Homeric forms. Inasmuch as the text was originally written without word breaks or diacritical marks, the change is pretty much just a matter of typography. In essence, it would simply mean retaining the reading ENOPIDIOS, which must lie behind the eno*pidio*s of most of our manuscripts, and correspondingly dismissing ENOPADIOS, which is represented (as eno*padio*s ) in only a few manuscripts, as an ancient, but essentially spurious emendation. (13)

Both enop' and idio*s make good sense as Homeric forms. Enopa "before/ in one's face" (for which enop' will be a regular elision) is paralleled at Il. 15.320, where the reference is to the god Apollo looking straight at the Danaans (Greeks). (14) Equally, the adjective idios "private, one's own" appears at Od. 3.82 and 4.314 in reference to Telemachos's coming on private business, not public, to Pylos and Sparta respectively. Combining the Iliad and Odyssey uses, the effect of enop' idio*s at Od. 23.94 will be that Penelope, while indeed "looking directly" (enop') at Odysseus, is doing so "privately" (idio*s). She could therefore subsequently speak at line 107 of being unable to look at Odysseus, without fearing that anyone in her audience would regard this as a false statement. We, the bard's audience, though, should know that she is somehow prevaricating.

9. The Verb in 23.95.

The second line of the passage quoted at the beginning of the preceding section apparently indicates that, although part of Penelope's activity, indicated by allote "sometimes" in line 94, was the observation of Odysseus's countenance, at other times (second allote, in line 95), she "kept on not recognizing" the stranger because of his clothes. Stanford 1962: 2.394, for example, says "sometimes she failed to recognize him because he wore vile clothes," Heubeck (1992, 322) uses the word "causal" of the participle echonta, and Murray's translation "for that he had upon him mean raiment" likewise includes a causal sense.

Lattimore's translation (previously cited), on the other hand, uses just the prepositional phrase "in the foul clothing he wore". Although this may seem unduly imprecise, some justification for Lattimore's seeming vagueness comes in the fact that a causal nuance at 23.95 seems entirely out of character for Penelope. At 21.205-25, Odysseus had readily convinced Eumaios and Philoitios of his real identity, underneath the rags he is wearing, and at 22.497-501 the serving-women likewise have no trouble recognizing him. In light of these passages, would it not be strange that Penelope should be caused by something superficial--his clothing--to fail to recognize her husband?

The solution, I suggest, lies in reconsidering the morphology of agno*saske, found at 23.95. The regular assumption has been that this is a form of the negative compound agnoieo* "not know, not recognize." Homer, though, elsewhere always has -oi- before the tense or mood sign in agnoieo*; see Il. 1.537, 2.807, and 13.28, and Od. 5.78 and 24.218. In view of these other passages, we might expect agnoie*saske at Od. 23.95, with -oie*- in place of -o*-, if we are really dealing with the negative compound. An alternative explanation of the Homeric form that is transmitted to us as agno*saske is by way of emending to--or rather, reading--aggno*saske. The change results in a form of anagigno*sko* "recognize / read", with apocope of ana- to an- and then assimilation to ag- before the following -g-. (A comparable apocope appears in the Homeric form agkremasasa "hanging up, suspending", found at Od. 1.440 instead of anakremasasa.) Much as with my posited change in the preceding line, this is more a matter of interpreting the letters in the original form of the manuscript, rather than of emendation per se, inasmuch as a gamma-gamma combination is likely to have been written originally as a single gamma. (15)

The change would also parallel one proposed for another author by Wasserstein 1982. As Wasserstein observes, translations of Pindar, Olympian 13.3 (for which our manuscripts have gno*somai, a form of gigno*sko* "know") on the order of "I will come to know" are distinctly awkward. Wasserstein therefore transfers the alpha at the end of the preceding word to the verb and adds a gamma, giving aggno*somai, a form of anagigno*sko*. Wasserstein's resulting translation is as follows (italics added to highlight his translation of aggno*somai): "As I praise the house thrice victorious at Olympia, ... I shall also include in the proclamation of the victor the name of his city, blessed Corinth. ... "The reading is attractive, and there is also a further point, which Wasserstein does not make, viz., that "read" would be perfectly reasonable as a meaning for his restored aggno*somai; i.e., one could change the latter part of Wasserstein's translation of Olym. 13.3-4 to "I shall also read the name of the victor's city, blessed Corinth. ... " (16)

10. How aggno*saske Fits Into the Odyssey as a Whole.

From the perspective of probably all modern translations of the poem, an interpretation of Od. 23.95 in terms of apocope (aggno*saske) instead of alpha-privative may seem a blatantly self-serving attempt to deal with an obvious stumbling-block to Penelope's "early recognition" of Odysseus. In fact, it might call to mind the quip, "What part of 'no' didn't you understand?"

In addition, though, to correlating well with "early recognition," there is also a more specific connection with the rest of the Odyssey, if we read aggno*saske at Od, 23.95. Four Books previously, at 19.250, Penelope was reading the poorly dressed Aithon-Odysseus's description of his own sumptuous clothing in the past. Now, in book 23, Penelope would again have good reason to be reading--trying to comprehend--the same Odysseus's clothing. The others who were involved in the slaughter of the Suitors (Telemachos, Eumaios, and Philoitios) have already (22.478) washed off the grime from the fighting. In tandem with this, Eurykleia, just a few lines later (22.487-89) tells Odysseus that it would be nemesse*ton "a cause for indignation" if he does not put on fresh clothes. Evidently, he does not do so. Telemachos, though, who has already spruced up, must already be present in the megaron when Penelope comes down to survey the situation at 23.85, inasmuch as he will speak at 23.97ff. In view of Telemachos's presence, then, Penelope has the appearance of someone else, who was, almost as much as Odysseus himself, involved in the slaughter of the Suitors, against which to be "reading" Odysseus's squalid appearance at 23.95.

There is also a fairly specific Mycenaean pattern to associate with Penelope's "reading" Odysseus's clothing at this point. Several tablets (PY Sa682, Sa790, etc.) record chariot-wheels that are "worthless"/ "unusable" (no-pe-re-a2, roughly equivalent to Classical ano*phelea "unprofitable, useless"). There are also some, such as PY Sa787 and Sa793, that specify that wheels are pa-ra-ja ( = Classical palaia) "old." (For both no-pe-re-a2 and pa-raja, cf. Ventris and Chadwick 1973: 374-375 and 519.) There do not seem to be any comparable Linear B references to "worthless clothing," but the wheel tablets are sufficient to indicate that both old and even worthless items could be recorded in Linear B. Especially the latter notation, "worthless," was, presumably, intended to contrast the present state of various wheels with their condition in the past, and so report on what the full, proper complement of usable wheels should be. Likewise, "worthless clothing" might equally have been part of a scribe's adumbrating what the full complement of some wardrobe should be. Transferred to the poetic arena, this will be exactly what Penelope is doing vis-a-vis Odysseus's clothing at 23.95.

In place of what was cited at the beginning of Section 8, then, I suggest the following for 23.94-95 as a whole (reanalysis is indicated by underlining, in both text and translation):
opsei d' dilate men mm enop' idlo*s esldesken,
dilate d' aggno*saske kakd chroi helmat' echonta. (Od. 23. 94-95)

  (With her glance, she sometimes privately looked straight at him and
  at other times she kept on reading the fact that he was wearing foul
  clothing on his skin.")

To be sure, Odysseus himself will appear to confirm, just a few lines later, at 23.115-16, the contrary idea that Penelope fails to recognize him because of his foul clothing. In answer to this seeming objection, I would say that Odysseus could be as much taken in by Penelope's stance, as expressed in the narrative description at 23.94-95 and by what she says at 23.106-07, as modern scholars have been. (17)

11. The Interchange between Penelope and Odysseus in Book 23.

After Odysseus bathes and puts on fine clothes at 23.153-63, Penelope somehow tests him (so 23.181). Right off, the presence of additional testing, immediately following a dramatic improvement in Odysseus's appearance, indicates that his disreputable clothes, by themselves, could not have caused Penelope to fail to recognize him at 23.95.

It is also important to consider how the scene of testing proceeds. It has regularly been thought to revolve around the immovable nature of the bed. Actually, though, Odysseus continues to speak for an additional dozen or so lines, after a group of references to the idea of the bed being moved (allose at 23.184 and alle*i at 23.186, both meaning "elsewhere," and metochlisseie "move with a lever or crowbar" at 23.188), before Homer describes Penelope's reaction as follows:
ho*s phato, tes d' autou luto gounata kai philon etor,
se*mat' anagnouse*i, ta hoi empeda pephrad' Odusseus. (Od. 23.205-06)
(Thus he spoke, and straightway her limbs and dear heart were loosened,
when she read the clear signs that Odysseus presented to her.")

In the material leading up to this, Odysseus has described the construction of the bed (23.189-99), along with mention of its gold, silver, ivory, and crimson decoration (23.200-01). Although critics generally focus on the first part of this, I submit that the various details of construction narrated by Odysseus (how he placed stones around the bed chamber, smoothed the bed with a plane, bored the holes for fitting planks to it, etc.) would be more or less irrelevant for Penelope. All that work almost certainly took place before Penelope's arrival in Ithake. Instead, the decoration on the bed, described at 23.200-201, after Odysseus's overall description of his activities as a carpenter, would be more specifically relevant as information with which Penelope would be familiar. This decoration is described as follows:
daidallo*n chrusoi te kai arguro*i e*d' elephanti;
en d' etanuss' himanta bods phoiniki phaeinon. (Od. 23.200-01)
(Decorating with both gold and silver and ivory;
And on it I stretched a thong of oxhide shining with crimson.)

Once again, there is also important evidence in Linear B. Knossos tablet Sd4401, in describing i-qi-jo ( = Classical hipplo*, a dual form) "two horse-chariots", combines e-re-pa-te ( = Classical elephantet) "[inlaid] with ivory" with po-ni-ki-. The tablet is broken at this point, but a restoration as po-ni-ki[-jo] (phoinikio*i) "[painted] purple / crimson / red" seems fairly straightforward; cf. Ventris and Chadwick (1973, 366) and Colvin (2007, 74-76). There is also another tablet, KN Sd4450, with po-ni-ki-ja, along with e-re-pa-te. In this tablet, the latter word was erased. This fact, however, actually makes it all the more important for us. Apparently, the scribe first wrote po-ni-ki-ja "red"; then, he (or she?) added e-re-pa-te--more or less unthinkingly--but then realized that the object which was being catalogued did not, in fact, include ivory. So reconstructed, the scribe's mistake attests to some "automatic" association of "red" and "ivory," and so suggests that this was a traditional combination and correspondingly something that Homer could allusively bring in at Od. 23.200-201. (18)

There is also crucial evidence in the Iliad. When Menelaos was struck by an arrow, blood stained his thighs, like an ivory cheek-piece for a horse, dyed by a Meionian or Karian woman and stored in a palace:
Ho*s d' hote tis t' elephanta gune* phoiniki mie*ne*i
Me*ionis e*e Kaeira, pare*ion emmenai hippo*n;
keitai d' en thalamo*i, polees te min e*re*santo
hippies phoreein; basile'i de ketiai agalma,
amphoteron kosmos th' hippo*i elateri te kudos;
toioi toi, Menelae, mianthe*n halmati me*roi
euphuees knemai te ide sphura kal hupenerthe. (Il. 4.141-47)

  (As when some Maionian or Karian with purple colours ivory, to make
  it a cheek piece for horses; it lies away in an inner room, and many
  a rider longs to have it, but it is laid up to be a king's treasure,
  two things, to be the beauty of the horse, the pride of the horseman:
  so, Menelaos, your shapely thighs were stained with the colour of
  blood, and your legs also and the ankles beneath them (Lattimore's

The artifact described in the simile is exactly parallel to Knossos tablet Sd4401, with its reference to equine accoutrements, consisting of ivory dyed red, stored in a palace. It therefore gives us, within Homer's own oeuvre, the precise sort of traditional source on which Od. 23.200-01 could draw, as Odysseus mentions ivory first (23.200) and then, in the next line (23.201), how the associated oxhide thong on the bed was colored.

12. Ivory and Penelope's Bed.

Probably the best known Homeric passage involving ivory is the reference at 19.560-69 to gates of horn and ivory, through which dreams of various sorts pass. In connection with that passage, two recent articles, Vlahos (2007) and Haller (2009), more or less relegate ivory to the background, developing instead an association of Odysseus with horn, and so with the bow (made of horn or horns), as what Penelope is recommending to Odysseus. I agree that Penelope is telling Odysseus that the bow can lead to fulfillment in dealing with the Suitors. Additionally, though, we should fill out Penelope's advice with a complementary and equally important association of the speaker herself with ivory. In the immediate context, ivory is specifically connected with deception (so 19.564-65), and when we connect this with Penelope, the result is an allusion to the fact that she is deceptively concealing her intention from others, the maidservants, who are still present.

The connection with Penelope is also suggested by the fact that, after two passages of a different sort in the first half of the poem, all the other references to ivory have some connection with her. (First, though, at Od. 4.73, ivory constitutes part of the decoration of Menelaos's dwelling, and at 8.404, ivory is part of a scabbard.) The association of Penelope with ivory is initiated at 18.196, as Athena beautifies Penelope, making her appearance whiter than newly sawn ivory. Toward the beginning of the next Book, at 19.56, Penelope's footstool has ivory decoration, and then, after Penelope's mention of gates of horn and ivory at 19.560-69, when she subsequently follows through with the bow contest (announced at 19.570-81), part of the key with which she opens the storeroom to get Odysseus's bow is made of ivory (21.7).

The next and final ivory passage is Od. 23.200-01, quoted in the middle of Section 11. Crucial in understanding these two lines are the temporal specifications that are included in Penelope's subsequent remarks at Od. 23.225-30. Following the phrase se*mat' ariphradea katilexas "you (Odysseus) described very evident signs" in line 225, Penelope refers in lines 228-29 to Aktoris. She alone, along with Odysseus and Penelope, has seen the signs under consideration. She is described as follows: (1) Penelope's father sent her with Penelope when she came here (to Ithake) and (2) she "guarded" (ehuto) the "doors of the well-built bridal chamber" (thuras pukinoil thalarnoio). Taken together, the references clearly allude to Penelope's wedding night, and if we but consider the Iliad, the imagery of Il. 4.141-47, with blood streaming down Menelaos' thighs, resonates powerfully with the consummation of Odysseus's marriage with Penelope, whose appearance had been compared to ivory at Od. 18.196.

Beyond the basic physical image of Il. 4.141-47, an important subsidiary point, viz., that many desire the object that is stained with crimson, but that it is reserved for a king, comes across clearly in Lattimore's translation. In an Ithakan context, "king" would of course equate with Odysseus, and at Od. 23.200-01 it would be appropriate for him to allude to the Iliadic pattern as adumbrating a crucial dimension of Penelope's relationship with him.

There is also an important additional point that is not so evident in translation. This is that the artifact in the Iliad passage is stored en thalamo*i "in an inner room," with the same word that appears at Od. 23.229 to refer to Penelope's bridal chamber. Of course, thalamos can be used more generally than it is at Od. 23.229. At Od. 1.425, for example, the word is used of Telemachos's room and at 2.348 of the storeroom from which he gets supplies for the journey to Pylos. Actually, though, in the Iliad, most of the occurrences of thalamos are in connection with a conjugal bedroom, as for example at Il. 3. 142,174,382,391, and 423 (various references to Alexandras [Paris] and Helen). Next, we have the ivory simile in book 4. Then, a couple of books later, at 6.288, although one might say that thalamon refers just to the storeroom to which Hekabe goes to get a robe for Athena's statue, this thalamos is immediately (289-92) described as containing the rich goods that Paris brought to Troy along with Helen. Against this pattern, then, the use of thalamos at Il. 4.143 stands out as somehow different, and so as something that could all the more have resonated for Homer's audience as they heard Od. 23.200-01.

There is also a potentially significant amphiboly in Od. 23.225, confirming a poetically allusive analysis of 23.200-01. In its context at 23.225, the aorist verb katelexas means "you said / described" (signs), with a derivation from kata (prefix) + lego*"say." There is, however, another verb stem lech- "lie, lie down, etc." for which the aorist forms are homophonous with those of leg-. In Homer, forms of lech- are usually middle, as with katelekto at Od. 13.75 (Odysseus was lying down on the Phaiakian ship) or katalexai at 19.44 (Odysseus tells Telemachos to go to bed), whereas katelexas at Od. 23.225 is active. There are, however, two active occurrences in the Iliad of the simplex form lego* in a causative sense "lay down, cause to lie." At Il. 14.252, Hypnos (Sleep) uses the first singular aorist elexa, saying, "I caused Zeus to sleep," and at 24.635 Priam, using the imperative lexon, requests Achilleus to give him a place to sleep. In view of these Iliad passages, we can correspondingly hear an important subtext at Od. 23.225:The signs to which Penelope refers had been made manifest by Odysseus, not only through speaking in the present context (stem leg-), but also through putting to bed in the past (stem lech-).

13. Od. 18.187-96.

Important as background to book 23 is the passage five books previously, viz., 18.187-96, in which Athena casts sleep over Penelope and beautifies her by making her whiter than ivory. Upon awakening, her beauty enhanced by Athena, Penelope says, malakon peri kom' ekalupsen "soft sleep hid around me" (18.201). The same phrase (although with first person ekalupsa instead of third person ekalupsen) appears also at Il. 14.359, and the Iliad passage provides a clearly sexual resonance for what Penelope says. The Iliadic speaker is Hypnos "Sleep," speaking of how he poured sleep around Zeus, in connection with his wife Hera's love-making with him, as stated in the next line, Il. 14.360. Correspondingly, in the Odyssey, Penelope refers to soft sleep, and she follows this with the phrase posios potheousa philoio "longing for a dear husband." (19)

Within 18.201-05, though, there is the seemingly anomalous fact that, between awakening and speaking of Odysseus, Penelope wishes for death at Artemis's hands (202-03). A comparable despondency also appears in book 20, with fundamentally parallel patterning, as Penelope (1) awakens at 20.56, (2) wishes for swift death at Artemis's hands at 20.61-65, and (3) speaks of a dream of Odysseus lying beside her at 20.87-90. Often, the passage in book 20 has been seized on by opponents of Penelope's "early recognition" of Odysseus. Russo, for example, in presenting a more or less standard commentary on the Odyssey, observes concerning 20.80 that this passage "confirms the fact that she has no suspicion that her husband has already returned in the disguise of the beggar." (20) If one were so inclined, 18.202-204 could likewise be pounced on as evidently inconsistent with the idea that Penelope had decided at 18.158-163 to appear before the Suitors because she is, as suggested in Sections 1 and 3, simply "biding her time", knowing that Odysseus has already returned home.

The apparent anomaly in Od. 18.202-04 recedes, though, when it is heard against Il. 4.141-42. In the Iliad, both Agamemnon and Menelaos are initially frightened (Il. 4.148-82, immediately following the ivory simile of 4.141-47), but then Menelaos says (4.183-88) that the wound is clearly not mortal. With this as background, we can hear Penelope's association with death, as stated at Od. 18.201-05, just after Athena has made her "whiter than new-sawn ivory," simply in terms of some momentary fear, followed by more sanguine, hopeful reflection. Two books later, the hearer or reader, upon encountering a parallel patterning in book 20, can still have in mind the progression of thought that was presented at 18.187-205. Likewise, the combination of seemingly facing physical danger and yet being safe will also be appropriate at 23.200-01, as its reference to ivory and crimson harkens back to the time of Penelope's marriage.

14. Book 24 As Confirmation and Elucidation of Previous Patterns.

At Od. 24.345-46, the lines that had appeared as 23.205-06 are repeated, with minimal grammatical change, since the addressee is no longer Penelope, but instead Laertes, Odysseus' father: (21)
ho*s phatio, tou d* autou luto gounata kai philon etor,
semat' anagnontos, ta hoi empeda pephrad' Odusseus. (Od. 24.345-46)
(Thus he spoke, and straightway his limbs and dear heart were loosened,
when he read the clear signs that Odysseus presented to him.)

In the section leading up to this, Odysseus had referred (331-35) to his distinctive scar, and then supplemented this by cataloguing (336-41) Laertes's transfer of thirteen pear trees, ten apple trees, and forty fig trees to his son many years before, concluding with mention of an additional fifty vines (341-44).

Once again, there are Mycenaean parallels, inasmuch as various tablets deal with trees and vines (cf. Ventris and Chadwick [1973, 272-74]). Moreover, Odysseus's mix of numbers, viz., one odd one (13) and three different tens (10, 40, and 50), would readily pass muster in Linear B. At PY Cn04, for example, there is a list of rams, ewes, and she-goats. Seventeen of the entries are multiples of ten, ranging from 30 to 180, but eight are a hodge-podge of other numbers, viz., 54, 91, 27, 44, 24, 73, 163, and 55; cf. Ventris and Chadwick (1973, 199-200).

According to Od. 24.336-44, Laertes first gave some trees and additionally said that he would give Odysseus 50 vines. The sequence has not been much commented on. Heubeck (1992, 399,) for example, cites "336-44" as a single lemma, calling this passage "the second sema" following the mention of the scar. This overall procedural matter, though, very well adumbrates an important point about Odysseus's character, viz., his acquisitiveness.

An interest in material possessions is pretty much a commonplace of Odyssean criticism. Eustathius, for example, observes at 2.179, in commenting on Od. 18.281-81, that Odysseus is pleased with Penelope's acquiring gifts from the Suitors, because he himself had been similarly concerned about getting gifts from the Phaiakes. Other instances of Odysseus's evident interest in material possessions are (1) his reference at 23.357-58 to both additional plundering on his part and to getting gifts from the Achaians, and (2), within the very passage under consideration in book 24, his reference (24.331-35) to visiting Autolykos so as to get gifts which his grandfather had promised him. In view of passages such as these, then, a plausible deduction from 24.336-44 is that Laertes gave Odysseus various trees, but Odysseus wanted more, and Laertes therefore said that he would add fifty vines to the transfer of agricultural property to his son.

15. The Resonances of puthmen elaie*s "trunk of an olive"

Odysseus's acquisitiveness is also an important perspective against which to consider the previous Book. At Od. 23.204, Odysseus's concluding statement to Penelope, just before she reads/recognizes signs, had raised the question of whether some man had cut the stump of the olive-tree around which he constructed their marriage-bed. This might seem to introduce, as a jarring subtext here, some lingering suspicion of Penelope. I submit, though, that that cannot really be the dominant resonance here--Penelope's virtue is too well established for it to be a concern. Instead, the phrase puthmen' elale*s "trunk of an olive" is likely to be significant, in and of itself. Appearing at Od. 23.204, the phrase has occurred in two other passages in the Odyssey, both in book 13. At 13.122, it is beside a "trunk of an olive" that the Phaiakes stow Odysseus's treasure upon conveying him to Ithake, and the phrase reappears at 13.372, after he and Athena have more securely hidden this same treasure. In view of these passages, Odysseus's characteristic acquisitiveness, exemplified in his concern for the Phaiakian gifts, emerges as an important resonance of the phrase, which, coming at the very end of Odysseus's speech, immediately precedes Penelope's reaction, as described in lines 205-06.

To be sure, the events of book 13 are ones that Penelope would not be specifically familiar with; hence, a captious critic might say that there is, strictly speaking, no resonance with book 13 for Penelope to hear at 23.204. Even if absent from Penelope's purview at this point, though, mention of the Phaiakian gifts reemerges at 23.341 as the concluding item in Homer's report of Odysseus's report to Penelope of his adventures and so serves to round out this section of book 23.

Also, even more strongly, the acquisitive dimension of Odysseus's personality is highlighted for Penelope just a few lines later, after Odysseus has concluded the account of his adventures. At Od. 23.350-65--which constitutes his last reported communication with his wife in the poem--Odysseus tells her to remain inside, while he takes care of things, restoring his possessions to their former extent (23.356-58). Remarkably, Odysseus winds up his instructions to Penelope as follows:
eis huperoi' anabasa sun amphipoloisi gunaixin,
hesthai, me*de tina protiosseo me*d' ereeine. (Od. 23.364-65)
(Going up to your upper chamber with your attendant maids,
sit, and do not look at or inquire of anyone.)

Through the contest of the bow, proposed in book 19 and brought to fruition in book 21, Penelope has made possible Odysseus's success against the Suitors. Now, though, he pretty summarily shoves her into the background as he attends to acquiring additional possessions.

16. The Implications of a Pylos Tablet and the Idalion Bronze for Homer.

Pylos tablet Un718, which deals with various contributions of wheat, wine, cheese, and the like, has do-se "will give" (= Classical Greek do*sei) at lines 3 and 9 and o-da-a2 at lines 7 and 11. The interpretation given for the latter form by Ventris and Chadwick (1973, 282-83) is "and similarly," with "will give" understood from the other lines. The first part of this explanation of o-da-a2 seems straightforward enough, viz., ho*"thus / similarly", followed by d' as a post-positive connective. After this, though, the Ventris and Chadwick explanation more or less breaks down, with only a pretty ad hoc explanation of what the remaining item, aha, would mean. As I have argued previously (Floyd 1978)--without, at that time, any specific treatment of Odyssean recognition--it is better to take -da-a2 as a single item, viz., a verb form, complementing do*sei "will give." My alternative explanation is that da-a2 = dahan represents the ancestor of Classical dosan "they gave" (unaugmented aorist, as is regular in Linear B and also frequent in Homer). (22)

Fast forwarding to the fifth century BCE (a couple of centuries or so after Homer) brings us to the Idalion Bronze. This is a Cypriote syllabic tablet, dealing with payments to a family of physicians who had cared for the wounded in a conflict with the Persians. Apparently, a monetary payment was promised, but replaced with agricultural land--but in the future, if the fields are expropriated, the money is to be paid. (23)

Nothing exactly comparable is attested from eighth-century BCE Cyprus, but inasmuch as PY Un718 from twelfth-century BCE Pylos and the Idalion Bronze in the fifth century BCE both deal with some kind of combination of current contributions/payments, along with future alternatives, this emerges as a continuing concern of syllabic Greek texts, extending over many centuries. We could therefore plausibly appeal once again to the hypothetical Cypriote visitor to Ionia, considered in Section 5, as having mentioned this to Homer as the sort of text that could be written in an ancient heroic script and subsequently read. Possibly reflecting some such cultural interchange, we have, in Odyssey, book 24, a fairly specific verbal parallel to the Pylos combination of do*sei and dahan in the sequence edo*kas "you gave," dokas "you gave" and do*sein "to give in the future," found in lines 337, 340, and 342, followed at line 346 by a reference to Laertes's "reading" what Odysseus had said.

Of course, our hypothetical eighth century interlocutors will not have known of anything exactly like PY Un718, or a fortiori, the Idalion Bronze, from after their time. Whatever the precise nature of any conversation which Homer may have had concerning syllabic texts, though, we find, within his poetic oeuvre itself, an important parallel for a culturally deeply ingrained concern for how past and future distributions are coordinated with one another.

I refer to Iliad, book 1, in which Achilleus wants the distribution of booty to stand, just as the sons of the Achaians gave it. Agamemnon, though, wants to take Briseis for himself--and on some future occasion he will instead give some additional prize(s) to Achilleus. In expressing his views of the matter, Achilleus exasperatedly asks, at Il. 1.123, pos do*sousi "how will they give?," paralleling the future form do-se of PY Un718, lines 3 and 9, and then, in reference to the Achaians' previous distribution of spoils, he uses dosan "they gave" at 1.162, paralleling the equally unaugmented aorist form dahan, which is likely in the Pylos tablet. Also, about 100 later, Nestor picks this up the same idea at 1.276 with the actual combination ho*s ... dosan "as ... they gave," exactly paralleling ho dahan in the Pylos tablet.

The parallel use of verb forms at Od. 24.347-42 also serves to round out the entire Homeric oeuvre. Iliad, book 1, contrasts Achilleus and Agamemnon, and the Odyssey as a whole can be thought of as contrasting two heroic styles--Achilleus's and Odysseus's. Correspondingly, it is appropriate that in the concluding book of the Odyssey, various changes are rung on forms of dido*mi "give," viz., edo*kas, dokas, and do*sein, paralleling Achilleus's and others' use of language in Iliad, book 1.

17. Dolios.

Even though Penelope had been more or less summarily dismissed by Odysseus at Od. 23.364-65, her name reappears three times in book 24.

The first is in Agamemnon's well-known praise of her at 24.192-202. As Wender (1978, 38) observes, "Penelope here gets her long overdue encomium ... until this point in the story she has received no word of praise for her part in the revenge plot, no proper panegyric for her long years of faithfulness." (24)

The second is at 24.294, in Laertes's statement that it was not granted to Penelope to lament properly for her husband, since nothing definite is known of his fate. This second reference in book 24 to Penelope has not been as much commented on as the preceding one; among other points, though, it places Penelope in a more central position, vis-a-vis Odysseus's putative funeral, than even his father, the speaker of this passage, would have.

Finally, the third and last mention of Penelope in book 24 (and hence, in the Odyssey too) is in connection with Laertes's attendant Dolios. At 24.386-93, Dolios and his sons greet Odysseus joyfully, and at 24.400-05 Dolios asks if Penelope knows that Odysseus has returned home. Odysseus replies in just a single line:
o geron, e*de* oide; ti se chre* tauta penesthai? (Od. 24.407)

  ("Old man, she already knows. What need is there for you to trouble
  yourself about this?")

Heubeck (1992, 404) comments on this line as follows: "The line is modelled on Il. xiii 275; the reply sounds more abrupt than intended." Through his own brevity, I would say, Heubeck misses an important point, or at least fails to convey it clearly. This is that in the corresponding Iliad passage (13.275), Idomeneus is telling his companion Meriones that (1) he indeed knows what sort of man Meriones is with respect to arete*, and (2) since he knows this, there is no need to elaborate on the matter. With this as background for Od. 24.407, there emerges (1) a sense that Penelope's arete* "excellence" is so well known that there is no need to say more about it, and (2) a parallel suggestion that her recognition of Odysseus was pretty obvious and there is therefore no need to inquire about this. (25)

18. Aktoris.

In Section 12, my treatment of Aktoris pretty much leap-frogged over the question of who she is. In doing so, I was merely following other critics, who likewise have concentrated just on Odysseus and Penelope as the "only" ones cognizant of the signs which are mentioned at 23.225 - despite the fact that Aktoris is equally mentioned at that point. (26) Now, as we consider Dolios's role in book 24, it behooves us to remember that Penelope had stated, back at 4.736, that her father had sent Dolios with her when she came to Ithake. The only variation between this and the reference to Aktoris at 23.228 is that in book 4 the introductory word "whom" in the phrase hon moi doke pate*r Hi deuro kiouse*i "whom my father gave to me before I came here" is hon (masculine), but at 23.228 it is he*n (feminine). Heubeck (1992, 338) mentions the parallelism, but does not develop it further. Once we juxtapose the two passages, though, it is clear that Dolios and Aktoris came to Ithake together, on the occasion of Penelope's marriage. From this, it is not too great a stretch of the imagination to deduce that Aktoris is Dolios's wife, of whom we hear at 24.389.

Nor is there, in my opinion, any reason to be alarmed about the span of 9000 lines or so separating 4.736 and 23.228. As Vlahos points out, "Homer often raises questions early in the poem and provides answers later; at other times he reverses the process by giving us answers early to questions that will come up later" (2011, 10). Ancient Homeric criticism was also cognizant of this feature of Homer's style, summing it up in the phrase paraleipein kai husteron phrazein "to leave out and discuss later," found in a Scholion to Il. 17.24-27. Heubeck (1992, 383) discusses this Scholiastic principle specifically in connection with the presentation of Dolios's wife in book 24. (He does not, however, bring the name Aktoris into the equation). First, as early as Od. 1.191, the old woman who takes care of Laertes is mentioned; then, Dolios is mentioned at 4.736, in close proximity to a mention of Laertes (4.738); next, Dolios's name appears again at 17.212 and 18.322, in connection with his (Dolios's) children; and finally the wife of Dolios is variously mentioned at 24.211, 222, and 386-90.

19. Melantho.

An important corollary point, inherent in the preceding list of passages, is that Aktoris is in all likelihood the mother of Melantho, inasmuch as at 18.322 Melantho is introduced into the narrative as Dolios's daughter. Mentioned by name only in books 18 and 19, Melantho is nevertheless an important character in the Odyssey. As Vlahos (2011, 38), following Winkler (1990, 1.49), points out, the phrase mega ergon "monstrous deed," used in connection with her at 19.92, serves to indicate that she is the faithless maidservant who told the Suitors of Penelope's ruse with the loom. One point, though, is left unanswered in book 19: If Melantho is indeed the faithless maidservant, is it not surprising that she is still in Penelope's household? The answer, I suggest, lies in Melantho's family tie, not only to Dolios, but also to the even more trusted servant Aktoris, who had guarded Penelope's bridal chamber (as we will learn in book 23). Against this background, it is understandable that Penelope had brought up Melantho almost as her own child (as stated at 18.321-23), and it is also reasonable that Penelope has continued to tolerate her presence, even after the betrayal to the Suitors of her mistresses' ruse with the loom.

Besides being the father of Melantho, Dolios is also the father of the similarly named Melanthios. He too had cooperated with the Suitors, and, after the slaughter of the Suitors themselves, he is killed by Telemachos, under the general direction of Odysseus (22.474-77). Melantho is also surely one of the faithless maids who were hanged at 22.457-72, just before Melanthios is dealt with. Two books later, though, as Wender (1978, 54-56) observes, we find Odysseus sitting down at a "jolly meal" at 24.394-411 with the family (father, mother, and brothers) of those who were summarily punished just the day before. Wender's solution to this seemingly awkward development rests on the fact that Dolios has other children--six sons, who are free from association with the Suitors. Since an armed confrontation with some of the Suitors' relatives is looming (such a possibility has already been mentioned by Odysseus at 23.117-22), it will be in Odysseus's interest to retain Dolios and his six trustworthy sons as loyal supporters; accordingly, he says nothing, for the time being, that might alienate Dolios's family. Additionally, I would say, one aspect of Odysseus's strategy is that he is brief in what he says about Penelope, thereby cutting off any further discussion of the situation back at the palace. (27)

20. Concluding Observations Concerning Odysseus and Penelope.

Odysseus's succinctness in dealing with Dolios's question about Penelope is also arguably manifested in his attitude toward Penelope herself.

At 19.92, Penelope had made a kind of threat to Melantho, as she speaks of her mega ergon, ho sei kephalei anamaxeis "great / monstrous deed, which you will wipe off on your head." Accordingly, when Odysseus subsequently instructs (22.440-45) Telemachos, along with Eumaios and Philoitios, to see to the slaughter of the faithless maids, one could say that that he is merely following what Penelope had already suggested concerning one of them, Melantho. Moreover, the fact that a dozen faithless maids are dealt with in book 22 is consistent with the fact that Penelope had made a plural reference at 19.154 to "careless/heedless bitches" (kunas ouk alegousas) who had betrayed her. (Melantho, though, would appear to be the main culprit, inasmuch as Penelope focuses specifically on her at 19.92; also, both Antinoos at 2.108 and Amphimedon at 24.144 use a singular tis ... gunaikon "one of the women" in connection with the Suitors' learning of Penelope's ruse.) Despite all this, though, the punishment of the evil maids, as carried out in book 22, is something that Penelope herself is not consulted about; moreover, Odysseus's peremptory and exclusionary treatment of the matter is specifically brought to our attention at 22.431-32, when he tells Eurykleia not to disturb Penelope vis-a-vis the maids who have consorted with the Suitors.

One could, I suppose, say that at 22.431-32, Odysseus was properly leaving Penelope out of the rather nasty picture of how to deal with Melantho. Then, toward the end of book 23, when he summarily tells Penelope at 23.364-65 to go upstairs and keep to herself, not inquiring about anything, Odysseus would simply be acting in the same spirit. At both points, though, Odysseus is, in some sense, intruding into his wife's domain, taking over from her the management of her own household. An apparent disdain for Penelope had also been displayed in his neglecting Eurykleia's observation at 22.489 that it would be nemesse*ton "a cause for indignation" if he does not put on fresh clothing.

For some readers, I suspect that all this may unexpectedly complicate our view of Odysseus. If there is any such reaction, I would answer that these various passages should instead increase our admiration of Penelope's acumen in dealing with Odysseus, as, for example, she "reads" his disreputable clothing at 23.95 and then speaks at 23.107 of not being able to look at him, thereby deceiving even the clever Odysseus.


(1) The present article owes much to John Vlahos's 2011 College Literature article and to e-mail correspondence with him and with Kostas Myrsiades. Together, they have convinced me of the scholarly viability of "early recognition" in the Odyssey. I have also worked up some material from oral presentations made at the International Linguistic Association, Toronto, 2002, and New York, 2004, on the linguistic and Mycenaean pre-history of the Odyssey; at the American Philological Association, Montreal, 2006, on Pindar, Olympian 10 and the etymology of "read" in Greek; and to the Classics Club of Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, on Od. 23.94-95, concerning which Professors Declan Lyons and Joseph Almeida made valuable suggestions. Finally, some additional points were broached at presentations to the University of Pittsburgh Classics Department and Honors College.

(2) In recent years, the question of the authenticity of Prometheus Bound as a work by Aeschylus has been considerably bruited about. Even if not genuinely Aeschylean, though, the play is clearly ancient--almost certainly fifth century BCE.

(3) As will already have been evident, my argument will fairly often refer to specific Greek words and phrases. For many readers, transliteration is probably in order, except in a few instances in which the original appearance of the text is somehow important. A bare bones equivalence in Latin letters, though, can often be misleading. I have therefore transliterated eta and omega as e* and o* respectively, except when the vowel length is already indicated by a circumflex accent. The results, I hope, will be fairly transparent to the student of Greek and not too distracting to the general reader.

(4) The translation is mine, as will be the case with other passages too, except as otherwise noted. (Previously, though, I cited Grene's translation of Prometheus Bound, as representing a fairly standard handling of the passage; for comparable reasons, I will sometimes cite Murray and/or Lattimore for various Homeric passages.)

(5) Harsh (1950, 11) connects 19.250 and 23.206. He does so, however, without developing any idea of paradox, as far as I can see.

(6) Willcock (1978-84: 1.245). A contrary view, though, more along the lines of "picture-writing," is still presented by Powell (1991,198-200). (Also, see Powell [2009, 29-32] for discussion of the American Indian buffalo hides as mnemonic devices.)

(7) Although it is expansive--if not indeed rambling at times--the best introduction to Linear B probably remains that in Ventris and Chadwick, originally published in 1956 and reprinted with extensive additions, just by Chadwick, in 1973. (Ventris had tragically died in an automobile accident in 1956.) There is also a convenient, up-to-date summary of information concerning Linear B in Colvin (2007, 3-15 and 73-81).

(8) For pa-te, see Ventris and Chadwick (1973, 567 and 569). Also, see their vocabulary generally (528-94) for various other possibilities for ambiguity, such as ke-ra, ki-ri-ta, ko-wo, o-no, o-pe-ro, and pa-si.

(9) See Ventris and Chadwick (1973, 64) for the Cypriote syllabary and for Linear B (in material updated by Chadwick [1976, 385]), and for comparison of the two (388). Also, Colvin 2007: 20 briefly discusses the Cypriote syllabary and its origin.

(10) For this distinction between syllabic and alphabetic writing and the unsuitableness of the former to essentially original composition, cf. Powell (1991, 109-18). Powell does not, however, discuss the specific etymology of anagigno*sko* in this connection; in fact, at Powell (2002, 109), he connects anagigno*sko* with the process of "figuring out" alphabetic writing, so as to get the exact flow of speech--consonants and vowels together--that the original author intended. "Know again," though, gets one closer to the etymological heart of the word than Powell's "figure out."

(11) Although otherwise following the text as regularly printed, I have, for ease in typography, shifted the location of the diaeresis in chroi, "skin."

(12) In discussing the Odyssey passage, Merry mentions both eno*padls and eno*padon, while Heubeck mentions just eno*padon.

(13) Archaic inscriptions were regularly written in capitals and with no word breaks or diacritical marks. Presumably, the earliest manuscripts were also of this nature. For a fanciful but instructive reconstruction of the "original" manuscript of Hesiod, Works and Days along these lines, see West (1978, 60,) and, for a comparable presentation of the beginning of the Iliad, Powell (1991, 65 and 2009, 243).

(14) Many texts (followed by LSJ in their entry under katino*pa) combine enopa in the Iliad passage with the preceding kat', thus eliminating enopa as a Homeric word. Recently, though, both Janko (1992, 262) in his commentary and West in his text (1998-2000) adopt the reading with enopa as a separate word.

(15) For the archaic writing of double consonants with a single letter, cf. the reconstructions provided by West (1978, 60) and Powell (1991, 65 and 2009, 243), in which words such as a*rrhe*toi (Works and Days, 1.4), and pollas, kunessin, and Achilleus (Iliad, 1.3, 4, and 7) are written with single consonants.

(16) Such a translation would parallel Pindar's usage at Olympian 10.1, where the meaning "read" for the imperative anagno*te is regularly recognized by scholars.

(17) For a parallel instance of Penelope somehow being more clever than Odysseus, cf. Vlahos's discussion (2011, 44) of Penelope's dissembling remark at Od. 19.257-258 that Odysseus will never return: "Evidently, this unexpected remark catches Odysseus by surprise."

(18) For KN Sd 4450, which neither Ventris and Chadwick nor Colvin includes, see Chadwick, Killen, and Olivier (1971, 288).

(19) For a somewhat parallel discussion of the passage, cf. Vlahos's reference (2011, 30) to it as presenting Penelope as "glowing, in effect, like a bride."

(20) Also, if it be permitted to insert personal anecdote in this article, this may be the place to note that on various occasions, in conversation with distinguished colleagues, objection has been raised against my support of "early recognition," with the passage in book 20 being cited as premier "proof" against this view.

(21) Some readers may be nonplussed to see book 24 introduced as having any substantive connection with other parts of the Odyssey, inasmuch as this book used to be regarded as somehow inauthentic. More recent scholarship, however, has regarded book 24 more favorably; cf. Heubeck (1992, 353-55).

(22) On my interpretation, the subject of the plural dahan in line 7 will be the singular noun da-mo (i.e., damos = Classical damos "people"); although morphologically singular, demos occasionally takes a plural verb, as at Homeric Hymn to Demeter, 272, just as in English we say "the people have given", rather than "the people has given".

(23) For translation along these lines, see Colvin (2007, 87-88).

(24) For additional discussion of Agamemnon's praise of Penelope, see Heubeck, (1992, 380-81).

(25) Some readers may believe that a leap from male to female arete* requires some justification. Arete* is of course primarily a male quality ("manliness, courage, etc.") in archaic and Classical Greek literature. The application of the word to Penelope, though, is readily demonstrated within the Odyssey by Penelope's mention of her own arete* at 18.251 and 19.124. Also, Agamemnon's references to arete* at 24.193 and 197, not much more than 200 lines before Odysseus's reply to Dolios, would almost certainly seem to be in connection with Penelope's excellence; cf. Heubeck's notes (1992, 381).

(26) For further, but inconclusive discussion of Aktoris, see Heubeck (1992, 338).

(27) Some scholars claim that there must be at least two different individuals named Dolios--one the father of Melanthios and Melantho, and a different one, who is positively presented in Book 24. The theory of multiple Dolioi, though, seems unlikely, as Wender (1978, 54-56), Heubeck (1992, 385), and Haller (2008) all point out.

Works Cited

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Vlahos, John B. 2007. "Homer's Odyssey, Books 19 and 23: Early Recognition, A Solution to the Enigmas of Ivory and Horns, and the Test of the Bed." College Literature 34:107-31.

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Edwin D. Floyd teaches Classics at the University of Pittsburgh. His main research interest is the "pre-history" of Greek literature--the importance of both an Indo-European and a Mycenaean background for understanding authors such as Homer and Pindar.
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Date:Mar 22, 2011
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