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Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων.

"Always be the best, my boy, the bravest, and hold your head up high above the others."

Homer (Ancient Greek: Ὅμηρος) is best known as the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he is central to the Western canon.


The Iliad (c. 800 BC)[edit]

Full text online as translated by Samuel Butler. See also The Iliad of Homer (Alexander Pope).
Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!
Book I
  • Μῆνιν ἄειδε, θεά, Πηληιάδεω Ἀχιλῆος
    οὐλομένην, ἣ μυρί’ Ἀχαιοῖς ἄλγε’ ἔθηκε,
    πολλὰς δ’ ἰφθίμους ψυχὰς Ἄϊδι προΐαψεν
    • Achilles' wrath, to Greece the direful spring
      Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!
      That wrath which hurl'd to Pluto's gloomy reign
      The souls of mighty chiefs untimely slain.
    • I. 1–4 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Διὸς δ’ ἐτελείετο βουλή.
    • The will of Zeus was accomplished.
    • I. 5 (tr. Richmond Lattimore).
  • βῆ δ’ ἀκέων παρὰ θῖνα πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης.
    • Not a word he spoke, but went by the shore of the sounding sea.
    • I. 34 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Καὶ γάρ τ' ὄναρ ἐκ Διός ἐστιν.
    • Dreams come from Zeus.
    • I. 63; Achilles to Agamemnon.
  • Ἔπεα πτερόεντα.
    • Winged words.
    • I. 201; Iliad and Odyssey, passim.
  • Ὅς κε θεοῖς ἐπιπείθηται μάλα τ' ἔκλυον αὐτοῦ.
    • If any man obeys the gods, they listen to him also.
    • I. 218 (tr. Richmond Lattimore).
  • Τοῦ καὶ ἀπὸ γλώσσης μέλιτος γλυκίων ῥέεν αὐδή.
    • From whose lips the streams of words ran sweeter than honey.
    • I. 249 (tr. Richmond Lattimore); of Nestor.
  • Οἰνοβαρές, κυνὸς ὄμματ' ἔχων, κραδίην δ' ἐλάφοιο.
    • Thou dog in forehead, but in heart a deer!
    • I. 225 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Οὐδέ τι οἶδε νοῆσαι ἅμα πρόσσω καὶ ὀπίσσω.
    • He lacks the sense to see a day behind, a day ahead.
    • I. 343 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ῥοδοδάκτυλος Ἠώς.
    • Rosy-fingered Dawn.
    • I. 477 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Ἄσβεστος δ' ἄρ' ἐνῶρτο γέλως μακάρεσσι θεοῖσιν
    ὡς ἴδον Ἥφαιστον διὰ δώματα ποιπνύοντα.
    • And uncontrollable laughter broke from the happy gods
      as they watched the god of fire breathing hard
      and bustling through the halls.
    • I. 599–600 (tr. Robert Fagles); hence the expression "Homeric laughter".
Book II
  • Οὐκ ἀγαθὸν πολυκοιρανίη· εἷς κοίρανος ἔστω,
    εἷς βασιλεύς.
    • Lordship for many is no good thing. Let there be one ruler,
      one king.
    • II. 204–205 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Μένεα πνείοντες.
    • Breathing fury.
    • II. 536 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book III
Terrible is the likeness of her face to immortal goddesses.
  • Μή μοι δῶρ' ἐρατὰ πρόφερε χρυσέης Ἀφροδίτης·
    οὔ τοι ἀπόβλητ' ἐστὶ θεῶν ἐρικυδέα δῶρα
    ὅσσά κεν αὐτοὶ δῶσιν, ἑκὼν δ' οὐκ ἄν τις ἕλοιτο.
    • Yet do not bring up against me the sweet favours of golden Aphrodite.
      Never to be cast away are the gifts of the gods, magnificent,
      which they give of their own will, no man could have them for wanting them.
    • III. 64–66 (tr. Richmond Lattimore).
  • Αἰεὶ δ' ὁπλοτέρων ἀνδρῶν φρένες ἠερέθονται·
    οἷς δ' ὁ γέρων μετέῃσιν ἅμα πρόσσω καὶ ὀπίσσω
    λεύσσει, ὅπως ὄχ' ἄριστα μετ' ἀμφοτέροισι γένηται.
    • Always it is, that the hearts in the younger men are frivolous,
      but when an elder man is among them, he looks behind him
      and in front, so that all comes out far better for both sides.
    • III. 108–110 (tr. Richmond Lattimore).
  • Αἰνῶς ἀθανάτῃσι θεῇς εἰς ὦπα ἔοικεν.
    • Terrible is the likeness of her face to immortal goddesses.
    • III. 158 (tr. Richmond Lattimore); of Helen.
  • Ἀλλ' ὅτε δὴ ὄπα τε μεγάλην ἐκ στήθεος εἵη
    καὶ ἔπεα νιφάδεσσιν ἐοικότα χειμερίῃσιν,
    ἂν ἔπειτ' Ὀδυσῆΐ γ' ἐρίσσειε βροτὸς ἄλλος·
    οὐ τότε γ' ὧδ' Ὀδυσῆος ἀγασσάμεθ' εἶδος ἰδόντες.
    • But when he let loose that great voice from his chest
      and the words came piling on like a driving winter blizzard —
      then no man alive could rival Odysseus! Odysseus...
      we no longer gazed in wonder at his looks.
    • III. 221–224 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἠέλιός θ', ὃς πάντ' ἐφορᾷς καὶ πάντ' ἐπακούεις.
    • Helios, Sun above us, you who see all, hear all things!
    • III. 277 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book IV
The day will come when sacred Troy must die...
  • Ἔσσεται ἦμαρ ὅτ' ἄν ποτ' ὀλώλῃ Ἴλιος ἱρὴ
    καὶ Πρίαμος καὶ λαὸς ἐϋμμελίω Πριάμοιο.
    • The day will come when sacred Troy must die,
      Priam must die and all his people with him,
      Priam who hurls the strong ash spear!
    • IV. 164–165 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Agamemnon.
  • Τῷ μὲν κλέος, ἄμμι δὲ πένθος.
    • Glory to him, but to us a sorrow.
    • IV. 197 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Ἀλλ' οὔ πως ἅμα πάντα θεοὶ δόσαν ἀνθρώποισιν.
    • But the gods give to mortals not everything at the same time.
    • IV. 320 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Τὸν δ' ἄρ' ὑπόδρα ἰδὼν προσέφη πολύμητις Ὀδυσσεύς·
    Ἀτρεΐδη ποῖόν σε ἔπος φύγεν ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
    • Then looking at him darkly resourceful Odysseus spoke to him:
      "What is this word that broke through the fence of your teeth, Atreides?"
    • IV. 350–351 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Ἥ τ' ὀλίγη μὲν πρῶτα κορύσσεται, αὐτὰρ ἔπειτα
    οὐρανῷ ἐστήριξε κάρη καὶ ἐπὶ χθονὶ βαίνει.
    • She who is only a little thing at the first, but thereafter
      grows until she strides on the earth with her head striking heaven.
    • IV. 442–443 (tr. R. Lattimore).
Book V
  • Ὅττι μάλ' οὐ δηναιὸς ὃς ἀθανάτοισι μάχηται,
    οὐδέ τί μιν παῖδες ποτὶ γούνασι παππάζουσιν
    ἐκ πολέμοιο καὶ αἰνῆς δηϊοτῆτος.
    • No man who fights with gods will live long or hear his children prattling about his knees when he returns from battle.
    • V. 407–409 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Μηδὲ θεοῖσιν
    ἶσ' ἔθελε φρονέειν, ἐπεὶ οὔ ποτε φῦλον ὁμοῖον
    ἀθανάτων τε θεῶν χαμαὶ ἐρχομένων τ' ἀνθρώπων.
    • Think not to match yourself against gods, for men that walk the earth cannot hold their own with the immortals.
    • V. 440–442 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Τοίω τὼ χείρεσσιν ὑπ' Αἰνείαο δαμέντε
    καππεσέτην, ἐλάτῃσιν ἐοικότες ὑψηλῇσι.
    • So here the twins were laid low at Aeneas' hands,
      down they crashed like lofty pine trees axed.
    • V. 559–560 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Στέντορι εἰσαμένη μεγαλήτορι χαλκεοφώνῳ,
    ὃς τόσον αὐδήσασχ' ὅσον ἄλλοι πεντήκοντα.
    • In form of Stentor of the brazen voice,
      Whose shout was as the shout of fifty men.
    • V. 785–786 (tr. Lord Derby).
Book VI
  • Εἰ δέ τίς ἐσσι βροτῶν οἳ ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδουσιν,
    ἆσσον ἴθ' ὥς κεν θᾶσσον ὀλέθρου πείραθ' ἵκηαι.
    • But if you're a man who eats the crops of the earth,
      a mortal born for death—here, come closer,
      the sooner you will meet your day to die!
    • VI. 142–143 (tr. Robert Fagles).
As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity...
  • Οἵη περ φύλλων γενεὴ τοίη δὲ καὶ ἀνδρῶν.
    φύλλα τὰ μέν τ' ἄνεμος χαμάδις χέει, ἄλλα δέ θ' ὕλη
    τηλεθόωσα φύει, ἔαρος δ' ἐπιγίγνεται ὥρη·
    ὣς ἀνδρῶν γενεὴ ἣ μὲν φύει ἣ δ' ἀπολήγει.
    • As is the generation of leaves, so is that of humanity.
      The wind scatters the leaves on the ground, but the live timber
      Burgeons with leaves again in the season of spring returning.
      So one generation of men will grow while another dies.
    • VI. 146–150 (tr. R. Lattimore); Glaucus to Diomed.
    • Alexander Pope's translation:
      "Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
      Now green in youth, now withering on the ground:
      Another race the following spring supplies,
      They fall successive, and successive rise:
      So generations in their course decay;
      So flourish these, when those are past away."
  • Αἰὲν ἀριστεύειν καὶ ὑπείροχον ἔμμεναι ἄλλων.
    • Always be the best, my boy, the bravest,
      and hold your head up high above the others.
    • VI. 208 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ὣς ἄρα φωνήσαντε καθ' ἵππων ἀΐξαντε
    χεῖράς τ' ἀλλήλων λαβέτην καὶ πιστώσαντο·
    ἔνθ' αὖτε Γλαύκῳ Κρονίδης φρένας ἐξέλετο Ζεύς,
    ὃς πρὸς Τυδεΐδην Διομήδεα τεύχε' ἄμειβε
    χρύσεα χαλκείων, ἑκατόμβοι' ἐννεαβοίων.
    • So they spoke, and both springing down from behind their horses
      gripped each other's hands and exchanged the promise of friendship;
      but Zeus the son of Kronos stole away the wits of Glaukos
      who exchanged with Diomedes the son of Tydeus armour
      of gold for bronze, for nine oxen's worth the worth of a hundred.
    • VI. 232–236 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Ἀνδρὶ δὲ κεκμηῶτι μένος μέγα οἶνος ἀέξει.
    • When a Man's exhausted, wine will build his strength.
    • VI. 261 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Νίκη δ᾽ ἐπαμείβεται ἄνδρας.
    • Victory passes back and forth between men.
    • VI. 339 (tr. R. Lattimore); Paris contemplates the fickleness of victory as he prepares to go into battle.
Smiling through tears.
  • Καί ποτέ τις εἴποι πατρός γ' ὅδε πολλὸν ἀμείνων.
    • And some day let them say of him:
      'He is better by far than his father.'
    • VI. 479 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Δακρυόεν γελάσασα.
    • Smiling through tears.
    • VI. 484 (tr. Lord Derby); of Andromache.
  • Μοῖραν δ' οὔ τινά φημι πεφυγμένον ἔμμεναι ἀνδρῶν,
    οὐ κακὸν οὐδὲ μὲν ἐσθλόν, ἐπὴν τὰ πρῶτα γένηται.
    • And fate? No one alive has ever escaped it,
      neither brave man nor coward, I tell you—
      it's born with us the day that we are born.
    • VI. 488–489 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book VII
  • Αἴδεσθεν μὲν ἀνήνασθαι, δεῖσαν δ' ὑποδέχθαι.
    • Ashamed to decline the challenge, yet fearing to accept it.
    • VII. 93 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Ἀλλ' ὑμεῖς μὲν πάντες ὕδωρ καὶ γαῖα γένοισθε
    ἥμενοι αὖθι ἕκαστοι ἀκήριοι ἀκλεὲς αὔτως.
    • May you be turned every man of you into earth and water as you sit spiritless and inglorious in your places.
    • VII. 99–100 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Μήκων δ' ὡς ἑτέρωσε κάρη βάλεν, ἥ τ' ἐνὶ κήπῳ
    καρπῷ βριθομένη νοτίῃσί τε εἰαρινῇσιν,
    ὣς ἑτέρωσ' ἤμυσε κάρη πήληκι βαρυνθέν.
    • He bent drooping his head to one side, as a garden poppy
      bends beneath the weight of its yield and the rains of springtime;
      so his head bent slack to one side beneath the helm's weight.
    • VIII. 306–308 (tr. R. Lattimore); the death of Gorgythion.
    • Alexander Pope's translation:
      As full-blown poppies, overcharg'd with rain,
      Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain, —
      So sinks the youth; his beauteous head, depress'd
      Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
  • Ἐν δ' ἔπεσ' Ὠκεανῷ λαμπρὸν φάος ἠελίοιο
    ἕλκον νύκτα μέλαιναν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν.
    • Now down in the Ocean sank the fiery light of day,
      drawing the dark night across the grain-giving earth.
    • VIII. 485–486 (tr. Robert Fagles).
As when around the clear bright moon, the stars
Shine in full splendor...
Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
  • Ὡς δ' ὅτ' ἐν οὐρανῷ ἄστρα φαεινὴν ἀμφὶ σελήνην
    φαίνετ' ἀριπρεπέα, ὅτε τ' ἔπλετο νήνεμος αἰθήρ·
    ἔκ τ' ἔφανεν πᾶσαι σκοπιαὶ καὶ πρώονες ἄκροι
    καὶ νάπαι· οὐρανόθεν δ' ἄρ' ὑπεῤῥάγη ἄσπετος αἰθήρ,
    πάντα δὲ εἴδεται ἄστρα, γέγηθε δέ τε φρένα ποιμήν.
    • As when around the clear bright moon, the stars
      Shine in full splendor, and the winds are hush'd,
      The groves, the mountain-tops, the headland-heights
      Stand all apparent, not a vapor streaks
      The boundless blue, but ether open'd wide
      All glitters, and the shepherd's heart is cheer'd.
    • VIII. 551–555 (tr. William Cowper).
Book IX
  • Ἀφρήτωρ ἀθέμιστος ἀνέστιός ἐστιν ἐκεῖνος
    ὃς πολέμου ἔραται ἐπιδημίου ὀκρυόεντος.
    • Cursed is the man, and void of law and right,
      Unworthy property, unworthy light,
      Unfit for public rule, or private care,
      That wretch, that monster, that delights in war:
      Whose lust is murder, and whose horrid joy
      To tear his country, and his kind destroy!
    • IX. 63–64 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Ἐχθρὸς γάρ μοι κεῖνος ὁμῶς Ἀΐδαο πύλῃσιν
    ὅς χ' ἕτερον μὲν κεύθῃ ἐνὶ φρεσίν, ἄλλο δὲ εἴπῃ.
    • Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
      My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
    • IX. 312–313 (tr. Alexander Pope).
    • A. H. Chase and W. G. Perry, Jr.'s translation:
      Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is the man who hides one thing in his heart and speaks another.
  • Κάτθαν' ὁμῶς ὅ τ' ἀεργὸς ἀνὴρ ὅ τε πολλὰ ἐοργώς.
    • Alike the idlers and the active die.
    • IX. 320 (tr. Lord Derby).
  • Ἀνδρὸς δὲ ψυχὴ πάλιν ἐλθεῖν οὔτε λεϊστὴ
    οὔθ' ἑλετή, ἐπεὶ ἄρ κεν ἀμείψεται ἕρκος ὀδόντων.
    • But a man's life breath cannot come back again—
      no raiders in force, no trading brings it back,
      once it slips through a man's clenched teeth.
    • IX. 408–409 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Be both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.
  • Ὤλετο μέν μοι νόστος, ἀτὰρ κλέος ἄφθιτον ἔσται.
    • If I hold out here and I lay siege to Troy,
      my journey home is gone, but my glory never dies.
    • IX. 413 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Achilles.
  • Μύθων τε ῥητῆρ' ἔμεναι πρηκτῆρά τε ἔργων.
    • Be both a speaker of words and a doer of deeds.
    • IX. 443 (tr. A. T. Murray).
  • Καὶ γάρ τε λιταί εἰσι Διὸς κοῦραι μεγάλοιο
    χωλαί τε ῥυσαί τε παραβλῶπές τ' ὀφθαλμώ,
    αἵ ῥά τε καὶ μετόπισθ' ἄτης ἀλέγουσι κιοῦσαι.
    • Prayers are Jove's daughters, of celestial race,
      Lame are their feet, and wrinkled is their face;
      With humble mien, and with dejected eyes,
      Constant they follow where Injustice flies.
    • IX. 498–500 (tr. Alexander Pope).
Book X
  • Ἐπὶ ξυροῦ ἵσταται ἀκμῆς
    ...ὄλεθρος...Ἀχαιοῖς ἠὲ βιῶναι.
    • Life and death are balanced as it were on the edge of a razor.
    • X. 173–174 (tr. Samuel Butler).
Book XI
  • Ἰητρὸς γὰρ ἀνὴρ πολλῶν ἀντάξιος ἄλλων
    ἰούς τ' ἐκτάμνειν ἐπί τ' ἤπια φάρμακα πάσσειν.
    • A physician is worth more than several other men put together, for he can cut out arrows and spread healing herbs.
    • XI. 514–515 (tr. Samuel Butler).
Book XII
  • Εἷς οἰωνὸς ἄριστος ἀμύνεσθαι περὶ πάτρης.
    • Bird-signs!
      Fight for your country—that is the best, the only omen!
    • XII. 243 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ὦ πέπον εἰ μὲν γὰρ πόλεμον περὶ τόνδε φυγόντε
    αἰεὶ δὴ μέλλοιμεν ἀγήρω τ' ἀθανάτω τε
    ἔσσεσθ', οὔτέ κεν αὐτὸς ἐνὶ πρώτοισι μαχοίμην
    οὔτέ κε σὲ στέλλοιμι μάχην ἐς κυδιάνειραν·
    νῦν δ' ἔμπης γὰρ κῆρες ἐφεστᾶσιν θανάτοιο
    μυρίαι, ἃς οὐκ ἔστι φυγεῖν βροτὸν οὐδ' ὑπαλύξαι,
    ἴομεν ἠέ τῳ εὖχος ὀρέξομεν ἠέ τις ἡμῖν.
    ...let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.
    • Man, supposing you and I, escaping this battle,
      would be able to live on forever, ageless, immortal,
      so neither would I myself go on fighting in the foremost,
      nor would I urge you into the fighting where men win glory.
      But now, seeing that the spirits of death stand close about us
      in their thousands, no man can turn aside or escape them,
      let us go on and win glory for ourselves, or yield it to others.
    • XII. 322–328 (tr. R. Lattimore); Sarpedon to Glaukos.
  • Φράξαντες δόρυ δουρί, σάκος σάκεϊ προθελύμνῳ·
    ἀσπὶς ἄρ' ἀσπίδ' ἔρειδε, κόρυς κόρυν, ἀνέρα δ' ἀνήρ.
    • Locking spear by spear, shield against shield at the base, so buckler
      leaned on buckler, helmet on helmet, man against man.
    • XIII, 130–131 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Τοὶ δ' ἔριδος κρατερῆς καὶ ὁμοιΐου πτολέμοιο
    πεῖραρ ἐπαλλάξαντες ἐπ' ἀμφοτέροισι τάνυσσαν
    ἄῤῥηκτόν τ' ἄλυτόν τε, τὸ πολλῶν γούνατ' ἔλυσεν.
    • Both gods knotted the rope of strife and leveling war,
      strangling both sides at once by stretching the mighty cable,
      never broken, never slipped, that snapped the knees of thousands.
    • XIII. 358–360 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἄλλῳ μὲν γὰρ ἔδωκε θεὸς πολεμήϊα ἔργα,
    ἄλλῳ δ' ὀρχηστύν, ἑτέρῳ κίθαριν καὶ ἀοιδήν,
    ἄλλῳ δ' ἐν στήθεσσι τιθεῖ νόον εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
    ἐσθλόν, τοῦ δέ τε πολλοὶ ἐπαυρίσκοντ' ἄνθρωποι.
    • To some the powers of bloody war belong,
      To some, sweet music, and the charm of song;
      To few, and wondrous few, has Jove assigned
      A wise, extensive, all-considering mind.
    • XIII. 730–733 (tr. Alexander Pope).
Book XIV
Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
  • Οὐ γάρ τις νέμεσις φυγέειν κακόν, οὐδ' ἀνὰ νύκτα.
    βέλτερον ὃς φεύγων προφύγῃ κακὸν ἠὲ ἁλώῃ.
    • No shame in running,
      fleeing disaster, even in pitch darkness.
      Better to flee from death than feel its grip.
    • XIV. 80–81 (tr. Robert Fagles).
    • Richmond Lattimore's translation:
      There is no shame in running, even by night, from disaster.
      The man does better who runs from disaster than he who is caught by it.
  • Ἔνθ' ἔνι μὲν φιλότης, ἐν δ' ἵμερος, ἐν δ' ὀαριστὺς
    πάρφασις, ἥ τ' ἔκλεψε νόον πύκα περ φρονεόντων.
    • There is the heat of Love,
      the pulsing rush of Longing, the lover's whisper,
      irresistible—magic to make the sanest man go mad.
    • XIV. 216–217 (tr. Robert Fagles).
    • Alexander Pope's translation:
      In this was every art, and every charm,
      To win the wisest, and the coldest warm:
      Fond love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
      The kind deceit, the still reviving fire,
      Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
      Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
  • Ἔνθ' Ὕπνῳ ξύμβλητο κασιγνήτῳ Θανάτοιο.
    • There she encountered Sleep, the brother of Death.
    • XIV. 231 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Ὕπνε ἄναξ πάντων τε θεῶν πάντων τ' ἀνθρώπων.
    • Sleep, universal king of gods and men.
    • XIV. 233 (tr. Lord Derby).
Book XV
A glorious death is his
Who for his country falls.
  • Ῥεῖα δ' ἀρίγνωτος Διὸς ἀνδράσι γίγνεται ἀλκή.
    • Easily seen is the strength that is given from Zeus to mortals.
    • XV. 490 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Οὔ οἱ ἀεικὲς ἀμυνομένῳ περὶ πάτρης
    • A glorious death is his
      Who for his country falls.
    • XV. 496–497 (tr. Lord Derby); spoken by Hector.
  • Αἰδομένων δ' ἀνδρῶν πλέονες σόοι ἠὲ πέφανται·
    φευγόντων δ' οὔτ' ἂρ κλέος ὄρνυται οὔτέ τις ἀλκή.
    • On valour's side the odds of combat lie,
      The brave live glorious, or lamented die;
      The wretch who trembles in the field of fame,
      Meets death, and worse than death, eternal shame.
    • XV. 563–564 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Ἀλλ' εἰ δή ῥα τότε βλάπτε φρένας εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
    ἡμετέρας, νῦν αὐτὸς ἐποτρύνει καὶ ἀνώγει.
    • Oh but if Zeus's lightning blinded us those days,
      it's Zeus who drives us, hurls us on today!
    • XV. 724–725 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book XVI
  • Ἐν γὰρ χερσὶ τέλος πολέμου, ἐπέων δ' ἐνὶ βουλῇ.
    • The proof of battle is action, proof of words, debate.
    • XVI. 630 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Πέμπε δέ μιν πομποῖσιν ἅμα κραιπνοῖσι φέρεσθαι
    ὕπνῳ καὶ θανάτῳ διδυμάοσιν, οἵ ῥά μιν ὦκα
    θήσουσ' ἐν Λυκίης εὐρείης πίονι δήμῳ.
    • Then give him into the charge of swift messengers to carry him,
      of Sleep and Death, who are twin brothers, and these two shall lay him
      down presently within the rich countryside of broad Lykia.
    • XVI. 671–673 (tr. R. Lattimore). Cf. Virgil, Aeneid, VI.278.
  • Ἀλλ' αἰεί τε Διὸς κρείσσων νόος ἠέ περ ἀνδρῶν.
    • But the will of Zeus will always overpower the will of men.
    • XVI. 688 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • "I am foremost of all the Trojan warriors to stave the day of bondage from off them; as for you, vultures shall devour you here."
    • XVI (tr. Samuel Butler); Hector to Patroclus.
  • "I say further, and lay my saying to your heart, you too shall live but for a little season; death and the day of your doom are close upon you, and they will lay you low by the hand of Achilles son of Aiakos."
    • XVI (tr. S. Butler); Patroclus to Hector.
Among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it
there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.
  • Ῥεχθὲν δέ τε νήπιος ἔγνω.
    • Once a thing has been done, the fool sees it.
    • XVII. 32 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Οὐ μὲν γάρ τί πού ἐστιν ὀϊζυρώτερον ἀνδρὸς
    πάντων, ὅσσά τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
    • Among all creatures that breathe on earth and crawl on it
      there is not anywhere a thing more dismal than man is.
    • XVII. 446–447 (tr. R. Lattimore); Zeus.
    • Robert Fagles's translation:
      There is nothing alive more agonized than man
      of all that breathe and crawl across the earth.
  • Ἥσω γὰρ καὶ ἐγώ, τὰ δέ κεν Διὶ πάντα μελήσει.
    • I'll fling a spear myself and leave the rest to Zeus.
    • XVII. 515 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ὡς ἔρις ἔκ τε θεῶν ἔκ τ' ἀνθρώπων ἀπόλοιτο
    καὶ χόλος, ὅς τ' ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ χαλεπῆναι,
    ὅς τε πολὺ γλυκίων μέλιτος καταλειβομένοιο
    ἀνδρῶν ἐν στήθεσσιν ἀέξεται ἠΰτε καπνός.
    • If only strife could die from the lives of gods and men
      and anger that drives the sanest man to flare in outrage—
      bitter gall, sweeter than dripping streams of honey,
      that swarms in people's chests and blinds like smoke.
    • XVIII. 107–110 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Achilles.
  • Ἀλλ' οὐ Ζεὺς ἄνδρεσσι νοήματα πάντα τελευτᾷ.
    • But Zeus does not bring to accomplishment all thoughts in men's minds.
    • XVIII. 328 (tr. R. Lattimore).
Book XIX
  • Θεὸς διὰ πάντα τελευτᾷ.
    • It is the god who accomplishes all things.
    • XIX. 90 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Οὐ γὰρ ἀνὴρ πρόπαν ἦμαρ ἐς ἠέλιον καταδύντα
    ἄκμηνος σίτοιο δυνήσεται ἄντα μάχεσθαι.
    • For a man will not have strength to fight his way forward all day
      long until the sun goes down if he is starved for food.
    • XIX. 162–163 (tr. R. Lattimore).
Book XX
  • Στρεπτὴ δὲ γλῶσσ' ἐστὶ βροτῶν, πολέες δ' ἔνι μῦθοι
    παντοῖοι, ἐπέων δὲ πολὺς νομὸς ἔνθα καὶ ἔνθα.
    • The tongue of man is a twisty thing, there are plenty of words there
      of every kind, the range of words is wide, and their variance.
    • XX. 248–249 (tr. R. Lattimore).
Book XXI
  • Ἀλλ' ἔπι τοι καὶ ἐμοὶ θάνατος καὶ μοῖρα κραταιή·
    ἔσσεται ἢ ἠὼς ἢ δείλη ἢ μέσον ἦμαρ
    ὁππότε τις καὶ ἐμεῖο Ἄρῃ ἐκ θυμὸν ἕληται
    ἢ ὅ γε δουρὶ βαλὼν ἢ ἀπὸ νευρῆφιν ὀϊστῷ.
    • There shall be a dawn or an afternoon or a noontime
      when some man in the fighting will take the life from me also
      either with a spearcast or an arrow flown from the bowstring.
    • XXI. 110 (tr. R. Lattimore); spoken by Achilles.
  • Ἐννοσίγαι' οὐκ ἄν με σαόφρονα μυθήσαιο
    ἔμμεναι, εἰ δὴ σοί γε βροτῶν ἕνεκα πτολεμίξω
    δειλῶν, οἳ φύλλοισιν ἐοικότες ἄλλοτε μέν τε
    ζαφλεγέες τελέθουσιν ἀρούρης καρπὸν ἔδοντες,
    ἄλλοτε δὲ φθινύθουσιν ἀκήριοι.
    • Shaker of the earth, you would have me be as one without prudence
      if I am to fight even you for the sake of insignificant
      mortals, who are as leaves are, and now flourish and grow warm
      with life, and feed on what the ground gives, but then again
      fade away and are dead.
    • XXI. 462–466 (tr. R. Lattimore); Apollo to Poseidon.
There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind.
  • Ὡς οὐκ ἔστι λέουσι καὶ ἀνδράσιν ὅρκια πιστά,
    οὐδὲ λύκοι τε καὶ ἄρνες ὁμόφρονα θυμὸν ἔχουσιν.
    • There can be no covenants between men and lions, wolves and lambs can never be of one mind.
    • XXII. 262–263 (tr. Samuel Butler); Achilles to Hector.
  • Νῦν αὖτέ με μοῖρα κιχάνει.
    μὴ μὰν ἀσπουδί γε καὶ ἀκλειῶς ἀπολοίμην,
    ἀλλὰ μέγα ῥέξας τι καὶ ἐσσομένοισι πυθέσθαι.
    • So now I meet my doom. Well let me die—
      but not without struggle, not without glory, no,
      in some great clash of arms that even men to come
      will hear of down the years!
    • XXII. 303 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Hector.
    • Richmond Lattimore's translation:
      But now my death is upon me.
      Let me at least not die without a struggle, inglorious,
      but do some big thing first, that men to come shall know of it.
  • Μή με κύον γούνων γουνάζεο μὴ δὲ τοκήων.
    • No more entreating of me, you dog, by knees or parents.
    • XXII. 345 (tr. R. Lattimore); Achilles to Hector.
  • Ὢ πόποι ἦ ῥά τίς ἐστι καὶ εἰν Ἀΐδαο δόμοισι
    ψυχὴ καὶ εἴδωλον, ἀτὰρ φρένες οὐκ ἔνι πάμπαν.
    • Oh, wonder! Even in the house of Hades there is left something,
      a soul and an image, but there is no real heart of life in it.
    • XXIII. 103–104 (tr. R. Lattimore); Achilles after seeing Patroclus' ghost.
  • Μήτι τοι δρυτόμος μέγ' ἀμείνων ἠὲ βίηφι·
    μήτι δ' αὖτε κυβερνήτης ἐνὶ οἴνοπι πόντῳ
    νῆα θοὴν ἰθύνει ἐρεχθομένην ἀνέμοισι·
    μήτι δ' ἡνίοχος περιγίγνεται ἡνιόχοιο.
    • The woodcutter is far better for skill than he is for brute strength.
      It is by skill that the sea captain holds his rapid ship
      on its course, though torn by winds, over the wine-blue water.
      By skill charioteer outpasses charioteer.
    • XXIII. 315–318 (tr. R. Lattimore).
  • Τλητὸν γὰρ Μοῖραι θυμὸν θέσαν ἀνθρώποισιν.
    • The Fates have given mortals hearts that can endure.
    • XXIV. 49 (tr. Robert Fagles).
I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before—
I put to my lips the hands of the man who killed my son.
  • Ἄγχι δ' ἄρα στὰς ...
    χερσὶν Ἀχιλλῆος λάβε γούνατα καὶ κύσε χεῖρας
    δεινὰς ἀνδροφόνους, αἵ οἱ πολέας κτάνον υἷας.
    • The majestic king of Troy slipped past the rest
      and kneeling down beside Achilles, clasped his knees
      and kissed his hands, those terrible, man-killing hands
      that had slaughtered Priam's many sons in battle.
    • XXIV. 477–479 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἔτλην δ' οἷ' οὔ πώ τις ἐπιχθόνιος βροτὸς ἄλλος,
    ἀνδρὸς παιδοφόνοιο ποτὶ στόμα χεῖρ' ὀρέγεσθαι.
    • I have endured what no one on earth has ever done before—
      I put to my lips the hands of the man who killed my son.
    • XXIV. 505–506 (tr. Robert Fagles); Priam to Achilles.
    • Richmond Lattimore's translation:
      I have gone through what no other mortal on earth has gone through;
      I put my lips to the hands of the man who has killed my children.
  • Ἄλγεα δ' ἔμπης
    ἐν θυμῷ κατακεῖσθαι ἐάσομεν ἀχνύμενοί περ·
    οὐ γάρ τις πρῆξις πέλεται κρυεροῖο γόοιο·
    ὡς γὰρ ἐπεκλώσαντο θεοὶ δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσι
    ζώειν ἀχνυμένοις· αὐτοὶ δέ τ' ἀκηδέες εἰσί.
    • Let us put our griefs to rest in our own hearts...
      What good's to be won from tears that chill the spirit?
      So the immortals spun our lives that we, we wretched men
      live on to bear such torments—the gods live free of sorrows.
    • XXIV. 522–526 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Καὶ σὲ γέρον τὸ πρὶν μὲν ἀκούομεν ὄλβιον εἶναι.
    • And you, old sir, we are told you prospered once.
    • XXIV. 543 (tr. R. Lattimore); Achilles to Priam.

The Odyssey (c. 800 BC)[edit]

Book I
The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound.
  • Ἄνδρα μοι ἔννεπε, Μοῦσα, πολύτροπον, ὃς μάλα πολλὰ
    πλάγχθη, ἐπεὶ Τροίης ἱερὸν πτολίεθρον ἔπερσε·
    πολλῶν δ’ ἀνθρώπων ἴδεν ἄστεα καὶ νόον ἔγνω,
    πολλὰ δ’ ὅ γ’ ἐν πόντῳ πάθεν ἄλγεα ὃν κατὰ θυμόν,
    ἀρνύμενος ἥν τε ψυχὴν καὶ νόστον ἑταίρων.
    • The man for wisdom's various arts renown'd,
      Long exercised in woes, O Muse! resound
      Who, when his arms had wrought the destined fall
      Of sacred Troy, and razed her heaven-built wall,
      Wandering from clime to clime, observant stray'd,
      Their manners noted, and their states survey'd,
      On stormy seas unnumber'd toils he bore,
      Safe with his friends to gain his natal shore.
    • I. 1–5 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Αὐτῶν γὰρ σφετέρῃσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὄλοντο.
    • The recklessness of their own ways destroyed them all.
    • I. 7 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • ὢ πόποι, οἷον δή νυ θεοὺς βροτοὶ αἰτιόωνται.
    ἐξ ἡμέων γάρ φασι κάκ' ἔμμεναι· οἱ δὲ καὶ αὐτοὶ
    σφῇσιν ἀτασθαλίῃσιν ὑπὲρ μόρον ἄλγε' ἔχουσιν.
    • See now, how men lay blame upon us gods for what is after all nothing but their own folly.
    • I. 32–34 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Ἱέμενος καὶ καπνὸν ἀποθρῴσκοντα νοῆσαι
    ἧς γαίης, θανέειν ἱμείρεται.
    • To see the smoke from his loved palace rise,
      While the dear isle in distant prospect lies,
      With what contentment could he close his eyes!
    • I. 58–59 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Οὐκ οἶδ'· οὐ γάρ πώ τις ἑὸν γόνον αὐτὸς ἀνέγνω.
    • Who, on his own,
      has ever really known who gave him life?
    • I. 216 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ταῦτα θεῶν ἐν γούνασι κεῖται.
    • These things surely lie on the knees of the gods.
    • I. 267. Cf. Iliad XVII. 514.
Book II
Few sons attain the praise
Of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
  • Παῦροι γάρ τοι παῖδες ὁμοῖοι πατρὶ πέλονται,
    οἱ πλέονες κακίους, παῦροι δέ τε πατρὸς ἀρείους.
    • Few sons attain the praise
      Of their great sires, and most their sires disgrace.
    • II. 276–277 (tr. Alexander Pope).
    • E. V. Rieu's translation:
      Few sons, indeed, are like their fathers.
      Generally they are worse; but just a few are better.
Book III
  • Τηλέμαχ', ἄλλα μὲν αὐτὸς ἐνὶ φρεσὶ σῇσι νοήσεις,
    ἄλλα δὲ καὶ δαίμων ὑποθήσεται.
    • Some of the words you'll find within yourself,
      the rest some power will inspire you to say.
    • III. 26–27 (tr. Robert Fagles); Athena to Telemachus.
  • Πάντες δὲ θεῶν χατέουσ' ἄνθρωποι.
    • All men need the gods...
    • III. 48 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ψεῦδος δ' οὐκ ἐρέει· μάλα γὰρ πεπνυμένος ἐστίν.
    • He will tell you no lies, for he is an excellent person.
    • III. 328 (tr. Samuel Butler).
Book IV
  • Νεμεσσῶμαί γε μὲν οὐδὲν
    κλαίειν, ὅς κε θάνῃσι βροτῶν καὶ πότμον ἐπίσπῃ.
    τοῦτό νυ καὶ γέρας οἶον ὀϊζυροῖσι βροτοῖσι,
    κείρασθαί τε κόμην βαλέειν τ' ἀπὸ δάκρυ παρειῶν.
    • Not that I'd grudge a tear
      for any man gone down to meet his fate.
      What other tribute can we pay to wretched men
      than to cut a lock, let tears roll down our cheeks?
    • IV. 195–198 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • θεοὶ δέ τε πάντα ἴσασιν.
    • The gods know all things.
    • IV. 468.
Book V
Nevertheless I long—I pine, all my days—
to travel home and see the dawn of my return.
  • Οὐδέ μοι αὐτῇ
    θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι σιδήρεος, ἀλλ' ἐλεήμων.
    • Not iron, trust me,
      the heart within my breast. I am all compassion.
    • V. 190–191 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἀλλὰ καὶ ὧς ἐθέλω καὶ ἐέλδομαι ἤματα πάντα
    οἴκαδέ τ' ἐλθέμεναι καὶ νόστιμον ἦμαρ ἰδέσθαι.
    • Nevertheless I long—I pine, all my days—
      to travel home and see the dawn of my return.
    • V. 219–220 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Τλήσομαι ἐν στήθεσσιν ἔχων ταλαπενθέα θυμόν·
    ἤδη γὰρ μάλα πολλὰ πάθον καὶ πολλὰ μόγησα.
    • My soul
      Shall bear that also; for, by practice taught,
      I have learned patience, having much endured.
    • V. 222–223 (tr. William Cowper).
Book VI
  • Σοὶ δὲ θεοὶ τόσα δοῖεν, ὅσα φρεσὶ σῇσι μενοινᾷς,
    ἄνδρα τε καὶ οἶκον, καὶ ὁμοφροσύνην ὀπάσειαν
    ἐσθλήν· οὐ μὲν γὰρ τοῦ γε κρεῖσσον καὶ ἄρειον,
    ἢ ὅθ' ὁμοφρονέοντε νοήμασιν οἶκον ἔχητον
    ἀνὴρ ἠδὲ γυνή· πόλλ' ἄλγεα δυσμενέεσσι,
    χάρματα δ' εὐμενέτῃσι· μάλιστα δέ τ' ἔκλυον αὐτοί.
    • And may the gods accomplish your desire:
      a home, a husband, and harmonious
      converse with him – the best thing in the world
      being a strong house held in serenity
      where man and wife agree.
      Woe to their enemies,
      joy to their friends! But all this they know best.
    • VI. 180–185 (tr. Robert Fitzgerald); Odysseus to Nausicaa.
  • Ζεὺς δ' αὐτὸς νέμει ὄλβον Ὀλύμπιος ἀνθρώποισιν,
    ἐσθλοῖσ' ἠδὲ κακοῖσιν, ὅπως ἐθέλῃσιν, ἑκάστῳ.
    • Jove weighs affairs of earth in dubious scales,
      And the good suffers, while the bad prevails.
    • VI. 188 (tr. Alexander Pope).
Book VII
  • Οὐ γάρ τι στυγερῇ ἐπὶ γαστέρι κύντερον ἄλλο
    ἔπλετο, ἥ τ' ἐκέλευσεν ἕο μνήσασθαι ἀνάγκῃ
    καὶ μάλα τειρόμενον καὶ ἐνὶ φρεσὶ πένθος ἔχοντα.
    • Nothing more shameless is than Appetite,
      Who still, whatever anguish load our breast,
      Makes us remember in our own despite
      Both food and drink.
    • VII. 216–218 (tr. P. S. Worsley).
  • Οὕτως οὐ πάντεσσι θεοὶ χαρίεντα διδοῦσιν
    ἀνδράσιν, οὔτε φυὴν οὔτ’ ἂρ φρένας οὔτ’ ἀγορητύν.
    • The gods don't hand out all their gifts at once,
      not build and brains and flowing speech to all.
    • VIII. 167–168 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Τῶν δ' ἄλλων ἐμέ φημι πολὺ προφερέστερον εἶναι,
    ὅσσοι νῦν βροτοί εἰσιν ἐπὶ χθονὶ σῖτον ἔδοντες.
    • I far excel every one else in the whole world,
      of those who still eat bread upon the face of the earth.
    • VIII. 221–222 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Οὐκ ἀρετᾷ κακὰ ἔργα· κιχάνει τοι βραδὺς ὠκύν,
    ὡς καὶ νῦν Ἥφαιστος ἐὼν βραδὺς εἷλεν Ἄρηα,
    ὠκύτατόν περ ἐόντα θεῶν, οἳ Ὄλυμπον ἔχουσιν.
    • Behold on wrong
      Swift vengeance waits; and art subdues the strong!
      Dwells there a god on all the Olympian brow
      More swift than Mars, and more than Vulcan slow?
      Yet Vulcan conquers, and the god of arms
      Must pay the penalty for lawless charms.
    • VIII. 329–331 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Δειλαί τοι δειλῶν γε καὶ ἐγγύαι ἐγγυάασθαι.
  • Ἐπεὶ οὐ μέν τι κασιγνήτοιο χερείων
    γίνεται, ὅς κεν ἑταῖρος ἐὼν πεπνυμένα εἰδῇ.
    • For a friend with an understanding heart is worth no less than a brother.
    • VIII. 585–586 (tr. G. H. Palmer).
Book IX
  • Τί πρῶτόν τοι ἔπειτα, τί δ' ὑστάτιον καταλέξω.
    • Well then, what shall I go through first,
      what shall I save for last?
    • IX. 14 (tr. Robert Fagles)
Nothing is as sweet as a man's own country...
  • Ὡς οὐδὲν γλύκιον ἧς πατρίδος οὐδὲ τοκήων
    γίνεται, εἴ περ καί τις ἀπόπροθι πίονα οἶκον
    γαίῃ ἐν ἀλλοδαπῇ ναίει ἀπάνευθε τοκήων.
    • So nothing is as sweet as a man's own country,
      his own parents, even though he's settled down
      in some luxurious house, off in a foreign land
      and far from those who bore him.
    • IX. 34–36 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Οὖτις ἐμοί γ' ὄνομα.
    • Nobody—that's my name.
    • IX. 366 (tr. Robert Fagles); Odysseus to Polyphemus.
  • «ὦ φίλοι, Οὖτίς με κτείνει δόλῳ οὐδὲ βίηφιν.»
    • Nobody, friends’—Polyphemus bellowed back from his cave—
      Nobody's killing me now by fraud and not by force.
    • IX. 408 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book X
  • Νεκύων ἀμενηνὰ κάρηνα.
    • The fleeting shadows of the dead.
    • X. 521 (tr. G. A. Schomberg).
Book XI
Three times I rushed toward her, desperate to hold her,
three times she fluttered through my fingers, sifting away
like a shadow, dissolving like a dream.
  • Μή μ' ἄκλαυτον ἄθαπτον ἰὼν ὄπιθεν καταλείπειν
    • His cold remains all naked to the sky,
      On distant shores unwept, unburied lie.
    • XI. 72–73 (tr. Alexander Pope); of Elpenor.
  • Τρὶς μὲν ἐφωρμήθην, ἑλέειν τέ με θυμὸς ἀνώγει,
    τρὶς δέ μοι ἐκ χειρῶν σκιῇ εἴκελον ἢ καὶ ὀνείρῳ
    • Three times I rushed toward her, desperate to hold her,
      three times she fluttered through my fingers, sifting away
      like a shadow, dissolving like a dream.
    • XI. 206–208 (tr. Robert Fagles); Odysseus attempting to embrace his mother's spirit in the Underworld.
    • Compare Virgil, Aeneid, II. 792–793 (tr. C. Pitt):
      Thrice round her neck my eager arms I threw;
      Thrice from my empty arms the phantom flew.
  • Ὥρη μὲν πολέων μύθων, ὥρη δὲ καὶ ὕπνου.
    • There is a time for many words and there is a time also for sleep.
    • XI. 379 (tr. A. T. Murray).
  • Ἐπεὶ οὐκέτι πιστὰ γυναιξίν.
    • The time for trusting women's gone forever!
    • XI. 456 (tr. Robert Fagles).
      • Alexander Pope's translation:
        For since of womankind so few are just,
        Think all are false, nor e'en the faithful trust.
  • βουλοίμην κ' ἐπάρουρος ἐὼν θητευέμεν ἄλλῳ,
    ἀνδρὶ παρ' ἀκλήρῳ, ᾧ μὴ βίοτος πολὺς εἴη,
    ἢ πᾶσιν νεκύεσσι καταφθιμένοισιν ἀνάσσειν.
    • By god, I'd rather slave on earth for another man—
      some dirt-poor tenant farmer who scrapes to keep alive—
      than rule down here over all the breathless dead.
    • XI. 489–492 (tr. Robert Fagles); Achilles' ghost to Odysseus.
    • Alexander Pope's translation:
      Rather I'd choose laboriously to bear
      A weight of woes, and breathe the vital air,
      A slave to some poor hind that toils for bread,
      Than reign the sceptred monarch of the dead.
    • With many a weary step, and many a groan,
      Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone;
      The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
      Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground.
      P. S. Worsley's translation:
      Rather would I, in the sun's warmth divine,
      Serve a poor churl who drags his days in grief,
      Than the whole lordship of the dead were mine.
  • Καὶ μὴν Σίσυφον εἰσεῖδον κρατέρ' ἄλγε' ἔχοντα,
    λᾶαν βαστάζοντα πελώριον ἀμφοτέρῃσιν.
    τοι ὁ μὲν σκηριπτόμενος χερσίν τε ποσίν τε
    λᾶαν ἄνω ὤθεσκε ποτὶ λόφον· ἀλλ' ὅτε μέλλοι
    ἄκρον ὑπερβαλέειν, τότ' ἀποστρέψασκε Κραταιΐς·
    αὖτις ἔπειτα πέδονδε κυλίνδετο λᾶας ἀναιδής.
    • With many a weary step, and many a groan,
      Up the high hill he heaves a huge round stone;
      The huge round stone, resulting with a bound,
      Thunders impetuous down, and smokes along the ground.
    • XI. 593–598 (tr. William Broome); of Sisyphus.
Book XII
  • Ὦ φίλοι, οὐ γάρ πώ τι κακῶν ἀδαήμονές εἰμεν.
    • Friends, we're hardly strangers at meeting danger.
    • XII. 209 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Πάντες μὲν στυγεροὶ θάνατοι δειλοῖσι βροτοῖσι,
    λιμῷ δ' οἴκτιστον θανέειν καὶ πότμον ἐπισπεῖν.
    • All ways of dying are hateful to us poor mortals,
      true, but to die of hunger, starve to death—
      that's the worst of all.
    • XII. 342–343 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • βούλομ' ἅπαξ πρὸς κῦμα χανὼν ἀπὸ θυμὸν ὀλέσσαι
    ἢ δηθὰ στρεύγεσθαι ἐὼν ἐν νήσῳ ἐρήμῃ.
    • I’d rather die at sea, with one deep gulp of death,
      than die by inches on this desolate island here!
    • XII. 351–352 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἐχθρὸν δέ μοί ἐστιν
    αὖτις ἀριζήλως εἰρημένα μυθολογεύειν.
    • I hate saying the same thing over and over again.
    • XII. 453–454 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Καὶ τῷ νήδυμος ὕπνος ἐπὶ βλεφάροισιν ἔπιπτε,
    νήγρετος ἥδιστος, θανάτῳ ἄγχιστα ἐοικώς.
    • An irresistible sleep fell deeply on his eyes, the sweetest,
      soundest oblivion, still as the sleep of death itself...
    • XIII. 79–80 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Γήθησέν τ' ἄρ' ἔπειτα πολύτλας δῖος Ὀδυσσεὺς
    χαίρων ᾗ γαίῃ, κύσε δὲ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν.
    • Then Ulysses rejoiced at finding himself again in his own land, and kissed the bounteous soil.
    • XIII. 353–354 (tr. Samuel Butler).
Book XIV
  • Ξεῖν', οὔ μοι θέμις ἔστ', οὐδ' εἰ κακίων σέθεν ἔλθοι,
    ξεῖνον ἀτιμῆσαι· πρὸς γὰρ Διός εἰσιν ἅπαντες
    ξεῖνοί τε πτωχοί τε. δόσις δ' ὀλίγη τε φίλη τε
    γίνεται ἡμετέρη.
    • It's wrong, my friend, to send any stranger packing—
      even one who arrives in worse shape than you.
      Every stranger and beggar comes from Zeus
      and whatever scrap they get from the likes of us,
      they'll find it welcome.
    • XIV. 56–59 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Οὐ μὲν σχέτλια ἔργα θεοὶ μάκαρες φιλέουσιν,
    ἀλλὰ δίκην τίουσι καὶ αἴσιμα ἔργ' ἀνθρώπων.
    • The blessed gods have no love for crime.
      They honor justice, honor the decent acts of men.
    • XIV. 83–84 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἄλλος γάρ τ' ἄλλοισιν ἀνὴρ ἐπιτέρπεται ἔργοις.
    • Each man delights in the work that suits him best.
    • XIV. 228 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • εὐξάμενός τι ἔπος ἐρέω· οἶνος γὰρ ἀνώγει,
    ἠλεός, ὅς τ' ἐφέηκε πολύφρονά περ μάλ' ἀεῖσαι
    καί θ' ἁπαλὸν γελάσαι καί τ' ὀρχήσασθαι ἀνῆκε,
    καί τι ἔπος προέηκεν, ὅ πέρ τ' ἄῤῥητον ἄμεινον.
    • 'Tis sweet to play the fool in time and place,
      And wine can of their wits the wise beguile,
      Make the sage frolic, and the serious smile,
      The grave in merry measures frisk about,
      And many a long-repented word bring out.
    • XIV. 463–466 (tr. Alexander Pope).
Book XV
  • Μή νύ τι σεῦ ἀέκητι δόμων ἐκ κτῆμα φέρηται.
    οἶσθα γὰρ οἷος θυμὸς ἐνὶ στήθεσσι γυναικός·
    κείνου βούλεται οἶκον ὀφέλλειν, ὅς κεν ὀπυίῃ,
    παίδων δὲ προτέρων καὶ κουριδίοιο φίλοιο
    οὐκέτι μέμνηται τεθνηότος οὐδὲ μεταλλᾷ.
    • I hope nothing valuable may have been taken from the house in spite of you, but you know what women are—they always want to do the best they can for the man who marries them, and never give another thought to the children of their first husband, nor to their father either when he is dead and done with.
    • XV. 19–23 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Τοῦ γάρ τε ξεῖνος μιμνῄσκεται ἤματα πάντα
    ἀνδρὸς ξεινοδόκου, ὅς κεν φιλότητα παράσχῃ.
    • For a guest remembers all his days the hospitable man who showed him kindness.
    • XV. 54–55 (tr. G. H. Palmer).
  • ἶσόν τοι κακόν ἐσθ', ὅς τ' οὐκ ἐθέλοντα νέεσθαι
    ξεῖνον ἐποτρύνῃ καὶ ὃς ἐσσύμενον κατερύκῃ.
    χρὴ ξεῖνον παρεόντα φιλεῖν, ἐθέλοντα δὲ πέμπειν.
    • Alike he thwarts the hospitable end,
      Who drives the free, or stays the hasty friend:
      True friendship's laws are by this rule express'd,
      Welcome the coming, speed the parting guest.
    • XV. 72–74 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Αἵδε δὲ νύκτες ἀθέσφατοι· ἔστι μὲν εὕδειν,
    ἔστι δὲ τερπομένοισιν ἀκουέμεν· οὐδέ τί σε χρή,
    πρὶν ὥρη, καταλέχθαι· ἀνίη καὶ πολὺς ὕπνος.
    • Long nights the now declining year bestows;
      A part we consecrate to soft repose,
      A part in pleasing talk we entertain;
      For too much rest itself becomes a pain.
    • XV. 392–394 (tr. Alexander Pope).
A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far can enjoy even his sufferings after a time.
  • Νῶϊ δ' ἐνὶ κλισίῃ πίνοντέ τε δαινυμένω τε
    κήδεσιν ἀλλήλων τερπώμεθα λευγαλέοισι
    μνωομένω· μετὰ γάρ τε καὶ ἄλγεσι τέρπεται ἀνήρ,
    ὅς τις δὴ μάλα πολλὰ πάθῃ καὶ πόλλ' ἐπαληθῇ.
    • Here let us feast, and to the feast be join'd
      Discourse, the sweeter banquet of the mind;
      Review the series of our lives, and taste
      The melancholy joy of evils pass'd:
      For he who much has suffer'd, much will know,
      And pleased remembrance builds delight on woe.
    • XV. 398–401 (tr. Alexander Pope).
      • E. V. Rieu's translation:
        Meanwhile let us two, here in the hut, over our food and wine, regale ourselves with the unhappy memories that each can recall. For a man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far can enjoy even his sufferings after a time.
Book XVI
  • Υἱὸν κύσε, κὰδ δὲ παρειῶν
    δάκρυον ἧκε χαμᾶζε· πάρος δ' ἔχε νωλεμὲς αἰεί.
    • He kissed his son, and a tear fell from his cheek on to the ground, for he had restrained all tears till now.
    • XVI. 190–191 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Ῥηΐδιον δὲ θεοῖσι, τοὶ οὐρανὸν εὐρὺν ἔχουσιν,
    ἠμὲν κυδῆναι θνητὸν βροτὸν ἠδὲ κακῶσαι.
    • It's light work for the gods who rule the skies
      to exalt a mortal man or bring him low.
    • XVI. 211–212 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Κοίτου τε μνήσαντο καὶ ὕπνου δῶρον ἕλοντο.
    • They remembered bed and took the gift of sleep.
    • XVI. 481 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ἔσθλ' ἀγορεύοντες, κακὰ δὲ φρεσὶ βυσσοδόμευον.
    • Welcome words on their lips, and murder in their hearts.
    • XVII. 66 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Νῦν μὲν δὴ μάλα πάγχυ κακὸς κακὸν ἡγηλάζει,
    ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον.
    • Now sure enough the vile man leads the vile!
      As ever, god brings like and like together!
    • XVII. 217–218 (tr. G. H. Palmer).
  • Αὐτὰρ μῆλα κακοὶ φθείρουσι νομῆες.
    • Bad herdsmen waste the flocks which thou hast left behind.
    • XVII. 246 (tr. Worsley).
  • Δμῶες δ', εὖτ' ἂν μηκέτ' ἐπικρατέωσιν ἄνακτες,
    οὐκέτ' ἔπειτ' ἐθέλουσιν ἐναίσιμα ἐργάζεσθαι·
    ἥμισυ γάρ τ' ἀρετῆς ἀποαίνυται εὐρύοπα Ζεὺς
    ἀνέρος, εὖτ' ἄν μιν κατὰ δούλιον ἦμαρ ἕλῃσιν.
    • Servants, when their lords no longer sway,
      Their minds no more to righteous courses bend.
      Half that man's virtue doth Zeus take away,
      Whom he surrenders to the servile day.
    • XVII. 320–323 (tr. Worsley).
  • Αἰδὼς δ' οὐκ ἀγαθὴ κεχρημένῳ ἀνδρὶ παρεῖναι.
    • How ill, alas! do want and shame agree!
    • XVII. 347 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Ἐπεὶ οὔ τις ἐπίσχεσις οὐδ' ἐλεητὺς
    ἀλλοτρίων χαρίσασθαι.
    • Shameless they give, who give what's not their own.
    • XVII. 451–452 (tr. Alexander Pope).
  • Εἰ δή πού τις ἐπουράνιος θεός ἐστι.
  • Καί τε θεοὶ ξείνοισιν ἐοικότες ἀλλοδαποῖσι,
    παντοῖοι τελέθοντες, ἐπιστρωφῶσι πόληας,
    ἀνθρώπων ὕβριν τε καὶ εὐνομίην ἐφορῶντες.
    • And gods in guise of strangers from afar in every form do roam our cities, marking the sin and righteousness of men.
    • XVII. 485–487 (tr. G. H. Palmer).
  • Οὐδὲν ἀκιδνότερον γαῖα τρέφει ἀνθρώποιο
    πάντων, ὅσσα τε γαῖαν ἔπι πνείει τε καὶ ἕρπει.
    • Of all that breathes and crawls across the earth,
      our mother earth breeds nothing feebler than a man.
    • XVIII. 130–131 (tr. Robert Fagles). Cf. Iliad, XVII. 446–447.
    • Samuel Butler's translation:
      Man is the vainest of all creatures that have their being upon earth.
  • Ἀλλ' ὅ γε σιγῇ δῶρα θεῶν ἔχοι, ὅττι διδοῖεν.
    • Just take in peace what gifts the gods will send.
    • XVIII. 142 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book XIX
  • Αὐτὸς γὰρ ἐφέλκεται ἄνδρα σίδηρος.
    • Iron has powers to draw a man to ruin.
    • XIX. 13 (tr. Robert Fagles); Odysseus to Telemachus.
  • Αἶψα γὰρ ἐν κακότητι βροτοὶ καταγηράσκουσιν.
    • Hardship can age a person overnight.
    • XIX. 360 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Δοιαὶ γάρ τε πύλαι ἀμενηνῶν εἰσὶν ὀνείρων·
    αἱ μὲν γὰρ κεράεσσι τετεύχαται, αἱ δ' ἐλέφαντι.
    οἵ ῥ' ἐλεφαίρονται, ἔπε' ἀκράαντα φέροντες·
    οἳ δὲ διὰ ξεστῶν κεράων ἔλθωσι θύραζε,
    οἵ ῥ' ἔτυμα κραίνουσι, βροτῶν ὅτε κέν τις ἴδηται.
    • Two gates there are for our evanescent dreams,
      one is made of ivory, the other made of horn.
      Those that pass through the ivory cleanly carved
      are will-o'-the-wisps, their message bears no fruit.
      The dreams that pass through the gates of polished horn
      are fraught with truth, for the dreamer who can see them.
    • XIX. 563–568 (tr. Robert Fagles); spoken by Penelope.
  • Ἀλλ' οὐ γάρ πως ἔστιν ἀΰπνους ἔμμεναι αἰὲν
    ἀνθρώπους· ἐπὶ γάρ τοι ἑκάστῳ μοῖραν ἔθηκαν
    ἀθάνατοι θνητοῖσιν ἐπὶ ζείδωρον ἄρουραν.
    • But one can't go without his sleep forever.
      The immortals give each thing its proper place
      in our mortal lives throughout the good green earth.
    • XIX. 592–594 (tr. Robert Fagles).
Book XX
  • Τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη· καὶ κύντερον ἄλλο ποτ' ἔτλης.
    • Bear up, old heart! You've borne worse, far worse...
    • XX. 18 (tr. Robert Fagles).
    • P. S. Worsley's translation:
      Bear up, my soul, a little longer yet;
      A little longer to thy purpose cling!
  • Νύκτας δ' ὕπνος ἔχῃσιν, – ὁ γάρ τ' ἐπέλησεν ἁπάντων,
    ἐσθλῶν ἠδὲ κακῶν, ἐπεὶ ἂρ βλέφαρ' ἀμφικαλύψῃ.
    • Sweet oblivion, sleep
      dissolving all, the good and the bad, once it seals our eyes.
    • XX. 85–86 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Μείδησε δὲ θυμῷ
    σαρδάνιον μάλα τοῖον.
    • The chief indignant grins a ghastly smile.
    • XX. 301–302 (tr. Alexander Pope).
Book XXI
  • Ὡς ὅτ' ἀνὴρ φόρμιγγος ἐπιστάμενος καὶ ἀοιδῆς
    ῥηϊδίως ἐτάνυσσε νέῳ περὶ κόλλοπι χορδήν.
    • As when in harp and song adept, a bard
      Unlab'ring strains the chord to a new lyre.
    • XXI. 406–407 (tr. William Cowper).
  • Ὡς κακοεργίης εὐεργεσίη μέγ' ἀμείνων.
    • Clearly doing good puts doing bad to shame.
    • XXII. 374 (tr. Robert Fagles).
We two have secret signs,
known to us both but hidden from the world.
  • Ἔστι γὰρ ἥμιν
    σήμαθ', ἃ δὴ καὶ νῶϊ κεκρυμμένα ἴδμεν ἀπ' ἄλλων.
    • We two have secret signs,
      known to us both but hidden from the world.
    • XXII. 109–110 (tr. Robert Fagles).
  • Ὅτε οἱ γλυκὺς ὕπνος
    λυσιμελὴς ἐπόρουσε, λύων μελεδήματα θυμοῦ.
    • A deep sleep took hold upon him and eased the burden of his sorrows.
    • XXII. 343–344 (tr. Samuel Butler).
  • Τοὶ δ' ἀλλήλους φιλεόντων
    ὡς τὸ πάρος, πλοῦτος δὲ καὶ εἰρήνη ἅλις ἔστω.
    • Let them be friends,
      devoted as in the old days. Let peace and wealth
      come cresting through the land.
    • XXIV. 485–486 (tr. Robert Fagles).

Quotes about Homer[edit]

Homer, the sovereign poet.
Dante Alighieri
Seven cities warred for Homer, being dead,
Who, living, had no roof to shroud his head.
Thomas Heywood
Sometimes even excellent Homer nods. —Horace
We acknowledge him the father of poetical diction, the first who taught that language of the gods to men.
Alexander Pope
As learned commentators view
In Homer more than Homer knew.
Jonathan Swift
  • O fortunate adolescens, qui tuae virtutis Homerum praeconem inveneris!
  • The translator of Homer should above all be penetrated by a sense of four qualities of his author:—that he is eminently rapid; that he is eminently plain and direct both in the evolution of his thought and in the expression of it, that is, both in his syntax and in his words; that he is eminently plain and direct in the substance of his thought, that is, in his matter and ideas; and, finally, that he is eminently noble.
  • Homer is the most simple in his style of all the great poets, and resembles most the style of the poetical parts of the Old Testament. They can have no conception of his manner, who are acquainted with him in Mr. Pope's translation only. An excellent poetical performance that translation is, and faithful in the main to the original. In some places, it may be thought to have even improved Homer. It has certainly softened some of his rudenesses, and added delicacy and grace to some of his sentiments. But withal, it is no other than Homer modernised. In the midst of the elegance and luxuriancy of Mr. Pope's language, we lose sight of the old bard's simplicity. I know indeed no author, to whom it is more difficult to do justice in a translation, than Homer.
    • Hugh Blair, Lectures on Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (1784), Lecture XLIII: 'Homer's Iliad and Odyssey—Virgil's Aeneid', p. 407.
  • Somewhere along the Ionian coast opposite Crete and the islands was a town of some sort, probably of the sort that we should call a village or hamlet with a wall. It was called Ilion but it came to be called Troy, and the name will never perish from the earth. A poet who may have been a beggar and a ballad-monger, who may have been unable to read and write, and was described by tradition as a blind, composed a poem about the Greeks going to war with this town to recover the most beautiful woman in the world. That the most beautiful woman in the world lived in that one little town sounds like a legend; that the most beautiful poem in the world was written by somebody who knew of nothing larger than such little towns is a historical fact.
  • Being such an observer he was always making the most unexpected observations, and painting things that were not only unpainted till then but, apparently, unseen by anyone else.
  • Seven cities warred for Homer, being dead,
    Who, living, had no roof to shroud his head.
  • Indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus.
    • I'm aggrieved when sometimes even excellent Homer nods.
    • Horace, Ars Poetica (c. 18 BC), line 359.
  • Mr. Homer goes in, as the phrase is, for perfect realism … He is a genuine painter; that is, to see, and to reproduce what he sees, is his only care … He is almost barbarously simple, and, to our eye, he is horribly ugly; but there is nevertheless something one likes about him. What is it? For ourselves, it is not his subjects. We frankly confess that we detest his subjects—his barren plank fences, his glaring, bald, blue skies, his big, dreary, vacant lots of meadows, his freckled, straight-haired Yankee urchins, his flat-breasted maidens, suggestive of a dish of rural doughnuts and pie, his calico sun-bonnets, his flannel shirts, his cowhide boots. He has chosen the least pictorial features of the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial, as if they were every bit as good as Capri or Tangiers; and, to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded. … Mr. Homer has the great merit, moreover, that he naturally sees every thing at one with its envelope of light and air. He sees not in lines, but in masses, in gross, broad masses. Things come already modelled to his eye.
    • Henry James, in The Galaxy, Vol. 20 (1875), pp. 93–94
  • Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
    That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
    Yet never did I breathe its pure serene
    Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken.
  • It is ordinarily only a single work, or a single suite of works, which stamps the individual artist as a classic poet, artist, and so on. The same individual may have produces a great many different things, none of which stands in any relation to the classic. Homer has, for example, written a Batrachomyomachia, but this poem has not made him classic or immortal. To say that this is due to the insignificance of the subject is foolish, since the classic depends on perfect balance. If everything that determines a production as classic were to be found solely in the creative artist, then everything produced by him would have to be a classic, in a since similar to, though higher than, that in which bees always produce uniform kind of cells. To explain this by saying that he was more successful on the one case than the other, would be to explain exactly nothing. For, partly, it would be only a pretentious tautology, which only too often in life enjoys the honor of being regarded as an answer; partly, considered as an answer, it lies in another relativity than the one concerning which our question was asked. For it tells us nothing about the relation between form and content, and at best could be taken into account in connection with an inquiry into the formative activity alone.
  • Once the diction has been established it works of itself. Almost anything the poet wants to say, has only to be turned into this orthodox and ready-made diction and it becomes poetry. 'Whatever Miss T. eats turns into Miss T.'
  • In the Odyssey one may liken Homer to the setting sun, of which the grandeur remains without the intensity.
  • Our author's work is a wild paradise, where, if we cannot see all the beauties so distinctly as in an ordered garden, it is only because the number of them is infinitely greater. It is like a copious nursery, which contains the seeds and first productions of every kind, out of which those who followed him have but selected some particular plants, each according to his fancy, to cultivate and beautify. If some things are too luxuriant it is owing to the richness of the soil; and if others are not arrived to perfection or maturity, it is only because they are overrun and oppressed by those of a stronger nature.
  • We acknowledge him the father of poetical diction, the first who taught that language of the gods to men.
  • But how did you come to have this skill about Homer only, and not about Hesiod or the other poets? Does not Homer speak of the same themes which all other poets handle? Is not war his great argument? and does he not speak of human society and of intercourse of men, good and bad, skilled and unskilled, and of the gods conversing with one another and with mankind, and about what happens in heaven and in the world below, and the generations of gods and heroes? Are not these the themes of which Homer sings?
  • As learned commentators view
    In Homer more than Homer knew.
  • It was Homer who gave laws to the artist; it was Homer who inspired the poet.
    • Francis Wayland The Iliad and the Bible, reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), pp. 45 & 609.

See also[edit]

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