Ea est odiorum Ilias

In time for the coming holidays, from Plautus’ Miles Gloriosus 740-743 (The Braggart Soldier), text and translation of the new Loeb edition:

no guest can put up at such a great friend’s place that he wouldn’t be a nuisance as soon as it’s been three days in a row; but when it’s ten days in a row, it’s a whole Iliad of hatred.

nam hospes nullus tam in amici hospitium deuorti potest
quin, ubi triduom continuom fuerit, iam odiosus siet;
uerum ubi dies decem continuos sit, ea est odiorum Ilias:

Plautus’ exact phrase (odiorum Ilias) is a weird one. The Greek version – κακῶν Ἰλιὰς – was enough of an ancient proverb that Erasmus covered it at Adagia 226 – Ilias Malorum, though he fails there to mention what seems the first (traceable) instance of the phrase itself – Demosthenes’ use in De Falsa Legatione (On the False Embassy).

καὶ κακῶν Ἰλιὰς περιειστήκει Θηβαίους.
and an Iliad of woes surrounded the Thebans.

What’s weird in Plautus is obvious from comparison with Erasmus’ Latin rendering – Ilias Malorum, which likely comes from Cicero’s use (Ad Atticum viii. 11) – Tanta malorum impendet Ilias (so great an Iliad of troubles hangs over us). κακόν as substantive carries the sense of ‘evils, ills’ – which is better matched in Latin by malus than odium. But maybe it’s an issue of Plautine usage since there is – according to Lewis and Short – a close transferred sense: “In gen., the object of hatred; hence, an offenceannoyancedisgust, said of persons or things.”

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