Then they dined on beef and necks of horses

The structure of Numa’s replies in the other day’s conversation between Numa and Jupiter put in mind a section of the The Contest of Homer and Hesiod (Certamen Homeri et Hesiodi) and the new text+commentary by Paola Bassino I’ve had out for the last year without opening. Below are the relevant sections (starting line ~100 of the text) and here is the dissertation version of the text+commentary (the main change to the published version seems to be the addition of a translation). This one does demand Greek since the charm – light though it may be – is in playing with the syntax of hexameters – Hesiod producing a complete line and Homer manufacturing an enjambment that reopens composition and allows him to flip the subversive sense of the original.

As he replied well also on these occasions, Hesiod turned to ambiguous propositions and, uttering several lines, expected Homer to reply in a fitting manner to each. So the first is Hesiod’s, the following Homer’s, though occasionally Hesiod composed the question by using two lines:

Hes. Then they dined on beef and necks of horses
Hom. they cleansed, since they were sweaty, being sated with war.
Hes. And the Phyrgians, who of all men on ships are the best
Hom. at having a meal on the shore with pirates.
Hes. Shooting arrows at the tribes of all the giants with his hands
Hom. Heracles loosed from his shoulders a bent bow.
Hes. This man is the son of a good man and a coward
Hom. mother, since war is hard for all women.
Hes. And not for [conceiving] you did your father and revered mother make love
Hom. the body that they sowed by the action of golden Aphrodite.
Hes. As she had yielded to marriage, Artemis shooter of arrows
Hom. killed Callisto from her silver bow.
Hes. So they feasted all day, having nothing
Hom. of their own, but Agamemnon lord of men arranged it.
Hes. Having dined among the smoky ashes
Hes. they gathered up the white bones of the deceased, Zeus’
Hom. son, the proud and godly Sarpedon.
Hes. Sitting thus over the plan of the Simois
Hes. we make our way from the ships carrying upon our shoulders
Hom. hilted swords and long-socketed javelins.
Hes. Then the best young men with their hands from the sea
Hom. pleased and eager dragged off the swift ship.
Hes. Then they took away the Colchian girl and king Aietes
Hom. they fled, as they recognised him as inhospitable and unlawful.
Hes. After they had made libations and drunk up the sea’s swell
Hom. they made themselves ready to sail on well-benched ships.
Hes. For them all the son of Atreus prayed very much, that they might perish
Hom. never in the sea, and he uttered this verse:
Hes. Eat, o foreigners, and drink; may none of you
Hes. return home to your dear fatherland
Hom. harmed, but may you reach home unharmed.

καλῶς δὲ καὶ ἐν τούτοις ἀπαντήσαντος ἐπὶ τὰς ἀμφιβόλους
γνώμας ὥρμησεν ὁ Ἡσίοδος, καὶ πλείονας στίχους λέγων
ἠξίου καθ’ ἕνα ἕκαστον συμφώνως ἀποκρίνασθαι τὸν Ὅμηρον.
ἔστιν οὖν ὁ μὲν πρῶτος Ἡσιόδου, ὁ δὲ ἑξῆς Ὁμήρου, ἐνίοτε δὲ
καὶ διὰ δύο στίχων τὴν ἐπερώτησιν ποιουμένου τοῦ Ἡσιόδου·

Hes. δεῖπνον ἔπειθ’ εἵλοντο βοῶν κρέα καὐχένας ἵππων
Hom. ἔκλυον ἱδρώοντας, ἐπεὶ πολέμοιο κορέσθην.
Hes. καὶ Φρύγες, οἳ πάντων ἀνδρῶν ἐπὶ νηυσὶν ἄριστοι
Hom. ἀνδράσι ληιστῆρσιν ἐπ’ ἀκτῆς δόρπον ἑλέσθαι.
Hes. χερσὶ βαλὼν ἰοῖσιν ὅλων κατὰ φῦλα γιγάντων
Hom. Ἡρακλῆς ἀπέλυσεν ἀπ’ ὤμων καμπύλα τόξα.
Hes. οὗτος ἀνὴρ ἀνδρός τ’ ἀγαθοῦ καὶ ἀνάλκιδός ἐστι
Hom. μητρός, ἐπεὶ πόλεμος χαλεπὸς πάσῃσι γυναιξίν.
Hes. οὔτ’ ἂρ σοί γε πατὴρ ἐμίγη καὶ πότνια μήτηρ
Hom. †σῶμα τό γ’ ἐσπείραντο† διὰ χρυσῆν Ἀφροδίτην.
Hes. αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ δμήθη γάμῳ Ἄρτεμις ἰοχέαιρα
Hom. Καλλιστὼ κατέπεφνεν ἀπ’ ἀργυρέοιο βιοῖ<ο>.
Hes. ὣς οἳ μὲν δαίνυντο πανήμεροι, οὐδὲν ἔχοντες
Hom. οἴκοθεν, ἀλλὰ παρεῖχεν ἄναξ ἀνδρῶν Ἀγαμέμνων.
Hes. δεῖπνον δειπνήσαντες ἐνὶ σποδῷ αἰθαλοέσσῃ
Hes. σύλλεγον ὀστέα λευκὰ Διὸς κατατεθνειῶτος
Hom. παιδὸς ὑπερθύμου Σαρπηδόνος ἀντιθέοιο.
Hes. ἡμεῖς δ’ ἂμ πεδίον Σιμοέντιον ἥμενοι οὕτως
Hes. ἴομεν ἐκ νηῶν ὁδὸν ἀμφ’ ὤμοισιν ἔχοντες
Hom. φάσγανα κωπήεντα καὶ αἰγανέας δολιχαύλους.
Hes. δὴ τότ’ ἀριστῆες κοῦροι χείρεσσι θαλάσσης
Hom. ἄσμενοι ἐσσυμένως τε ἀπείρυσαν ὠκύαλον ναῦν.
Hes. κολχίδ’ ἔπειτ’ ἤγοντο καὶ Αἰήτην βασιλῆα
Hom. φεῦγον, ἐπεὶ γίγνωσκον ἀνέστιον ἠδ’ ἀθέμιστον.
Hes. αὐτὰρ ἐπεὶ σπεῖσάν τε καὶ ἔκπιον οἶδμα θαλάσσης
Hom. ποντοπορεῖν ἤμελλον ἐυσέλμων ἐπὶ νηῶν.
Hes. τοῖσιν δ’ Ἀτρείδης μεγάλ’ εὔχετο πᾶσιν ὀλέσθαι
Hom. μηδέ ποτ’ ἐν πόντῳ, καὶ φωνήσας ἔπος ηὔδα·
Hes. ἐσθίετ’ ὦ ξεῖνοι, καὶ πίνετε· μηδέ τις ὑμῶν
Hes. οἴκαδε νοστήσειε φίλην ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν
Hom. πημανθείς, ἀλλ’ αὖτις ἀπήμονες οἴκαδ’ ἵκοισθε.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s