Demonstering: A Postcolonial Reading of Aeneid 3, & The Practice of Humanizing Monsters in Ancient Literature

Demonstering: A Postcolonial Reading of Aeneid 3, & The Practice of Humanizing Monsters in Ancient Literature

By Anna Coopey



Virgil was a witness to colonization and imperialism. He grew up in Mantua, and experienced, as a young man, the results of the civil wars where Augustus’s allies carved up the land for themselves. Perhaps, like many of the other poets of his time – such as Propertius – he was a direct victim of civil wars; perhaps his own family’s land was taken, appropriated for the victor’s use. He saw what ruthless expansionism and acquisition could do to a landscape and its people, and he would have been exposed to the language of dehumanization and mythologization that so often permeates colonial ideology. In short, all of the evidence suggests that he could have directly responded within his work to what he witnessed in a negative sense – and thus, he might have given us an early example of postcolonial literature, or, at least, literature with a postcolonial slant.

Book 3 is one of the lesser-studied parts of the Aeneid, so it doesn’t get the attention that it truly warrants. However, looked at through a postcolonial lens, it offers us a wealth of material, particularly in the presentation of Polyphemus, the eponymous monster who haunted ancient imaginations.[1] Virgil shows us a Polyphemus that is not quite a monster of the Greek tradition. Instead, Polyphemus is shown as a shepherd herding his sheep, his eye ‘stolen’ from him, a victim in every sense of the word. Within the context of Homeric literary scholarship of the 1st century AD (such as Metrodorus of Lampsacus’s allegorical readings of the Homeric epics), Virgil can respond to the colonialism of Homer’s Odyssey 9, and give his responsive work (as the ‘Roman Homer’) a postcolonial slant.[2]


Part One: timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

The subtitular quote of this part comes from Virgil’s Aeneid Book 2 (49), from a speech of Laocoon’s, in which he encourages the Trojans not to bring the Trojan horse inside the city walls. This phrase, which has since become the English proverb ‘beware of Greeks bearing gifts’, is preceded by a great damnation of the supposed lying nature of the Greeks.

o miseri, quae tanta insania, cives?
creditis avectos hostis? aut ulla putatis
dona carere dolis Danaum? sic notus Ulixes?
aut hoc inclusi ligno occultantur Achivi,
aut haec in nostros fabricata est machina muros
inspectura domos venturaque desuper urbi,
aut aliquis latet error; equo ne credite, Teucri.
quicquid id est, timeo Danaos et dona ferentis. (Aeneid II.42-49)

O poor men, what is this so great insanity, citizens?
Do you believe our enemies to have fled? Or do you think
any of the Greeks’ gifts to lack tricks? In this way was Ulysses known?
Or the Achaeans, shut into this wood, hidden,
or is this machine made above our walls
to inspect our homes and come upon our city
or to lay open some error; do not trust this horse, Teucrians.
Whatever that is, I fear Greeks and especially bearing gifts.

We can further see this presentation of the Greeks as untrustworthy through the characterization of Sinon, the young boy who convinces the Trojans to draw the horse in: accipe nunc Danaum insidias, et crimine ab uno / disce omnes (‘Accept now the tricks of the Greeks, and learn everything from one crime.’) (Aeneid II.65-66).[3] Sinon himself even contributes to this image with the depiction of Ulixes, whom he portrays as entirely deceptive (and who is emphasized as deceptive throughout the rest of the text, too).

hinc mihi prima mali labes, hinc semper Ulixes
criminibus terrere novis, hinc spargere voces
in volgum ambiguas, et quaerere conscius arma. (Aeneid II.97-99)

Such words moved wrath, and were
the first shock of my ruin; from that hour,
Ulysses whispered slander and alarm;
breathed doubt and malice into all men’s ears,
and darkly plotted how to strike his blow.[4]

Clearly, then, throughout Aeneid 2, Virgil paints the Greeks as inherently untrustworthy, causing us to sympathize with Aeneas and the Trojans. Now, as this part of the epic is from Aeneas’s perspective, we know that Aeneas views the Greeks in a negative light – they are the ones who have destroyed his city, his family, and his homeland. They are the ones who have wrenched him away from his beloved wife Creusa and stranded him with his father and son in Carthage, at the mercy of a foreign queen. Reasonably, this negative view of the Greeks would carry through into Book 3.

The Greeks we come across in Book 3 are few – although we hear about their various nostoi and about Orestes and Neoptolemus, the Greek enslavement of the Trojan women only emphasizes our antipathy towards them. Indeed, through Andromache’s heart-wrenching speech, it’s quite obvious that Virgil is pulling out all of the stops for us not to like the Greeks:

o felix una ante alias Priameia virgo,
hostilem ad tumulum Troiae sub moenibus altis
iussa mori, quae sortitus non pertulit ullos,
nec victoris eri tetigit captiva cubile!
nos, patria incensa, diversa per aequora vectae,
stirpis Achilleae fastus iuvenemque superbum,
servitio enixae, tulimus: qui deinde, secutus
Ledaeam Hermionen Lacedaemoniosque hymenaeos,
me famulo famulamque Heleno transmisit habendam.
ast illum, ereptae magno inflammatus amore
coniugis et scelerum Furiis agitatus, Orestes
excipit incautum patriasque obtruncat ad aras. (Aeneid 3.321-332)

O lucky alone among others was the virgin daughter of Priam,
having been ordered to die beneath the high walls of Troy on the enemy
tomb, who did not suffer any sorting of lots,
nor did she, captive, touch the bed of her victorious master!
We, carried through diverse waters, with burnt homeland,
we bore the scorn of the root of Achilles and the arrogant young man,
giving birth to a slave: who then, having followed
Hermione of Leda and Spartan marriage hymns,
sent me across to Helenus, a slave to a slave, to be had.
But Orestes, having been inflamed with great love of his stolen
bride and driven by the Furies of his crime, welcomed that man
Unaware and slaughtered him before the altars of his father.

After the text establishes the Greeks as terrible people, we are introduced to Achaemenides, the old comrade of Ulysses (conspicuously absent from Homer’s Odyssey). Achaemenides gives us insight into Polyphemus and firmly locates Virgil’s Aeneid after the events of the Odyssey, since Ulysses has already left the Cyclops’ Island on his long journey home. The Trojans of the Iliadic war survive through Aeneas, Hector’s cousin, and they will go on to become the Romans. It makes sense then that the Greeks, as the enemies of Rome’s predecessors, would be presented in a negative light.

Now, this set-up is clearly for a purpose: if the Greeks are untrustworthy, then we are encouraged to distrust Achaemenides, the Greek whose testimony we hear in Book 3. Achaemenides is allied to Ulysses, the famous liar (or, to those sympathetic to his tale, the ‘weaver of snares’).[5] So why, then, would we believe a word that he says? And why, then, would we believe what he says about Polyphemus, the monster of Homer’s narrative and the shepherd of Virgil’s?


Part Two: Homer’s Colonizing Hero

We move away from Virgil’s narrative for a moment to consider how Homer portrays Ulysses (Odysseus, in Greek) in his meeting with Polyphemus.

Within Books 9-12 of Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses narrates his adventures to the Phaeacian King Alcinous. There are two particular encounters that show Ulysses in the guise of the colonizer: his encounters with Polyphemus and with the Laestrygonians.

For now, I would like to focus on the encounter with Polyphemus, in discussion of which we shall look at how Ulysses catalogs the land and speaks of the Cyclops.

When Ulysses comes across the land of the Cyclopes, he makes various comments as to the lack of cultivation and agriculture of the land, and particularly the lack of community – all markers of ‘civilization’, as far as the ‘civilized’ Greek world was concerned:

ἔνθεν δὲ προτέρω πλέομεν ἀκαχήμενοι ἦτορ
Κυκλώπων δ᾽ ἐς γαῖαν ὑπερφιάλων ἀθεμίστων
ἱκόμεθ᾽, οἵ ῥα θεοῖσι πεποιθὀτες ἀθανάτοισιν
οὔτε φυτεύουσιν χερσὶν φυτὸν οὔτ᾽ ἀρόωσιν,
ἀλλὰ τά γ᾽ ἄσπαρτα καὶ ἀνὴροτα πάντα φύονται,
πυροὶ καὶ κριθαὶ ἠδ᾽ ἄμπελοι, αἵ τε φἐρουσιν
οἶνον ἐριστάφυλον, καί σφιν Διος ὄμβρος ἀέξει.
τοῖσιν δ᾽ οὔτ᾽ ἀγοραὶ βουληφόροι οὔτε θέμιστες,
ἀλλ᾽ οἵ γ᾽ ὑψηλῶν ὀρέων ναίουσι κάρηνα
ἐν σπέσσι γλαφυροῖσι, θεμιστεύει δὲ ἕκαστος
παίδων ἠδ᾽ ἀλόχων, οὐδ᾽ ἀλλήλων ἀλέγουσιν. (Odyssey 9.106-115)

Then we sailed on further, grieving, and came
upon the land of the Cyclopes, an overweening and lawless group,
who, having trust in the gods, deathless,
plant no seeds with hands or plough
but indeed all the things which grow are unploughed and unsown,
wheat, barley, vines, which carry
clustered wine grapes,
and the rain of Zeus grows them.
They do not have assemblies for council or set-out laws,
but they live on the tops of high mountains
in hollowed-out caves, and each gives laws
to children and spouse, and they do not care for each other.

Ulysses goes on to criticize the fact that the Cyclopes have not taken advantage of the great resources and natural wealth of their neighboring island to build ships—something unforgivable to Greek male sensibilities.

οὐ γὰρ Κυκλώπεσσι νέες πάρα μιλτοπάρῃοι,
οὐδ᾽ ἄνδρες νηῶν ἔνι τέκτονες, οἵ κε κάμοιεν
νῆας ἐυσσέλμους, αἵ κεν τελέοιεν ἕκαστα
ἄστε᾽ ἐπ᾽ ἀνθρώπων ἱκνεύμεναι, οἷά τε πολλὰ
ἄνδρες ἐπ᾽ ἀλλήλους νηυσὶν περόωσι θάλασσαν
οἵ κέ σφιν καὶ νῆσον ἐυκτιμένην ἐκάμοντο. (Odyssey 9.125-130)

For the Cyclopes do not have any ships, red-cheeked,
nor do they have men who build them, who might make them
well-benched ships, which should carry out each
want, passing to other peoples, as men often
sail over the sea to see each other
– those crafters, who would make this island a good settlement.’

In the way he approaches the island and speaks about how they have handled their resources, Ulysses approaches the Cyclopes as a colonizer. Indeed, many scholars have commented upon this, including Hall (2008), Dougherty (2001), and de Jong (1992); Ulysses looks upon the resources of the land with a critical eye, discerning how he himself would utilize the produce and then turns this colonial gaze upon the current inhabitants, whom he proceeds to Other. Polyphemus and the other Cyclopes are Othered through their physical description (their singular eyes, their gigantic size), their cultural description (their lack of boats, their individualism), and their behavior towards Ulysses, whom we have been socialized into liking through his first-person narrative. I shall lay out these instances below:


1. Physical Othering

καὶ γὰρ θαῦμ᾽ ἐτέτυκτο πελώριον, οὐδὲ ἐῴκει
ἀνδρί γε σιτοφάγῳ, ἀλλὰ ῥίῳ ὑλήεντι
ὑψηλῶν ὀρέων, ὅ τε φαίνεται οἶον ἀπ᾽ ἄλλων. (Odyssey 9.190-192)

For he was begotten an amazing monster, and he was not similar
to a food-eating man, but as a wooded peak
of high mountains, which appears to view alone above all others.

αὐτὰρ ὅ γ᾽ ἐξαῦτις πολὺ μείζονα λᾶαν ἀείρας
ἧκ᾽ ἐπιδινήσας, ἐπέρεισε δὲ ἶν᾽ ἀπέλεθρον,
κὰδ᾽ δ᾽ ἔβαλεν μετόπισθε νεὸς κυανοπρῴροιο
τυτθόν, ἐδεύησεν δ᾽ οἰήιον ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι.
ἐκλύσθη δὲ θάλασσα κατερχομένης ὑπὸ πέτρης:
τὴν δὲ πρόσω φέρε κῦμα, θέμωσε δὲ χέρσον ἱκέσθαι. (Odyssey 9. 537-542)

But, having lifted up a much bigger stone, using measureless strength
he swung it about so that he could throw it,
and he threw it behind the dark-prowed ship,
and just missed the end of the oar.
And the sea surged up under the falling stone:
and a wave carried it forward, and drove it to the shore.


2. Cultural Othering

ἔνθα δ᾽ ἀνὴρ ἐνίαυε πελώριος, ὅς ῥα τὰ μῆλα
οἶος ποιμαίνεσκεν ἀπόπροθεν: οὐδὲ μετ᾽ ἄλλους
πωλεῖτ᾽, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπάνευθεν ἐὼν ἀθεμίστια ᾔδη. (Odyssey 9.187-189)

In there a beastly man slept, who shepherded
his sheep alone and far away: and he did not socialize
with others, but lived separately, already being set on lawlessness.
αὐταρ ἐπεὶ Κύκλωψ μεγάλην ἐμπλήσατο νηδὺν
ἀνδρόμεα κρέ᾽ ἔδων καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἄκρητον γάλα πίνων,
κεῖτ᾽ ἔντοσθ᾽ ἔντροιο τανυσσάμενος διὰ μήλων. (Odyssey 9.296-298)

However, when the Cyclops had filled his great mouth
eating of men’s flesh and drinking unwatered milk,
he lay down in the cave, having stretched out through the sheep.

ἦ καὶ ἀνακλινθεὶς πέσεν ὕπτιος, αὐταρ ἔπειτα
κεῖτ᾽ ἀποδοχμώσας παχὺν αὐχένα, κὰδ δέ μιν ὕπνος
ἥρει πανδαμάτωρ: φάρυγος δ᾽ ἐξέσσυτο οἶνος
Ψωμοί τ᾽ ἀνδρόμεοι: ὁ δ᾽ ἐρεύγετο οἰνοβαρείων. (Odyssey 9.371-374)

Having reeled, he fell onto his back, and thereafter lay
with his neck bent, thick, and sleep
held him, all-conquering: and wine and human flesh came out of his throat
and he vomited, sleeping drunken.

ἀθεμίστια εἰδώς (Odyssey 9.428)

looking upon lawlessness


3. Behavior to Ulysses and his Comrades

ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δέ μ᾽ αὐτίκ᾽ ἀμείβετο νηλέι θυμῷ:
᾽νήπιός εἰς, ὦ ξεῖν᾽, ἢ τηλόθεν εἰλήλουθας,
ὅς με θεοὺς κέλεαι ἢ δειδίμεν ἢ ἀλέασθαι:
οὐ γὰρ Κύκλωπες Διὸς ἔχθος ἀλευάμενος πεφιδοίμην
οὔτε σεῦ οὔθ᾽ ἑτάρων, εἰ μὴ θυμός με κελεύοι.
(Odyssey 9.272-277)

So I spoke, and straight away he replied with a pitiless heart:
‘You are a fool, O stranger, or come from far off,
you who orders me to fear or ignore the gods:
for the Cyclopes do not care of Zeus, aegis-bearer,
nor the other blessed gods, since we are better.
And I would not, to ignore the anger of Zeus, spare you
or your comrades, unless my own heart told me to.’

ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δέ μ᾽ οὐδὲν ἀμείβετο νηλέι θυμῷ,
ἀλλ᾽ ὅ γ᾽ ἀναιξας ἑτάροις ἐπὶ χεῖρας ἴαλλε,
σὺν δὲ δύω μάρψας ὥς τε σκύλακας ποτὶ γαίῃ
κόπτ᾽: ἐκ δ᾽ ἐγκέφαλος χαμάδις ῥέε, δεῦε δὲ γαῖαν.
τοὺς δὲ διὰ μελειστὶ ταμὼν ὡπλίσσατο δόρπον:
ἤσθιε δ᾽ ὥς τε λέων ὀρεσίτροφος, οὐδ᾽ ἀπέλειπεν,
ἔγκατά τε σάρκας τε καὶ ὀστέα μυελόεντα. (Odyssey 9.287-293)

So I said, but from his harsh heart he answered nothing,
but, having jumped up, placed his hands upon my companions.
Having taken two at once, he dashed them against the ground like
puppies: the brains flowed on the ground and wet the earth.
And then, having cut them up limbs apart, he prepared his evening-meal:
and he ate them as a lion, nurtured by the mountains, and left nothing,
and ate both the entrails and the flesh and the bones with marrow.

αὐταρ ἐπεὶ δὴ σπεῦσε πονησάμενος τὰ ἃ ἔργα,
σὺν δ᾽ ὅ γε δὴ αὖτε δύω μάρψας ὡπλίσσατο δόρπον. (Odyssey 9.343-344)

But when he had completed the tasks,
again he took up two men at the same time and prepared his evening-meal.

οὖτιν ἐγὼ πύματον ἔδομαι μετὰ οἷς ἑτάροισιν,
τοὺς δ᾽ ἄλλους πρόσθεν: τὸ δέ τοι ξεινήιον ἔσται. (Odyssey 9.369-370)

‘I will eat Nobody last after his companions,
and the others before: this will be your guest-gift.’

As is obvious from the above list, then, Ulysses presents Polyphemus like a monster, and he does so because he comes at Polyphemus from a colonizer’s perspective. He treats the Laestrygonians similarly, making comments about the state of their land and their physical stature, and thus, once again, he looks upon them as a colonizer would.[6] 

Through this, we can see how Polyphemus might be read as a monster because of Ulysses’s ulterior motives. As a colonizer, it is in Ulysses’s best interests to mythologize and ‘monsterize’ Polyphemus, in order to remove any possibility for sympathy with him. This suggestion opens up the potential for responses that detract from this ‘monstering’, and this is what I propose that Virgil does in his Aeneid 3.


Part Three: Virgil’s Interrogation – Colonizing Language and its Contrast

Now we move onto Virgil’s part in this article, in which I shall argue that, in his depiction of Polyphemus in Aeneid 3, he responds to the ‘monstering’ of Polyphemus in Odyssey 9, subsequently ‘demonstering’ him, and exposing the colonist agenda in the ‘monstering’ process. This ties in with the earlier discussion of the negative and untrustworthy portrayal of the Greeks in Aeneid 3, which inclines us to ally ourselves with Virgil in disbelieving what they might say about Polyphemus.

The Greek speaker in Aeneid 3 is Achaemenides, one of Ulysses’s crew members who was left behind in the aftermath of the problems with the Cyclops. He comes to Aeneas in despair and begs him for help, telling him about the violence which Polyphemus inflicted upon Ulysses’s crew in rather vivid and horrifying terms:

domus sanie dapibusque cruentis,
intus opaca, ingens; ipse arduus, altaque pulsat
sidera – di, talem terris avertite pestem! –
nec visu facilis nec dictu adfabilis ulli.
visceribus miserorum et sanguine vescitur atro.
vidi egomet, duo de numero cum corpora nostro
prensa manu magna, medio resupinus in antro,
frangeret ad saxum, sanieque aspersa natarent
limina; vidi atro cum membra fluentia tabo
manderet, et tepidi tremerent sub dentibus artus. (Aeneid 3.618-627)

A house with blood and gory feasts,
dark within, huge. The master is tall and beats the high
stars (gods turn away such a pest from the earth!)
and he is not easy to look at nor speakable to in speech for anyone;
he feeds on the entrails of poor men and black blood.
I myself saw when, having seized two bodies from our number
in his great hand, lying back in the middle of the cave,
shatter them against the stone, and the threshold was swimming in
spattered blood; I saw when he was chewing their limbs dripping with black
gore, and, hot, the limbs trembled beneath his teeth.

As we can see, Achaemenides paints a picture of Polyphemus as completely and utterly evil – a monstrous cannibal who kills and devours men who simply came to have a look around the place. This is remarkably similar to Ulysses’ narrative in Homer’s Odyssey, and so, here, we can see that Virgil reframes the narrative of the Greeks through Achaemenides. 

However, Virgil doesn’t leave it there. After rehashing this narrative of the horrifying monster, he then provides us with a view of Polyphemus from the Roman perspective, through the eyes of Aeneas, which is markedly different.

vix ea fatus erat, summo cum monte videmus
ipsum inter pecudes vasta se mole moventem
pastorem Polyphemum et litora nota petentem,
monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens, cui lumen ademptum.
trunca manu pinus regit et vestigia firmat;
lanigerae comitantur oves – ea sola voluptas
solamenque mali.
postquam altos tetigit fluctus et ad aequora venit,
luminis effossi fluidum lavit inde cruorem,
dentibus infrendens gemitu, graditurque per aequor
iam medium, necdum fluctus latera ardua tinxit. (Aeneid 3.655-665)

He scarcely said these things when we saw a great shape
moving itself to a mountain, Polyphemus the shepherd,
among his sheep and making for the known shore,
a horrible monster, unformed, huge, from whom an eye was stolen.
The trunk of a pine rules his hand and firms his footsteps.
The wooly sheep were accompanying; they are his one pleasure
and comfort of evils.
Afterward, a wave covered the heights and he came to the seas,
and washed the dripping gore from his dug-out eye,
gnashing his teeth with a groan, and now he stepped into
the middle of the waters, and a wave washed his tall sides.

This whole description builds up sympathy for Polyphemus, making him an unmistakable victim – particularly with the mention of his sheep – but there are two particular parts that I would like to zoom in on.

The first is the introduction of Polyphemus with the noun pastorem, meaning ‘shepherd’. From the very outset, he is categorized not as a monster, and not even by an identifiable species, but by his profession: a shepherd. Arguably, without the preceding passage, and the knowledge that the audience would retain about his Cyclopic identity, we might not even know that he is a monster. We might simply see him as a poor, human shepherd who has been hard done by.

The second, and perhaps the most important, is the use of the passive participle ademptum, meaning ‘stolen’. This choice of verb places a moralistic judgment upon the blinding of Polyphemus by Ulysses and his men, which suggests that the action was wrong and that Polyphemus was a victim. This differs from the Odyssean narrative, which simply emphasizes Polyphemus’s position as an antagonist, and cements this through the curse that he places upon Ulysses and his men at the end of Book 9, ultimately securing their deaths.[7]

Since we have established that Virgil challenges the Ulyssean narrative and instead presents Polyphemus as more of a victim than a monster, we can now consider the potential postcolonial implications for this. As I have mentioned previously, Virgil witnessed the negative effects of colonialism, so a postcolonial viewpoint within his work is not a great stretch to make. Coupled with the monstering that we have spoken of previously, and the fact that Polyphemus is defined as a shepherd, a pastorem, rather than a monster, perhaps Virgil is suggesting that Polyphemus isn’t even a monster, and that it was the actions of the Greeks on his island that were truly monstrous. The negative picture painted of the Greeks throughout the text only seems to confirm this statement.

Virgil is pointing out the process by which colonizers mythologize their human victims to distance them from polite society and reduce any sympathy – and by pointing this out, he seeks to humanize and create sympathy for one particular victim: Polyphemus. I have termed this process ‘demonstering’, and Virgil is not the only ancient author who engages with it.



I hope to have made it clear within this article that I believe Virgil’s agenda in Book 3 of his masterpiece, The Aeneid, was to point out the colonial implications of Ulysses’s depiction of Polyphemus within Homer and to combat these through a sympathetic presentation of the shepherd. This is also achieved through the demonization of the Greeks, which contributes to Virgil’s audience not quite believing everything that Achaemenides says when he speaks of Polyphemus. 

Coventry, July 2021


Anna Coopey is a 3rd Year MA in Classics at The University of St Andrews.


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Primary Texts

Homer (trans. E V Rieu) (2003): The Odyssey (pub. Penguin Classics)

Tatian & Whittaker, Molly (1982): Tatian: Oratio Ad Graecos and Fragments (pub. Oxford University Press) 

Virgil & Perkell, Christine (2009): Aeneid 3 (pub. Focus)

Virgil (trans. David West) (2003): The Aeneid (pub. Penguin Classics)

Virgil (trans. Theodore C Williams) (1910): The Aeneid ( – accessed 20-06-2021)


Secondary Texts

Califf, David J (2003): Metrodorus of Lampsacus and the Problem of Allegory: An Extreme Case? from Arethusa, Vol. 36, No. 1 (pp. 21-36) (pub. John Hopkins University Press)

Dougherty, Carol (2001): Phaeacians and The Cyclopes: Overseas Settlement from The Raft of Odysseus (pub. Oxford University Press) (pp. 122-142)

Franzen, Christina (2009): Sympathizing with the Monster: Making Sense of colonization in Stesichorus’ Geryoneis from Quaderni Urbinati di Cultura Classica New Series, Vol. 92, No. 2 (pp. 55-72)

Hall, Edith (2008): The Return of Ulysses (pub. I B Tauris & Co. Ltd)

de Jong, Irene (1992): The Subjective Style in Odysseus’ Wanderings 1 from Classical Quarterly 42.1 (pub. Cambridge University Press) (pp. 1-11)

Lowe, Dunstan (2015): Monsters and Monstrosity in Augustan Poetry (pub. University of Michigan Press)



[1] E V Rieu’s translation most viscerally displays this

[2] cf. Tatian ad Graecos 21 (DK 61 A3); for more on allegorical readings of Homer, cf. Califf (2003)

[3] cf. Aeneid 2.105-107: tum vero ardemus scitari et quaerere causas, / ignari scelerum tantorum artisque Pelasgae. / prosequitur pavitans, et ficto pectore fatur; David West (2003) – ‘This speech of Sinon’s is at once an exposé of the decadence of contemporary Greeks in Roman eyes, and a satire on the corruption of ancient rhetoric, a satire sharpened by several interjections by a naive and gullible audience.’ (p. xiv)

[4] A difficult bit of Latin – this translation comes from Theodore C Williams (1910)

[5] E V Rieu and Stanley Lombardo are two translators who fall under the Odysseus-sympathetic umbrella; Emily Wilson is one who rails against that in her fairly recent translation.

[6] cf. Odyssey 10.87-132

[7] cf. Odyssey 526-535: ὣς ἐφάμην, ὁ δ᾽ ἔπειτα Ποσειδάωνι ἄνακτι / εὔχετο χεῖρ᾽ ὀρέγων εἰς οὐρανὸν ἀστερόεντα: / ᾽κλὺθι, Ποσείδαον γαιήοχε κυαωοχαῖτα, / εἰ ἐτεόν γε σός εἰμι, πατὴρ δ᾽ ἐμὸς εὔχεαι εἶναι, / δὸς μῆ Ὀδυσσῆα πτολιπόρθιον οἴκαδ᾽ ἱκέσθαι / υἱὸν Λαέρτεω, Ἰθάκῃ ἔνι οἰκίιι᾽ ἔχοντα. / ἀλλ᾽ εἴι οἱ μοῖρ᾽ ἐστὶ φίλους τ᾽ ἰδέειν καὶ ἱκέσθαι / οἶκον ἐυκτίμενον καὶ ἑὴν ἐς πατρίδα γαῖαν, / ὀψὲ κακῶς ἔλθοι, ὀλέσας ἄπο πάντας ἑταίρους, / νηὸς ἐπ᾽ ἀλλοτρίης, εὕροι δ᾽ ἐν πήματα οἴκῳ.