One of the things to bear in mind here is that although epithets are used repeatedly with recurrent characters in the story, so that those adjectives can seem stylized to the point of meaninglessness, yet the epithets exist for a reason. They serve to remind the audience of the chief attribute of the character most relevant at the time. For example, γλαυκῶπις the epithet of Athene means gleaming-eyed or when referring to the color of the eyes blue-gray. The connotation of the word however is that Athena’s eyes are gleaming with anticipation of what is about to be done. Her eyes were probably depicted as blue-gray as well in art, but ancient Greek words for colors are notoriously ambiguous and vague. By the same token, when the word ἰσόθεος meaning godlike is applied to Odysseus, who is referred to here albeit not by name, this emphasizes the ability of Odysseus to change a situation dramatically. (One should recall the discussion of the ancient Greek concept of the gods in my introduction to the Odyssey.)
A practical difficulty for both beginners who are reading the Greek text and for those wishing to translate the Odyssey while preserving its poetic structure, i.e., the epic meter of iambic pentameter, is the fact that ancient Greek can quite fluently switch subjects (in the grammatical sense) without explicitly mentioning the nature of the new subject as one would have to in English. Thus while in this selection the subject is initially Athena, the subject quickly changes in the middle of the next line to Telemachus. He is the one whose courage and confidence is renewed at the thought of his father soon coming home to deal with the suitors. The ancient Greek audience would therefore have been regarded the change in subject as obvious since Odysseus is not Athena’s father clearly.
- It’s All Greek to Me: A Mentor (socyberty.com)
- Hero’s Welcome, The Big Hairy Edition (snarkmarket.com)