Homeric nod

Homeric nod (sometimes heard as 'Even Homer nods') is a proverbial phrase for a continuity error. It has its origins in Homeric epic.

The phrase was coined by the Roman poet Horace in his "Ars poetica": [Lines 358-359.]

"... et idem"
"indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus"

... and yet I also become annoyed whenever the great Homer nods off.

There are numerous continuity errors in Homer that resemble "nods", as for example:

*In "Iliad" [Book V Lines 576-579] Menelaos kills a minor character, Pylaimenes, in combat; but later [Book XIII Lines 643-659] he is still alive to witness the death of his son.

*In "Iliad" 9.165-93 three characters, Phoinix, Odysseus, and Aias set out on an embassy to Achilleus; however, at line 182 the poet uses a verb in the dual form to indicate that there are only two people going; at lines 185ff. verbs in the plural form are used, indicating more than two; but another dual verb appears at line 192 ("the two of them came forward").

In modern Homeric scholarship many of Homer's "nods" are explicable as the consequences of the poem being retold and improvised by generations of oral poets. So in the second case cited above, it is likely that two different versions are being conflated: one version with an embassy of three people, another with just two people.

Alexander Pope was inclined to give Homeric nods the benefit of the doubt:

Those oft are Stratagems which Errors seem,
Nor is it Homer Nods, but We that Dream. - "Essay on Criticism"

Modern Usage

In his popular online column, Best of The Web Today, James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal often uses the phrase "Homer Nods" as the title of a retraction or correction.

Notes


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Homeric scholarship — is the study of Homeric epic, especially the two large surviving epics, the Iliad and Odyssey. It is currently part of the academic discipline of classical studies, but the subject is one of the very oldest topics in all scholarship or science,… …   Wikipedia

  • Continuity (fiction) — In fiction, continuity (also called time scheme) is consistency of the characteristics of persons, plot, objects, places and events seen by the reader or viewer over some period of time. It is of relevance to several media. Continuity is… …   Wikipedia

  • Homer — This article is about the Greek poet Homer and the works attributed to him. For other meanings, see Homer (disambiguation). Homeric redirects here. For other uses, see Homeric (disambiguation). See also: English translations of Homer …   Wikipedia

  • Legends about Theodoric the Great — Dietrich catches the dwarf Alfrich (1883), by Johannes Gehrts. The Gothic King Theodoric the Great was remembered in Germanic legend as Dietrich von Bern (Bern is the Middle High German name for Verona, where Theodoric had one of his residences) …   Wikipedia

  • κατανεύσατ' — κατανεύσατε , κατανεύω nod assent aor imperat act 2nd pl κατανεύσατε , κατανεύω nod assent aor imperat act 2nd pl κατανεύσατο , κατανεύω nod assent aor ind mid 3rd sg (homeric ionic) κατανεύσατο , κατανεύω nod assent aor ind mid 3rd sg (homeric… …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • ἐπινεύσατε — ἐπινέω 3 float on the top aor imperat act 2nd pl ἐπινέω 3 float on the top aor ind act 2nd pl (homeric ionic) ἐπινεύω nod to aor imperat act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to aor imperat act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to aor ind act 2nd pl (homeric ionic) ἐπινεύω… …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • κατανεύσω — κατανεύω nod assent aor subj act 1st sg κατανεύω nod assent fut ind act 1st sg κατανεύω nod assent aor subj act 1st sg κατανεύω nod assent fut ind act 1st sg κατανεύω nod assent aor ind mid 2nd sg (homeric ionic) κατανεύω nod assent aor ind mid… …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • ἐπινεύετε — ἐπινεύω nod to pres imperat act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to pres ind act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to pres imperat act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to pres ind act 2nd pl ἐπινεύω nod to imperf ind act 2nd pl (homeric ionic) ἐπινεύω nod to imperf ind act 2nd pl (homeric …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • ἐπινεύσω — ἐπινέω 3 float on the top aor subj act 1st sg ἐπινεύω nod to aor subj act 1st sg ἐπινεύω nod to fut ind act 1st sg ἐπινεύω nod to aor subj act 1st sg ἐπινεύω nod to fut ind act 1st sg ἐπινεύω nod to aor ind mid 2nd sg (homeric ionic) ἐπινεύω nod… …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

  • κατανεύομεν — κατανεύω nod assent pres ind act 1st pl κατανεύω nod assent pres ind act 1st pl κατανεύω nod assent imperf ind act 1st pl (homeric ionic) κατανεύω nod assent imperf ind act 1st pl (homeric ionic) …   Greek morphological index (Ελληνική μορφολογικούς δείκτες)

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.