Odysseus’ three timeless words

τέτλαθι δή, κραδίη
—Odyssey 20.18

I’ve shared often these three words, rendered as Odysseus’ rallying cry to himself after he returns to Ithaca and prepares to battle the suitors, as I find them so resonant, especially in these strange days we are living through.

What I find neat about them is how similarly they’re translated across English-language editions. Oftentimes, I marvel at how different translations can be from each other. It’s interesting because it invites me to wonder why translators have made the choices they made. But across seven translations, which I picked at random based on they were within arm’s reach when I was thinking about this, they’re essentially interchangeable, with the slight exception of Robert Fitzgerald’s. Perhaps there are some feelings that transcend our differences.

“Have patience, heart.” (Walter Shewring)
“Endure, my heart!” (Anthony Verity)
“Down; be steady.” (Robert Fitzgerald)
“Be strong, my heart.” (Emily Wilson)
“Endure, my heart.” (Loeb Classical Library)
“Patience, my heart!” (W. H. D. Rouse)
“Be patient, heart.” (T. E. Lawrence)

I hope you are not only enduring but finding some small ways to thrive, during even the most trying times.

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