Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Circe/540
Epi oinopa ponton (Homeric Greek) Upon the wine-coloured sea. The Homeric epithet ἐπὶ οἴνοπα πόντον occurs several times in the Odyssey, the first occurrence being at 1:183. The precise meaning of οἴνοπα (wine-faced, wine-dark, wine-coloured, or something else) has been endlessly debated by scholars. Nevertheless, this phrase remains perhaps the best-known quotation from ancient Greek literature, one which scholars of the language are sure to encounter in their first months of study. By putting this quote into Mulligan's mouth, Joyce is not doing Mulligan's scholarship any favours. Ironically, the Classical Greek which Mulligan would have learned at Oxford was not pronounced according to the reconstructed pronunciation of Ancient Greek; the Classical Association, which promoted the introduction of a more authentic pronunciation, was only founded in 1903. So Mulligan has almost as little experience of the Greeks in the original as Stephen.