Daily Archives: February 3, 2021

I ax a question

Something that’s always bugged me: when we studied the Odyssey in high school and came to the archery contest scene, the ax-heads were presented as looking like this. They were lined up so Odysseus could shoot an arrow through ‘em. That’s what they looked like in the Kirk Douglas movie. Why put a hole in the side of an ax-head? Less wind-resistance? At the time, I didn’t think about it much and my English teacher was so astonishingly lovely that I believed whatever she told me. But those axes look odd.

No handles

Somebody online suggests that maybe the eyes (the hole where the handle of a modern ax goes in) of 12 axe-heads were lined up for the archery contest. It would be a superhuman feat to get an arrow through even one, if you ask me.

It turns out, war-axes from the time of Odysseus looked like this. It’s called an ‘epsilon’ ax because the shape resembles the Greek letter:

So now it all makes sense.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.