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Sample: Epic Simile

The following example of an epic simile comes from Homer's The Odyssey, as translated by Robert Fitzgerald. The simile is an extended comparison between the way the sea pulls Odysseus out of the rocks and the way a fisherman pulls an octopus out of its lair. Note the clever inversions between land-creatures and sea-creatures.

During his meditation, a heavy surge was taking him, in fact, straight on the rocks. He [would have] been flayed there, and his bones broken, had not grey-eyed Athena instructed him: he gripped a rock-ledge with both hands in passing and held on, groaning as the surge went by, to keep clear of its breaking. Then the backwash hit him, ripping him under and far out. An octopus, when you drag one from his chamber, comes up with suckers full of tiny stones: Odysseus left the skin of his great hands torn on the rock-ledge as the wave submerged him. And now at last Odysseus would have perished, battered inhumanly, but he had the gift of self-possession from grey-eyed Athena.

Homer. The Odyssey. Robert Fitzgerald, trans. NY: Doubleday Books, 1963. Book 5, lines 443-57.

 

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