Homer sometimes nods

Nobody, even a poet as great as the Greek epic writer Homer, can be at his best or most alert all the time. Nods here means ‘becomes drowsy, falls asleep’; hence, ‘errs due to momentary lack of attention’. The source is HORACE Ars Poetica 359 indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus, I am indignant when worthy Homer nods.

1387 J. Trevisa tr. Higden’s Polychronicon (1874) V. 57 He may take hede that the grete Homerus slepeth somtyme, for in a long work it is laweful to slepe som time.

1677 DRYDEN in State of Innocence B1v Horace acknowledges that honest Homer nods sometimes: he is not equally awake in every line.

1887 T. H. HUXLEY in Nineteenth Century Feb. 196 Scientific reason, like Homer, sometimes nods.

1979 D. CLARK Heberden’s Seat vi. ‘We’re half asleep, not to have asked where they are before this.’ ‘Homer nods... You can’t ask every question.’

2002 National Review 6 May 16 Thanks for the studious illumination. But isn’t it easier to go the even-Homer-nods route on this, than to question the rule that plural subjects require a plural form of the verb?


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