Homer’s Odyssey, Book 6, sees Odysseus a desperate man, landing on a beautiful island, and faced by a gorgeous girl. He chooses not to clasp her knees, as this might not be proper, and comes up with a cheesy chat-up line which goes well beyond your usual Saturday night come-on in a dark night-club… Listen to it here from the BGS all-day Odyssey reading, and read it below. Can you think of any cheesier chat-up lines from literature? And also quite a bit creepy by modern standards…! Not to mention the strange digression about falling in love with a tree!
“Princess, I am at your knees. Are you some goddess or a mortal woman? If you are one of the gods who live in the wide heaven, it is of Artemis, the daughter of almighty Zeus, that your beauty, grace and stature most remind me. But if you are one of us mortals who live on earth, then thrice-blessed indeed are your father and your lady mother: thrice-blessed your brothers too! How their hearts must glow with pleasure every time they see their darling join the dance. But he is the most blessed of them all, who with his wedding gifts can win you and take you home as his bride. Never have I set eyes on any man or woman like you. I am overcome with awe as I look at you. Only in Delos have I seen the like – a fresh young palm-tree shooting up by the altar of Apollo when my travels took me there with a fine army at my back that time. Though the expedition was doomed to end so fatally for me. For a long time I stood spell-bound at the sight, for no such sapling ever sprang from the ground; and it is with just the same wonder and veneration that I look at you. My lady, I dare not clasp your knees, though my sufferings are serious enough; only yesterday, after nineteen days, I made my escape from the wine-dark sea. It took all that time for the waves and the tempestuous winds to carry me here from the island of Ogygia, and now some god has flung me on this shore, no doubt to suffer more disasters here. For I have no hope that my troubles will come to an end: the gods have plenty in store for me. Pity me, princess! You are the first person I have met after all I have been through, and I do not know a soul in this city or this land. Do direct me to the town, and give me some rags to put around myself, if only the cloth wrappings you may have brought when you came here; and may the gods grant you your heart’s desire. May they give you a husband and a home, and a blessing of harmony so much to be desired; since there is nothing better or finer than when two people of one heart and mind keep house as a man and wife, a grief to their enemies and a joy to their friends, and their reputation spreads far and wide.”