“In the Blue-Eyed Haze”: A Note to an Epithet by A. N. Egunov

The paper deals with one of the latest poems in the collection Eliseiskie radosti (Elysian Pleasures) by Andrei N. Egunov (nom de plume Andrei Nikolev, 1895–1968), the famous classical scholar, translator of Plato and the Greek novelists, and a modernist poet. These seven iambic verses, ‘Sredi tenet neodinokii…’ (‘I’m not alone between the hunting-nets…’), dated 1964, end with a line ‘skitan’ia v t’me golubookoj’, ‘wanderings in the blue-eyed haze’. It is worth noting that in his monograph Homer in Russian Translations of the 18th–19th Centuries, issued the same year, Egunov mentions the rare compound adjective golubookii as coined by Ermil Kostrov and Iakov Galinkovskii, two early Russian translators of the Iliad, rendering Homeric γλαυκῶπις, the famous epithet of Athena. This parallel seems to provide the key for the interpretation of the whole piece. Egunov compares his life with the Odyssey (‘no zhizn’ kak povest’ ni o kom’, ‘but my life is like the tale about No-One’; Ulysses names himself Οὖτις ‘No-One’ in Polyphemus’ cave), and the wanderings in the blue-eyed haze are the wanderings of the Ithacian hero guided by Athena. This idea can be corroborated with Homeric echoes in Egunov’s poetry and with his sad mot about Ulysses transmitted by his friend and biographer Valerii Somsikov.

 Zeltchenko V. “In the Blue-Eyed Haze” A Note to an Epithet by A. N. Egunov