Here's your trivia question for the day.
The rosy-fingered dawn.
Does this beautiful phrase appear in Shakespeare or Homer? If Shakespeare, in which play? If Homer, is it from the Iliad or the Odyssey, or both?
The answer's at the end of this post.
I'm planning to open every chapter of my second book with a quote from the Iliad, for reasons that will be vaguely discernible when you read it. One of my twitter friends, the very clever Deb Vlock, offered "the rosy fingered dawn," as one of the quotes (I've had a number of excellent suggestions from friends!).
The question was, was it valid? Opinions varied. I thought it was from the Odyssey. But after searching the Perseus database of ancient texts I can now report...
...the rosy fingered dawn appears in both the Odyssey and the Iliad. The phrase does not appear in Shakespeare, but it sounds very Shakespearean, doesn't it? I don't know if that's because literary geniuses tend to sound alike, or because the translators were so steeped in Shakespeare it came out that way. Here's the phrase in context:
Now when the child of morning, rosy-fingered Dawn, appeared, Nestor left his couch and took his seat on the benches of white and polished marble that stood in front of his house. [Odyssey]
But when the sun set and darkness came on, they lay down to rest by the stern cables of the ship, and as soon as early rosy-fingered Dawn appeared, then they set sail for the wide camp of the Achaeans. [Iliad]
So Deb got it right. I should never have doubted her. Homer often re-uses good phrases across both books. The wine dark sea is another famous phrase the recurs.
While I have your attention, I did these searches using the Perseus Digital Library, easily the best online source of ancient texts anywhere on this planet. Or any other planet, for that matter. The interface is, ummm, a trifle archaic for these googly days, but I highly recommend it for anyone who needs accurate, checked, versions of ancient texts, in both the original and translation.