even Homer nods
even + Homer + nods (“be momentarily inattentive or inaccurate”), alluding to line 359 of Horace’s Ars Poetica indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus ("I become annoyed when the great Homer is being drowsy"). The English translation "Homer nods" has become standard following Pope (1709), but is due to Dryden (1677).
- Not even the most vigilant and expert are immune to error.
1677, John Dryden, “The Authors Apology for Heroique Poetry; and Poetique Licence”, in The State of Innocence, and Fall of Man: An Opera. Written in Heroique Verse, and Dedicated to Her Royal Highness, the Duchess, London: Printed by T[homas] N[ewcomb] for Henry Herringman, at the Anchor in the Lower Walk of the New Exchange, OCLC 23778170:
- Horace acknowledges that honeſt Homer nods ſometimes: He is not equally awake in every Line: […]
1709, Alexander Pope, An Essay on Criticism, London: Printed for W. Lewis in Russell-street, Covent-Garden; and sold by W. Taylor at the Ship in Pater-Noster-Row, T. Osborn in Grays-Inn near the Walks, and J. Graves in St. James's-Street, OCLC 1011856791, page 12:
- Thoſe are but Stratagems which Errors ſeem, / Nor is it Homer Nods, but We that Dream.
1713, [Jean] de la Bruyere; N[icholas] Rowe, “Of M. de la Bruyere’s Book, entitul’d, The Characters: Or the Manners of the Present Age”, in The Works of Monsieur De La Bruyere. In Two Volumes. Containing, I. The Moral Characters of Theophrastus. II. The Characters, or, The Manners of the Present Age. III. M. Bruyeres Speech upon His Admission into the French Academy. IV. An Account of the Life and Writings of M. Bruyere. By Monsieur Coste. [...] Revis’d by the Paris Edition: With an Original Chapter, Of the Manner of Living with Great Men: Written after the Method of M. Bruyere, by N. Rowe, Esq., volume I, 6th edition, London: Printed for E[dmund] Curll, at the Dial and Bible, and J. Pemberton, at the Buck and Sun; both against St. Dunstan's Church in Fleetstreet, OCLC 752959976, page 102:
2009 April 27, James Taranto, “When Pigs Flu: But … but … Mexico has Socialized Medicine!”, in The Wall Street Journal, archived from the original on 22 March 2016:
- And Homer nods: The Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles played in this year's NFC championship, not NFL championship as we said in a Friday follow-up (since corrected).
- ^ Quintus Horatius Flaccus, (c. 18 BC), ll. 354–360
Vt scriptor si peccat idem librarius usque,
quamuis est monitus, uenia caret, et Citharoedus
ridetur, chorda qui semper oberrat eadem,
sic mihi, qui multum cessat, fit Choerilus ille,
quem bis terque bonum cum risu miror; et idem
indignor quandoque bonus dormitat Homerus;
uerum operi longo fas est obrepere somnum.