As in the Ode to Stalin, Křesadlo's use of the heroic hexameter is sometimes a bit of a shock. When I first started reading the Astronautilia I found this a bit off-putting. Now I'm inclined to look on this more favorably, even if not all of his verses are things you'd want to show to a tutor at Oxford, say, for fear of inducing a stroke.
Based on current web logs, the commentary I did on Theocritus 13 may go down in Aoidoi.org history as the least popular effort ever — worse even than the notes on Pindar. I myself came away from working on that with a sense that Theocritus, and the Alexandrian poets in general, were on the near edge of artistic panic thanks to the overwhelming shadow of Homer. Part of this impression may come from my choice of reading to prepare for Theocritus, but it's hard not to see the dialect, the curious twisting of Homeric words and phasing, and the bucolic digressions as a desperate attempt to get out of that massive shadow. Right now I'm not sure I want to read Theocritus again, but I have some sympathy for the guy. He made a good effort to make the hexameter his own.
Having seen Theocritus' struggles, I'm now a lot more kindly disposed toward Křesadlo's sometimes radical innovations in his Epic hexameters. He observed the licenses Homer allowed himself and then ran with those ideas. The manuscript as sent to me — I don't know if it appears in the edition with the facing Czech translation — has a glossary of "unusual forms and words." In that you can really see Křesadlo taking hold of Epic Greek and making it serve his own purposes. Excepting the imports from Modern Greek, his process is clearly modeled on variations found in standard Epic Greek. The very first line announces he's not producing a school exercise in the style of Homer:
ἀρχόμενος πρῶτον Μουσῶν χορῷ εἰξ Ἑλικῶνος
In Epic the preposition represented in Attic by ἐν, "in," has two additional metrical variants, ἐνί and εἰν. There is no metrical reason at all to lengthen the preposition ἐξ, "out (of)," but Křesadlo has produced a free Homerism, εἰξ, unexampled in any Greek I've ever seen.
There are curiosities of declension:
ἄνηρες = ἄνερες = ἄνδρες (influenced by Modern, Greek, evidently)
κύωνες = κύνες modeled on ἄνηρες
He produces numerous doublets, giving him several metrical choices for a single word:
ἑλκήθρος -ου ὁ = ἑλκήθρον -ου τό "sledge"
ἐξίσωσις -εως ἡ = ἐξισώοσις "equation," a shocking reinterpretation of Epic distraction
"Robot" got special attention, as is appropriate in science fiction, with no fewer than four forms: ῥόβοτος -ου ὁ, ῥοβότης -ου ὁ, ῥόβως -ωτος ὁ, ῤουβώτης -ου ὁ, as well as ῥοβότη ἡ “she-robot.” My favorite definition is φεῖσρος -ου ὁ “fazer - an established sci-fi weapon shooting pernicious rays.” The resulting mix of Homeric phrasing and robots is interesting (Αν. ι. 25, p.89):
βῆν ἴμεν πρὸς πτολίεθρον ἐγὼ καὶ Φράντα ῥοβώτης
His freedom with the hexameter is also on display in this line. And he hasn't just used the Epic dialect for his art. He grabbed the scholarly apparatus of ancient texts and turned that into part of the work, too — sometimes he marks his own lines as doubtful, putting them [in square brackets.]
With the possible exception of Nonnos' Dionysiaca, the Astronautilia has to be the most wild and even disorienting appropriation of Homeric language I have ever seen, and am ever likely to see. I simply cannot imagine what motivated Křesadlo to produce such a work, and my innocence of the Czech language leaves me with little chance to compare this with his other works. But even with the shocks of meter I can't help but be delighted the Astronautilia exists.