The Iliad of Homer, from the text of Wolf. With English notes online

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body carried, to a beam for being heavy and inanimate ; the Trojans, to
dogs for their boldness, and to water for their agility in moving backwards
and forwards ; the Greeks, to a flight of starlings and jays for their timor-
ousness and swiftness." Pope: from Eustathius.


2O, Ksr-ra/. This announcement of the death of Patroclus is praised bv
Quinctilian. Nothing can be more simple and appropriate.

23. xovtv ctifaXotTffav, the ashes. This form of manifesting grief is fre-
quently alluded to in the classical writers, and sometimes in the Bible.
The lamentation of Achilles is in the spirit of the heroic times, and the
poet describes it with much simplicity. The captives join in the lamenta-
tion, perhaps in the recollection of his gentleness, which has before, been
alluded to.

54. SusctgttrroToxtia, the unhappy parent of the bravest.

74. TO. fi.lv $97. The prayer of Thetis, and the wish of Achilles.

93, 1\uat t retribution for the death of.

458 NOTES.

100. $vnv for tiivo-tv, needed.

107. 'H.c /?. The feeling of Achilles is natural, and naturally ex-
pressed. The sudden introduction of this imprecation against discord, is in
fine keeping with the hero's character. -

114. <pi*.v$ Mi$at*.n t of his dear head, that is, of my dear friend.

128. irririiftov, adverbially, you have spoken this truly.

136. vtvpctt, fut. from viof^ui, I shall return.

137. tuos ia7o,*from her son.

151. olli xi. The contest about the body of Patroclus is renewed
with great vigor. The struggle between Hector and the Ajaxes is fierce
and obstinate. Hector is resolved to obtain the body of his fallen foe, and
his indomitable firmness is well described.

207. e f!? ' oTt Kttwos. The smoke arising from the signal-fire of
distress. The poet's description is true to fact in the following lines, since
the blaze of the fires would be seen in the night, where only smoke ap-
peared in the day. Achilles comes forth, protected by the ^Egis of Mi-
nerva, and shouts, so as to terrify the Trojans and enable the Greeks to
bring off the body. The sight of the flame which Minerva sent from the
cloud around the hero's head, and the terrible sound of his shout and of
the voice of the goddess, frighten the Trojans, their horses, and drivers
to such a degree that the Greeks are enabled at length to rescue Patroclus.

236. Qigfoy, a bier.

258. jfafrfgM -ToXs^/^s/v, like the English idiom, easier to Jight. . &.

265. wroXtos yvvouxu*, referring to the Trojans.

275. vvXa.1, ffavftis. Trollope says " the gates are called ffetvfttg, and
the 7cv\an is the passage or aperture, which is opened or closed by the
gates." Is it not rather true that <rv*.ai means the whole gate, inclu-
ding posts, &c., and trdLvtd&s, only the movable part, which was opened?

300. xT'iartfffftv ot.vta.fyi, is much troubled about his ivealth.

309. Swo; 'Ewdfao;, &c. the fate of ivar is common, and sometimes
slays the slayer.

316. Toifft 2s IlfAsjStK, &c. The grief of Achilles is described in
Homer's usual vivid manner, and the simile of the lion robbed of his
whelps, at the end, admirably expresses his warlike character, and fierce
desire of vengeance. The following speech is also accordant with the feel-
ings belonging to such a character.

334. KTgg/ftJ, fut. from *r(<w, I wiU not perform your funeral rites.
339. 'AftQt Ss <ri. The custom of the heroic age, still existing in the East,
was to employ persons to lament over the body of the deceased. It is
alluded to both in Pagan and Jewish writers.


346. Xoz<ro%oov, into which the water for bathing was poureo*.

350. K/ TOTS. &j. It was the duty of the friends of the dead to wash
the body, anoint it with oil, and wrap it in fine linen.

351. tvvteagoio, nine years old.

369. 'Hpa/Woy. The narrative in relation to Achilles and Thetis is
here resumed. The description of the house and works of Vulcan, together
with the shield, is one of the most curious pieces of antiquity.

376. S-iTov ay<wva, the divine assembly.

378. Tofffov ftlv &%o <r;A, were so far completed, ouy.ro., the handles.

379. ^ifffAovg, nails or screws, by which the handles were to be fastened
to the bodies of the vessels.

387 gs/wa Situ. It was the hospitable custom of the early ages to enter-
tain the stranger, before making any inquiries as to the object of his visit.
407. <v#y/a, recompense for life preserved.

409. 0,-vcS-ziou.oti, from *4r&?tifi>!flt(.

410. r H, xecif &c. The most probable meaning of this line is, He said,
and theJiugt monster rose from his anvil-stand. <ff'i\a^ is by some under-
stood to be an adjective, the same as <rs%Ar0$ others, and with greater
reason, take it for a noun, a/'jj-rai/ is also understood variously. Some
understand it to be from &&>, I breathe, and explain it, puffing or blowing,
from blowing the bellows ; others explain it, terrible, huge, which is probably

411. f&iovro, moved quickly.

418. %My<r -i vswtftv tloiKv7ai, resembling living maidens.

421. fffeif, walking.

435. Koyipivos, perf. pass, from 0,^0.0^0.1, worn out.

457. TO. era. youva.0' IKCX,VO[X,!X.I, I come suppliantly to you. The custom
of suppliants embracing the knees has been frequently alluded to.

47O, xoKvotffiv, crucibles.

472. ff-r&vbwri vru.iziftfAtvu.i, to be ready for him when ivorTcing.

477. c i otiffT/ioa, wu/3uy0',iv, a hammer, tongs.

The description of the shield of Achilles is one of the noblest passages
in the Iliad. It is elaborated to the highest finish of poetry. The verse
is beautifully harmonious, and the language as nicely chosen and as de-
scriptive as can be conceived. But a still stronger interest belongs to this
splendid episode, when considered as an exact representation of life at a
very early period of the world, as it undoubtedly was designed by the poet.
That the student may form a clear idea of this wonderful shield, let us first
attend to a simple sketch formed by combining the different parts of the
poetical description, and then to an explanation of the more obscure words
and phrases.

460 NOTES.

Vulcan first makes the frame-work of the shield, over which he draws
five thicknesses, or laminae, of different metals. To this he attaches the
silver-plated belt. The outer surface is divided into three concentric circles,
on which are represented the " Earth, the Heavens, the Ocean, Sun,
Moon, and Stars," in the following order.

The interior circle, or boss, represents the " Sun, Moon, and Stars, the
Pleiades, the Hyades, Orion, and the great Bear."

The second circle represents the Earth, and is divided into four com-
partments, and each compartment into three subdivisions, each containing
pictures of society, as follows :

I. In the first compartment is a city, in peace. 1. Marriages and
festivals are celebrated; brides led by torch-light to their husbands' houses ;
the nuptial song is heard ; young men are dancing to the music of the flute
and lyre. This is the first picture of peace. 2. Justice is administered ^
a cause is argued," two men appear before an umpire ; the partisans of both
sifrround them, the heralds keep the people in order ; the old men sit upon
seats of polished stone, " in a sacred circle." 3. The cause is decided.

II. The second compartment represents a beleaguered city. 1. The
besieging armies deliberate what they shall do with the plunder which they
anticipate from the city. The wives and children and old men defend the
walls, 2. An ambuscade is devised. The herds and flocks are cut off,
as their' attendants approach unwittingly the place of ambush. 3. The
noise of the assault calls out the army, and a battle ensues ; in the conflict
appear Strife, Tumult, and pernicious Fate, the most conspicuous figures.
The men, " like living mortals," fight and drag away each others' dead.

III. The third compartment represents rural employments. 1. Tilling.
Ploughmen are occupied in driving the oxen across the newly broken field.
They arrive at the end of the furrow, and a man offers them wine. The
furrow darkens behind the plough, " though made of gold." 2. Harvest.
The workmen are reaping the heavy crop with their sharp sickles, and
frequent handfuls fall upon the ground. The sheaf-binders follow, and
bind the sheaves, which the boys collect, and bring in their arms. The
owner and his attendants stand by, rejoicing in heart. The attendants
get ready a feast under an oak ; the women prepare the bread. 3. Vintage.
A vineyard appears, the vines loaded with dark clusters of grapes. They
Are supported on silver vine-props, and surrounded with an enclosure of tin.
There is but one narrow path to it, for gatherers, when they pluck the
grapes. Maidens and young men bear the sweet fruit in baskets ; a boy
plays upon a pine, and they dance to the measure.


IV. Pastoral Life. 1. A herd of oxen go from the stall to the pas-
ture by a reedy river. Four herdsmen accompany them with their swift-
footed dogs. Two fierce lions seize a bullock, who is dragged away bellow-
ing. The dogs and the young men press closely upon him. The dogs
abstain from assaulting, but, standing near, bark at them. 2. A flock of
sheep, In a beautiful pasture are the sheep, the shepherds' houses, the
folds, and covered pens. 3. A dance. The dance is like that invented by
Daedalus for the fair-haired Ariadne. The young men and maidens dance,
holding each other by the hand. The young men wear their swords, and
the maidens, garlands upon their heads. The dance is at first slow, but
gradually increases in rapidity, and a rejoicing crowd surround the ring.
A musician plays upon the pipe. Two tumblers sport in the midst, keep-
ing time with the measure.

The third and outer circle represents the Ocean, which was supposed to
be an immense stream, flowing round the earth.

Such is a simple sketch of this celebrated shield, drawn up, to give
the reader a general idea of its structure, which he must fill out by
Studying the details in the description. It is certainly a most remarkable
passage for the amount of information it conveys, relative to the state of
the arts, and the general condition of life, at that period. From many
intimations in the ancient authors, it may be gathered, that shields were
often adorned by devices and figures in bas-relief, similar to those here
described. The hint being once given, it required only the genius and in-
vention of Homer to portray the surpassing workmanship, the varied and
curious details, wrought into the shield of Achilles. It is an interesting
fact in the history of modern art, that Mr. Flaxman in his delineation of
this shield, brought the whole within a circle of three feet in diameter, thus
refuting, in the most satisfactory manner, the cavils of the critics who have
objected to this description on the ground of the impossibility of compris-
ing such a variety within so small a compass.

" The following description of tfiis splendid work of art is taken from
Mr. Allan Cunningham's elegant biography of Flaxman.

" Round the border of the shield he first wrought the sea, in breadth
about three fingers ; wave follows wave in quiet undulation ; he knew
that a boisterous ocean would disturb the repose and harmony of the rest of
the work. On the central boss, lie has represented Apollo, or the Sun, in
his chariot ; the horses seem starting forward, and the god bursting out in
beauty to give light to the universe arodnd him. The circle, of which

462 NOTES.

Apollo is the centre, is in diameter little more than a foot, yet in this space
he has pictured,

The earth, the heaven, the sea,
The sun that rests not, and the moon full-orbed.
There also all the stars, which round about
As with a radiant frontlet bind the skies ;
The Pleiads and the Hyads, and the might
Of huge Orion, with him Ursa called,
Known also by his popular name, the Wain.

" On the twelve celebrated scenes which fill that space in the shield
between the ocean-border and the general representation of the universe, he
exhausted all his learning and expended all his strength. The figures are
generally about six inches high, and vary in relief from the smallest visible
swell to half an inch. There is a convexity of six inches from the plane ;
and the whole contains upwards of a hundred human figures. Of this
magnificent work the artist was justly proud; he was paid 620 for the
drawings and model ; the first cast, in silver gilt, price 2OOO guineas, was
placed J)y his Majesty on his own sideboard ; the second, of the same
material and value, was presented by the King to the Duke of York ; a third,
of the same metal, was made for Lord Lonsdale, and a fourth for the Duke
of Northumberland. Two casts in bronze were made by the proprietors for
themselves, and three in plaster were prepared for the Royal Academy, for
Sir Thomas Lawrence, for Flaxman himself.'*

480. \ ^ ' agyugtov, that is, from the frame of the shield, <r<ix.ovs under-

488.^ %r' -ul-otj <TT(>t$t.<ru.iy which turns llierc. 'Qgluva Sox&vtt, it watches
Orion, that is, is opposite to.

5O1. \<*i 'tffro^i x-tf^ctQ ilirSou, literally, to take the trial before an

5O7. raXyr, there are two explanations of this ; 1 . that it was
the fine itself, which was the matter in dispute, and 2. that it was a reward
appointed for the judge who should pronounce the most just decision.
Therefore eg, in the next line, will be understood to refer to the parties plead-
ing or to the judge, as one or other of the above interpretations is approved.

531. Eigawv rgrg0i, in council.

570. X/m. The most probable explanation of this word is, thai it was
a kind of song which derived its name from Linus, the Father of Poetry.

GOO. <ro%ov, a whed, used by the potter in shaping his vessels. The
point of the comparison is this. When the potter first tries the wheel, to
see "if it will run," he moves it much faster than when at work. Thus it
illustrates the rapidity of the dance.


We have now explained as far as our limits permit, this remarkable passage.
We recommend to the student a close examination of the whole. It will
lead him to many curious inductions and inferences, relative to the ancient
world, and will throw much light upon points, which are elsewhere left in
great obscurity.


13. a,viga%s, resounded, when laid upon the ground. The fear with
which the divine armour filled the Myrmidons, and the exultation of Achilles,
the terrible gleam of his eye, and his increased desire for revenge, are
highly poetical.

24. As/2&;, fty. "It was considered a grievous misfortune by the
ancients in general, that the bodies of their dead should putrefy above
ground, previous to their interment." Trollope.

27. 'E* d' KIMV trfyfltreejj for life is departed from, \. e. the body.

35. MJjwv oL-routfMv, renouncing your wrath.

42. |y ay&m, at the station.

43. /7, the helms.

62. U'TropyivicrKv-ro:. This compound has two meanings. 1. The prepo-
sition imparts to the verb the idea of permanence, so that it may be ren-
dered, being angry so long or being angry till my vengeance was accom-
plished. 2. The preposition may be considered as imparting the idea of
renouncing, or of abstaining ; then we may render it, abstaining from anger.

65. 'Axx TO. piv. This part of the speech of Achilles is highly
characteristic of his impetuosity. Having determined, in obedience to the
command of his mother, to be reconciled with Agamemnon and return to
the war, he wished to rush at once into the combat. Agamemnon attempts
to moderate his zeal, m a speech which deserves some attention. He
begins with a request that he may not be interrupted, probably meaning, by
the friends of Achilles. He then exonerates himself from all blame, and
lays it upon Jupiter, and Fate, and the Fury who " walketh in darkness,"
who inspired his mind with discord on the day when he robbed Achilles of
his prize. He then enters into a long history of the goddess Ate, the
eldest daughter of Jupiter, and of the injuries she has done to men, ai\d
even to Jupiter himself, of which he gives an instance in the story of the
birth of Hercules, well known in mythology. When Jupiter detected the

464 NOTES.

fraud, it seems be hurled Ate from heaven, with an oath that she should
never return. So the goddess consoled herself by playing off her mis-
chief upon unhappy men. It is clear then, that Jupiter and not Agamem-
non is to blame, though the latter is willing to make honorable amends for
the share he had in the wrong-doing. The truth seems to be, that Aga-
memnon had a lame cause to defend, and the best he could do was to turn
over the whole matter to Fate and Discord. We cannot help thinking
that Agamemnon had some reasons for begging a patient hearing, and that
Achilles showed an unusual degree of good nature in quietly listening to
such an impotent apology and tedious narrative.

79. 'JLo-Totoros, alluding to . the usual custom of speakers. // is good to
hear a speaker ivho stands, &c.
82. j&Xa&ra;, is confused.

149. xXorovsuiiv. The exact meaning, and the etymology of this
word, are uncertain, SomB suppose it to mean, to waste time in fine
speeches, for x*.vTo*ivuv. Others, deriving it from XAIVTU, explain it, to
steal away lime, to waste lime, in a general sense.
156. N^o-T/aj, unfed.

180. py<ri /*H? IvtlttA', sxyrta, that you may have no want of ample

199. 'Argsfit) xvburn. This speech of Achilles is one of the best in
the Iliad. It is marked by his impetuous character, warlike ardor, and
eagerness for revenue. It is brief, pointed, and pithy. It overflows with
the natural eloquence of excited feeling and impatience of delay. It forms
a striking contrast to the dull harangue of Agamemnon, by its nervous and
spirit-breathing appeal. The genius of the poet shines preeminent in the
wonderful skill by which he draws out the energies of the son of Thetis,
who makes henceforth the most conspicuous figure on the scene.

222. xaXajttwv, a harvest, that is, of slaughtered men. It is said as
a general remark, and 'i^iuiv is used as a present verb.

223. "Auyjros ^ ' oX'cytifros, that is, the harvest is smallest when Jupiter
turns the scale, if the men be wearied, as ours are now. Ulysses is ar-
guing for a brief cessation to refresh the troops, and endeavours to dissuade
Achilles from an immediate resort to the battle-field.

254. n-vl rgixots. It was the custom to cut hair from the forehead of
the victim, and throw it into the fire.

2G3. aVQtTifAot.ff'ros, untouched, from K/>os(Atiiff<ru.

287. ITar^axXs. The lamentation of Brisei's over the body of Patro-
clus is full of natural feeling. The turning from her grief for the death of
Patroclus, to the recollection of her own sufferings, is extremely beautiful.

ILIAD, XX. 465

The whole scene is well conceived ; but there is one little circumstance
which illustrates particularly the poet's true understanding of natural
feeling. The ivonien Joined in her lamentation) and mourned for their
own calamities, under the pretext of mourning for- Patroclus. They
were captives, who had lost every thing. They had no hopes like those of
Brise'is (1 nes 297, 298,) from the life of Patroclus, and lost nothing by his
death. How natural that they should be occupied by their own sorrows,
while Brise'is wept incessantly for him who had always been kind and gentle
to her.

342. <7u,p.<7ra.v &#oi%tai t you entirely desert, that is, you neglect.

362. y(*.a,ffff& ^\ w euros,, vsgi %3-av. A beautiful expression, and all the
earth around laughed with the splendor of the brass, that is, with the reflect-
ed brightness.

375. f fts$'T*. The poet seizes every occasiop of describing the
glory of Achilles' shield. The return of the hero to the war, was an
event of sufficient consequence to justify the splendor of poetical imagery,
which the imagination of Homer has thrown around it.

387. ffupiyyes, a sort of case or envelope.

407. Au^ritv-a. " This miraculous gift of voice may be compared
with that of Balaam's ass." Trollope.

417. 3-sa; 71 KOC.I aivigi, the god and the man, that is, Apollo and Paris.

418. 'T&givvuzs, the furies. " Hence it seems that too great an insight
into futurity, or the revelation of more than was expedient, was prevented
by the Furies." Trollope.


7. Tloraftuv, Rivers, that is, personified as gods.

11. ctiOouffyio-iv, seats, properly seats in the portico,

14. Nwxovffr9](r&, compounded of vn and KKOVU^

16. 'Agyix&gauvi, god of the swift thunderbolt.

20. *E<yv&>$. Jupiter here proclaims permission to all the gods, to
engage in the battle, each taking the part he chooses.

SO. iiTi^o^ov, contrary to fate. The walls of Troy were not destined
to fall by Achilles,

89. xtgftx6fys> with unshorn hair,

468 NOTES.

43. ^TIOOV $1 ftoixys twtva.vr'. This construction is occasionally found,
and may be rendered, who had long been absent from the war.

56. Anvov $i Ggovryffz. This description of the battle of the gods is
strikingly grand. The student will remember the critic-ism of Longinus.
Jupiter thunders in the heavens, Neptune shakes the boundless earth and
the high mountain-tops; Ida rocks on its base, and the city of the Trojans
and the ships of the Greeks tremble ; and Pluto leaps from his throne in
terror, lest his loathsome dominions should be laid open to mortals and

72. treaxog, powerful.

90. XX' tftv. ./Eneas here refers to events which took place in the
early period of the war, and before the commencement of the action of the

98. sra^a, 'iffri ^nderstood.
, 107. 'H ftlv y, that is, Venus.

128. Tftvcft'svy i-trivticrs A/va, fate spun for him at his birth.

131. aX(r0/ 2s 3-io't, the gods are terrible.

1 37. 'E* XO.TOV Is ffxotrw, from the travelled way or ground, to a high

138. ctg%ea<ri, plural for singular.

145. Ts7%os *f u{u,<p{%u-rov. The following is the story to which this
passage alludes : " Laomedon having defrauded Neptune of the reward
he promised him for building the walls of Troy, Neptune sent a monstrous
whale, to which Laomedon exposed his daughter Hesione. Hercules
having undertaken to destroy this monster, the Trojans raised an entrench-
ment to defend him from his pursuit." Pope : from Eustathius.

157. xugxaigs, cracked. The exploits of Achilles now become the
principal object of the poet. The appearance of Achilles and JEneas is
nobly described,

166. uvi^uvt disregarding. The following is an exceedingly lively
picture of the enraged lion, and the simile nobly illustrates the impetuous
bravery of Achilles.

183. Ki<ri<pg&>v, fickle- minded.

186. xacKtirus ^ ff ' JkaKva. <ro pifyt*, you will Jind it hard, It/link, to do it

199. Tov $\ &c. This dialogue between Achilles and ^Eneas when on
the point of battle, as well as several others of a similar description, have
been sometimes censured, as improbable and impossible. The true explana-
Jion is to be found in the peculiar character of war in the heroic age. A
similar passage has already been the subject of remark.

04. n^xXvr' KXOVOVTIS svrta, hearing the reports of ancient Jamc,


227. avfyixav, ears of wheat.

253. AI'TS x;o*.u(raftzvai, the picture of two vulgar women quarrelling in
the middle of the street, is as accurate as it is revolting.

275. "Avrf y ' u-rro wCtirnv t upon the extreme border.

282.* ei%o$ pvg'tov, boundless grief .

325. ifffftvtv a,iiu.$, bore away, raising him from the ground.

332. otriovra, perilling yourself.

342. pty y l%i$tv, looked forth afar.

359. vffplvvis O-TOUX, the mouth of battle. A paraphrase for battle^ but
more expressive.

391. Twyetiy. The Gygsean lake was in Lydia.

403. S-uftov cc't'fh xoii jjgu'yzv, breathed and bellowed forth his life,

404. 'Exittamov ap<p} oiva,K<ra. Not only rulers but priests are designa-
ted by the terra avax-rz;. The Heliconian priest was a priest of Neptune,
as is indicated by the following line. The name is derived from Helice or
Helicone, a town in Achaia, where the worship of Neptune was celebrate^
yearly by the sacrifice of a bull. If the bull bellowed as he was led to the
altar, it was considered a favorable omen. Hence the simile.

439, 440. IIv(j/'/j T Ha (*u.\u. -^u^xffx. Some understand this to
mean, she turned back the spear by the motion in the air, caused by the
gentle waving of her hand, But there is nothing in the language to justify
this interpretation. It evidently means, according to a literal version of the

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