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ney to Achilles : he fet out in the evening; and by the
time that he had reached the tomb of lius, it was grown
fbmewhat dark, which fhews diat this tomb flood at
fbme diflance from the city : here Mercury meets him
and when it was quite dark, guides him into the prefence
of Achilles. By thefe methods we miy difcover how
exadly the poet preferves the unities of time and place,
and he allots fpace fufHcient for the a<5lions which he
defcribes, and yet does not croud more incidents into
any interval of time than may be executed in as much
as he allows : thus it being improbable diat fo flubborn
a man as Achilles fhould relent in a few moments, the
poet allows a whole night for this affair, fb that Priam
has leifure enough to go and rectum, and time enough
remaining to perfuade Achilles.

Book XXIV. H O M E R*s ILIA D. 257

Th'affiiaed monarch fiiiver'd with defpair;
Pale grew his face, and upright ftood his hair ;
Sunk was his heart ; his colour went and came ;
A fudden trembling fliook liis aged frame :
When Hermes greeting, touch'd his royal hand, 445
And gende, thus accofts with kind demand.

Say whither, father ! when each mortal fight
Is feal'd in fleep, thou wander'ft thro' die night ?

V. 447. etc. The fpeech of Mercury to Priam^x I
fiiall not trouble the reader with the dreams of Euila-
thius, who tells us that this fi<5lion of Mercury, is pardy
true and partly faife : It is true that his father is old;
for Jupiter is king of the whole univerfe, was from eter-
nity, and created both men and gods : in Hke manner,
when Mercury fays he is the feventh child of his father,
Euftadiius affirms that he meant that there were fix
planets befides Mercury. Sure it requires great pains
and thought to be fo learnedly abfiird : the fuppofition
which he makes afterwards is far more natural. Priam, .
fays he, might by chance meet with one of the Myrmi-.
dons, who might condud him unobfcrved through the
camp into the prefence of Achilles : and as the executi-
on of any wife defign is afcribed to Pallas, fo may this
ciandeftine enterprize be laid to be managed by the guid-
ance of Mercury.

But perhaps this whole pafiage may be better explain-
ed by having recourle to tiie Pagan theology ; it was an
opinion that obtained in thofe early days, that Jupiter
frequently fent fome friendly mefi'engers to prote^fl the
innocent, fo that Homer might intend to give his readers
a ledlure of morality, by telling us that this unhappy idng
was under the prote*ftion of the gods.

Madam Dacier carries it farther. Homer (fays fhe)
inftruvTted by tradition, knew that God fends his angels
to the fuccour of the affiided. The fcripture is i'cXi of

Y ->

2 s8 K O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIV.

Why roam thy mules and fleeds the plains along.
Thro' Grecian foes, fo num'rous and Co (trong ! 450
What could'ft thou hope, (hould thefe thy treafures view,
Thefe, who with endlefs hate thy race purfue ?
For what defence, alas ! could'ft thou provide ?
Thyfelf not young, a weak old man thy guide.
Yet fuifer not thy foul to fink with dread; 45 j

From me no harm fliall touch thy rev'rend head ;
From Greece I'll guard thee too ; for in thofe lines
The living image of my father fiiines.

Thy words that fpeak benevolence of mind
Are true> my fon 1 (the godlike fire rejoin 'd) 4^0

Great are my hazards ; but the Gods furvey
My fteps, and fend thee, guardian of my way.

examples of this tnith. The (lory of Tobit has a won-
derful relation with this of Homer : Tobit fent his fon
to Rages, a city of Media, to receive a confiderable fum;
Tobias did not know the way ; he found at his door a
young man clothed with a majeftic glory, which attra(5l-
cd admiration ; it was an angel under the form of a man.
This angel being asked who he was, anfwered (as Mer-
cury does here) by a fidlion ; he faid that he was of the
children of ifrael, that his name was Azarias, and that
he was fon of Ananias. This angel conduced Tobias in
fafety ; he gave him inftrudions ; and when he was to
receive the recompence which the father and fon offered
him, he declared that he was the angel of the Lord, took
his flight towards heaven, and difippeared. Here is a
great conformity in the ideas and in the ftyle ; and the
example of cur author fo long before Tobit, proves, that
this opinion of God's fending his angels to the aid of man
was very common, and much fpread amongft the Pagans
in thofe former times. Dacier,

Book XXIV. HOME-R's I L I AD. 259

Hail, and be blefl: ! for fcarce of mortal kind
Appear thy form, thy feature, and thy mind.

Nor true are all thy words, nor erring wide ;. 4^ J
(The facred meflenger of heav'n reply'd)
But fay, convey'ft thou thro' the lonely plains
What yet moft precious of thy (tore remains.
To lodge in fafety with fome friendly hand ?
Prepared perchance to leave thy native land. 470

Or fly 'ft thou now ? what hopes can Troy retain ?
Thy raatchlefs fon, her guard and glory, flain !

The king,, alarm'd. Say what, and whence thou art,
Who fearch the forrows of a parent's heart,
And know lb well how godlike Hedor dy*d ? 47 S

Thus Priam fpoke, and Hermes thus reply'd.

You tempt me, father, and with pity touch :
On this fad fubjedt you enquire too much.
Oft' have thofe eyes that godlike Hedor viev/'d
la glorious fight with Grecian blood embru'd : 480

I faw him, when like Jove his flames he tofl
On thoufand fhips, and wither'd half a hofl :
3 faWj but help'd not : fiern Achilles' ire
Forbad affiftance, and enjoy'd the lire.
For him I ferve, of Myrmidonian race ; 485

One (hip convey'd us from our native place ;
Polytflor is my fire, an honour'd name.
Old like thyfelf, and not unknown to fame ;
Of fev'n his fons by whom the lot was caft
To ferve our prince, it fell on me, the lafl. 490

26o H O M E R's ILIAD. Book XXIV.

To watch this quarter my adventure falls,

For with the morn the Greeks attack your walls;

Sleeplels they fit, impatient to engage,

And fcarce their rulers check their martial rage.

If then thou art of ftern Pelides train, - 495"

(The mournful monarch thus rejoin'd again)
Ah tell me truly, where, oh ! where are laid
My fon's dear relics ? what befalls him dead ?
Have dogs difmember'd on the naked plains,
Or yet unmangled reft his cold remains ? 50O

O farour'd of the skies ! (thus anfwer'd then
The pow'r that mediates between Gods and men)
Nor dogs nor vultures have thy Heftor rent,
But whole he lies, negledled in the tent :
This the twelfth ev'ning fince he refted there,. 505
Untouch'd by wor/ns, untainted by the air..
Still as Aurora's ruddy beam is fpread.
Round his friend's tomb Achilles drags the dead:
Yet undisfigur'd, or in limb or face,
All frefh he lies, with ev'ry living grace, 5 j o

Majeflical in death ! no ftains are found
O'er all the corfe, and clos'd is ev'ry wound ;
(Tho' many a wound they gave) fonie heav'nly care.
Some hand divine, preferves him ever fair:
Or all the hoft of heav'n, to whom he led cjc

A life fo grateful, ftill regard him dead.

Thus fpoke to Priam the celeiHal guide,
And joyful thus the royal lire reply'd.


Book XXIV. H O M E R's ILIAD. 261

Blefl: is the man who pays the Gods above >

The conftant tribute of refped and love ! 5 20 f

Thofe who inhabit the Olympian bow'r

My fon forgot not, in exalted pow'r ;

And heav'n, that ev'ry virtue bears in mind,

Ev'n to the afhes of the juft, is kind.

But thou, oh gen'rous youth ! this goblet take, 525

A pledge of gratitude for Heftoi's fake;

And while the fav'ring Gods our (teps furvey,

Safe to Pelides' tent condudl my way.

To whom the latent God. O king forbear
To tempt my youth, for apt is youth to err: 5:30

But can I, abfent from my prince's fight,
Take gifts in fecret, that muft fhun the light ?

V. 519. Bleji is the mar:, etc] Homer now begins,
after a beautiful and long fable, to give the moral of it,
and difplay his poetical juftice in rewards and pvmifh-
ments : thus Hedor fought in a bad cafe, and there-
fore futfers in the defence of it ; but becaufe he was a
good man, and obedient to the gods in other refpeds,
his very remains become the care of heaven.

I think it necefTary to take notice to the reader, that
nothicg is more admirable than the conduct of flomer
throughout his whole poem, in refpefl to morality. He
juftifies the charader of Horace,

•———^lidptilckrutni quidturpe^ quid utiles quid non,
Plenius et melius Cbryfippo et Cratitore did I.

If the reader does not obferve the morality of the
Ilias, he lofes half, and the nobler part of its beauty :
he reads it as a common romance, and mifbikes the
chief aim of it, which is to inftrud.

V. 531. Bui can /, abfent t etc.] In the original of

262 H O M E R's ILIA D. Book XXIV.

What fronr our mailer's intVefl: tlius we draw.

Is but a licens'd theft that 'fcapes the law.

RefpeifHng him, my foul abjures di' offence ; 53^

And as the cruue, I dread the confequence.

Thee, far as Argos, pleas'd I could convey :

Guard of thy life, and partner of thy way.

On thee attend, thy fafety to maintain.

O'er pathlefs forefb, or the roring main. 540

He faid, then took the chariot at a bound.
And fnatch'd the reins, and whirl'd the lafh around :
Before th' infpiring God that urg'd them on,
The courfers i?y, uith fpirit not their own.
And now they reach 'd the naval walls, and found 545
The guards repafHng, while the bowls go round ;
On thefe the virtue of his wand he tries,
And pours deep flumber on their watchful eyes-:
Then heav'd the maffy gates, remov'd the bars.
And o'er the trenches led the rolling cars, 55^

Unfeen, thro' all the hoflile camp they went.
And now approach'd Pelides' lofty tent.

this place (which I have paraphrafed a little) the word
:ZvXtviiv is remarkable. Priam offers Mercury (whom
he looks upon as a foldier of Achilles) a prefent, which
he refufes becaufe his prince is ignorant of it : this pre-
fent he calls a dire6l i/)cff or robbery ; which may lliew
us how flri^t the notions of juftice were in the days of
Homer, when if a prince's fervant received any prefent
without the knowledge of his mafter, he was efteem'd a
thief and a robber. Euftathius .

Book XXIV. H O M E R's ILIAD. 263

Of fir the roof was rais'd, and cover'd o'er

With reeds collected from the marfliy fhore ;

And, fenc'd with palifades, a hall of (late, 555

(The work of foldiers) where the hero fate.

V. 553. Of fir the roofivas rais''d.~\ I have in the
courfe of thefe obfervations defcribed the method of en-
camping ufed by the Grecians : the reader has here a
full and exatft defcription of the tent of Achilles : this
royal pavilion was built v. ith long palifadoes made of fir :
the top of it covered with reeds, and the mfide was di-
vided into feveral apartments : thus Achilles had his
«vA») fiiyuXn, or large hall, and behind it were lodging
rooms. So In the ninth book Phoenix has a bed prepar-
ed for him in one apartment, Patroclus has another for
himfelf and his captive Iphis, and Achilles has a third for
himfelf and his miftrefs Diomeda «*

But we muft not imagine that the other Myrcnidons
had tents of the hke dimenfions : they were, as Euilz-
thius obferves, inferior to this royal one of Achilles :
which indeed is no better than an hovel, yet agrees very
well with the duties of a foldier, and the fimplicity of
thofe early times.

1 am of opinion that fuch fixed tents were not ufed
by the Grecians in their common marches, but only du-
ring the time of fieges, when their long fky in one place
made it neceffary to build fuch tents as are here defcri-
bed ; at other times they lay like Diomed in the tenth
book, in the open air, their fpearsf binding upright, to be
ready upon any alarnv, and with the hides ofbeaft.-J
Ipread on the ground, inflsadof a bed.

It is worthy obfer\'ation, that Homer even upon fb

trivial an occafion as the defcrlbing the tent of Achilles,

takes an opportunity to (hew the fuperior > trength of his

hero ; and tells us that three men could fcarce open the

door of Iiis p?.7ilion, but Achilles could open it alone.

2t$4 H O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIV.

Large was the door, whofe well-compadled ftrength

A Tolid pine-tree barr'd, of wond'rous length ;

Scarce three ftrong Greeks could lift Its mighty weight,

But great Achilles iingly clos'd the gate, 560

This Hermes (fuch the pow'r of Gods) fet w ide ;

Then fwift alighted the ccleflial guide.

And thus, reveai'd — Hear, prince I and underfland

Thou ow'ft thy guidance to no mortal hand :

Hermes I am, defcended from above, 565

The king of arts, the mefTcnger of Jov^

Farewell : to fliun Achilles' fight I fly ;

Uncommon are fuch favours of the flcy,

Nor {land confeft to frail mortality.

Now fearlefs enter, and prefer thy pray'rs; 5-70

Adjure him by his father's filver hairs,

V. 569. Nor Jland confeft to frail f?wrtnUty.'\ Eufla-
thius thinks it was from this maxim, that the princes of
the eaft alTumed that air of majefly which feparates them
from the fight of their fubjefls; but I fhould rather be-
lieve that Homer copied this after the originals, from
fome kings of his time : it not being unlikely that this
pohcy is very ancient, Dacier

V. 5:71. Adjure him by his father, etc.] Euflathius
obferves that Priam does not intirely follow the infl-ruc-
tions of Mercury, but only calls to his remembrance his
aged father Peleus ; and this was judicioufly done by
Priam: for what motive to compalTion could arife from
tlie mention of Thetis, who was a goddefs, and incap-
able of misfortune ? Or how could Neoptoiemus be any
inrlucement to make Achilles pity Priam, when at the
fame time he flouridied in thegreateftprofperity ? there- ■
fore Priam only mentions liis father Peleus, who, like
him, ftood upon the very brink of the grave, and was


Book XXIV. il -O M E R's ILIA D, 25;

His fon, his mother ! urge him to bedow
^A'hatever pity that ilerD heart can know.

Thus having laid, he vanidiM from his eyes,
And in a moment lliot into the fides : . ^y^

The king, confirm'd from heav'n, alighted there.
And left his aged herald on the car.
\Vith folenm pace thro' various rooms he went,
Jlnd found Achilles in his inner tent :
There fate the hero ; Alcimu? the brave, 580

And great Automedon, attendance gave :
Thefe ferv-d his perfon at die royal feafi:>
Around, at awful diftance, ftood the reft.

Unfeen by thefe, the king his entry mad-; j
And proftrate now before Achilles laid, 585

Sudden, (a venerable fight ! ) appears ;
Embrac'd his knees, and bath'd his hands in tears •;

liable to the fame misfortunes lie fuffercd. Thefe are
the I omarlcs of Euftathius ; but how then fliall we jufHfy
Mercury, who gave him fach improper inftm(fl:ions with
relation to Thetis ? All that can be faid in defence of
the poet is, that Thetis, though a goddefs, has through
the whole courfe of the Ilias been dcfcribed as a partner
in all the affliiftions of xAchilles, and confequently might
be made ufe of as an inducement to raife the compallion
of Achilles. Priam might have faid, I conjure thee by
the love thou beareft to thy mother, take pity on me !
for if fhe who Is a goddefs would grieve for the lofs of
her beloved fon, how greatly muft the lofs of Heftor
afHIfl the unfortunate Hecuba and Priam ?

V. 586. Sudden^ {a vemrahle f.ght /) appears^ I
fancy tlils interview between Priam and Achilles would
furniili an admirable fubjea for a painter, ii\ the furprize

V L, IV. z

266 HOME R.'s ILIA D. Book XXIV.

Thofe direful hands his klffes prefs'd, embru'd
Ev'n with the beR, the deared of his blood !

As when a wretch, (who confcious of his crime, 590
l^urfu'd for murder, flies his native clime)
Jufl: gains fome frontier, breathlefs, pale ! amaz'd !
All gaze, all wonder: thus Achilles gaz'd :
Thus ftood th' attendants ftupid with furprize ;
All mute, yet feem"d to queftion with their eyes : 59^
Each look'd on other, none the filence broke,
-Till thus at laft the kingly fuppliant fpoke.

Ah think, thou favour 'd of the pow'rs diviae !
Think of thy father's age, and pity mine !

of Achilles, and the other fpe6lators, the attitude of Pri-
am, and the forrows in the countenance of this unfortu-
nate kinii.

That circumftance of Priam's killing the hands of A-
chilles is inimitably fme ; he kilTed, fays Homer, the
hands of Achilles ; thofe terrible, murderous hands that
had robbed him of fo many fons : by thcfe two words
the poet recalls to our mind all the noble adlions perfor-
med by Achilles in the whole Ilias ; and at the fame time
ilrikes us with the utmoft compaHion for this unhappy
king, who is reduced fo low, as to be obliged to kifs thofe
hands that had flain his fubjects, and ruined his kingdom
and family.

V. 598, Thefpesch of Priam to Achilles?^ The cu-
riofity of the reader muft needs be awakened to know
how Achilles would behave to this unfortunate kicg; it
requires all the art of the poet to fufkin the violent
charafter of Achilles, and yet at the fame time to foften
liim into compaiTion. To this end the poet ufes no
preamble, but breaks dlredly into that circumftance
\vhich is rrjil likely to mollify him, and the two firft
words he utters arc, «??(ri«j Ucrfir.fci^ thy fatbsr^O A-

Fook XXIY. H O M E R's ILIA D. 267

In me, that father's rev'rend image trace, 600

Thofe filver hairs, that \enerable face:

His trembling limbs, his helplefs peribn, fee !

In all my equ;il, but in mifery !

Yet now, perhaps, fome turn of human fate

Expels him helplefs from his peaceful itate ; 605

Think, from fome pow'rful foe thou fee'il: him fly,

And beg. protetflion with a feeble cry.

Yet (till one comfort in his foul may rife j

He hears his fon ftill lives to glad his eyes ;

chilles, in me I Nothing could be more happily imagin-
ed than this entrance into his fpeech ; Achilles has every
where been defcribed as bearing a great afle^ion to lus
father, and by two words the poet recalls all the tende.r-
ncfs that love and duty can fuggeit to an affeiflionate

Priam tells Achilles, that Hecflor fell in the defencsr
of his country: I am far from thinking that this was in-
ferted accidentally: it could not fail of having a very
good effedt upon Achilles, not only as one brave man
naturally loves another, but as it implies that Hctftor had
no particular enmity againlt Achilles, but that though he
fought agiiind him, it was in defence of his country.'

The reader will obferve that Priam repeats the begin-
ning of his fpeech, and recalls his father to his memory
in the conclufion of it. This is done with great judg-
ment ; the poet takes care to enforce his petition with,
the ftrcngeft motive, and leaves it frefh upon his memo*
ry ; and pollibly Priam might perceive that the mention
of his father lud made a deeper impreflion upon Achil-
les than any other part oi his petition, therefore w hile
the mind of Achilles dwells upon it, he again fets him
before his imagination by this repetition, and foftens him
into compalTion.

Z 2

268 H O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIV.

And hearing ftill may hope, a better day 6ro

May fend him thee, to chafe that foe away.
No comfort to my griefs, no hopes remain.
The bed, the braved of my fons are flaio !
Yet what a race ; ere Greece to Ilion came.
The pledge of many a lov'd, and loving dame : 6i 5

JNineieen one mother bore — Dead, all are dead !
How oft', alas ! has wretched Priam bled ?
Still one was left, their lofs to recompenfe ;
His father's hope, his country's laft defence.
Him too thy rage has flain ! beneath thy fteel 620
Unhappy in his country's caufe he fell 1

For him, thro'hoflile camps I bent my way,
For him thus proftrate at thy feet I lay;
Large gifts proportion 'd to thy wrath I bear ;
Oh hear the wretched, and the Gods revere ! 62 ^

Think of thy father, and this face behold 1
See him in me, as helplefs and as old !
Tiio'not fo wretched: there he yields to me,
The flrfl of men in fov'reign mifcry.
Thus forc'd to kneel, thus grov'ling to embrace 630
The fconrge and ruin of my realm and race :
Suppliant my children's murd'rer to implore,
And kifs thofe hands yet reeking with their gore \

Thcfe words foft pity in the chief infpire,
Touch'd with the dear remembrance of his fire, 63^

v._634. Thefe f-coords fofi pity, etc.] We are no\v'
come almoft to the end of the poem, and confequently
to the end of the anger of Achillea : and Homer has de-

Book XXIV. H O IM E R's ILIAD. 269;

Then with his hand (as proftrate ftillhe lay)

The old man's cheek he gently turn*d away.

Now each by turns indulg'd the gufli of woe ;

And now the mingled tides together flow :

This low on earth, that gently bending o'er, 64CX'

A father one, and one a Ton deplore :

But great Acliilles diff 'rent paiTions rend.

And now his iiire he mourns, and now his friend.

Th'infedious foftnefs thro' the heroes ran ; '^

One univerfal folemn ihow'r began ; ^^45

They bore as heroes, but diey felt as man. ^*

Satiate at length with unavailing woes,
From the high throne divine Achilles rofe ;
The rev'rend monarch by the hard he rais'd ;
On his white beard and form majeitic gaz'd, 65a'

Not unrelenting : then ferene began
With words to foothe the miferable man.

Alas ! what weight of anguilli halt thou known ?
Unhappy prince ! thus guardlefs and alone

fcrlbed the abatement of it with excellent judgment.
We may liere obferve how necelTary the condu6t of.
Homer was, in fending Thetis to prepare her fon to ufe-
Priam with civility: It would have been ill fuited with
the violent temper of Achilles to have ufed Priam with,
lendcrnefs without fuch pre -admonition ; nay, the un-
expevTted Hght of his enemy might probably have carrieds
him into violence and rage : but Homer has avoided
thcfe abfurditics; for Achilles being already prepared,
for a reconciliation, the mifery of this venerable prince
naturally melts him into-compaffion.

V. 653. Achilles' s fpi;ech to Vriam?^ There is not a.

7 ''


To pafs thro' foes, and thus undaunted face 6^S

The man whofe fury has deflroy'd thy race ?

Heav'n fure has arm'd thee with a heart of iieel^

A ilrength proportion'd to the woes you (qqL

Rife then : let reafon mitigate our care :

To mourn, avails not : man is born to bear. 66o

Such is, alas ! the Gods fevere decree: '

They, only they are bleft, and only free.

Two nrns by Jove's high throne have ever ftood.

The fource of evil one, and one of good ;

more beautiful pafKige in the whole llias than this before
us : Homer to flicw that Achilles was not a mere foldier,
here draws him as a perfon of excellent fenfe and found
reafon : Plato himfelf (who condemns this paiTage)
coiild not (peak more like a true philofopher : and it
was a piece of great judgment thus to defcribe him ;
for the reader would have retained but a very indifferent
opinion of the hero of a poem, that had no qualification
but mere ftrength : it alfo (hews the art of the poet
thus to defer tliis part of his charader to the very con-
ciufion of the poem : by thefe means he fixes an idea of
his greatnefs upon our minds, and makes his hero go
off the fiage with applaufe.

Neither does he here afcribe more wifdom to Achilles
than he might really be mafler of; for as Euflathius
obferves, he had Chiron and Phoenix for his tutors, and
a goddefs for his mother.

v. 66'^. Tivo urns by Jove's high throne^ etc. 3 This
is an admirable allegory, and very beautifully imagined
by the poet. Plato has accufed it as an impiety to fay
that God gives evil : but it feems borrowed from the
caftern way of fpeaking, and bears a great refemblance
to feveral expreifions in fcripture: thus in the pfiilms.
In tbs handofths^ Lor d there U a cup^arid hs poureth out

Book XXIV. H O M E R's ILIAD. 271

From thence the cup of mortal man he fills, 66^

BlefTmss to thefe, to thofe diftributes ills ;

To mod, he mingles both : the wretch decreed

To tafte the bad, unmix'd, is airfl indeed ;

Purfu'd by wrongs, by melagre famine driv'n,

He wanders, outcafl both of earth and heav'n. 670

The liappiefi: tafte not happinefs fincere,

But find the cordial draught is dafh'd with care. ^^

Who more than Peleus fhone in wealth and pow'r ?

What flars concurring bleft: his natal hour ?

A realm, a Goddefs, to his willies giv'n, 675

Grac'd by the Gods with all the gifts of heav'n !

One evil yet o'ertakes his lateft day.

No race fucceeding to imperial fway :

ofihefame ; as for the dreg) thereof, all the ungodly of
the earth fjall drink them.

It was the cullom of the Jews to give condemned
perfons juft before execution, otfev i(r^'j^'n<T^h<i)iy wine

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