The Iliad (Volume 4) online

. (page 10 of 22)
Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad (Volume 4) → online text (page 10 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Nor rob the vultures of one limb of thee.

Then thus the chief his dying accents drew ; 445
Thy rage, implacable ! too well I knew :
The furies that relentlefs bread have fleel'd,
And curfl: thee with a heart that cannot yield.
Yet think, a day will come, when fate's decree
And angry Gods, mall wreak this wrong on thee; 450
Phcebus and Paris fnall avenge my fate,
And ftretch thee here, before this Scaean gate.

He ceas'd. The fates fupprefl: his lab'ring breath,
And his eyes flifTened at the hand of death;
To the dark realm the fpirit wings its way, 455

(The manly body left a load of clay)
And plaintive glides along the dreary coaft,
A- naked, wand'ring, melancholy ghoft!

Achilles, mufing as he roll'd his eyes
O'er the dead hero, thus (unheard) replies. 460

Die thou the firfl: ! when Jove and heav'n ordain,
I follow thee He faid, and ftripp'd the flain.

>>. 449. A day will come ] Heel or prophefies at

his death that Achilles (hall fall by the hand of Paris.
This confirms an obfervation made in a former note,
that the words of dying men were looked upon as pro-„
phecies; but whether fuch conjectures are true or falfe,
it appears from hence, that fuch opinions have prevailed
in the world above three thoufand years.

Book XXII. H O M E R's ILIAD. i 4 7

Then forcing backward from the gaping wound
The reeking jav'lin, caft it on the ground.
The thronging Greeks behold with wond'ring eyes 465
His manly beauty 2nd fuperior fize:
While fome ignobler, the great dead deface
With wounds ungen'rous, or v.ith taunts dfgrace.
« How chang'd that Hetfor ! who like Jove of late
« Sent light'ning on our fleets, and fcatter'd fate ?" 470
- High o'er the (lain the great Achilles (tends,
Begirt with heroes, and furrounding bands;

y. 467. The ptal dead deface With wands, etc]
Euftathins tells \is that Homer introduces the loldiers
wounding the dead body of Hector, in order to mitigate
the cruelties which Achilles exercifes upon it. lor it
every common foldier takes a pride in giving him a
wound, what infults may we not expecl from, the inex-
orable, inflamed Achilles? But I muft confefs myfe.f
unable to vindicate the poet in giving us (bob an idea or
his countrymen. I think the former courage oi their
enemy mould have been fo far from moving tnem to re-
venge, that it mould have recommended him to their
efteem: what Achilles afterwards aas is mit ble to his
eharacler, and confequently the poet is juuined 5 but
furely all the Greeks were not of his temper? Fatroclus
was not fo dear to them all, as he was to Achihes. It is
true, the poet reprefents Achilles (as Euftathius obferves)
enumerating the many ills they had fuffered from Hec-
tor; and feems to endeavour to infeft the whole army
with his refentment. Had Hettor been living, they
had been acled by a generous indignation agaroft him:
but thefe men feem as if they only dared approacn him
dead ; in (hort, what they fay over his body is a mean
infult, and the (tabs they give it are cowardly and bar-

tf 2

143 H O M E R's ILIA D. Book XXII.
And thus aloud, while all the holt attends.
Princes and leaders ! countrymen and friends I
Since now at length the pow'rful will of heav'n 475
The dire deftroyer to our arm has giv'n,
Is not Troy fall'n already ? Hafte, ye pow'rs !
See, if already their deferted tow'rs
Are left unmann'd; or if they yet retain
The fouls of heroes, their great Hector flain ? 480

But what is Troy, of glory what to me?
Pt why reflects my mind on ought but thee,
„ Dj /ine Patroclus I death has feal'd his eyes ;
Unwept, unhonour'd, uninterr'd he lies !

f. 474. Thefpeecb of Achilles.'] We have a very fine
obfervation of EuHathius on this place, that the judg-
ment and addrcfs. of Homer here is extremely worthy
of remark; he knew, and had often faid, that the gods
snd fate had not granted Achilles the glory of taking
Troy^: there was then no reafon to make him march
agaifift the town after the d.Mth of Hector, fince all his
efforts muft have- been ineffectual. What has the poet
done in this conjuncture ? It was but reafonabk that
the tirft thought of Achilles mould be to march directly
to Troy, and to profit himfelf of the general confterna-
tion into which the death of Hector had thrown the
Trojans. We here fee he knows the duty, and does -
not want the ability, of a great general;, but after this
on a fudderi he changes his defigrj, and derives a plau-
fible pretence from the impatience he has to pay the iaft
devoirs to his. friend. The manners of Achilles, and
what he has already done for Patroclus, make this very
natural. At the fame time, this turning off to the lea-
der and pathetic has a fine eifea ; : the reader in the very
fury of the hero's vengeance, perceives that Achilles h
(rill a man, and capable of fofter paf!iorj,s.

Book XXII. HOME R's ILIAD. 149

jCan his dear image from my foul depart, 485

.Long as the vital fpirit moves my heart ?
,If, in the melancholy (hades below,
The flames of friends and lovers ceafe to glow,
j Yet mine (hall facred laft; mine undecay'd,
iBurn on thro' death, and animate my (hade. 490

(Meanwhile, ye fons of Greece, in triumph bring
The corps of Heclor, and your Pseans fing.
Be this the fong, flow-moving tow'rd the more,
| Heclor is dead, and Ilion is no more."

Then his fell foul a thought of vengeance bred, 495
j (Unworthy of himfelf, and of the dead;

f. 494. " Heclor is dead, and Ilion is no mpre"] I
have followed the opinion of Eufiathius, who thought
that what Achilles fays here was the chorus or burden of
ifong of triumph, in which his troops bear apart with
him, as he returns from this glorious combaie. Dacier
obferves that this is very correfpondent to the manners
of thofc times ; and inftances in that pafiage of the book
of Kings, when David returns from the conqueft of
Goliah : the women there go out to meet him from all
the cities of Ifrae], and fing a triumphal fong, the chorus
whereof is, Said has killed his thoufands y and David hh
ten thottfandj.

jr. 496, Unworthy of bimfelfa and of the dead. ~] This
inhumanity of Achilles in dragging the dead body of
Heclor, has been feverely (and I think indeed not with-
out feme juftice) cenfured by feveral, both ancients and
moderns. Plato in his third book de republican fpe&s
of it with deteftation: but methinks it is a great iu-
jullice to Homer, to refletf upon the morals of the au-
thor himfelf, for things which he only paints as the mari-
ners of a vicious hero,


i$o HOME R's ILIAD. BookXXU..

The nervous ancles bor'd, his feet he bound

With thongs inferted thro' the ctauble wound ;

Thefe fix'd up high behind the rolling wain,

His graceful head was trail'd along the plain. 500

Proud on his car th' infuking victor ftood,

And bore aloft his arms, diflilling blood.

He fmites the fteeds; the rapid chariot flies;,

The Hidden clouds of circling dull arife.

It may juftly be obferved in general of all Plato's ob*
jecVions againft Homer, that they are (till in a view to
morality, confiantly blaming him for reprefenting ill
and immortal things as the opinions or actions of his
perfons. To every one of thefe, one general anfwer
will ferve,. which is, that Homer as often defcribes ill
things, in order to make us avoid them, as good, to in-
duce us to follow them, (which is the cafe with all writers
whatever.) But what is extremely remarkable, and e«
fcidently (hews the injuftice of Plato's cenfure,. is, thai
many of thofe very actions for which he blames him, are
expreOy characterized and marked by Homer himfelf as
evil and deteftable, by previous expreflions or cautions,
Thus in the prefent place, before he defcribes this bar-
barity of Achilles, he tells us it was a mofl unworthy

■ X«j "Exropa J7ov detxiu priSzTOipya*

When Achilles facrifices the twelve young Trojans in
1. 23. he repeats the fame words. When Pandarus
broke the truce in 1. 4. he told us it was a mad, unjuft
deed \

— -7J3 $t rppiw$ appov-* tfuSt*.

And Co of the rciL

Book XXII. H O M E R*s I L I A D. 151

Kow loft is all that formidable air ; 5:05

The face divine, and long defcending hair
Purple the ground, and (treak the fable fand ;
Deform'd, difhonour'd, in his native land.!
Giv'n to the rage of an infukirg throng !
And, in his parent's fight, now dragg'd along ! 510
The mother firft beheld with Qxd furvey; O

She rent her trefles, venerably grey, S>

And caft, far off, the regal veils away. 3

With piercing (hrieks his bitter fate (he moans,
"While the fad father anfwcrs groans with groans, 515
Tears after tears his mournful cheeks o'erflow,
And the whole city wears one face of woe.
Iso lefs than if the rage of hoftile fires
From her foundations curling to her fpires,

f. 506. The face divine, and long- defcending hair.']
It is impoffi-ble to read the actions of great men without
having our curiofity raifed to know the leaft circum-
fiance that relates to them. Homer, to fatisfy it, has
taken care in the procefsof his poem to give us the fnape
of his heroes, and the very colour of their hair; thus
be has told us that Achilles's locks were yellow, and
here the epithet Kudvexi mews us that thofe of Hector
were of a darker -colour t as to his perfon, he told us a
little above, that It was fo handfome, that all the Greeks
were furprized to fee it. Plutarch, recites a remarkable
ftory of the beauty of Hector: it was reported in Lace-
ilaemon; that a handfome youth who very much refem-
bled Heclor was arrived there ; immediately the whole
city run in fuch numbers to behold him, that he was
trampled to death by the croud* Euftathius..

i$2 H O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXII.

O'er the proud citadel at length mould rife, 420

And the laft blaze fend Ilion to the ikies.

The wretched monarch of the falling (late,

Diilracled, pre/Fes to the Dardan gate.

Scarce the whole people (top his defp'rate courfe,

While ftrong affliction gives the feeble force : 525

Grief tears his heart, and drives him to and fro,

In all the raging impotence of woe.

At length he roll'd in duft, and thus begun :

Imploring all, and naming one by one.

Ah ! let me, let me go where forrow calls ; 530

I, only I, will iiTue from your walls,

(Guide or companion, friends ! I afk ye none)

And bow before the murd'rer of my fon.

My grief perhaps his pity may engage;

Perhaps at lead he may refpcft my age. 535

He has a father too ; a man like me ;

One, not exempt from age and mifery,

(Vig'rous no more, as when his young embrace

Begot this peft of me, and all my rice.)

How many valiant fons, in early bloom, 5 40

Has that curft hand fent headlong to the tomb !

Thee, Hector ! laft: thy lofs (divinely brave)

Sinks my fad foul with forrow to the grave.

y. 543. Sinks my fad foul with forrow to the gravc7\
It is in the Creek,

Ov f& «,V°5 o£o v.ciTOi'o-tTai d'^og u<ra.

It is needlefs to obferve to the reader with what a
beautiful pathos the wretched father laments his fon

BookXXIi: H O M E R's ILIAD. 153

Oh had thy gentle fpirit paft in peace,

The Ton expiring in the fire's embrace, 545

While both thy parents wept the fatal hour,

And bending o'er thee, mix'd the tender fhow'r!

Some comfort that had been, fome fad relief,

-To melt in full fatiety of grief !

Thus wail'd the father, grov'ling on the ground, 550
And all the eyes of Ilion ftream'd around.

Amidit her matrons Hecuba appears,
(A mourning princefs, and a train in tears)
Ah why has heav'n prolong'd this hated breath,
Patient of horrors, to behold thy death ? 555

Oh Hector ! late thy parents pride and joy,
The boaft of nations ! the defence of Troy !
To whom her fafety and her £me (he ow'd,
Her chief, her hero, and almoft her God !
O fatal change ! become in one fad day 560

A fenfelefs corfe ! inanimated clay !

But not as yet the fatal news had fpread
To fair Andromache, of Hector dead \

Hector: it is impoflible not to join with Priam in his
ibrrows. But what I would chiefly point out to my
reader, is the beauty of this line, which is particularly
tender, and almoft word for word the fame with that of
the patriarch Jacob ; who upon a like occafion breaks
out into the fame complaint, and tells his children, that
if they deprive him of his fon Benjamin, they will bring
down his grey hairs with forrow to the grave.

f. 563, etc.'] The grief of Andromache, which is
painted in the following part, is far beyond all the
praifes that can be given it ; bat I muft take notice of

r$4 H M E R's ILIAD. Book XXII.

As yet no mefTenger had told his fate,

Nor ev'n his flay without the Scsean gate. 565*

Far in the clofe recefles of the dome,

Penfive (he ply'd the melancholy loom j

A growing work employ'd her fecret hours,

Confus'dly gay with intermingled fiow'rs.

Here fair-hair'd handmaids heat the brazen urn, 570

The bath preparing for her Lord's return:

In vain : alas ! her Lord returns no more !

Unbath'd he lies, and bleeds along the more !

Mow from the walls the clamours reach her ear,

And all her members (hake with Fudden fear 5 575

Forth from her iv'ry hand the fhuttle falls,

As thus, aftonifh'd, to her maids (he calls.

Ah follow me ! (me cry'd) what plaintive noife
Invades my ear? 5 Tis fare my mother's voice.
My fault'ring knees their trembling frame defert, 580
A pulfe unufuai flutters at my heart,
Some ftrange difafter, fome reverfe of fate
(Ye Gods avert it) threats the Trojan ftate.

one particular which (hews the great art of the poet.
In order to make the wife of Hector appear yet more
afflicted than his parents, he has taken care to increafe
her affliction by fw prize: it is finely prepared by the
circumftances of her being retired to her innermoft a-
partment, of her employment in weaving a robe for her
hufband, (as may be conjectured from what (he fays
afterward, f. 657.) and of her maids preparing the bath
for his return : all which (as the critics have obferved)
augment the furprize, and render this reverfe of fortune
much more dreadful and afflicting.

Bool: XXII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 155

Far be the omen which my thoughts fuggeft: !

But much I fear my Hector's dauntlefs bread 585

Confronts Achilles; chas'd along the plain,

Shut from our walls ! I fear, I fear him (lain !

Safe in the croud he ever fcorn'd to wait,

And fought for glory in the jaws of fate :

Perhaps that noble heat has cod his breath, 590

Now quench'd for ever in the arms of death.

She fpoke; and furious, with diftracled pace,
Fears in her heart, and anguith in her face,
Flies thro' the dome, (the maids her fteps purfue)
And mounts the walls, and fends around her view. 59c/
Too foon her eyes the killing object found,
The god-like Hector dragg'd along the ground.
A fndden darknefs fhades her fwimming eyes :
She faints, (lie falls ; her breath, her colour flies.
Her hair's fair ornaments, the braids that bound, 600
The net that held them, and the wreath that crown'd,

f. 600. Her hair 's fair ornament /.] Euftathius re-
marks, that in fpeaking of Andromache and Hecuba,
Homer expatiates upon theornameuta of drefs in Andro-
mache, becaufe (he was a beautiful young princefs; but
is very concife about that of Hecuba^ becaufe me was
old, and wore a drefs rather fuitable to her age and
gravity, than to her (late, birth, and condition. I can-
not pafs over a matter of fuch importance as a lady's
drefs, without endeavouring to explain what fort of
heads were worn above three thoufand y.cs ago.

It is difficult to defcribe particularly every ornament
mentioned by the poet, but I (hall lay before my female
readers the bifnop's explanation. The *hf^v\ was ufed.

156 HOME R's ILIA D. Book XXII.

The veil and diadem, flew far away ;

(The gift of Venus on her bridal day)

Around a train of weeping lifters ftands

To raife her (inking with afiiftant hands. 605

Scarce from the verge of death recall'd again,

She faints, or but recovers to complain.

O wretched hufband of a wretched wife !
Born with one fate, to one unhappy life !
For fure one (tar its baneful beam difpiay'd 6 13

On Priam's roof, and Hippoplacia's (hade.
From diff'rent parents, diffrent climes we came,
At diff'rent perbJs, yet our fate the fame !
Why was my birth to great Aetion ow'd,
And why was all that tender care beftow'd? 615

to rag IpirpoerQlxc rpi^ats aracTftv, that IS, tO tie backwards

the hair that grew on the forepart of the head : the
KfHpvpxKoe was a veil of net- work that covered the hair
when it was fo tied : '^xSla^ was an ornament ufed
Kv*.\?7rtfl 7-wV xpoTxpu; ivxSuv, to tie backwards the hair
that grew on the temples; and the KpwJ^vav was a fillet,
perhaps embroidered with gold, (from the expreflion of
•XF V ™ AppoSlm) that bound the whole, and compleated
the drefs.

The ladies cannot but be pleafed to fee fo much learn- ,
ing and Greek upon this important fubjecl.

Homer is in nothing more excellent than in that di-
ftinclion of characters which he maintains through his
whole poem : what Andromache here fays, cannot be
fpoken properly by any but Andromache: there is no-
thing general in her forrows, nothing that can be tranf-
ferred to another character: the mother laments the
fon, and the wife weeps over the huiband.


Book XXII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 157

Would I had never been !— O thou, the ghoft

Of my dead hufband ! miferably loft !

Thou to the difmal realms for ever gone !

And I abandon'd, defolate, alone !

An only child, once comfort of my pains, 620

Sad product now of haplefs love remains !

No more to fmile upon his fire ! no friend

To help him now ! no father to defend !

For fhould he 'fcape the fword, the common doom !

What wrongs attend -him, and what griefs to come ? 6l$

Ev'n from his own paternal roof expell'd,

Some ftranger plows his patrimonial field.

The day, that to the fhades the rather fends,

Robs the fad orphan of his father's friends:

f. 628. The day, that to the /hades, etc.] The fol-
lowing verfes, which fo finely defcribe the condition of
an orphan, have been rejected by fome ancient critics:
it is a proof there were always critics of no manner of
tafte; it being impoflible any where to meet with a
more exquiiite pafTage. I will venture to fay, there
are not in all Homer any lines more worthy of him :
the beauty of this tender and com pad: on ate image is
fuch, that it even makes amends for the many cruel ones,
with which the Iliad is too much ftained. Thefecenfurers
imagined this defcription to be of too abject and mean
a nature of one of the quality of Aftyanax; but had they
conhdered (fays Euftathius) that thefe are the words of
a fond' mother, who feared every thing for her fon ;
that women are by nature timorous, and think all mif-
fortunes will happen, becaufe there is a poffibility that
they may; that Andromache is in the very height of
her forrows, in the inftant (he is fpeaking ; 1 fancy they
would have altered their opinion.

Vol. IV. O

1^3 HOME R's ILIAD. Book XXII.

He, wretched outcaft of mankind ! appears 6$$

For ever fad, for ever bath'd in tears;

Amongft the happy, unregarded he,

Hangs on the robe, or trembles at the knee,

While thofe his father's former bounty fed,

Ivor reach the goblet, nor divide the bread: ^35

The kindeft but his prefent wants allay,

To leave him wretched the fucceeding day.

Frugal compaflion ! heedlefs tht?y who boaft

Both parents ftill, nor feel what he has loft,

Shall cry, " Be gone ! thy father feafts not here:" 640

The wretch obeys, retiring with a tear.

Thus wretched, thus retiring all in tears,

To my fad foul Aftyanax appears !

Forc'd by repeated infults to return,

And to lib widow'd mother vainly mourn. 64$

He, who with tender delicacy hred,

With princes fported, and on dainties fed,

It is undoubtedly an aggravation to our misfortunes
when they link us in a moment from the higheft flow of
profperity to the lo weft advertlty : the poet judicioufly
makes ufe of this circumftance, the more to excite our
pity, and introduces the mother with the utmoft ten- 1
dernefs, lamenting this reverfe of fortune in her fon;
changed all at once into a (lave, a beggar, an orphan !
have we not examples in our own times of unhappy
princes, whofe condition renders this of Aftyanax but too
probable ?

f. 647. On dainties fed\] It is in the Greek, " Who
u upon his father's knees, ufed to eat marrow and the
u fat of fheep." This would feem grofs if it were li-
terally tranflated, but it is a figurative expreflion ; in

I Book XXII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 159
I And when flill ev'ning gave him up to reft,
I Sunk foft in down upon the nurfe's bread,
1 Muft— ah what muft he not ? Whom Ilion calls 650
Aftyanax, from her well-guarded walls,
Is now that name no more, unhappy boy J
Since now no more the father guards his Troy.
But thou, my Hector, ly'ft exposed in air,
Far from thy parent's and thy confort's care, 655

Whofe hand in vain, directed by her love,
The martial fcarf and robe of triumph wove,

the ftyle of the orientals,, marrow and fatnefs are taken
for whatever is belt, tendereft, and moit delicious. Thus
in Job xxi. 24. Vifcera ejus plena font adipe, et medullis
effa ejus irrigantur. And xxxvi. 16. Requies autem
menfe tua erit plena phguedlne. In Jer. xxxi. 14.
God fays, that he willfatiate the foul of the priefts with
fetnefs. Inebriabo anim am facer -datum pinguedine. Dacier..

f. 657. The martial fcarf and robe of triumph wove. ~\
This idea very naturally offers itfelf to a woman, who
reprefents to herfelf the body of her hufband darned to
pieces, and all his limbs dragged upon the ground un-
covered ; and nothing is more proper to excite pity.
It is well known, that it was anciently the cuftom a-
mong princefles and great ladies to have large quantities
of fluffs and moveables. This proviGon was more necef-
fary in thofe times than now^becaufe of the great confump-
tion made of them on thofe occafions of mourning. Dacier ..

I am of opinion that Homer had a farther view in ex-
patiating thus largely upon the death of Hector. Every
word that Hecuba, Priam, and Andromache fpeak, fhews
us the importance of Hector: every word adds a weight
to the concluding action of the poem, and at she fame-
time reprefents the fad effects of the anger of Achilles,
«hich. is the fubject of it.


l6o H <J M E R's I L I A D. BookXXU.

Now to devouring flames be thefe a prey,

Ufelefs to thee, from this accurfed day !

Yet let the facrHice at lead be paid, 660

An honour to the living, not the dead !

So fpake the mournful dame : her matrons hear>
Sigh back her fighs, and anfwer tear with tear.


i l i a x*



ACHIL LES and the Myrmidons do honours to the body"
of Patroclus. After i 'he finer al feajl he retires to the'
fea-Jhore; where falling afleep, theghofl of his friend
appears to him, and demands the rites of burial; the nexir
morning the foldiers are fen t with mules and waggons ta>
fetcbwood for the pyre. The funeral procefion, and the •
offering their hair to the dead. Achilles facrifices fe-
ver al animals, and lajlly twelve Trojan captives at the-
p'rle, then fets fire to it. He pays libations to the
winds) which (at the in/lance of Iris) rife, and raifr
tie flames. When the- pile has burned all night T t hey
gather the bones, place them in- an urn of gold, and
raifi the tomb. Achilles inflitutcs the funeral games ;:
the chariot-race, the fight of the Caflus, the wrejl-
ling r the foot-race, thefingle com bate, the Difcus, the
fbooting with arrows, the darting the javelin : the
various ds/'criptions of which, and the various fitccefs
of the fever al antagonifls, make the greatejl part off
the book.

In this book ends the- thirtieth day. The night following x
the ghojl of Patroclus appears to Achilhs ■• the one and;
thirtieth day is employed in felling the- timber for the
pile;, the two and thirtieth in burning it; and the three,
and thirtieth in the ganm^ Thefcsne. is generalises,

j62 H O M E R's I L I A D. BookXXIlI.

'THUS humbled in the dull, the penfive train
Thro' the fad city mourn'd her hero flain.
The body foil'd with duft, and black with gore,
Lies on broad f&Uefpont's refounding {here :

This, and the following book, which contain the
defcription of the funeral of Patroclus and other matters
relating to Hector, are undoubtedly fuper-acfded to the
grand cataftrophe of the poem ; for the ftory is com-
pleatly finifhed with the death of that hero in the twen-
ty-fecond book. Many judicious critics have been of
opinion, that Homer is blameable for protracting it.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 10 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad (Volume 4) → online text (page 10 of 22)