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Virgil clofes the whole fcene of action with the death of
Turnns, and leaves the reft to be imagined by the mind
of the reader: he does not draw the picture at full length,
out delineates it fo far, that we cannot fail of imagining
the whole draught. There is however one thing to be
faid in favour of Homer, which may perhaps juftify him
m his method, that what he undertook to paint was the
qrger of Achilles: and as that anger does not die with
Hector, but'perfecutes his very remains, fo the poet
ftill keeps up to his fubject; nay, it feems to require
that he mould carry down the relation of that refent-
mcnt, which is the foundation of his poem, till it is fully
fatisfied: and as this furvives Hector, and gives the
poet an opportunity of ftill mewing many fad effects of
Achijles's anger, the two following books may be thought
aot to be excrefcencies, but eflential to the poem.

Virgil had been inexcufable had he trod in Homer's
footitens; for it is evident that the fall of Turnus, by
giving .Eneas a full power over Italy, anfwers the whole
defign and intention of the poem ; had lie gone farther,
he had over/hot his mark : and though Homer proceeds
after Hector's death, yet the fubject is ftill the anger of
Achiiles.

We are now paft the war and violence of the Hi as,
the fcenes of blood are clofed during rhe reft: of the



Book XXIII. H O M E R's ILIA D, 169

The Grecians feek their (hips, and clear the (brand, £
All, but the martial Myrmidonian band :
Thefe yet afTcmbled great Achilles holds,
And the (tern purpofe of his mind unfolds.

Not yet (my brave companions of the war)
Releafe your fmoking courfers from the car; l&

But, with his chariot each in order led',
Perform due honours to Patroclus dead.
Ere yet from reft or food we feek relief,
Some rites remain, to glut our rage of grief.

The troops obey'd; and thrice in order led IS

'.Achilles firft) their courfers round the dead;
And thrice their forrows and laments renew;
Tears bathe their arms, and tears the fands bedew.

poem; we may look back with a pleaCng kind ofhorroc
upon the anger of Achilles, and fee what dire erTecls it
has wrought in the compafs of nineteen days : Troy
and Greece are both in mourning for it, heaven and
earth,, gods and men, have fuffered in the con flicl. The
'leader feems landed upon the fhore after a violent dorm j
and has leifure ta furvey the confequences of the tem-
ped, and the wreck occafkmed by the former commo-
tions, Troy weeping for Heeler, and Greece for Patroclus.
Our paffions have been in an agitation fince the opening
of the poem ; wherefore the poet, like fome great mafter
in mufic, foftens his notes, and meks his readers into
tendernefs and pity.

%. 1 8.. Tears bathe their arms, and tears the fands
bedew,

-Thetis aids their woe. ~\

It is not eafy to give a reafon why Thetis fhouid be (aid
to excite the grief of the Myrmidons and of Achilles ; It
had feenied more natural for the mother to have com»



164 H O M E R's ILIA D. BboRXXIir*

For fuch a warrior Thetis aids their woe,

Melts their ftrong hearts, and bids their eyes to flow. 20

pofed the forrows of the fon, and reftored his troubled 1
mind to tranquillity.

But fuch a procedure would have outraged the cha-
racter of Achilles, wh& is all along defcribed to be of
fuch a violence of temper, that he is not eafy to be pa«
cified at any time, much lef3 upon fo great an incident
as the death of his friend Patroclus. Perhaps the poet
made ufe of this fiction in honour of Achilles^, he makes,
every paflion of his hero confiderable ; his forrow as
well as anger is important, and he- cannot grieve but &
goddefs attends him, and a whole army weeps.

Some commentators fancy that Homer animates the
very fands of the fea, and the arms of the Myrmidons,,
and makes them fenfible of the lofs of Patroclus ; the
preceding words feem to ftrengthen that opinion, be-
caufe the poet introduces a goddefs to raife the forrow
of the army. But Euftathius feems not to give inta
this conjecture, and I think very judicioufly; for what
relation is there between the fands of the fhores, awfc
the arms of the Myrmidons ? It would have been more
poetical to have faid, the fands and the rocks, than the
fends and the arms; but it is very natural to fay, thai
the foldkrs wept fo bitterly, that their armour and thl
very fands were wet with their tears. I believe this
remark will appear very juft by reading the verfe, with*
aconima after r^e*, thus,

AtvovTO v^ct^aSiJJ, Sivov<to £l riv^ia, tpuriir*
Acwcpus"!.

Then the construction will be natural and eafy, period^
will anfwer period in the Greek, and the fenfein Englift*
will be, the fands were wet, and the arms were wet,,
with the tears of the mourners.

But however this be, there is a very remarkable-
beauty in, the run of the verfe in Homer, every wor£



Book XXIII. H O M E R's I L I A D. 16$

But chief, Pelides : thick-fucceeding fighs
Burft frpm his heart, and torrents from his eyes:
His flaught'ring hands,, yet red with blood, he laid
On his dead friend's cold breaft, and thus he faid.

All hail, Patroclus ! let thy honour'd ghoft 25

Hear, and rejoice on Pluto's dreary coaft>
Behold ! Achilles' promife is compleat;
The bloody Hedor ftretch'd before thy feet.
Lo ! to the dogs his carcafs I refign ;
And twelve fad victims of the Trojan line, 3®

Sacred to vengeance, inftant mall expire,
Their lives effus'd around thy fun'ral pyre..

Gloomy he faid, and (horrible to view)
Before the bier the bleeding Hector threw,

has a melancholy cadence, and the poet has not only
made the fands and the arms, but even his very verfe,
to lament with Achilles.

i\ 23. His plight' ring hands, yet red with blood, he
laid

On his dead friend's cold hreaj} ]

I could not pafs by this paflage without obferving to my
reader the great beauty of this epithet, ivi^wt. An
ordinary poet would have contented himfelf with faying,
he laid his hand upon the breaft of Patroclus; but Hs-
mer knows how to raife the moft trivial circumftance,.
and by adding this one word, he laid his deadly hands,
or his murderous hands, he fills our minds with great
ideas, and by a angle epithet recalls to our thoughts aH
the noble atchievements of Achilles through the Iliad.

^. 2c. All hail, Patroclus, etc.] There is in this a-
poftrophe of Achilles to the ghoft of Patroclus, a fort of
fcvagenefs, and a-mixture of foftnefsand atrocity, whida
are highly conformable to his character. Dacier.



)66 H O M E R/s ILIAD. Book XXIII.

Prone on the duft. The Myrmidons around 35

Unbrac'd their armour, and the deeds unbound.

All to Achilles' fable Ihip repair,

Frequent and full, the genial feaft to (hare.

Now from the well-fed fwine black fmoaks afpire,

The briftly victims hitting o'er the lire ;

The huge ox bellowing falls ; with feebler cries

Expires the goat j the fheep in filence dies.

Around the hero's proftrate body flow'd,

In one promifcuous ftream, the reeking blood.

And now a band of Argive monarchs brings

The glorious victor to the king of kings.

From his dead friend the penfive warrior went,

With fteps unwilling, to the regal tent.

Th' attending heralds, as by office bound,

With kindled flames the tripod-vafe furround ;

To cleanfe his conqu'ring hands from hoftile gore,

They urg'd in vain; the chief refus'd, and fwore.

No drop mail touch me, by almighty Jove I
The firfi: and greateft of the Gods above !
''Till on the pyre I place thee; 'till I rear
The grairy mound, and clip thy facred hair.

jh 1 1. To cleanfe his conquering hands



The chief refus'd ]

This is conformable to the cuftom of the orientals: A-
chilles will not be induced to wafh, and afterwards re-
tires to the fea-fhore, and fleeps on the ground. It is
juft thus that David mourns in the fcriptures; he re-
fufes to warn, or to take any repaft, but retires from
company, and lies upon the earth-



Book XXIII. H O M E R's I L I A D. 167

Some eafe at lead thofe pious rites may give,
lAnd foothe my forrows, while I bear to live.
Howe'er, reluctant as I am, I day,
1 And (hare your fead; but, with the dawn of day, 60
(O king of men !) it claims thy royal care,
That Greece the warrior's fun'ral pile prepare,
And bid the forefts fall : (fuch rites are paid
To heroes flumb'rlng in eternal (hade)
Then, when his earthly part (hall mount in fire, 65
Let the leagu'd fquadrons to their ports retire.

He fpoke ; they hear him, and the word obey ; O
The rage of hunger and of third allay, -

Then eafe in deep the labours of the day. _>

But great Pelides, dretch'd along the (hore 70

Where dauYd on rocks the broken billows rore,
Lies inly groaning ; while on either hand
The martial Myrmidons confus'dly (land:
Along the grafs his languid members fall,
Tir'd with his chafe around the Trojan wall; 75

Hufli'd by the murmurs of the rolling deep,
At length he finks in the foft arms of deep.
When lo ! the (hade before his clofing eyes
Of fad Patroclus rofc, or feem'd to rife;

#.78. The ghofi of Patroclus.'] Homer has introduc-
ed into the former parts of the poem the perfonages of
gods and goddefles from heaven, and of furies from hell.
He has embellimed it with ornaments from earth, fea,
and air ; and he here opens a new feme, and brings to
the view a ghoft, the (hade of the departed friend: by
thefe methods he diverfifies his poem with new and fur-



t68 HOMER's ILIA D. BookXXIIt.

In the fame robe he living wore, he came, So

In ftature, voice, and pleafing look, the fame.

The form familiar hover'd o'er his head, }

And fleeps Achilles (thus the -phantom faid) >

Sleeps my Achilles, his Patroclus dead ? J

Living, I feem'd his deareft, tend 'reft care> 85

But now forgot, I wander in the air ;

Let my pale corfe the rites of burial know,

And give me entrance in the realms below:

'Till then, the fpirit finds no reftitig-place,

But here and there th' unbody'd fpe&res chace 90

The vagrant dead around the darfc abode,

Forbid to crofs th' irremeable flood.

prizing circumftances, and awakens the attention of the
reader; at the fame time he very poetically adapts his
language to the circumftances of this imaginary Patro-
clus, and teaches us the opinions that prevailed in his
time, concerning the ftate of feparate fouls.

f. 92. Forbid to crofs th y irremeable flood. .] It was
the common opinion of the ancients, that the fouls of
the departed were not admitted into the number of the
happy till their bodies had received the funeral rites;
they fuppofed tbofe that wanted them wandered an hun-
dred years before they were wafted over the infernal
river ; Virgil perhaps had this paflage of Homer in his
view in the fixth jEneis, at leaft he coincides with his
fentiments concerning the ftateof the departed fouls.

Hac omnis, quam cemis, imps inhumataque turba eft :
Nee rip as datur horrendas, nee rant a fluent a
Tr an/port are priiis, quam fe dibits of a quierunt ;
Centum errant annos, vol it ant que hec lit torn circum ;
Turn demum admijfi ftagna exoptata revifunt.

It






Book XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 169

Now give thy hind; for to the farther fiiore

When once we pafs, the foul returns no more.

When once the laft funereal flames afcend, 9$

Ko more fhali meet Achilles and liis friend,

No more our thoughts to thofe we lov'd make known,

Or quit the deareft, to converle alone.

Me fate has fever'd from the fons of earth,

The fate fbre*doom'd that waited from my birth : 100

Thee too it waits; before the Trojan wall

Ev'n great and godlike thou art doom'd to fall.

Hear then| and as in fate and love we join,

Ah fufFer that my bones may reft with thine !

It was during this interval between death and the rites
of funeral, that they fuppofed the only time allowed for
feparate fpirits to appear to men; therefore Patroclus
fcere tells his friend,

— To the farther fiore

When ones wepafs, the foul returns no more.

For the fuller undemanding of Homer, it is necefTary
to be acquainted with his notion of the (late of the foul
after death : he followed the philofophy of the Egyp-
tians, who fuppofed man to be compounded of three
parts, an intelligent mind, a vehicle for that mind, and
a body; the mind they call tyfa or 4&X** the vehicle
iifaKov, image or fouly and the grofs body o-S^a. The
foul, in which the mind was lodged, was fuppofed exact-
ly to refemble the body in fhape, magnitude, and
features ; for this being in the body, as the ftatue in its
mold, fo foon as it goes forth is properly the image of
that body in which it was inclofed: this it was thatap-
J>eared to Achilles, with the full refemblance of his
friend Patroclus. Vid. Dacier's life of Pythagoras, p. 71.

if. 104. Abfujfer that my bones may reft with tbine.l

Vol. IV. P



X 7 o HOME R's ILIA D. Book XXIII.
Together have we liv'd, together bred, 105

One houfe receiv'd us, and one table fed :
That golden urn thy goddefs-mother gave,
May mix our allies in one common grave.

And is it thou : (he anfwers) to my fight
Once more return 'ft thou from the realms of night ? no
Oh more than brother ! think each office paid,
"Whate'er can reft a difcontented fhade;
But grant one laft embrace, unhappy boy !
Afford at leaft that melancholy joy.

There is fomething very pathetical in this whole fpeech
of Patroclus ; he begins it with kind reproaches, and
blames Achilles with a friendly tendernefs ; he recounts
to him the infeparable affection that had been between
them in their lives, and makes it his laft requeft, that
they may not be parted even in death, but that their
bones may reft in the fame urn. The fpeech itfelf is
of a due length; it ought not to be very fhort, becaufe
this apparition is an incident intirely different from any
other in the whole poem, and consequently the reader
would not have been fatisfied with a curfory mention
of it; neither ought it to be long, becaufe this would
have been contrary to the nature of fuch apparitions,
whofe ftay upon earth has ever been defcribed as very
fhort, and confequently they cannot be fuppofed to ufe
many words.

The circumftance of being buried in the fame urn, is
intirely conformable to the eaftern cuftom : there are
innumerable inftances in the fcriptures of great perfon-
ages being buried with their fathers: fo Jofeph would
not fuffer his bones to reft in ^Egypt, but commands his
brethren to carry them into Canaan, to the burying-
place of his father Jacob.



Book XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 171

He faid, and with his longing arms efTay'd 115

In vain to grafp the vifionary fhadc ;
Like a thin fmoke he fees the fpirit fly,
And hears a feeble lamentable cry.
Confus'd he wakes; amazement breaks the bands O
Of golden fleep, and darting from the fands, > 120

Penlive he mufes with uplifted hands. 3

'Tis true, 'tis certain; man tho' dead, retains
Part of himfeif ; th' immortal mind remains :
The form fubGits without the body's aid,
Aerial femblance, and an empty made ! 12 5

f. 124. The form fulfils, writ boat the bodfs aid,
Aerial femblance j and an empty /bade.'}

The words of Homer are,

In which there feems to be a great difficulty; it being
net eafy to explain how Achilles can fay that the ghoft
of his friend had no understanding, when it had but
juft made fuch a rational and moving fpeech ; efpechlly
when the poet introduces the apparition with the very
(hape, air, and voice of Patroclus.

But this parage will be clearly underftood, by ex-
plaining the notion which the ancients entertained of
the fouls of the departed, according to the fore-cited
triple diviilon of mind, image, and body. They imagined
that the foul was not only feparated from the body at
the hour of death, but that there was a farther feparati-
on of the ?>p»v, or underflanding, from its tifa\ov t or ve-
hicle; fo that while the hSuxov, or image of the body,
was in hell, the w**> or undemanding might be in
heaven: and that this is a true explication, is evident
from a pafTage in the OdyfTey, book ii.f, 600.
P 2 *



172 HOMER's ILIAD. Book XXIII*,

This night my friend, fo late in battel loft,

?tood at my fide, a penfive, plaintive ghoft ;

Ev'n now familiar, as in life, he came,

Alas ! how difPrent ! yet how like the fame !

Thus while he fpoke, each eye grew big with tears ; um
And now the rofy-finger'd morn appears,
-hews ev'ry mournful face with tears o'erfpread,.
ftnd glares on the pale vifage of the dead.

To* H fj.(7 , ttsrivoycra. (ilnv, 'Hpaxkntinv
Eiv6)Kov' elvro; Si ju.-t' dBxvuTOici 8t$i<rt

Now J the ftrength of Hercules behold,
A toiv'riugfpecire of gigantic mold;
A JhadowjfartH! for high in heav'tfs abodes
Himfelf re fides > a God among the Gods :
There in the bright affemblies of the piles
He NeBar quaffs , and Hebe crowns his joys.

By this it appears that Homer was of opinion that Her-
cules was in heaven, while his I/Jaxov, or image, was in:
hell: fo that when this fecond reparation is made, the
image or vehicle becomes a merethoughtlefs form.

We have this whole doctrine very difrinctly delivered'
by Plutarch in thefe words : A Man is a compound fub-
" jeel; but not of two parte, as is commonly believed,.
il becaufe the under/landing is generally accounted a*
u part of the feu! ; whereas indeed it as far exceeds the
u foul, as the foul is diviner than the body. Now the-
" foul, when compounded with the ucderftanding,
" makes reafbn ; and when compounded with the body,.
" paflion : v. hereof the one is the fource or principle
" of pleafure or pain, the other of vice or virtue. Man
*J therefore properly dies two deaths; the hrit death
" makes him two ox three, and the fecond makes him-
u one of two." Plutarch, of the face in the. moon.



73



J BookXXlII. H O M E R's ILIAD.

J But Agamemnon, as the rites demand,

I With mules and waggons fends a chofen band; 135

[ To load the timber, and the pile tc rear,

1 A charge confign'd to Merion's faithful care.

With proper instruments they take the road,

Axes to cut, and ropes to fling the load,
I Firfl: march the heavy mule?, fecurely flow, 140

O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks they go:

f. 141. O'er hilts, o'er dales, o'er crags, o*er rocks

they go

On all fides round the fore Jl hurls her oaks

Headlong ]

The numbers in the original of this whole pafTage are
admirably adapted to the images the verfes convey to
us. Every ear muft have felt the propriety of found
n this line,

' TlOWCt S J UVCCVTCt, X«V«VT«, TCCpCtVTKl Tt, ol^f/.ta. t ' »^9«V»

The other in its kind is no lefs exafr,

Ta/tcvov lxayo/u.tvoi, reel Si fj.ty<x\u y.1u7riv<r<xi.
Ti'mlov •—

Dionyfius of HalicarnafTus has collected many inftances
of thefe forts of beauties in Homer. This defcription
of felling the forefts, fo excellent as it is, is compre-
hended in a few lines, which has left room for a larger
and more particular one in Statius, one of the beft (I
think) in that author.

• Cadlt ardua fagns,

Chaomumque nemus, hrumaque HUfa cttpreffus;
Procumhunt pice* 9 ftammis aliment a fupremis,
Ornique, iliciaque trahes, metuandaque fulu>

p 2



174 H Q M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIII.
Jumping, high o'er the (limbs of the rough ground,
Rattle the clatt'ring cars, and the fkockt axles bound.
But when arriv'd at Ida's fpreading woods,
(Fair Ida, water'd with defcending floods) 145;

Loud founds the axe, redoubling ftrokes on ftrokes;
On all fides round the foreft hurls her oaks
Headlong. Deep-echoing groan the thickets brown %
Thei) ruftling, crackling, crafhing, thunder down.

Tax us, et infandos belli potura cruores

Fr ax in us, a t que fit u non expugnabile robur :

Uinc audax abies, et odoro vulnere plnus

Scinditur, accllnant intonfa cacumina terrx

Alms arnica fret is } nee inhofpita vitibus ulmus, etc.

I the rather cite this fine paflage, becaufe I find it co*
pied by two of the greateft poets of our own nation,
Chaucer and Spenfer. The firft in the ajjembly offowls >
the fecond in his fairy queen, lib. 1.

The failing fhe 9 the cedar proud and tall,
The vine-prop elm, the poplar never dry.
The builder oak,fole king of fore/Is all,
The afpin good for /laves, the cyprefs finer aL
The laurel, meed of mighty conquerors,
And poets fage ; the fir that weepeth ftill,
The Willow, worn of forlorn paramours ,
The yew obedient to the benders will,
The birch for fiafts, the fallow for the mill,
The myrrh ,fiDset-hleeding in the bitter wound y
The roar like beech, the ajh for nothing ill,
The fruitful olive, and the plant ans round,
7b* carver holms > the ma^l^feldom inward found,.



3pok XXIII. H O M E R's I L I A D. 17$
Hie wood the Grecians cleave, prepar'd to burn • 150
And the flow mules the fame rough road return.
The fturdy woodmen equal burdens bore
(Such charge was giv'n 'em) to the fandy fliore ;
There on the fpot which great Achilles Pnow'd,
They eas'd their fhoulders, and difpos'd the load ; 155
Circling around the place, where times to come
Shall view Patroclus' and Achilles* tomb.
The hero bids his martial troops appear

High on their cars in all the pomp of war;

Each in refulgent arms his limbs attires, ico

All mount their chariots, combatants and fquires.

The chariots firft proceed, a Alining train ;

Then clouds of foot that fmoke along the plain;

Next thefe the melancholy band appear,

Amtdit, lay dead Patroclus on the bier : 16$

O'er all the corfe their fcatter'd locks they throw;

Achilles next, opprefl: with mighty woe,

f. 160. Each in refulgent arms, etc.] It is not to be
fuppofed that this was a general cuflom ufed at all fune*
rals ; bul Patroclus being a warrior, he is buried like a
Soldier, with military honours. Euftathius.

f. 166. O'er all the corfe- their fcatter'd loch they
thrczv.~]
The ceremony of cutting off the hair in honour of the.
dead, was practifed not only among the Greeks, but al-
£0 among other nations ; thus Statius Thebaid 6*



■Tergoque et peftore fufim



Ccefariem ferro minuit, feftifque jacenth-
Qbmibit t inula or a comis*



i 7 6 HOME R's ILIAD. Book XXIII.
Supporting with his hand* the hero's head,
Bends o'er th' extended body of the dead.

This cuftom is taken notice of in holy fcripture: Eze-
lciel defcribing a great lamentation, lays, They j hall make
them/elves utterly bald for thee, ch. xxvii. f, 31. I be-
live it was done not only in token of forrow, but per-
haps had a concealed meaning, that as the hair was cut
from the head, and was never more to be joined to it,
fo was the dead for ever cut off from the living, never
more to return.

I muft obferve that this ceremony of cutting off the
hair was not always in token of forrow ; Lycophron in
his CafTandra, f. $76. defcribing a general lamentation,
fays,

Kpccrog <J' uKVpoc v«t« y.cc\\vv;i fo/3>;.

j4 length ofunjhorn hah- adorned their backs.

And that the ancients fometimes had their hair cut off
in token of joy, is evident from Juvenal, Sat. 12. f. 82.



•Gaudent ibl vertice rafo



C arrula fecur'i narrare perieula nautce.

This feeming contradiction will be folved by having re-
fpect to the different practices of different nations. If
it was the general cuftorn of any country to wear long
hair, then the cutting it off was a token of forrow ; but
if it was the cuftom to wear fhort hair, then the letting
it grow long and neglecting it, mewed that fuch people
were mourners.

i/ . 168. Supporting with his hands the hero's head.~\
Achilles follows the corpfe as chief mourner, and fuftains
the head of his friend: this lad circumftance feems to
be general j thus Euripides in the funeral of Rhefus,
f. 886.



BookXXIIL H O M E R's ILIAD. 177

,Patroclus decent on th' appointed ground 170

They place, and heap the fylvan pile around.

But great Achilles ftands apart in pray'r,

And from his head divides the yellow hair;

Thofe curling locks which from his youth he vow'd,

And facred grew, to Sperchius' honour'd flood : 175

Then fighing, to the deep his looks he caft,

And roll'd his eyes around the wat'ry wafte.

Sperchius ! whofe waves in mazy errors loft
Delightful roll along my native coaft !
To- whom we vainly vow'd, at our return, 180

Thefe locks to fall, and hecatombs to burn:

T*V vvip KJ^axfj? 8«cf , Z Ba.o-ih.tV}
4>opaJ , «v Ttttu-fU)

What Cod, king, with his hands fupports the head of the
deceafsd?
f, 175. And facred grew to Sperchius' honour'd flood. 1
It was the cu (torn of the ancients not only to offer their
own hair, but likewife to confecrate that of their chil-
dren to the river-gods of their country. This is what
Paufanias faews in his Attics : Before you f dp thiCe-


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Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad (Volume 4) → online text (page 11 of 22)