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Andfingly van^uilh'd the Cadmean race.

Him great Tydides urges to contend,

Warm with the hopes of conqueft for his friend, 793'

Officious with the cindure girds him round ;

And to his wrift the gloves of death are bound.

Amid the circle now each champion (lands,

And poifes high in air his iron hands ;

With claming gantlets now they fiercely clofe, ' 795

Their crackling jaws re-echo to the blows, \

And painful fweat from all their members flows. J

At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow,

Full on the cheek of his unwary foe;

Beneath that pond'rous arm's refiftlefs fway 800

Down dropt he, nervelefs, and extended lay.

As a large R(h, when winds and waters rore,

By fome huge billow dafh'd againft the fhore,

Lies panting: not lefs batter'd with his wound,

The bleeding hero pants upon the ground. 805

To rear his fallen foe, the viclor lends,

Scornful, his hand ; and gives him to his friends;

Whofe arms fupport him, reeling thro' the throng, J

And dragging his difabled legs along;

Nodding, his head hangs down his moulder o'er; 810

His mouth and noflrils pour the clotted gore;

Wrapt round in'mifts he lies, and loft to thought ;.

His friends receive the bowl, too dearly bought.

JJpok XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 211

The third bold game Achilles next demands,
And calls the wreftlers to the level fands : 815

A mafly tripod for the victor lies,
Of twice fix oxen its reputed price;
And next, the lofers fplrits to reftore,
A female captive, valu'd but at four.
Scarce did the chief the vig'rous ftrife propofc, 820
When tow'r-like Ajax and UlyfTes rofe. I

Amid the ring each nervous rival (lands,
Embracing rigid with implicit hands :
Clofe lock'd above, their heads and arms are mixt;
Below, their planted feet, at difhnce fixt : 825

i/ike two ftrong rafters which the builder forms
Proof to the wintry wind and howling ftorms,

f. 819. A female captive, valu'd but at four f\ I can-
not in civility neglect a remark made upon this paiTage
by Madam Dacier, who highly refents the affront put
upon her fex by the ancients, who fet (it feems) thrice ,
the value upon a Tripod as upon a beautiful female
flave : nay, (he is afraid the vslue of women is not nifed
even in our days j for (he fays there are curious perfons
now living, who had rather have a true antique kettle,
than the fined woman alive r I confefs I intireiy agree
with the lady, and rnuft impute fuch opinions of the
J fair fex to want oftafte in both ancients and moderns:
the reader may remember that thefe tripods were of no
ufe, but made intireiy for Ihow; and confequently the
mod fatirical critic could only fay, the woman and Tri-
pod ought to have born an equal value.

f . 826. Like two firing rafters, etc.] I will give the
reader the words of Euftathius upon this (imilitude,
which very happily reprefents the wreftlers in the po-
fture of wredling. Their heads leaned one againft the

212 HO M E R's I L I AD. Book XXIIIv

Their tops connected, but at wider fpace

Fixt on the centre {lands their folid bafe.

Now to the grafp each manly body bends ; 839

The humid fweat from ev'ry pore defcends;

Their bones refound with blows: fides, fhoulders, thighs,

Swell to each gripe, and bloody tumours rife.

Nor could Ulyfles, for his art renown'd,

O'erturn the ftreng^hof Ajax on the ground; 835

Nor could the ftrengtb of Ajax overthrow

The watchful caution of his artful foe.

While the long ftrife ev'n tir'd the lookers-on-,

Thus to Ulyfles fpoke great Telamon.

Or let me lift thee, chief, or lift thou me: 840

Prove we our force, and Jove the reft decree.

He faid; and (training, heav'd him off the ground
With matchlefs ftrenglh ; that time Ulyfles found
The ftrength t' evade, and where the nerves combine
His ankle ftrook: the giant fell fupine; 845

UlyfTes following, on his bofom lies ;
Shouts of applaufe run ratt'ling thro' the fides.
Ajax to lift, UlylTes next effays,
He barely ftirr'd him, but he could not raife :

other, like the rafters that fupnort the roof of a houfe;
at the foot they are disjoined, and ftand at a greater
diftance, which naturally paints the attitude of body in
the/e two wreftlers, while they contend for victory.

f. 849. He barely fllrr'd him, but be could not raife.']
The poet by this circumilance excellently maintains the
character of Ajax, who has all along been defcribed as a
ftrong, unwieldy warrior : he is fo heavy, that UlylTes

BookXXIH. H O M E R's I L I A D. 213

JHis knee look'd faft, the foe's attempt deny'd ; 85^
And grappling clofe, they tumbled fide by fide.
DenTd with honourable duft, they roll
Still breathing ftrife, and unfubdu'd of foul:
Again they rage, again to combate rife;
"When great Achilles thus divides the prize. 855

Your nobler vigour, oh my friends, reftrain ;
Nor weary out your gen'rous ftrength in vain.
Ye both have won : let others who excel,
Now prove that prowefs you have prov'd fo well.

The hero's words the willing chiefs obey, Q 86«
From their tir'd bodies wipe the duft away, J>
And, cloath'd anew, the following games furvey. J
/.nd now fuceeed the gifts, ordain'd to grace
The youths contending in the rapid race.
A filver urn that full fix meafures held, 865

By none in weight or workmanfhip excell'd:

can fcarce lift him. The words that follow will bear a
different meaning, either that Ajax locked his leg with-
in that of UlyfTes, or that UlyfTes did it. Euftathius
obferves, that if Ajax gave UlyfTes this (hook, then he
may be allowed to have fome appearance of an equality
in the conteft; but if UlyfTes gave it, than Ajax mufl be
acknowleged to have been foiled : but (continues he) it
appeared to be otherwife to Achilles, who was the judge
of the field, and therefore he gives them an equal prize,
becaufe they were equal in the conteft.

Madam Dacier mifreprefents Euftathius on this place,
in faying he thinks it was UlyflTes who gave the fecond
ftroke to Ajax, whereas it appears by the foregoing note
that he rather determines otherwife in content with the
judgment given by Achilles.

2T4 H O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIII.

Sidonian artifts taught the frame to mine,

Elaborate, with artifice divine;

Whence Tyrian failors did the prize tranfport,

And gave to Thoas at the Lemnian port: 87c

From him defcended good Eunseus heir'd

The glorious gift; and, for Lycaon fpar'd,

To brave Patroclus gave the rich reward.

Now, the fame hero's fun'ral rites to grace,

It ftands the prize of fwiftnefs in the race.

A well-fed ox was for the fecond plac'd ;

And half a talent mud content the lad.

Achilles rifing then befpoke the train :

Who hope the palm of fwiftnefs to obtain,

Stand forth, and bear thefe prizes from the plain.

The hero faid, and darting from his place,
Oilean Ajax rifes to the race;
UlylTes next; and he whofe fpeed furpaft
His youthful equals, Neflor's fon the lad.
Rang'd in a line the ready racers ftand;
Pelides points the barrier with his hand;
All dart at once; Oileus led the race;
The next Ulyfles, meas'ring pace with pace;
Behind him, diligently clofe, he fped,
As clofely following as the running thread
The fpindle follows, and difplays the charms
Of the fair fpinfter's bread, and moving arms :
Graceful in motion thus, his foe he plies,
And treads each footdep ere the dud can rife s


Ifris glowing breath upon his moulders plays ; 895

|Th' admiring Greeks loud acclamations raife,
lro him they give their wiflies, hearts, and eyes,
Iknd fend their fouls before him as he flies.
Now three times turn'd in profpect of the goal,
The panting chief to Pallas lifts his foul : 900

Aflift, O Goddefs 1 (thus in. thought he pray'd)
And prefent at his thought, defcends the maid.
Buoy'd by her heav'nly force, he fecms to fwim,
And feels a pinion lifting ev'ry limb.
All fierce, and ready now the prize to gain, 905

Unhappy Ajax (tumbles on the plain;
[O'erturn'd by Pallas) where the flipp'ry fnore
Was clogg'd with flimy dung, and mingled gore.
^The felf-fame place befide. Patroclus' pyre,
Where late the flaughter'd viclims fed the fire) 9IQ

Befmear'd with filth, and blotted o'er with clay,
Obfcene to fight, the rueful racer lay ;
The well-fed bull (the fecond prize) he fhar'd,
And left the urn UlyfTes' rich reward.

f. 90: . A0 t Goddefs / (thus in thought heprafd.)']
Nothing could be better adapted to the prefent circum-
ftances of UlyfTes than this prayer: itisfhort, and ought
to be fo, becaufe the time would not allow him to make
a longer: nay he prefers this petition mentally, p* y.ccrd
6u^iv; all his faculties are fo bent upon the race, that he
does not call off his attention from it, even to fpeak fo:
fhort a petition as feven words, which comprehend the
whole of it: fuch paflTages as thefe are inftances of great
judgment in the poet.

Then, grafping by the horn the mighty beafr, 91 f

The baffled hero thus the Greeks addreft.

Accurfed fate ! the conqueft I forego;
A mortal I, a Goddefs was my foe ;
She urg'd her fav'rite on the rapid way,
And Pallas, not UlyfTes, won the day. 923

Thus fourly wail'd he, fputt'ring dirt and gore,
A burft of laughter echo'd thro' the more.
Antilochus, more hum'rous than the reft,
Takes the laft prize, and takes it with a jeft.

Why with our wifer elders fhould we ftrive ? 925
The Gods dill love them, and they always thrive.
Ye fee, to Ajax 1 muft yield the prize:
He to UlyfTes, ftill more aged and wife ;
(A green old' age unconfcious of decays,
That proves the hero born in better days !) 930

Behold his vigour in this active race !
Achilles only boafts a fwifter pace:
For who can match Achilles ? He who can,
Muft yet be more' than hero, more than man,

f. 924. And takes it with ajefl.'] Antilochus comes
off very well, and wittily prevents raillery; by attribu- >
ting the victory of his rivals to the protection which the?
gods gave to age. By this he insinuates, that he hay
fomething to comfort himfelf with; (for youth is better
than the prize) and that he may pretend hereafter tosj
the fame protection, fince it is a privilege of feniority.

f. 933. For who can match Achilles ?~\ There \v
great art in thefe tranfient complements to Achilles :
that hero could not poffibly fhew his own fuperiority


Book XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 217

Th' effect fucceeds the fpeech. Pelides cries, 93$
Thy artful praife deferves a better prize.
Nor Greece in vain fliall hear thy friend extoll'd;
Receive a talent of the pureft gold.
The youth departs content. The hoft admire
The fon of Neftor, worthy of his fire. I 943

Next thefe a buckler, fpeaf and helm, he brings,
Caft: on the plain the brazen burthen rings :
Arms, which of late divine Sarpedon wore,
And great Patroclus in fhort triumph bore.
Stand forth the braved of our hofi: ! (he cries) 94 $
Whoever dares deferve fo rich a prize,
Now grace the lifts before our army's fight,
And (heath 'd in fteel, provoke his foe to fight.
Who firft the jointed armour fhall explore,
And (lain his rival's mail with ifluing gore; 953

in thefe games by contending for any of the prizes, be-
caufe he was the exhibiter of the fports: but Homer
"has found out a way to give him the victory in two of
them. In tha chariot-race Achilles is reprefented as
being able to conquer every opponent, and though he
fpeaks it himfelf, the poet brings it in fo happily, that
he fpeaks it without any indecency: and in this place
Antilochus with a very good grace tells Achilles, that in
the foot-race no one can difpute the prize with him.
Thus though Diomed and UlyfTes conquer in the chariot
and foot-race, it is only becaufe Achilles is not their

f. 949. Who fir J} the jointed armour foall explore. ~\
Some of the ancients have been mocked at this combate,
thinking it a barbarity that men in fport fhould thus

Vol. IV. T


The fword, Afteropeus pofTefl of old,

(A Thracian blade, diftinct with fluds of gold)

Shall pay the flroke, and grace the fhiker's fide:

Thefe arms in common let the chief divide :

For each brave champion, when the combate ends, 955

A fumptuous banquet at our tent attends.

Fierce at the word, uprofe great Tydeus' fon,
And the huge bulk of A'px Telamon.
Clad in refulgent ftcel, on either hand,
The dreadful chiefs amid the circle (land: 960

Low'ring they meet, tremendous to the fight ;
Each Argive bofom beats with fierce delight,
Oppos'd in arms not long they idly flood,
But thrice they clos'd, and thrice the charge renew 'd,
A furious pafs the {pear of Ajax made 9^5

Thro' the broad fhield, but at the corflet ftayM :

contend for their lives ; and therefore Ariftophanes the
grammarian made this alteration in the verfes.

'Oxxoripog y.iv 7rpuT0£ Ixiypa^cts XP oa xa * - *
<£>8»'» t7rtv%dfAiyos Std J' tyrta* etc.

But it is evident that they intirely miflook the meaning
and intention of Achilles ; for lie that gave the firft
wound was to be accounted the victor. How could
Achilles promife to entertain them both in his tent after
the combate, if he intended that one of them mould
fall in it? This duel therefore was only a trial of fkill,
and as fuch fingle combates were frequent in the wars of
thofe ages againft adverfaries, fo this was propofed only
to fhew the dexterity of the combatants in that exercife.

Boot XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 219

Kot thus the foe; his jav'lin aim'd above

The buckler's margin, at the neck he drove.

But Greece now trembling for her hero's life,

Bade (hare the honours, and furccafe the (trife. 970

Yet dill the victor's due Tydides gains,

"With him the fword and (kidded belt remains.

Then hurl'd the hero, thund'ring on the ground
A mafs of iron, (an enormous round)
"Whofe weight and fize the circling Greeks admire, 975
Rude from the furnace, and but fhap'd by fire.
This mighty quoit Action wont to rear,
And from his whirling arm difmifs in air:
The giant by Achilles (lain, he ftow'd
Among his fpoils this memorable loud. 9S0

f. 971. Yet ft HI the vigor's due Tydides gains .] A-
chilles in this place acts the part of a very juft arbi-
trator: though the combite did not proceed to a full
jjfilie, yet Diomed had evidently the advantage, and
confequently ought to be rewarded as victor, becaufe
he would have been victorious; had not the Greeks in-

I could have wifhed that the poet had given Ajax
the prize in fome of- thefe contefls. He undoubtedly
was a very gallant foldier, and has been defcribed as
repulfing a whole army : yet in all thefe fports he is
-foiled. But perhaps the poet had a double view in this
teprefentation, not only to fhew, that ftrength without
conduct is nfually unfuccefsill, but alfo his defign might
J be to complement the Greeks his countrymen ; by (hew-
ing that this Ajax, who had repelled a whole army of
Trojans, was not able to conquer any one of the Grecian
worthies: for we find him overpowered in three of
thefe exercifes.

T x

520 H M E R's I L I A D. BookXXIIJ.

For this, he bids thofe nervous artifts vie,

That teach the difk to found along the fky.

Let him whofe might can hurl this bowl, arife,

Who fartheft hurls it, take it as his prize :

If he be one, inrich'd with large domain 98$

Of downs for flocks, and arable for grain,

Small (lock of iron needs that man provide ;

His hinds and (wains whole years (hall be fupply'd

From hence : nor afk the neighboring city's aid,

For plowfhares, wheels, and all the rural trade. 990

Stern Polypcetes ftept before the throng ;
And great Leon teas, more frhan mortal (Irong ;
Whofe force with rival forces to oppofe,
Uprofe great Ajax; up Epeus rofe.
Each flood in order: firft Epeus threw; 995.

High o'er the wond'ring crouds the whirling circle flew.

f. 985. If be be one inrich'd, etc.l The poet in this,
place fpeaks in the (implicity of ancient times: the pro-
digious weight and fize of the quoit is defcribed with a
noble plainnefs, peculiar to the oriental way, and agree-
able to the manners of thofe heroic ages. He does not
fet down the quantity of this enormous piece of iron,
neither as to its bignefs nor weight, but as to the ufe it-
will be of to him who mail gain it. We fee from hence,
that the ancients in the prizes they propofed, had in
view not only the honourable, but the ufeful ; a captive
for work, a bull for tillage, a quoit for the provifion of
iron. Befides, it muft be remembered, that in thofe
times iron was very fcarce; and a fure fign of this,
fcarcity, is, that their arms were brafs. Euiiathius.

Book XXIII. H O M E R's ILIAD. 22i

Leonteus next a little fpace furpaft,

And third, the ftrength of god-like Ajax cafh

O'er both their marks it flew; 'till fiercely flung

From Polyposes' arm, theDifcus fung : ioco

Far, as a Twain his whirling fheephook throws,

That diftant Falls among the grazing cows,

So paft: them all the rapid circle flies :• }

His friends (while loud applaufesfhake the fides) S

V» ith force conjcin'd heave off the weighty prize. ) IC05

Thofe, who in fkilful archery contend,
He next invites the twanging bow to bend:-
And twice ten axes cafts amidd: the round,
CTen double-edg'd, and ten that Cngly wound.)
The maft, which late a firft-rate galley bore, icio

The hero fixes in thefandy (borer
To the tall top a milk-white dove they tie,
The trembling malfc at' which their arrows fly.
W-hofe weapon flrikes yon 3 fiutt'ring bird,..fhall bear
■Thefe two-edg'd axes, terrible in war; - ICI£"

The fingle, he, whofe fhaft divides the cord.
He faid: experienced Merion took the word y.
And fkilful Teucer: in the helm they threw
Their lots infcrib'd, and forth the latter flew.
Swift from the firing the founding arrow flics ; ics.£
But flies unblefU no grateful facriSce,

jj No firftling lambs, unheedful \ didft thou vow

< To Phoebus, patron of the fhaft and bow.
For this, thy well-aim'd arrow, turn'd afide,',
Err'd from the dove, yet cut the cord that ty'd *, 202 £

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

A-down the main-mad fell the parted firing,

And the free bird to heav'n difplays her wing:

Seas, mores, and fides with load applaufe rcfound,

And Merion eager meditates the wound :

He takes the bow, directs the fhaft above, 1030*

And following with his eye the foaring dove,

f* 1030. He takes the bow.'] There having beei*
many editions of Homer, that of Marfeiiles reprefents
thefe two rivals in archery as ufing two bows in the
conteft ; and reads the verfes thus,

~S7rtpx_op.ivo; y apa. M»pi6vy>g eV/3« y.eXT,o~rov
To'gw fv ydp xiprh t v £ ird.\a. t a; 'iBvvtv.

Our common editions follow the better alteration of
Antimachus, with this only difference, that he reads it

lEgci'purc rtvxpv to$ov. And they, 'S&tfvirt X il P°S T %ov*

It is evident that thefe archers had but one bow, as
they that threw the quoit had but one quoit ; by thefe
means the one had no advantage over the other, be-
caufe both of them mot with the fame bow. So that
the common reading is undoubtedly the bed, where the
lines ftand thus,

^TttpxoyAvcg y apec Mtipiowf i^upvcrt X f 'P^ Of Ttvxpy
To'|eV. drup S» uroy ?£s 7Tx\ctt d{ iSvvtv. Euftathius.

This Teucer is the moft eminent man for archery of any
through the whole Iliad, yet he is here excelled by Me-
riones: and the poet afcribes his mifcarriages to the
Dcgka of invoking Apollo, the God of archery; where-
at Meriones, who invokes him, is crowned with fuccefs.
There is an excellent moral in this paffige, and the
poet would teach us, that without addreffing to heaven
we cannot fucceed: Meriones does not conquer becaufe
he is the better archer, but becaufe he is the better man*

BookXXlII. H O M E R's ILIA D. 223

[Implores the God to fpeed it thro' the fkies,

With vows of firftling lambs, and grateful facrifice.

The dove, in airy circles as me wheels,

Amid the clouds the piercing arrow feels; 103$

Quite thro' and thro' the point its paflage found,

And at his feet fell bloody to the ground.

The wounded bird, ere yet (he breath 'd her fad,

With flagging wings alighted on the matt,

A moment hung, and fpread her pinions there, 104O

Then fudden dropt, and left her life in air.

From the pleas'd croud new peals of thunder rife,

And to the mips brave Merion bears the prize.

To clofe the fun'ral games, Achilles lad
A mafly fpear amid the circle plac'd, 1045

And ample charger of unfuliied frame,
With flow'rs high-wrought, not blacken'd yet by flame.
For thefe he bids the heroes prove their art,.
Whofe dextrous lkill directs the flying dart.
. Here too great Merion hopes the noble prize; 1050
}sor here difdain'd the king of men to rife.

i/ . IC51. Nor here difia'in'd the king of men to rife 7^
There is an admirable conduct in this paflage; Aga-
memnon never contended for any of the former prizes,
though of much greater value ; fo that he is a candidate
for this, only to honour Patroclus and Achilles. The
decency which the poet ufes both in the choice of the
game, in which Agamemnon is about to contend, and
the giving him the prize without a contefl, is very re-
markable: the game was a warlike exercife, fit for the
general of an army; the giving him the prize without
a conteft is a. decency judicioufly ob&rved, becauf- no

224 H O M E R's I L I A D. Book XXIII.
"With joy Pelidcs faw the honour paid,
Rofe to the monarch, and refpeclful faid.

Thee firft in virtue, as in pow'r fupreme,
O kmg of nations! all thy Greeks proclaim; K>5£''

In ev'ry martial game thy worth atteft,
And know thee both their greateft, and their befit.
Take then the prize, but let brave Merion bear
This beamy jav'lin in thy brother's war.

Pleas'd from the hero's lips his praife to hear, ro6o
The king to Merion gives the brazen fpear:
But, fet apart for facred ufe, commands
The glitt'ring charger to Talthybius.' hands,

cne ought to be fuppofed to excel the general in any
military art: Agamemnon does jufHce to his own char-
acter; for whereas he had been reprefented by Achilles
in the opening of the poem as a covetous perfon, he
now puts in for the prize that is of the lead: value, ani
gencroufly gives even that to Talthybius. FAi(tathiu?»
As to this laft particular, of Agamemnon's prefentlngj
tHe charger to Talthybius, I cannot but be of a different
opinion. It had beer an affront to Achilles not to have
accepted of his prefent on this occafion, and I believe'
the words of Homer,

Tai&utla y.i'ruy.i JVj'a s*tp/x«XX6f cliQkcs,

mean no more, than that he put it into the hands of
this herald to cr-,-y it to his fnips ; Talthybius being by
his ofhee an attendant upon Agamemnon*


IT will be expecled I mould here fay fomething tend-
kg to a comparifon between the games of Homer and
thofe of Virgil, if I may own my private opinion,
there is in general more variety of natural incidents,
and a more'lively picture of natural paflions, in the
games and perfons of Homer. On the other hand,,
there feems to me more art, contrivance, gradation,
and a greater pomp of verfe in thofe of Virgil. The
chariot-race is that which Homer has mod laboured, of
which Virgil being fenfible, he judicioufly avoided the
imitation of what he could not improve, and fubftituted
in its place the naval conrfe, or fiip-race. It is in this
the Roman poet has employed all his force, as if on fet
purpofe to rival his great matter j but it is extremely
©bfervable how conftantly he keeps Homer in his eye,
and is afraid to depart from his very track, even when
he had varied the fubjed itfelf. Accordingly the acci-
dents of the naval courfe have a ftrange refemblance
with thofe of Homer's chariot-race. He could not for-
bear at the very beginning to draw a part of that de-
scription into a fimile. Do not we fee he has Homer's
chariots in his head, by thefe lines;

Non tarn pracipites bijugo certamine campum
Corripuere, ruuntque effufi carcere currus.
Nee fie immijjis aurigc-e undantia lor a
Concujfere jugis } .pronique in verb era pendent.

J£n. v. f. 144.

What is the encounter of Cloanlhus and Gyas in the
ftrait between the rocks, but the fame with that of Me-
nelaus and Antilochusin the hollow way ? Hadthegalley
bfSergeftus been broken, if the chariot of Eumelus had
not been demolimed ? Or Mneftheus been cad from the
helm, had not the other been thrown from his feat ?
Does not Mneftheus exhort his rowers in the very words-
Antilochus had ufed to his horfes ?

Non jam prima peto Mneftheus, neque vincere certo.

Quamquam Olfedfuperent quibus hoc Neptune dediffh-

T26 H M E R's I L I A D. BookXXIIL

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Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad (Volume 4) → online text (page 14 of 22)