By advice of Nestor, Agamemnon sends Ulysses, Phœnix, and Ajax, to the tent of Achilles to sue for a reconciliation. Notwithstanding the earnest appeal of Phœnix, their errand proves fruitless.
Thus the Trojans indeed kept guard: but a mighty 290 Flight, the companion of chill Fear, seized upon the Greeks; and all the chiefs were afflicted with intolerable grief. And as two winds, the north and south, which both blow from Thrace, 291 rouse the fishy deep, coming suddenly [upon it]; but the black billows are elevated together; and they dash much sea-weed out of the ocean; so was the mind of the Greeks distracted within their bosoms.
Footnote 290: (return) "In Il. 1,2, the θεσπεσίη φυζα of the Achæans is not to be explained as a supernatural flight, occasioned by the gods. It is a great and general flight, caused by Hector and the Trojans. For although this was approved of and encouraged by Jupiter, yet his was only that mediate influence of the deity without which in general nothing took place in the Homeric battles."--Buttm. Lexil. p. 358. Cf. Coleridge, p. 160.
Footnote 291: (return) Wood, p. 46, explains this from the situation of Ionia. Heyne, however, observes, "comparatio e mente poetæ instituitur, non ex Agamemnonis persona."
But Atrides, wounded to the heart with great sorrow, kept going round, giving orders to the clear-voiced heralds, to summon each man by name to an assembly, but not to call aloud; and he himself toiled among the first. And they sat in council, grieved, and Agamemnon arose, shedding tears, like a black-water fountain, which pours its gloomy stream from a lofty rock. Thus he, deeply sighing, spoke words to the Greeks:
"O friends, leaders and chieftains over the Greeks, Jove, the son of Saturn, has greatly entangled me in a grievous calamity: cruel, who once promised me, and assented, that I should return, having destroyed well-built Ilium. But now has he plotted an evil fraud, and orders me to return inglorious to Argos, after I have lost much people. Thus, doubtless, will it be agreeable to almighty Jove, who has already overthrown the heights of many cities, and will still overthrow them, for his power is greatest. But come, let us all obey as I advise: let us fly with the ships to our dear fatherland, for now we shall not take wide-wayed Troy."
Thus he spoke; but they were all still in silence, and the sons of the Greeks being sad, kept silent long: at length Diomede, brave in the din of battle, spoke:
"Son of Atreus, thee will I first oppose, speaking inconsiderately, as is lawful, in the assembly; but be not thou the least offended. First among the Greeks didst thou disparage my valour, saying that I was unwarlike and weak; 292 and all this, as well the young as the old of the Greeks know. One of two things hath the son of crafty Saturn given thee: he has granted that thou shouldst be honoured by the sceptre above all; but valour hath he not given thee, which is the greatest strength. Strange man, dost thou then certainly think that the sons of the Greeks are unwarlike and weak, as thou sayest? If indeed thy mind impels thee, that thou shouldst return, go: the way lies open to thee, and thy ships stand near the sea, which very many followed thee from Mycenæ. But the other long-haired Greeks will remain until we overthrow Troy: but if they also [choose], let them fly with their ships to their dear fatherland. But we twain, I and Sthenelus, 293 will fight, until we find an end of Troy; for under the auspices of the deity we came."
Footnote 292: (return) Cf. iv. 370, sqq.
Footnote 293: (return) Heyne compares Julius Cæsar, Com. B. G. i. 40. "Si præterea nemo sequatur (contra Ariovistum), tamen se cum sola decima legione iturum dicit."
Thus he spoke; but all the sons of the Greeks applauded, admiring the speech of steed-breaking Diomede. But them the knight Nestor, rising up, addressed:
"Son of Tydeus, pre-eminently indeed art thou brave in battle, and the best in council amongst all thine equals. No one has censured thy discourse, nor contradicts it, as many as are the Greeks; but thou comest not to an end of discussion. 294 Assuredly thou art youthful, and mightst be my youngest son for age, yet thou speakest prudent words to the kings of the Greeks, for thou hast said aright. But come, I who boast to be older than thou, will speak out, and discuss everything: nor will any one, not even king Agamemnon, disregard my speech. Tribeless, lawless, homeless is he, who loves horrid civil war. But now, however, let us obey dark night, and make ready suppers. But let the respective guards lie down beside the trench, dug without the wall. To the youth, indeed, I enjoin these things; but next, Atrides, do thou begin, for thou art supreme. Give a banquet to the elders; it becomes thee, and is not unseemly. Full are thy tents of wine, which the ships of the Greeks daily bring over the wide sea from Thrace. Thou hast every accommodation, and rulest over many people. But when many are assembled, do thou obey him who shall give the best advice; for there is great need of good and prudent [advice] to all the Greeks, since the enemy are burning many fires near the ships; and who can rejoice at these things? But this night will either ruin the army or preserve it."
Footnote 294: (return) I. e. thou hast not said all that might have been said on the subject.
Thus he spoke; and they heard him very attentively, and obeyed. But the guards rushed forth with their arms, [those around] Thrasymedes, the son of Nestor, the shepherd of the people, Ascalaphus and Ialmenus, sons of Mars, Meriones, Aphareus, and Deïpyrus, as well as the son of Creon, noble Lycomedes. There were seven leaders of the guards, and a hundred youths marched along with each, holding long spears in their hands. Proceeding to the space between the trench and the wall, there they sat down, and there kindled a fire, and prepared each his supper.
But Atrides conducted the assembled elders of the Greeks to his tent, and set before them a strength-recruiting banquet; and they laid their hands upon the viands placed before them. But when they had dismissed the desire of eating and drinking, to them first of all did aged Nestor, whose advice had previously appeared best, begin to interweave advice; who wisely counselling, addressed them, and said:
"Most glorious Atrides, king of men, Agamemnon, with thee shall I end, and with thee shall I commence. Since thou art a king of many nations, and Jove hath placed in thine hands both a sceptre and laws, that thou mayest consult for their advantage. Therefore is it necessary that thou in particular shouldst deliver and hear an opinion, and also accomplish that of another, when his mind urges any one to speak for the [public] good; but on thee will depend whatever takes the lead. Yet will I speak as appears to me to be best. For no other person will propound a better opinion than that which I meditate, both of old and also now, from that period when thou, O nobly born, didst depart, carrying off the maid Briseïs from the tent of the enraged Achilles; by no means according to my judgment; for I very strenuously dissuaded thee from it: but having yielded to thy haughty temper, thou didst dishonour the bravest hero, whom even the immortals have honoured; for, taking away his reward, thou still retainest it. Yet even now let us deliberate how we may succeed in persuading him, appeasing him with agreeable gifts and soothing words."
But him the king of men, Agamemnon, again addressed: "Old man, thou hast not falsely enumerated my errors. I have erred, nor do I myself deny it. That man indeed is equivalent to many troops, whom Jove loves in his heart, as now he hath honoured this man, and subdued the people of the Greeks. But since I erred, having yielded to my wayward disposition, I desire again to appease him, and to give him invaluable presents. Before you all will I enumerate the distinguished gifts: seven tripods untouched by fire, 295 and ten talents of gold, and twenty shining caldrons, and twelve stout steeds, victorious in the race, which have borne off prizes by their feet. No pauper would the man be, nor in want of precious gold, to whom as many prizes belong as [these] solid-hoofed steeds have brought to me. I will likewise give seven beautiful Lesbian women, skilful in faultless works; whom I selected when he himself took well-inhabited Lesbos, who excel the race of women in beauty. These will I give him, and amongst them will be her whom then I took away, the daughter of Briseïs; and I will swear moreover a mighty oath, that I never ascended her bed, nor embraced her, as is the custom of human beings--of men and women. All these shall immediately be ready; and if, moreover, the gods grant that we destroy the great city of Priam, let him fill his ships abundantly with gold and brass, entering in when we the Greeks divide the spoil. Let him also choose twenty Trojan women, who may be fairest next to Argive Helen. But if we reach Achæan Argos, the udder of the land, 296 he may become my son-in-law; and I will honour him equally with Orestes, who is nurtured as my darling son, in great affluence. Now, I have three daughters in my well-built palace,--Chrysothemis, Laodice, and Iphianassa. Of these let him lead the beloved one, whichsoever he may choose, without marriage-dower, to the house of Peleus; but I will give very many dowries, so many as no man ever yet gave to his daughter. I will, moreover, give him seven well-inhabited cities,--Cardamyle, Enope, and grassy Ira, glorious Pheræ, with deep-pastured Anthea, fair Æpeia, and vine-bearing Pedasus; which are all near the sea, the last towards sandy Pylus. But in them dwell men rich in flocks and herds, who will honour him like a god with gifts, and beneath his sceptre will pay rich tributes. These will I bestow upon him, ceasing from his anger. Let him be prevailed upon. Pluto indeed is implacable and inexorable, wherefore he is the most hateful of all the gods to men. Let him likewise yield to me, inasmuch as I am more kingly, and because I boast to be older [than he]."
But him the Gerenian knight Nestor then answered: "Most glorious son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, thou indeed offerest gifts by no means despicable to king Achilles. But come, let us urge chosen men, who may go with all speed to the tent of Achilles, the son of Peleus. Come then, these will I select, but let them obey. First of all indeed let Phœnix, dear to Jove, be the leader; next then mighty Ajax and divine Ulysses: and of the heralds, let Hodius and Eurybates follow with them. But bring water for the hands, and command to observe well-omened words, 297 that we may supplicate Saturnian Jove, if perchance he will take pity."
Footnote 295: (return) I. e. not yet brought into common use.
Footnote 296: (return) A beautiful expression, denoting the fertility of the land. Cf. Albert. on Hesych. t. ii. p. 806. So νησοιο μαστός in Callim. II. in Del. 48.
Footnote 297: (return) The translation, "favour us with their voices," is nonsense, while "keep silence" is by no means the meaning of εύφημήσαι. Kennedy rightly explains it, "abstain from expressions unsuitable to the solemnity of the occasion, which, by offending the god, might defeat the object of their supplications." See Servius on Virg. Æn. v. 71; Lamb, on Hor. Od. iii. 1, 2; Broukhus. on Tibull. ii. 1, 1.
Thus he spoke, and delivered an opinion agreeable to them all. Immediately indeed the heralds poured water upon their hands, and the youths crowned the goblets with wine; then they distributed them to all, having poured the first of the wine into the cups. But when they had made libations, and drunk as much as their mind desired, they hastened from the tent of Agamemnon, the son of Atreus. To them the Gerenian knight Nestor gave many charges, looking wistfully upon each, particularly upon Ulysses, that they should endeavour to persuade the blameless son of Peleus.
They twain then went along the shore of the loud-sounding sea, praying earnestly to earth-shaking [Neptune], who encompasses the earth, that they might easily persuade the great mind of the grandson of Æacus. But they came to the tents and ships of the Myrmidons, and they found him delighting his soul with his clear-toned harp, beautiful, curiously wrought, and upon it was a silver comb. This he had taken from amongst the spoils, having destroyed the city of Eëtion, and with it he was delighting his soul, and singing the glorious deeds 298 of heroes. Patroclus alone sat opposite to him in silence, waiting upon the descendant of Æacus when he should cease to sing. Then they advanced farther, and divine Ulysses preceded; and they stood before him; whilst Achilles, astonished, leaped up, with his lyre, quitting the seat where he had been sitting. In like manner Patroclus, when he beheld the heroes, arose, and swift-footed Achilles taking them by the hand, addressed them:
"Hail, warriors, ye indeed have come as friends. Surely [there is] some great necessity [when ye come], who are to me, although enraged, dearest of the Greeks."
Footnote 298: (return) Or the renown of heroes. So Apollon. i. 1: αλαιγενεων κλεα φώτων Μνησομαι.
Thus having spoken, divine Achilles led them forward, and seated them upon couches and purple coverlets; then straightway he addressed Patroclus, who was near:
"Place a larger goblet, O son of Menœtius, mix purer wine, 299 and prepare a cup for each, for men most dear [to me] are beneath my roof."
Footnote 299: (return) I. e. less diluted than usual. On this quaint picture of ancient manners, compared with the customs of the Hebrew fathers, compare Coleridge, p. 151.
Thus he spoke; and Patroclus obeyed his dear companion. But he [Achilles] placed in the flame of the fire a large dressing-block, and upon it he laid the chine of a sheep and of a fat goat, with the back of a fatted sow, abounding in fat. Automedon then held them for him, and noble Achilles cut them up; and divided them skilfully into small pieces, and transfixed them with spits; whilst the son of Menœtius, a godlike hero, kindled a large fire. But when the fire had burned away, and the flame grew languid, strewing the embers, he extended the spits over them, and sprinkled them with sacred salt, raising them up from the racks. But when he had dressed them, and had thrown them upon kitchen tables, Patroclus, taking bread, served it out upon the board in beautiful baskets: but Achilles distributed the flesh. But he himself sat opposite to noble Ulysses, against the other wall, and ordered Patroclus, his companion, to sacrifice to the gods; and he accordingly cast the first morsels 300 into the fire. And they stretched forth their hands to the prepared viands which lay before them. But when they had dismissed the desire of eating and drinking, Ajax nodded to Phoenix, but noble Ulysses observed it, and having filled his goblet with wine, he pledged Achilles:
Footnote 300: (return) Hesych. and Phrynicus (for their glosses should probably be joined), θνηλάς' άπαρχάς των τεθυμἑνων.
"Health, Achilles. We are not wanting of a complete feast, either in the tent of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, or even here also, for many strength-recruiting dainties are here; but the business of an agreeable feast is not our care. We, O thou Jove-nurtured one, contemplating it, rather dread a very great disaster, as it is matter of doubt whether the well-benched ships be saved or destroyed, unless thou puttest on thy might. For near the ships and the wall the high-minded Trojans and their far-summoned allies have pitched their camp, kindling many fires throughout the host; and they say that they will no longer restrain themselves, but that they will fall upon our black vessels. 301 And Saturnian Jove exhibiting to them propitious signs, darts his lightning; and Hector, looking fiercely round in valour, rages terribly, trusting in Jove, nor reverences at all either men or gods, but great madness hath come upon him. He prays that divine morn may speedily come. For he declares that he will cut off the poop-ends 302 of the ships, and burn [the ships] themselves with ravaging fire, and slaughter the Greeks beside them, discomforted by the smoke. Wherefore do I greatly fear in my mind lest the gods may fulfil his threats, and it be destined for us to perish in Troy, far from steed-nourishing Argos. Rise then, if thou hast the intention, although late, to defend the harassed sons of the Greeks from the violent onslaught of the Trojans. To thyself it will hereafter be a cause of sorrow, nor is it possible in any manner to discover a remedy for a disaster when received; wherefore reflect much beforehand, how thou mayest avert the evil day from the Greeks. O my friend, surely thy father Peleus charged thee, on that day when he sent thee from Phthia to Agamemnon, 'My son, Minerva and Juno will bestow valour, if they choose; but restrain thy great-hearted soul within thy breast, because humanity is better; and abstain from injurious contention, that both the youth and elders of the Greeks may honour thee the more.' Thus did the old man give charge, but thou art forgetful. Yet even now desist, and lay aside thy mind-corroding wrath. To thee Agamemnon gives worthy gifts, ceasing from indignation. But if [thou wilt] hear from me, and I will repeat to thee how many presents Agamemnon in his tents hath promised thee: seven tripods, untouched by the fire, and ten talents of gold, twenty shining caldrons, and twelve stout steeds, victorious in the race, which have borne off prizes by their feet. No pauper, nor in want of precious gold, would that man be to whom so many prizes belonged as the steeds of Agamemnon have borne off by their fleetness. He will likewise give seven beautiful women, skilful in faultless works, Lesbians, whom he selected when thou thyself didst take well-inhabited Lesbos, who then excelled the race of women in beauty. These will he give thee, and amongst them will be her whom once he took away, the daughter of Briseïs; and he will moreover swear a mighty oath, that he never ascended her bed, nor embraced her, as is the custom. O king, both of men and women. All these shall immediately be in waiting; and if, moreover, the gods grant that we pillage the vast city of Priam, entering, thou mayest fill thy ships abundantly with gold and brass, when we, the Greeks, divide the spoil. Thou shalt also choose twenty Trojan women, who may be fairest next to Argive Helen. But if we reach Achæan Argos, the udder of the land, thou mayest become his son-in-law, and he will honour thee equally with Orestes, who is nurtured as his darling son, in great affluence. But he has three daughters in his well-built palace,--Chrysothemis, Laodice, and Iphianassa. Of these thou shalt conduct the most beloved whomsoever thou mayest choose, without marriage-gifts, to the house of Peleus; but he will give very many dowries, such as no man yet gave his daughter. He will moreover give thee seven well-inhabited cities,--Cardamyle, Enope, and grassy Ira, glorious Pheræ, with deep-pastured Anthea, fair Æpeia, and vine-bearing Pedasus; which are all near the sea, the last towards sandy Pylus. But in them dwell men abounding in flocks and herds, who will honour thee with gifts like a god, and under thy sceptre pay rich tributes. These will he fulfil to thee ceasing from thy wrath. But if indeed the son of Atreus himself and his gifts be more hateful to thee from thine heart, at least have pity upon all the other Greeks, harassed throughout the army, who will honour thee as a god; for surely thou wilt obtain very great honour among them. For now mayest thou slay Hector, since he hath already come very near thee, possessing destructive fury; since he declares that no one of the Greeks whom the ships have conveyed hither is his equal."
Footnote 301: (return) But Heyne, "non locum tuituros [nos], sed in naves fugituros et discessuros."
Footnote 302: (return) This interpretation is substantiated by Heyne, from Il. O, 717. The άκροστόλια, or figure-heads, are not meant here.
But him swift-footed Achilles answering, addressed: "Most noble son of Laertes, much-scheming Ulysses, it behoves me indeed to speak my opinion without reserve, even as I think, and as will be accomplished, that ye may not, sitting beside me, keep whining 303 one after another. Hateful to me as the gates of Hades is he who conceals one thing in his mind and utters another. But I will speak as appears to me to be best; and I think that neither Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, nor the other Greeks will persuade me; since there is no gratitude to him who fights ever ceaselessly with hostile men. An equal portion [falls] to him who loiters, as if one continually fight; and the coward is in equal honour with the brave. The man of no deeds, and the man of many, are wont equally to die; nor does anything lie by me as a store, 304 because I have suffered sorrows in my soul, ever risking my life to fight. And as the bird brings food to her unfledged young when she hath found it, although she fares badly herself; so have I too spent many sleepless nights, and gone through bloody days in combat, fighting with heroes for their wives' sakes. Twelve cities indeed of men have I wasted with my ships, and on foot I say eleven throughout the fertile Troad. 305 From all these have I carried off many and precious spoils, and bearing them, have given all to Agamemnon, the son of Atreus; whilst he, remaining behind at the swift ships, receiving them, hath distributed but few, but retained many. To the chiefs and kings hath he given other prizes; to whom indeed they remain entire: but from me alone of the Greeks hath he taken it away, and he possesses my spouse, dear to my soul, with whom reclining, let him delight himself. But why is it necessary that the Greeks wage war with the Trojans? Or from what necessity did the son of Atreus, assembling an army, lead it hither? Was it not on account of fair-haired Helen? Do the sons of Atreus alone, of articulate-speaking men, love their wives? [Surely not], since whatever man is good and prudent loves and cherishes his spouse; thus I too loved her from my soul, though the captive of my spear. And now since he hath snatched my reward from my hands, and deceived me, let him not make trial of me, already well informed, for he will not persuade me; but let him consider with thee, O Ulysses, and the other kings, how he may repel the hostile fire from the ships. Assuredly he has already accomplished many labours without me. He has already built a rampart, and drawn a trench broad [and] large beside it; and planted in it palisades; but not even thus can he restrain the might of man-slaughtering Hector. Whilst I indeed fought amongst the Greeks, Hector chose not to arouse the battle at a distance from the wall, but he came [only] as far as the Scæan gates, and the beech-tree. There once he awaited me alone, and with difficulty escaped my attack. But since I choose not to war with noble Hector, to-morrow, 306 having performed sacrifices to Jove and all the gods, [and] having well laden my ships, when I shall have drawn them down to the sea, thou shalt behold, if thou wilt, and if such things be a care to thee, my ships early in the morn sailing upon the fishy Hellespont, and men within them, eager for rowing; and if glorious Neptune grant but a prosperous voyage, on the third day I shall surely reach fertile Phthia. 307 Now there I have very many possessions, which I left, coming hither, to my loss. 308 And I will carry hence other gold and ruddy brass, well-girdled women, and hoary iron, which I have obtained by lot. But the reward which he gave, king Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, hath himself insultingly taken from me: to whom do thou tell all things as I charge thee, openly, that the other Greeks also may be indignant, if he, ever clad in impudence, still hope to deceive any of the Greeks; nor let him dare, dog-like as he is, to look in my face. I will neither join in counsels nor in any action with him; for he hath already deceived and offended me, nor shall he again overreach me with words. It is enough for him [to do so once]: but in quiet 309 let him perish, for provident Jove hath deprived him of reason. Hateful to me are his gifts, and himself I value not a hair. 310 Not if he were to give me ten and twenty times as many gifts as he now has, and if others were to be added from any other quarter; nor as many as arrive at Orchomenos, or Egyptian Thebes, 311 where numerous possessions are laid up in the mansions, and where are one hundred gates, 312 from each of which rush out two hundred men with horses and chariots. Nor if he were to give me as many as are the sands and dust, not even thus shall Agamemnon ow persuade my mind, until he indemnify me for all his mind-grieving insult. But I will not wed the daughter of Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, not if she were fit to contend in beauty with golden Venus, or were equal in accomplishments to azure-eyed Minerva; not even thus will I wed her. Let him then select another of the Greeks who may suit him, and who is more the king; for if the gods preserve me, and I reach home, then will Peleus himself hereafter bestow upon me a lady in marriage. There are many Grecian women throughout Hellas and Phthia, daughters of chieftains who defend the cities. Whomsoever of these I may choose, I will make my beloved wife; and there my generous soul very much desires that I, wedding a betrothed spouse, a fit partner of my bed, should enjoy the possessions which aged Peleus hath acquired. For not worth my life are all the [treasures] which they say the well-inhabited city Ilium possessed, whilst formerly at peace, before the sons of the Greeks arrived; nor all which the stony threshold of the archer Phœbus Apollo contains within it, in rocky Pytho. 313 By plunder, oxen and fat sheep are to be procured, tripods are to be procured, and the yellow heads of steeds; but the life of man cannot be obtained nor seized, so as to return again, when once it has passed the enclosure of the teeth. For my goddess mother, silver-footed Thetis, declares that double destinies lead me on to the end of death. If, on the one hand, remaining here, I wage war around the city of the Trojans, return is lost to me, but my glory will be immortal; but if, on the other hand, I return home to my dear fatherland, my excellent glory is lost, but my life will be lasting, nor will the end of death speedily seize upon me. And to others also would I give advice to sail home, for ye will not find an end of lofty Ilium; for far-sounding Jove hath stretched over it his hand, and the people have taken courage. But do ye, departing, bear back this message to the chiefs of the Greeks, for such is the office of ambassadors, that they devise within their minds some other better plan, which for them may preserve their ships, and the army of the Greeks in the hollow barks; since this, which they have now devised, is not expedient for them, while I cherish my wrath. But let Phœnix, remaining here, recline beside us, that to-morrow, if he will, he may follow me in the ships to my dear fatherland, although I will by no means lead him away by compulsion."
Footnote 303: (return) This word is etymologically connected with τρνγών. It properly signifies the moaning of the dove.
Footnote 304: (return) Schol. περισσόν τί εστι. Kennedy explains it: "nor have all the toils which I have undergone been productive of any superior advantage to me."
Footnote 305: (return) See a list of these cities in Heyne's note.
Footnote 306: (return) Observe the broken construction, well suited to the irritability of the speaker.
Footnote 307: (return) Cf. Cicero de Div. i. 25.
Footnote 308: (return) "Εῤῥων, ἐπί φθορᾷ." (ita etym. magn.) παραγενόμενος. Cf. Alberti on Hesych. t. i. p. 1445.
Footnote 309: (return) "Εκηλος forcibly expresses the condition of one who is advancing imperceptibly, though surely, to final ruin."--Kennedy.
Footnote 310: (return) See Kennedy, and Duport, Gnom. p. 52, who compare the phrases "pilo minus amare", "pili facere." There is, however, much uncertainty respecting the origin and meaning of the proverb. Cf. Alberti on Hesych. t. i. p. 1246.
Footnote 311: (return) "Thebes was the centre of Egyptian power and commerce, probably long before Memphis grew into importance, or before the Delta was made suitable to the purposes of husbandry by the cutting of canals and the raising of embankments."--Egyptian Antiquities, vol. i. p. 66.
Footnote 312: (return) Although Denon (see Egypt. Antt. p. 62) regards this as an unmeaning expression, Heyne well observes: "numerus centenarius ponitur pro magno: et portis semel memoratis, multitudo hominum declaratur per numerum exeuntium."
Footnote 313: (return) Cf. Müller, Dorians, vol. i. pp. 26, 268.
Thus he spoke; but they all became mute in silence, marvelling at his speech, for he answered with much vehemence. At length, however, the aged knight, Phœnix, addressed him, shedding tears, for he greatly feared for the ships of the Greeks:
"If indeed, Ο illustrious Achilles, thou dost now meditate a return within thy mind, nor art at all willing to repel the destructive fire from the swift ships, because indignation hath fallen upon thy soul; how then can I, my dear child, be left here alone by thee? for aged Peleus, the breaker of steeds, sent me forth with thee on that day, when he despatched thee from Phthia to Agamemnon, a boy, not yet skilled either in equally-destroying war, nor in counsels where men also become illustrious. On which account he sent me forth to teach thee all these things, that thou mightest become both an orator in words and a performer in deeds. Thus then, my dear child, I wish not at length to be left by thee, not even if a god himself, having divested me of old age, should promise that he would render me a blooming youth, such as I was when first I quitted fair-damed Hellas, flying the contentions of my father Amyntor, son of Ormenus; who was enraged with me on account of a fair-haired concubine whom he himself loved, but dishonoured his wife, my mother. But she continually would embrace my knees in supplication, that I should first have connection with the concubine, that she might loathe the old man. Her I obeyed, and did so; but my father immediately perceiving it, uttered many execrations, and invoked the hateful Erinnys, that no dear son, sprung from me, should ever be placed upon his knees; and the gods ratified his execrations, both infernal Jove and dread Proserpine. Then my soul within my mind could no longer endure that I should sojourn in the palace whilst my father was enraged. My friends, indeed, and relations, being much about me, detained me there within the halls, entreating [me to stay]. Many fat sheep and stamping-footed, crooked-horned oxen they slaughtered; many swine abounding in fat were stretched out to be roasted in the flame of Vulcan, and much of the old man's wine was drunk out of earthen vessels. Nine nights did they sleep around me: whilst, taking it in turns, they kept watch; nor was the fire ever extinguished, one in the portico of the well-fenced hall, and another in the vestibule, before the chamber-doors. But when at length the tenth shady night had come upon me, then indeed I rushed forth, having burst the skilfully-joined doors of the apartment, and I easily overleaped the fence of the hall, escaping the notice of the watchmen and the female domestics. Afterwards I fled thence through spacious Hellas, and came to fertile Phthia, the mother of sheep, to king Peleus; who kindly received me, and loved me even as a father loves his only son, born in his old age 314 to ample possessions. He made me opulent, and bestowed upon me much people, and I inhabited the extreme shores of Phthia, ruling over the Dolopians. Thee too, Ο godlike Achilles, have I rendered what thou art, 315 loving thee from my soul; since thou wouldst not go with another to the feast, nor take food in the mansion, until I, placing thee upon my knees, satisfied thee with viands, previously carving them, and supplied thee with wine. Often hast thou wetted the tunic upon my breast, ejecting the wine in infant peevishness. 316 Thus have I borne very many things from thee, and much have I laboured, thinking this, that since the gods have not granted an offspring to me from myself, I should at least make thee my son, O Achilles, like unto the gods, that thou mightst yet repel from me unworthy destiny. But O Achilles, subdue thy mighty rage; it is by no means necessary for thee to have a merciless heart. Flexible are even the gods themselves, whose virtue, honour, and might are greater [than thine]. Even these, when any one transgresses and errs, do men divert [from their wrath] by sacrifices and appeasing vows, and frankincense and savour. For Prayers also are the daughters of supreme Jove, 317 both halt, and wrinkled, and squint-eyed; which following on Ate from behind, are full of care. But Ate is robust and sound in limb, wherefore she far outstrips all, and arrives first at every land, doing injury to men; whilst these afterwards cure them. 318 Whosoever will reverence the daughters of Jove approaching, him they are wont greatly to aid, and hear when praying. But whosoever will deny and obstinately refuse them, then indeed, drawing near, they entreat Saturnian Jove, that Ate may follow along with him, that being injured [in turn], he may pay the penalty. But Ο Achilles, do thou too yield honour to accompany the daughters of Jove, which bends the minds of other brave men; for if Atrides brought not gifts, and did not mention others in futurity, but would ever rage vehemently, I for my part would not advise that, casting away wrath, thou shouldst defend the Greeks, although greatly in need. But now he at once gives both many immediately, and promises others hereafter; moreover, he hath despatched the best men to supplicate thee, having selected throughout the Grecian army those who are dearest to thyself; whose entreaty do not thou despise, nor their mission, although formerly fault was not to be found with thee, because thou wert enraged. Thus also have we heard the renown of heroes of former days, when vehement wrath came upon any, [that] they were both appeasable by gifts, and to be reconciled by words. I remember this ancient and by no means modern deed, of what sort it was; and I will repeat it among you all, being friends. The Curetes and Ætolians, obstinate in battle, fought around the city of Calydon, and slaughtered each other; the Ætolians, in defence of lofty Calydon, the Curetes, eager to lay it waste in war; for between them had golden-throned Diana excited mischief, indignant because Œneus had not offered the first-fruits in sacrifice in the fertile spot of ground: 319 whilst the other gods feasted on hecatombs, but to the daughter of mighty Jove alone he sacrificed not. Either he forgot, 320 or did not think of it, but he did greatly err in mind. But she, the daughter of Jove, delighting in arrows, enraged, sent against [him] a sylvan wild boar, with white tusks, which did much detriment, as is the wont [of boars], to the land of Œneus. And many tall trees, one after another, did he prostrate on the ground, with their very roots and the blossom of their fruit. But him Meleager, son of Œneus, slew, assembling huntsmen and dogs from many cities; for he would not have been subdued by a few mortals: so mighty was he, and he caused many to ascend the sad funeral-pile. Still she (Diana) excited around him 321 a great tumult and war between the Curetes and magnanimous Ætolians, for the head and bristly skin of the boar. 322 Whilst warlike Meleager fought, so long were the Curetes unsuccessful; nor were they able, although numerous, to remain without the wall. But when wrath, which swells the minds of others, though very prudent, within their breasts, came upon Meleager, for, enraged at heart with his dear mother Althæa, he remained inactive beside his wedded wife, fair Cleopatra, daughter of Marpessa, the handsome-footed child of Evenus and Idas, who was then the bravest of earthly men, and even lifted a bow against king Phœbus Apollo, for the sake of his fair-ankled spouse. Her [Cleopatra] then her father and venerable mother in the palace were accustomed to call by the surname of Alcyone, because her mother, having the plaintive note of sad Alcyone, 323 lamented when far-darting Phœbus Apollo stole her away. Beside her he [Meleager] remained inactive, brooding 324 over his sad anger, enraged because of the curses of his mother, who, much grieving, prayed to the gods on account of the murder of her brethren. 325 Often with her hands did she strike the fruitful earth, calling upon Pluto and dread Proserpine, reclining upon her knees, whilst her bosom was bedewed with tears, to give death to her son: but her the Erinnys, wandering in gloom, possessing an implacable heart, heard from Erebus. Then immediately was there noise and tumult of these 326 excited round the gates, the towers being battered. Then did the elders of the Ætolians entreat him, and sent chosen priests to the gods, that he would come forth and defend them, promising a great gift. Where the soil of fertile Calydon was richest, there they ordered him to choose a beautiful enclosure of fifty acres; the one half, of land fit for vines, to cut off the other half of plain land, free from wood, for tillage. Much did aged Œneus, breaker of steeds, beseech him, having ascended to the threshold of his lofty-roofed chamber, shaking the well-glued door-post, supplicating his son. And much also his sisters and venerable mother entreated him, but he the more refused; and much [prayed] the companions who were dearest and most friendly of all; but not even thus did they persuade the soul within his breast, until his chamber was violently assailed, and the Curetes were in the act of scaling the ramparts, and firing the great city. Then indeed at length his fair-girdled spouse, weeping, supplicated Meleager, and recounted all the disasters, as many as happen to men whose city may be taken. In the first place, they slay the men, 327 whilst fire reduces the city to ashes; and others carry off the children and deep-zoned women. Then was his soul disturbed when he heard of evil deeds, and he hasted to go and gird the all-glittering armour around his body. Thus he repelled the evil day from the Ætolians, yielding to his own inclination; but they did not make good to him the many and pleasing gifts; but he nevertheless warded off evil. But revolve not such things within thy mind, O my friend, nor let the deity 328 thus turn thee, since it would be more dishonourable to assist the ships [when already] set on fire. Rather come for the gifts, for the Greeks will honour thee equally with a god. If again without gifts thou enter the man-destroying battle, thou wilt not receive equal honour, although warding off the war."
But him swift-footed Achilles, answering, addressed: "Phœnix, respected father, old man, Jove-nurtured, to me there is no need of this honour, for I conceive that I have been honoured by the behest of Jove, which will detain me at the crooked ships whilst breath remains in my bosom, and my knees have the power of motion. But I will tell thee something else, and do thou revolve it in thy mind. Disturb not my soul, weeping and lamenting, gratifying the hero Atrides; it is not at all necessary that thou love him, that thou mayest not be hated by me, who love thee. It is proper for thee with me to give annoyance to him who hath annoyed me. Rule equally with me, and receive my honour in half. 329 These will bear back my message; but do thou, remaining here, recline upon a soft bed, and with morn appearing let us consult whether we shall return to our native land or remain."
Footnote 314: (return) See, however, Buttm. Lexil. p. 510, sqq., who considers that τηλύγετος simply means "tenderly beloved; only that it is a more forcible expression for this idea, as is evident from the bad sense in which the word is used at II. v. 470, where the meaning of a child spoiled by the love of its parents is evident."
Footnote 315: (return) I.e. I reared thee to thy present age. Lit. "I made thee so great."
Footnote 316: (return) If any one should despise these natural details as trifling and beneath the dignity of poetry, I can only recommend a comparison with Æsch. Choeph. 750, sqq., and Shakspeare's nurse in "Romeo and Juliet." In such passages, the age of the supposed speaker is the best apology for the poet.
Footnote 317: (return) See Duport, Gnom. Hom. p. 57.
Footnote 318: (return) Perhaps it was from this passage that Sterne took his sublime idea of the Recording Angel blotting out the oath which the Accusing Spirit had carried up to heaven.
Footnote 319: (return) Cf. Hesiod, Theog. 54. Μνημοσύνη, γουνοῖσιν ἐλευθῆρος μεδέουσα. Like οὖθαρ ἀρούρης, in ver. 141, it is an expression denoting excessive fertility.
Footnote 320: (return) So Xenoph. de Venat. § 1. Οἴνεως δ' ἐν γήρᾳ ἐπιλαθομένου τῆς ϑεοῦ. See an excellent sketch of the story in Grote, vol. i. p. 195, sqq. Cf. Hygin. Fab. clxxii.; Lactant. Arg. fab. Ovid. viii. 4; Antonin. Lib. Met. § 2.
Footnote 321: (return) I. e. the boar.
Footnote 322: (return) On the legend of this war, see Apollodor. i. 8, 2; Callimach. Ib. Dian. 216; Ovid, Met. viii. 260. A catalogue of the heroes who accompanied Meleager is given by Hyginus, Fab. clxxiii.
Footnote 323: (return) See Antonin. Liberal. Met. § 2. who follows Homer rather closely.
Footnote 324: (return) Literally, "digesting."
Footnote 325: (return) See n. 2, p. 41, and on the death of Meleager, by his mother burning a fatal brand, Apollodor. i. c.; Zenobius Cent. Adag. v. 33; Anton. Lib. Met. § 2.
Footnote 326: (return) I. e. the Calydonians.
Footnote 327: (return) This catalogue of the horrors of war seems to have been in the minds of Sallust, Cat. § 51, and Cicero, Or. iv. in Catil.
Footnote 328: (return) Rudolf on Ocellus Lucan. p. 266, well observes, "Antiquissimis temporibus, quorum repetere memoriam possumus, δαίμων nihil aliud erat, quam deus. Horn. Od. γ, 165, 160; Il. γ, 420; II. λ, 791. Neque in eo vocabuli discrimen est, si aut prosunt hominibus, aut iis nocent; utroque enim modo δαίμονες dicuntur." Kennedy and some of the translators have erred on this point.
Footnote 329: (return) I. e. καϑ' ἥμισυ. See Heyne.
He said, and in silence nodded to Patroclus from beneath his brows, that he should strew a thick bed for Phœnix, whilst they were meditating to withdraw as quickly as possible from the tent. But them godlike Telamonian Ajax addressed:
"O Jove-born son of Laertes, crafty Ulysses, let us go, for the object of our address appears not to me to be attainable, in this way at least, and we must report the message to the Greeks with all haste, although it be not good. They now sit expecting us; but Achilles stores up within his breast a fierce and haughty soul, unyielding; nor does he regard the friendship of his companions, with which we have honoured him at the ships beyond others. Merciless one! and truly some one hath accepted compensation even for a brother's death, or his own son slain, whilst [the murderer] remains at home among his people, having paid many expiations: and the mind and noble soul of the other is appeased upon his having received compensation. But in thy breast the gods have put an unyielding and evil mind, for the sake of a maid only; whereas we now offer thee seven far excelling, and many other gifts beside them. Do thou then assume a propitious disposition; and have respect to thy house, for we are guests beneath thy roof from the multitude of the Greeks, and desire to be most dear and friendly to thee beyond all the Achæans, as many as they are."
But him swift-footed Achilles, answering, addressed: "Most noble Ajax, son of Telamon, chief of the people, thou appearest to me to have said all this from thy soul, yet does my heart swell with indignation as often as I recollect those things, how the son of Atreus hath rendered me dishonoured among the Greeks, as if it were some contemptible stranger. But go ye, and carry back my message, for I shall not think of bloody war, before the son of warlike Priam, noble Hector, slaughtering the Greeks, shall reach the ships of the Myrmidons, and burn the ships with fire. But about my tent and black ship, however, I think that Hector, although eager, will desist from combat."
Thus he spake; but they, each having seized a double goblet, having made libations, went back by the side of the fleet, and Ulysses led the way. But Patroclus gave orders to his companions and female domestics to strew, with all haste, a thick couch for Phœnix; and they, obedient, spread a bed as he desired,--sheep-skins, coverlets, and the fine fabric of flax: there lay the old man, and awaited heavenly Morn. But Achilles slept in the recess of his well-made tent; and beside him lay a lady, fair-cheeked Diomede, daughter of Phorbas, whom he had brought from Lesbos. And Patroclus on the other side reclined: and by him also lay fair-waisted Iphis, whom noble Achilles gave him, having taken lofty Scyros, a city of Enyeus.
But when they were within the tents of Atrides, the sons of the Greeks, rising one after another, received them with golden cups, and interrogated thus. And first the king of men, Agamemnon, inquired:
"Come, tell me, O Ulysses, much praised, great glory of the Greeks, whether does he wish to ward off the hostile fire from the ships, or has he refused, and does wrath still posses his haughty soul?"
But him much-enduring, noble Ulysses then addressed: "Most glorious son of Atreus, Agamemnon, king of men, he wills not to extinguish his wrath, but is the more filled with anger, and despises thee as well as thy gifts. He bids thee thyself consult with the Greeks, in what manner thou mayest preserve both the ships and the army of the Greeks, but has himself threatened, that with the rising dawn he will launch into the main his well-benched, equally-plied vessels. And he has declared that he would advise others also to sail home, since ye will not now effect the destruction of lofty Ilium; for far-resounding Jove hath greatly stretched forth his hand [over it], and the people have taken courage. Thus he spoke; and here are these who followed me, Ajax, and the two heralds, both prudent men, to tell these things. But aged Phœnix hath lain down there, for thus he ordered, that in the morning, if he chose, he might follow him in the ships to his dear father-land; but he will by no means carry him off against his will."
Thus he spake; and they all became mute in silence, marvelling at his speech, for he harangued with great vehemence. Long were the sorrowing sons of the Greeks mute, till at length Diomede, valiant in the din of battle, addressed them:
"Most glorious son of Atreus, king of men, Agamemnon, would that thou hadst not supplicated the illustrious son of Peleus, offering countless gifts, for he is haughty even otherwise: 330 now again hast thou excited him much more to insolence. Let us, however, leave him alone, whether he go or remain, for he will fight again at that time when his mind within his breast urges, and the Deity incites him. But come, let us all obey as I shall advise: go now to rest, having satisfied your hearts with food and wine, for this is force and vigour. But when fair rosy-fingered morn has shone forth, draw up the infantry and cavalry with all haste before the ships, cheering them: and do thou thyself likewise fight in the foremost ranks."
Thus he spake, but all the kings approved, admiring the speech of Diomede, the breaker of steeds. Having then offered libations, they departed each to his tent; there they lay do to to rest, and enjoyed the boon of sleep. 331
Footnote 330: (return) I am indebted to Milton.
Footnote 331: (return) Id.