Thetis comforts her son for the death of Patroclus, and promises to procure him new armour from Vulcan. At the command of Juno, Achilles comes forth and strikes terror into the enemy. The body of Patroclus is rescued, and prepared for funeral rites, and Vulcan forges a suit of armour and a splendid shield for Achilles.
Thus they, then, 569 were fighting, like a blazing fire; but swift-footed Antilochus came as a messenger to Achilles. Him he found in front of his lofty-prowed ships, revolving in his mind those things which had already been accomplished; and then groaning, he communed with his own mind:
Footnote 569: (return) This is to be taken in connection with ver. 148 of the last book, as the regular narrative is interrupted by the message of Antilochus and the grief of Achilles.
"Ah me! why are the long-haired Achæans driven back in confusion to the ships, routed through the plain? [I fear] lest the gods have accomplished evil sorrows to my soul, as my mother once informed me, and told me that the bravest of the Myrmidons, I being yet alive, would leave the light of the sun, by the hands of the Trojans. Too surely now the valiant son of Menœtius is dead,--obstinate one! certainly I desired him, having repelled the hostile fire, to return to the ships, nor to fight bravely with Hector."
Whilst he was revolving these things in his mind and in his soul, in the meantime the son of illustrious Nestor drew near, shedding warm tears, and delivered his sad message:
"Alas! O son of warlike Peleus, surely thou wilt hear a very grievous message, which--would that it had not taken place. Patroclus lies low; and around his unarmed corse they are now fighting, whilst crest-tossing Hector possesses his armour."
Thus he spoke; but him a black cloud of grief overshadowed, and taking the burnt ashes with both hands, he poured them on his head, and denied his comely countenance; but the dark ashes everywhere adhered to his rich 570 tunic. But he, mighty, lay extended at great length in the dust, and tearing, he disordered his hair with his hands. The handmaids, whom Achilles and Patroclus had taken, grieved in their souls, shrieked aloud, and ran out of the door round warlike Achilles; and all smote their breasts with their hands, 571 and the limbs of each were relaxed. Antilochus, on the other side, lamented, shedding tears, holding the hands of Achilles; (and he kept groaning within his generous heart,) for he feared lest he should cut his throat with his sword. Then he moaned dreadfully, and his venerable mother heard him, sitting in the depths of the sea, beside her aged father, and immediately lamented: and all the goddesses assembled around her, as many Nereïdes as were at the bottom of the sea. There were Glauce, Thaleia, and Cymodoce, Nesæa, Spio, Thoa, and large-eyed Halia, Cymothoë, Actæa, and Limnorea, Melita, Iæra, Amphithoë, and Agave, Doto, Proto, Pherusa, and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome, and Callianira, Doris, Panope, and distinguished Galatea, Nemertes, Apseudes, and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianira, and Ianassa, Mæra, Orithya, and fair-haired Amathea, and other Nereïdes which were in the depths of the sea. But the resplendent cave was full of them, and all at once they beat their breasts; but Thetis began the lamentation:
Footnote 570: (return) So νεκτάρεον ἑανόν, iii. 385.--Heyne.
Footnote 571: (return) In illustration of this custom of mourners, cf. Virg. Æn. i. 484:--Ovid, Fast. iv. 454: "Et feriunt mœstæ pectora nuda manus." Silius, xii. 528. Petronius, ciii. p. 509, ed. Burm.: "Sparsis prosequi crinibus, aut nudatum pectus plangere;" cxv.: "Percussi semel iterumque pectus." See Westerhov, on Ter. Hec. ii. 3, 49; Northmore on Tryphiodor. 34; and Blomf. on Æsch. Choeph. 27.
"Crinibus Iliades passis, peplumque ferebant
Suppliciter tristes, et tunsæ pectora palmis."
"Hear, sister Nereïdes, that hearing ye may all well know what griefs are in my mind. Woe is me wretched! woe is me who have in an evil hour brought forth the bravest [of men], I who, after having borne a son, blameless and valiant, the chief of heroes, and he grew up 572 like a young tree: having reared him like a sapling in a fruitful spot of a field, I afterwards sent him forth in the curved ships to Ilium, to fight against the Trojans; but I shall not receive him again, having returned home to the palace of Peleus. But whilst he lives and beholds the light of the sun, he grieves, 573 nor can I, going to him, avail him aught. Yet will I go, that I may see my beloved son, and hear what grief comes upon him remaining away from the battle."
Thus having spoken, she left the cave; but they all went along with her, weeping, and the wave of the ocean was cleft around for them. 574 But when they reached fertile Troy, they in order ascended the shore, where the fleet ships of the Myrmidons were drawn up round swift Achilles. Then his venerable mother, shrilly wailing, stood near to him deeply lamenting, and took the head of her son, and, mourning, addressed to him winged words:
Footnote 572: (return) Ἀνέδραμον is used in the same way by Herodot. vii. 156, viii. 55; Theocrit. xviii. 29. It corresponds to our English phrase "to run up."
Footnote 573: (return) I.e. he continues to do so, and will, till his death.
Footnote 574: (return) Σφίσι is the dativus commodi.
"O son, why weepest thou, and what sorrow has come upon thy mind? Speak out, nor conceal it. Those things indeed are fulfilled for thee from Jove, as thou didst formerly pray, lifting up thy hands--that all the sons of the Greeks, wanting thee, should, be collected at the ships, and suffer disgraceful deeds."
But her swift-footed Achilles addressed, deeply groaning:
"Mother mine, these things indeed the Olympian king hath accomplished for me; but what pleasure is there in them to me, since Patroclus, my dear companion, is dead, whom I honoured beyond all my companions, equally with my own head? Him have I lost; and Hector, having slain him, has stripped off his mighty armour, a wonder to be seen, beautiful; which the other gods gave to Peleus, splendid gifts, on that day when they laid thee in the bed of a mortal man. Would that thou hadst dwelt there among the immortal marine inhabitants, and that Peleus had wedded a mortal spouse. But now [thou hast been wedded, to the end] that immeasurable grief may be upon thy mind for thy son slain, whom thou shalt not again receive, having returned home. Since even my mind urges me not to live nor have intercourse with men, unless Hector first lose his life, smitten by my spear, and pay the penalty for the slaughter 575 of Patroclus, the son of Menœtius."
But him Thetis in turn addressed, pouring forth tears: "Short-lived thou wilt be, O my son, as thou sayest, for fate is ready for thee immediately after Hector." Then, heavily sighing, swift-footed Achilles addressed her: "May I die then immediately, since it was not destined that I should aid my companion now slain; but he indeed hath perished far away from his native land, and longed for me to be an averter of his doom. But now 576--since I shall not return to my dear father-land, nor have been a preservation 577 to Patroclus, or to my other companions, who have been subdued in great numbers by noble Hector; but sit beside the ships, an useless weight on the earth, being such as is none of the brazen-mailed Achæans in war, though in council there are others superior; would that therefore contention might be extinguished from gods and men; and anger, which is wont to impel even the very wisest to be harsh; and which, much sweeter than distilling honey, like smoke, rises in the breasts of men; so now did Agamemnon, king of men, enrage me: but although greatly grieved, let us leave these things to pass by as done, subduing, from necessity, our own spirit within our bosoms: but now will I go, that I may find Hector, the destroyer of my dear friend, and I will accept death whensoever Jove and the other immortal gods shall please to accomplish it. For not even the might of Hercules escaped death, who was very dear to king Jove, the son of Saturn; but fate subdued him, and the grievous wrath of Juno. So also shall I lie, when I am dead, if a similar fate be destined for me; but now may I bear away illustrious glory, and compel some one of the Trojan women and deep-robed Dardanians to sigh frequently, wiping away the tears from her tender cheeks with both hands; and may they know that I have long ceased from battle. 578 Wherefore do not hinder me from the combat, although loving me, for thou wilt not persuade me."
Footnote 575: (return) Ελώρια is the more usual form, but ἔλωρα is recognized by Hesychius. "If correct," Kennedy says, "it may be explained by the existence of ἔλωρον from ἔλωρ (Hesych. t.i. p. 1186, from Il. v. 488), signifying the price of slaughter, by the same analogy as θρέπτρον (iv. 478) the price of nutrition."
Footnote 576: (return) Observe the long hyperbaton, resulting from the excitement of the speaker.
Footnote 577: (return) Literally, "light."
Footnote 578: (return) I.e. they shall find out the difference when I make my appearance
Him then the silver-footed goddess Thetis answered: "Certainly this is true, O son, nor is it an evil thing to avert utter destruction from our friends when afflicted. But thy beautiful arms, brazen and shining, are detained among the Trojans, which crest-tossing Hector himself, having on his shoulders, boasts of: yet I suspect that he will not long glory in them, for death is near to him. But do thou by no means enter the slaughter of Mars before thou beholdest me with thine eyes coming hither. For at dawn I will return with the rising sun, bearing beautiful armour from king Vulcan."
Thus having spoken, she turned round from her son, and being turned, addressed her marine sisters: "Enter ye now the broad bosom of the deep, about to behold the marine old man, and the mansions of my sire, and tell him all things; but I go to lofty Olympus, to Vulcan, the skilful artist, to try if he is willing to give my son illustrious, glittering armour."
Thus she spoke, but they immediately sank beneath the wave of the sea. But Thetis, the silver-footed goddess, again departed to Olympus, that she might bear the illustrious armour to her beloved son. Her, on the one hand, her feet bore towards Olympus: but the Greeks, flying with a heaven-sent uproar from man-slaughtering Hector, reached the ships and the Hellespont. Nor had the well-greaved Greeks drawn off the dead body of Patroclus, the attendant of Achilles, out of the reach of weapons; for now again both infantry and cavalry pursued him, and Hector, the son of Priam, like unto a flame in violence. Thrice did illustrious Hector seize him behind by the feet, eager to draw him away, and loudly shouted to the Trojans; and thrice did the two Ajaces, clad in impetuous might, forcibly repulse him from the corse; whilst he, with steady purpose, ever relying on his might, sometimes charged through the crowd, and sometimes again stopped, loudly shouting; but never retreated altogether. But as night-watching 579 shepherds are by no means able to drive away from a carcase a tawny lion, greatly hungering; so were the two warriors, the Ajaces, unable to drive away Hector, the son of Priam, from the body. And now indeed would he have dragged it off, and obtained great glory, had not fleet wind-footed Iris come as a messenger to the son of Peleus, running down from Olympus, that he should arm himself unknown to Jove and the other gods; for Juno sent her forth; and standing near, she addressed to him winged words:
Footnote 579: (return) Cf. Luke ii. 8, with the notes of Wetstein and Kypke. Although ἄγραυλοι may simply mean "dwelling in the fields," as in Apollon. Rh. iv. 317, it is better to follow the interpretation of Hesychius: Οἱ ἐν ἀγροῖς διανυκτερεύοντες. But cf. Alberti, t.i. p. 64.
"Arise, son of Peleus, most terrible of all men; defend Patroclus, for whom 580 a dire contest is maintained before the ships. But they are slaughtering each other, the one party fighting for the slain corpse, whilst the other, the Trojans, rush on, that they may drag him away to wind-swept Ilium; and above all, illustrious Hector desires to seize him, for his mind prompts him to fix his head upon stakes, having cut it from the tender neck. But up, nor lie longer; but let reverence 581 touch thy soul, that Patroclus should be a source of delight to Trojan dogs. A disgrace would be to thee, if the dead body should come at all defiled."
Footnote 580: (return) I.e. for whose body.
Footnote 581: (return) "Σέβας is commonly rendered pudor, nearly synonymous with αἰδώς. Its meaning is however more forcible, viz. esteem it as an act of impiety to abandon the body to insult."--Kennedy.
But her noble, swift-footed Achilles, then answered: "Which of the gods, O goddess Iris, sent thee as a messenger tome?"
But him fleet, wind-footed Iris, again addressed: "Juno sent me forth, the glorious spouse of Jove, nor does the lofty-throned son of Saturn know it, nor any other of the immortals who inhabit snowy Olympus."
But her swift-footed Achilles answering, addressed: "And how can I go to the slaughter? for they possess my armour. Besides, my dear mother does not permit me to be armed, before that with my eyes I behold her coming, for she hath promised that she will bear me beautiful armour from Vulcan. But I indeed know not of another, whose splendid armour I could put on, 582 except the shield of Ajax, son of Telamon."
Footnote 582: (return) Ἀλλ' οὐδενὸς οἶδα ἀρμόζουτάν μοι πανοπλίαν.--Schol.
"But he, I hope, mingles in the front ranks, slaying with his spear round the head of Patroclus."
But him fleet-footed Iris again addressed: "Well too do we know that they possess thy distinguished armour: yet even thus, going towards the ditch, show thyself to the Trojans, if perchance the Trojans, terrified, may desist from battle, and the warlike, harassed sons of the Greeks may breathe again; and there be a short respite from fighting." 583
Footnote 583: (return) Cf. xv. 42.
Thus indeed having spoken, swift-footed Iris departed; but Achilles, dear to Jove, arose; and around his strong shoulders Minerva threw her fringed ægis. And the divine one of goddesses crowned his head around with a golden cloud, and from it she kindled a shining flame. And as when smoke, ascending from a city, reaches the æther from an island afar off, which foes invest, who [pouring out] from their city, contend all day in hateful fight: but with the setting sun torches blaze one after another, 584 and the splendour arises, rushing upwards, for [their] neighbours to behold, if perchance they may come with ships, as repellers of the war; thus did the flame from the head of Achilles reach the sky. He stood, having advanced from the wall to the trench, nor mingled with the Greeks, for he reverenced the prudent advice of his mother. There standing, he shouted, and Pallas Minerva, on the other side, vociferated, and stirred up immense tumult among the Trojans. And as the tone is very clear, when a trumpet sounds, while deadly foes are investing a city; so distinct then was the voice of the descendant of Æacus. But when they heard the brazen voice of Achilles, the soul was disturbed to all, whilst the beautiful-maned steeds turned the chariots backwards, for they presaged sorrows in their mind. The charioteers were panic-struck when they beheld the terrific, indefatigable flame, blazing over the head of magnanimous Pelides; for the azure-eyed goddess Minerva lighted it. Thrice over the trench loudly shouted noble Achilles, and thrice were the Trojans and their illustrious allies thrown into confusion. There then perished twelve bravest heroes by their chariots and spears, whilst the Greeks, dragging Patroclus with joy out of the reach of weapons, stretched him on a bier; but his beloved companions stood round him mourning, and with them followed swift-footed Achilles, shedding warm tears, when he beheld his faithful comrade lying upon a bier, lacerated with the sharp brass: whom indeed he had sent forth with his horses and chariots to battle, but did not receive him again, having returned.
Footnote 584: (return) Hesychius: ἐπήτριμοι, ἀλλεπάλληλοι. Cf. Oppian, Cyn. i. 321; iii. 275. The orthography ἐπίτριμοι is equally correct, according to Abresch.
But the large-eyed, venerable Juno sent the unwearied sun, to return to the flowing of the ocean, against his inclination. The sun then set, and the noble Greeks desisted from the violent conflict, and the equally destructive battle. The Trojans again, on the other side, retiring from the violent combat, loosed their fleet steeds from their chariots. But they assembled in the council before they bethought them of their banquet. The assembly consisted of persons standing up, nor did any one dare to sit; for fear possessed all, because Achilles had appeared, who had long abstained from the direful combat. Among them prudent Polydamas, the son of Panthus, began to speak, for he alone saw both the future and the past. He was the companion of Hector, and they were born in one night, but the one excelled in counsel, and the other greatly in the spear. He wisely counselling, harangued them, and spoke:
"My friends, consider well on both sides; for I advise that we now return to the city, nor await the sacred Morn in the plain near the ships; for we are far away from the wall. As long indeed as this man was wroth with noble Agamemnon, so long were the Greeks more easy to fight with. For even I was delighted, passing the night by the swift barks, expecting that we should take the equally-plied barks; but now greatly do I fear swift-footed Pelides: so violent is his soul, nor will he be content to remain in the plain, where usually the Trojans and Greeks in the intervening space divide 585 the force of war, but he will combat for the city and our wives. We will go, then, towards the city--be persuaded by me--for so it must be. Ambrosial night at present hath made swift-footed Pelides cease; but if, rushing forth to-morrow with his arms, he shall find us here, then will some one know him; for gladly will he reach sacred Ilium, whosoever shall escape: but dogs and vultures will devour many of the Trojans. O that such [tidings] may be far from our ears. 586 But if we be obedient to my words, although sad, we shall have protection 587 in the assembly during the night, and the towers and lofty gates, and the valves fitted to them, long, well polished, fastened together, will protect the city. But to-morrow, at early dawn, we will stand on the towers, arrayed in armour; and it would be difficult for him, even if he should wish it, coming from the ships, to fight with us around the wall. Back again will he go to the ships, after he has satiated his high-necked steeds with a varied course, driving beneath the city. But his mind will not permit him to rush within, nor will he ever lay it waste; sooner shall the fleet dogs devour him."
Footnote 585: (return) This is expressive of the vicissitudes of the conflict.
Footnote 586: (return) Eἴθε δέ μοι τοῦτο οὐ μόνον μὴ ὀφθείη, ἀλλὰ μηδὲ ἀκουσθείη.--Schol.
Footnote 587: (return) One of the Scholiasts, however, would take σθένος as=στρατιὰν, i.e. we shall keep the troops in a body. But see Kennedy.
Him, then, crest-tossing Hector sternly regarding, addressed:
"No longer, O Polydamas, dost thou speak these things agreeable to me, thou who advisest us, returning, to be cooped up in the city. Are ye not yet satiated with being shut up within the towers? Formerly indeed all articulate-speaking men pronounced the city of Priam rich in gold and in brass; but now have the rich treasures of our houses perished, and many possessions have already departed to Phrygia and agreeable Mœonia, to be sold, since mighty Jove was enraged. But at this crisis, when the son of politic Saturn has granted me to obtain glory at the ships, and to hem in the Greeks by the sea, no longer, foolish man, disclose these counsels to the people: for none of the Trojans will obey; nor will I permit them. But come, let us all obey as I shall advise. At present take supper in your ranks throughout the army; be mindful of the watch, and keep guard each [of you]; but whosoever of the Trojans is particularly anxious about his possessions, collecting them together, let him give them to the people to be publicly consumed; it is better that any of them should enjoy them than the Greeks. But to-morrow, with the dawn, arrayed in armour, let us excite sharp conflict at the hollow ships, and if truly noble Achilles has arisen at the ships, it will be the worse for him, if he wishes [to fight]: I indeed will not fly him from the horrid-sounding battle, but will stand very obstinately against him, whether he bear away great glory, or I bear it away. Mars [is] common, 588 and even slays the slayer."
Footnote 588: (return) See Duport, p. 104, and Clarke's note. Livy translates it, "communis Mars belli;" observing, "communis Mars, et incertus belli eventus."
Thus Hector harangued, and the Trojans shouted in applause: foolish men, for Pallas Minerva had taken their senses away from them. For they assented to Hector, advising destructive things, whilst no one [assented to] Polydamas, who advised prudent counsel. Then they took supper through the army. But the Greeks, lamenting all night, wept over Patroclus, but among them Pelides led the ceaseless lamentation, placing his man-slaying hands upon the breast of his companion, very frequently sighing; as the well-bearded lion, from whom the stag-hunter has stolen the cubs out of the thick forest; and he is grieved, coming afterwards. And through many valleys he goes, tracking the footsteps of the man, if anywhere he may find him; for very keen rage possesses him. So, deeply sighing, he addressed the Myrmidons:
"Alas! vain indeed was the promise I uttered on that day, encouraging the hero Menœtius in our halls; for I said that I would bring back his illustrious son to Opus, having wasted Troy, and obtained a share of the spoil. But Jove fulfils not for men all their intentions; for it is fated that we shall both stain with blood the same earth here in Troy; but neither shall aged horse-driving Peleus receive me in his palaces, returning, nor my mother Thetis, but the earth shall here hold me. Now, however, O Patroclus! since after thee I go beneath the earth, I shall not perform thy funeral rites, before that I bring hither the arms and head of magnanimous Hector, thy murderer, and behead twelve illustrious sons of the Trojans, before thy pile, enraged on account of thee slain. Meanwhile thou shall lie thus at the crooked ships; and round thee Trojan [dames] and deep-bosomed Dardanians shall weep and shed tears night and day; whom we ourselves have toiled to get by our valour and the long spear, laying waste the rich cities of articulate-speaking men."
Thus having· spoken, noble Achilles ordered his companions to surround a large tripod with fire, that as soon as possible they might wash away the bloody gore from Patroclus. They then placed a bathing tripod on the blazing fire, and poured water into it, and taking fagots, lighted them under it. The fire indeed encircled the belly of the tripod, and the water was warmed. But when the water boiled in the sonorous brass, then they both washed him, and anointed him with rich oil. And they filled up his wounds with ointment nine years old; and laying him upon a bed, they covered him with fine linen from head to foot; and over all, with a white mantle. 589 All night then the Myrmidons, lamenting Patroclus, wept around swift-footed Achilles. But Jove addressed Juno, his sister and wife:
"And at length thou hast accomplished thy object, O large-eyed, venerable Juno, having aroused swift-fooled Achilles. Surely the waving-crested Greeks are born from thy very self."
Footnote 589: (return) Cf. Virg. Æn. vi. 218, sqq.; xi. 36, sqq. I shall defer discussing the heroic funeral-rites till the twenty-third book.
But him large-eyed, venerable Juno then answered:
"Most imperious son of Saturn, what a word hast thou spoken? Surely now any man who is mortal, and knows not so many designs, might accomplish this against a man. How therefore ought not I, who boast myself to be chief of the goddesses, both from birth and also because I am called thy wife (and thou rulest over all the immortals), being enraged with the Trojans, to [be able to] design evils against them."
Thus indeed they conversed with one another. But silver-footed Thetis reached the abode of Vulcan, incorruptible, starry, remarkable amongst the immortals, brazen, which the lame-footed himself had constructed. Him she found sweating, exerting himself at the bellows, earnestly working; for he was making full twenty tripods to stand around the wall of his well-built palace. Under the base of each he placed golden wheels, that of their own accord they might enter the heavenly council, and again return home--a wonder to be seen. So much finish had they, but he had not yet added the well-made handles, which he was preparing; and he was forging the rivets. Whilst he was toiling at these things with, skilful mind, meanwhile Thetis, the silver-footed goddess, came to him. But the beautiful and fair-veiled Charis, whom illustrious Vulcan had espoused, advancing, beheld her; and hung upon her hand, and addressed her, and spoke:
"Why, O long-robed Thetis, venerable, beloved, dost thou visit our abode? Formerly thou wast not in the habit of coming frequently. 590 But follow farther onwards, that I may set before thee hospitable fare."
Thus having spoken, the divine of goddesses led on. Then indeed she placed her upon a silver-studded throne, beautiful, variously wrought, and there was a stool under her feet. But she called Vulcan, the distinguished artist, and spoke this word:
"Come hither, Vulcan, Thetis now has need of thee."
But her illustrious Vulcan then answered: "Assuredly then an awful and revered goddess is within, who saved me when distress came upon me, fallen down far by the contrivance of my shameless mother, who wished to conceal me, being lame. 591 Then should I have suffered sorrows in my mind, had not Eurynome and Thetis received me in their bosom; Eurynome, daughter of the refluent Ocean. With them for nine years wrought I in brass many ingenious works of art, buckles, twisted bracelets, and clasp-tubes, in the hollow cave; whilst round us flowed the immense stream of Ocean, murmuring with foam: nor did any other either of gods or mortal men know it; but Thetis and Eurynome, who preserved me, knew it. She now comes to my house; wherefore there is need that I should repay all the rewards of my safety to fair-haired Thetis. But set now before her good hospitable fare, whilst I lay aside my bellows and all my tools."
Footnote 590: (return) Θαμίζειν answers to the Latin "visere," "frequentare." Suidas, Θαμίζεις· πυκνάζεις, συχνάσεις. Plato, Rep. i. p. 410, B.: Οὐδὲ θαμίζεις ἡμῖν καταβαίνων εἰς τὸν ειραιᾶ. Themist. Or. v. p. 152: Μηδὲ θαμίζει δορυφοροῦσα εἰς τὰ βασίλεια. Philostr. Vit. Soph. i. 7, p. 254: Θαμίζων εἰς τὰ στρατόπεδα. Cf. Alciphron, Ep. i. 4, p. 20, iii. 5, p. 286.
Footnote 591: (return) "Hephæstos is the son of Hêrê without a father, and stands to her in the same relation as Athênê to Zeus: her pride and want of sympathy are manifested by her casting him out at once, in consequence of his deformity."--Grote, vol. i. p. 79.
He spoke and rose, a wondrous bulk, 592 from his anvil-block, limping, and his weak legs moved actively beneath him. The bellows he laid apart from the fire, and all the tools with which he laboured he collected into a silver chest. With a sponge he wiped, all over, his face and both his hands, his strong neck and shaggy breast; then put on his tunic and seized his stout sceptre. But he went out of the doors limping, and golden handmaids, like unto living maidens, moved briskly about the king; and in their bosoms was prudence with understanding, and within them was voice and strength; and they are instructed in works by the immortal gods. These were busily occupied 593 by the king's side; but he, hobbling along, sat down upon a splendid throne near where Thetis was, and hung upon her hand, and spoke, and addressed her:
"Why, long-robed Thetis, venerable and dear, hast thou come to our abode? For indeed thou didst not often come before. Make known what thou desirest, for my mind orders me to perform it, 594 if in truth I can perform it, and if it is to be performed."
Footnote 592: (return) I have endeavoured to express Buttmann's idea respecting the meaning of αἴητον. See Lexil. p. 44-7. He concludes that it simply means great, but with a collateral notion of astonishment implied, connecting it with ἀγητός.
Footnote 593: (return) See Buttmann, Lexil. p. 481.
Footnote 594: (return) Virg. Æn. i. 80:
"----Tuus, ô regina, quid optes,
Explorare labor: mini jussa capessere fas est."
Him then Thetis, pouring forth tears, answered: "O Vulcan, has any then, as many as are the goddesses in Olympus, endured so many bitter griefs in her mind, as, to me above all, Jove, the son of Saturn, has given sorrows? Me, from among the other marine inhabitants, has he subjected to a man, to Peleus, son of Æacus; and I have endured the couch of a man very much against my will. He, indeed, now lies in his palaces, afflicted with grievous old age; but now other [woes] are my lot. After he had granted me to bring forth aud nurture a son, distinguished among heroes, and who grew up like a plant; him having reared, as a plant in a fertile spot of the field, I sent forth in the crooked barks to Ilium, to fight with the Trojans; but him I shall not receive again, having returned home to the mansion of Peleus. As long, however, as he lives to me, and beholds the light of the sun, he suffers sorrow, nor am I, going to him, able to avail him aught. The maid whom the sons of the Greeks selected as a reward for him, her hath king Agamemnon taken back again from his hands. Certainly, grieving for her, he has been wasting his soul; whilst the Trojans were hemming in the Greeks at the ships, nor suffered them to go beyond the gates: but the elders of the Greeks supplicated him, and named many distinguished presents. But then he refused to avert destruction, yet he clad Patroclus in his own armour, and sent him forth to the battle, and he gave with him much people. All day they fought round the Scæan gates, and certainly on that day had overturned Troy, had not Apollo slain, among the foremost warriors, the gallant son of Menœtius, after having done much mischief, and given glory to Hector. On this account do I now approach thy knees, if thou wilt give to my short-lived son a shield and helmet, and beautiful greaves, joined with clasps, and a corslet: for what were his, his faithful companion has lost, subdued by the Trojans; and he (Achilles) lies upon the ground, grieving in his soul."
Her then illustrious Vulcan answered: "Take courage, nor let these things be cause of uneasiness in thy mind; for would that I could so surely conceal him from dread-sounding death, when grievous fate approaches him, as that beautiful armour shall be ready for him, such as any one of many men shall hereafter admire, whosoever may behold it."
So saying, he left her there, and went towards the bellows, which he turned towards the fire, and commanded them to work. And full twenty bellows blew in the furnaces, exciting a varied well-regulated 595 blast, to be ready for him, at one time busy, at another the reverse, as Vulcan pleased, and that the work might be complete. He cast into the fire impenetrable brass, and tin, precious gold and silver; but next he placed the mighty anvil on the stock, and took in [one] hand his strong hammer, and with the other grasped the forceps.
Footnote 595: (return) I.e. one that would either blow, or not, according as the progress of the work required. The student will do well to compare Virg. Georg. iv. 171, sqq., Æn. viii. 449, sqq., and Callimach. in Dian. 59, sqq.
First of all he formed a shield, 596 both large and solid, decorating it all over, and around it he threw a shining border, triple and glittering, and from it [there hung] a silver belt. Of the shield itself, there were five folds; but on it he formed many curious works, with cunning skill. On it he wrought the earth, and the heaven, and the sea, the unwearied sun, and the full moon. On it also [he represented] all the constellations with which the heaven is crowned, the Pleiades, the Hyades, and the strength of Orion, and the Bear, 597 which they also call by the appellation of the Wain, which there revolves, and watches Orion; 598 but it alone is free 599 from the baths of the ocean.
Footnote 596: (return) See Coleridge, Classic Poets, p. 182, sqq.; Riccius, Dissert. Hom. t.i.p. 216; Feith, Antiq. Hom. iv. 10, 4. In reading this whole description, care must be taken to allow for the freedom of poetic description, as well as for the skill of the supposed artificer.
Footnote 597: (return) Cf. Virg. Georg. i. 137; Æn. i. 748, iii. 516.
Footnote 598: (return) Orion ascends above the horizon, as though in pursuit of the Wain, which in return seems to observe his movements. Manilius, i. 500: "Arctos et Orion adversis frontibus ibant," which is compared by Scaliger, p. 28.
Footnote 599: (return) Aratus, Dios. 48: Ἄρκτοι κυανεοῦ πεφυλαγμένοι κεανοῖο. Virg. Georg. i. 246: "Arctos Oceani metuentes æquore tingi." The student of ancient astronomy will do well to compare Scaliger on Manil. i, p. 43, 2; Casaub. on Strabo, i. init.
In it likewise he wrought two fair cities 600 of articulate-speaking men. In the one, indeed, there were marriages and feasts; and they were conducting the brides from their chambers through the city with brilliant torches, 601 and many a bridal song 602 was raised. The youthful dancers were wheeling round, and amongst them pipes and lyres uttered a sound; and the women standing, each at her portals, admired. And people were crowded together in an assembly, and there a contest had arisen; for two men contended for the ransom-money of a slain man: the one affirmed that he had paid all, appealing to the people; but the other denied, [averring] that he had received nought: and both wished to find an end [of the dispute] before a judge. 603 The people were applauding both,--supporters of either party, and the heralds were keeping back the people; but the elders sat upon polished stones, in a sacred 604 circle, and [the pleaders 605] held in their hands the staves of the clear-voiced heralds; with these then they arose, and alternately pleaded their cause. Moreover, in the midst lay two talents of gold, to give to him who should best establish his claim among them. But round the other city sat two armies of people glittering in arms; and one of two plans was agreeable to them, 606 either to waste it, or to divide all things into two parts,--the wealth, whatever the pleasant city contained within it. They, however, had not yet complied, but were secretly arming themselves for an ambuscade. Meanwhile, their beloved wives and young children kept watch, standing above, and amongst them the men whom old age possessed. But they (the younger men) advanced; but Mars was their leader, and Pallas Minerva, both golden, and clad in golden dresses, beautiful and large, along with their armour, radiant all round, and indeed like gods; but the people were of humbler size. 607 But when they now had reached a place where it appeared fit to lay an ambuscade, by a river, where there was a watering-place for all sorts of cattle, there then they settled, clad in shining steel. There, apart from the people, sat two spies, watching when they might perceive the sheep and crooked-horned oxen. These, however, soon advanced, and two shepherds accompanied them, amusing themselves with their pipes, for they had not yet perceived the stratagem. Then they, discerning them, ran in upon them, and immediately slaughtered on all sides the herds of oxen, and the beautiful flocks of snow-white sheep; and slew the shepherds besides. But they, when they heard the great tumult amongst the oxen, previously sitting in front of the assembly, 608 mounting their nimble-footed steeds, pursued; and soon came up with them. Then, having marshalled themselves, they fought a battle on the banks of the river, and wounded one another with their brazen spears. Amongst them mingled Discord and Tumult, and destructive Fate, holding one alive, recently wounded, another unwounded, but a third, slain, she drew by the feet through the battle; and had the garment around her shoulders crimsoned with the gore of men. 609 But they turned about, like living mortals, and fought, and drew away the slaughtered bodies of each other.
Footnote 600: (return) Cf. Hesiod, Scut. Herc. 270, sqq.
Footnote 601: (return) The escort took place at even-tide.
Footnote 602: (return) On the origin of this term, see Serv. on Virg. Æn. i. 655.
Footnote 603: (return) Or, "on the testimony of witnesses." See Kennedy.
Footnote 604: (return) See Heyne on x. 56. So σέλμα σεμνὸν, "the seat of justice."--Æsch. Ag. 183.
Footnote 605: (return) See Kennedy, who has collected the Homeric passages concerning lawsuits.
Footnote 606: (return) I.e. the enemy. The alternative was that the townsmen should either surrender half their possessions, or submit to indiscriminate pillage. See Kennedy.
Footnote 607: (return) This custom of representing gods and heroes of larger stature than ordinary folk prevails almost universally in the Egyptian monuments and sculptures.
Footnote 608: (return) "Εἴρα vel ἴρα est locus concionis, et ipse cœtus."--Heyns.
Footnote 609: (return) Cf. Æn. vi.: "Tisiphoneque sedens, palla succincta cruenta." Stat. Theb. i. 109: "Riget horrida tergo Palla, et cærulei redeunt in pectore nodi."
On it he also placed a soft fallow field, 610 rich glebe, wide, thrice-ploughed; and in it many ploughmen drove hither and thither, turning round their teams. But when, returning, they reached the end of the field, then a man, advancing, gave into their hands a cup of very sweet wine; but they turned themselves in series, 611 eager to reach the [other] end of the deep fallow. But it was all black behind, similar to ploughed land, which indeed was a marvel beyond [all others].
On it likewise he placed a field of deep corn, where reapers were cutting, having sharp sickles in their hands. Some handfuls fell one after the other upon the ground along the furrow, and the binders of sheaves tied others with bands. Three binders followed [the reapers], whilst behind them boys gathering the handfuls, [and] bearing them in their arms, continually supplied them; and amongst them the master stood by the swathe 612 in silence, holding a sceptre, delighted in heart. But apart, beneath an oak, servants were preparing a banquet, and sacrificing a huge ox, they ministered; whilst women sprinkled much white barley 613 [on the meat], as a supper for the reapers.
Footnote 610: (return) With the whole of this description of the shield of Achilles, the lover of poetry should compare Milton, P.L. xi. 638, sqq. with the remarks of Bishop Newton.
Footnote 611: (return) But Hesychius by ὄγμους understood αὔλακας, "the furrows." See Schneid. on Nicand. Ther. 371.
Footnote 612: (return) I here follow the Oxford translator. The term βασιλεὺς is well in accordance with the simple manners of the early ages, when kings were farmers on a large scale. Many of our Saviour's parables present a similar association of agriculture with the regal dignity.
Footnote 613: (return) Probably a religious rite. Cf. i. 449, 458.
On it likewise he placed a vineyard, heavily laden with grapes, beautiful, golden; but the clusters throughout were black; and it was supported throughout by silver poles. Round it he drew an azure trench, and about it a hedge 614 of tin; but there was only one path to it, by which the gatherers went when they collected the vintage. Young virgins and youths, of tender minds, bore the luscious fruit in woven baskets, 615 in the midst of whom a boy played sweetly on a shrill harp; and with tender voice sang gracefully to the chord; whilst they, beating [the ground] in unison with dancing and shouts, followed, skipping with their feet.
Footnote 614: (return) Ἐφύτευσεν ἀμπελῶνα, καὶ φραγμὸν αὐτῷ περιέθηκε. Matt, xxi 33. See Rosemüller on Jer. v. 5.
Footnote 615: (return) "Vimineis calathis," Copa, 16. Propert. iii. 11, 31.
In it he also wrought a herd of oxen with horns erect. But the kine were made of gold and of tin, and rushed out with a lowing from the stall to the pasture, beside a murmuring stream, along the breeze-waving reeds. 616 Four golden herdsmen accompanied the oxen, and nine dogs, swift of foot, followed. But two terrible lions detained the bull, roaring among the foremost oxen, and he was dragged away, loudly bellowing, and the dogs and youths followed for a rescue. They indeed, having torn off the skin of the great ox, lapped up his entrails and black blood; and the shepherds vainly pressed upon them, urging on their fleet dogs. These however refused to bite the lions, but, standing very near, barked, and shunned them.
On it illustrious Vulcan also formed a pasture in a beautiful grove full of white sheep, and folds, and covered huts and cottages.
Illustrious Vulcan likewise adorned it with a dance, like unto that which, in wide Gnossus, Dædalus contrived for fair-haired Ariadne. There danced youths and alluring 617 virgins, holding each other's hands at the wrist. These wore fine linen robes, but those were dressed in well-woven tunics, shining 618 as with oil; these also had beautiful garlands, and those wore golden swords, [hanging] from silver belts. Sometimes, with skilful feet, they nimbly bounded [round]; as when a potter, sitting, shall make trial of a wheel fitted to his hands, whether it will run: and at other times again they ran back to their places through one another. But a great crowd surrounded the pleasing dance, amusing themselves; and amongst them two tumblers, beginning their song, spun round through the midst.
Footnote 616: (return) See Knight and Kennedy.
Footnote 617: (return) Literally, "finders of oxen," i.e. so attractive as to be certain of receiving a good dowry, paid, after the ancient custom, in cattle.
Footnote 618: (return) This must have been some kind of oil-cloth, unless we read στίλβοντες with Kennedy. The meaning is very obscure.
But in it he also formed the vast strength of the river Oceanus, near the last border of the well-formed shield.
But when he had finished the shield, large and solid, he next formed for him a corslet, brighter than the splendour of fire. He also made for him a strong helmet, fitted to his temples, beautiful and variously ornamented, and on it placed a golden crest; and made greaves for him of ductile tin.
But when renowned Vulcan had with toil made all the armour, lifting it up, he laid it before the mother of Achilles; but she, like a hawk, darted down from snowy Olympus, bearing from Vulcan the shining armour.