Iliad of Homer, The



Jove orders Thetis to go to Achilles, and demand the restoration of Hector's body. Mercury is also sent to Priam, whom he guides in safety through the Grecian camp, to the tent of Achilles. A pathetic interview follows, and Priam ransoms the body of his son, and obtains a twelve days' truce, during which he performs his funeral obsequies.

The assembly was dissolved, and the people were dispersed, to go each to their hollow barks. They indeed took care to indulge in the banquet and sweet slumber; but Achilles wept, remembering his dear companion, nor did all-subduing sleep possess him, but he was rolled here and there, longing for the vigour and valiant might of Patroclus. And whatever things he had accomplished with him, and hardships he had suffered, both [encountering] the battles of heroes, and measuring the grievous waves, remembering these things, he shed the warm tear, lying at one time upon his sides, 773 at others again on his back, and at other times on his face; but again starting up, he wandered about in sadness along the shore of the sea; nor did Morn, appearing over the sea and the shores, escape his notice. But he, when he had harnessed his fleet steeds to his chariot, bound Hector to be dragged after his chariot; and having drawn him thrice around the tomb of the dead son of Menœtius, again rested in his tent; and left him there, having stretched him on his face in the dust. But Apollo kept off all pollution from his body, pitying the hero, although dead; and encircled him with the golden ægis, lest that, dragging, he might lacerate him.

Footnote 773: (return) Cf. Heliodor. Ethiop. vii. p. 325: αννύχιος γοῦν ἔκειτο, πυκνὰ μὲν πρὸς έκατέραν πλευρὰν τὸ σῶμα διαστρέφουσα. Chariton quotes the line of Homer, when describing the uneasy rest of a love-stricken being.

Thus he indeed, raging, was insulting noble Hector, but the blessed gods, looking towards him, commiserated, and incited the watchful slayer of Argus to steal him away. Now, to all the rest it was certainly pleasing, but by no means so to Juno, to Neptune, nor to the azure-eyed maid; but they were obstinate, 774 for sacred Ilium was odious to them from the first, and Priam and his people, on account of the infatuation of Paris, who had insulted the goddesses, when they came to his cottage, and preferred her who gratified his destructive lust. 775 But when the twelfth morning from that had arisen, then indeed Phœbus Apollo spoke amongst the immortals:

Footnote 774: (return) After ἔχον supply τὴν διάθεσιν (with Schol.)="kept their determination."
Footnote 775: (return) Payne Knight would reject vers. 23--30, considering the word μαχλοσύνην as un-Homeric. If they are genuine, they furnish the earliest mention of the judgment of Paris. Cf. Mollus on Longus, Past. iii. 27; Intpp. on Hygin. Fab. xcii.

"Cruel ye are, O gods, [and] injurious. Has not Hector indeed formerly burned for you the thighs of bulls and chosen goats? whom now, although being dead, ye will not venture to take away for his wife, and mother, his son, and his father Priam, and the people to behold; who would quickly burn him with fire, and perform his funeral rites. But ye wish to bestow favour, O gods, upon destructive Achilles, to whom there is neither just disposition, nor flexible feelings in his breast; who is skilled in savage deeds, as a lion, which, yielding to the impulse of his mighty strength and haughty soul, attacks the flocks of men, that he may take a repast. Thus has Achilles lost all compassion, nor in him is there sense of shame, which greatly hurts and profits men. For perhaps some one will lose another more dear, either a brother, or a son; yet does he cease weeping and lamenting, for the Destinies have placed in men an enduring mind. But this man drags godlike Hector around the tomb of his dear companion, binding him to his chariot, after he has taken away his dear life; yet truly this is neither more honourable, nor better for him. [Let him beware] lest we be indignant with him, brave as he is, because, raging, he insults even the senseless clay."

But him the white-armed Juno, indignant, addressed: "This truly might be our language, O God of the silver bow, if now thou assignest equal honour to Achilles and to Hector. Hector indeed is a mortal, and sucked a woman's breast; but Achilles is the offspring of a goddess, whom I myself both nurtured and educated, and gave as a wife to the hero Peleus, who is dear to the immortals in their heart: and ye were all present at the nuptials, 776 O gods; and thou didst feast amongst them, holding thy lyre, O companion of the evil, ever faithless."

But her cloud-compelling Jove, answering, addressed:

"Ο Juno, be not now completely enraged with the gods; for their honour shall not be at all equal: but Hector also was the dearest of mortals to the gods, of [those] who are in Ilium; for thus was he to me; for never did he miss [offering] pleasing gifts. For never did my altar lack the fitting banquet, or incense, or odour: for this honour are we allotted. Yet let us forego to steal away bold Hector; (nor is it at all practicable without the knowledge of Achilles;) for he is ever by him both by night and day, like as a mother. But let some of the gods call Thetis near me, that to her I may tell prudent advice, in order that Achilles may receive gifts from Priam, and ransom Hector."

Thus he spoke; but Iris, swift as the whirlwind, rose up, about to bear his message. Half way between Samos and rugged Imbrus she plunged into the dark sea, and the ocean groaned. She sank to the bottom like unto a leaden ball, 777 which, [placed] along the horn of a wild bull, entering, descends, bearing death to the raw-devouring fishes. But she found Thetis in her hollow cave, and the other sea goddesses sat around her, assembled together; she indeed, in the midst, lamented the fate of her own blameless son, who was about to perish in fertile Troy, far away from his native land. But her swift-footed Iris, standing near, addressed:

Footnote 776: (return) See Grote, vol. i. p. 257.
Footnote 777: (return) The only clear explanation of this passage seems to be that of the traveller Clarke, quoted by Kennedy, as follows: "The Greeks in fishing let their line, with the lead at the end, run over a piece of horn fixed at the side of the boat," to prevent, as Kennedy remarks, the wear from friction. Pollux, x. 30, 31, merely mentions the μολυβδαίνη among the implements of fishermen; but says nothing of the manner in which it was used.

"Rise, O Thetis; Jove, skilled in imperishable counsels, calls thee."

Her then the silver-footed goddess Thetis answered:

"Why does that mighty god call me? I am ashamed to mix with the immortals, for I have innumerable griefs in my soul. Yet must I go; for the word which he utters will not be in vain."

Thus having spoken, the divine one of goddesses took her dark robe, than which no garment is blacker. And she set out to go, whilst wind-footed, fleet Iris led the way; and the water of the sea retired on each side of them. 778 Next ascending the shore, they were impelled up to heaven. They found the far-sounding son of Saturn; and all the other blessed immortal gods sat assembled around him; but she then sat down beside father Jove, and Minerva gave place to her. Then Juno placed a beautiful golden goblet in her hand, and consoled her with words; and Thetis having drunk, returned it. But to them the father of men and gods began discourse:

"Thou hast come to Olympus, although sad, Ο goddess Thetis, having in thy mind a grief not to be forgotten; and I know it. Yet even thus will I speak, and on this account have I called thee hither. Nine days has a contest already been excited amongst the immortals respecting the body of Hector, and Achilles the destroyer of cities, and they have urged the watchful slayer of Argus to steal him. But I bestow this glory 779 on Achilles, securing for the future thy respect and love. Descend very speedily to the camp, and give orders to thy son. Tell him that the gods are offended, and that I am angry above all the immortals, because with infuriated mind he detains Hector at the crooked barks, nor has released him: if perchance he will revere me, and restore Hector. Meanwhile I will despatch Iris to magnanimous Priam, that, going to the ships of the Greeks, he may ransom his beloved son, and carry offerings to Achilles, which may melt his soul."

Footnote 778: (return) "At Il. ψ. 231: ηλείδης δ' άπὸ πυρκαΐης ἑτέρωσε λιασθείς, going away, or aside from the pyre. And so νόσφι λιασθείς, II. α. 349, λ. 80. One of the plainest instances of the same sense is at Il. ω. 96, of the waves, which make way for the goddesses as they rise from the depths of the sea, which turn aside, and yield them a passage."--Buttm. Lexil. p. 404.
Footnote 779: (return) "The sense is: I have not sanctioned the proposal that the body of Hector should be removed furtively, in order that an opportunity might be offered to Achilles of receiving a ransom for it, which would redound to his glory."--Kennedy.

Thus he spoke; nor did the silver-footed goddess Thetis disobey; but, rushing impetuously, she descended down from the tops of Olympus. Then she came to the tent of her son, and found him within, moaning continually, whilst around him his dear comrades were busily occupied, and prepared a feast, for a great thick-fleeced sheep had been slaughtered by them in the tent. But his venerable mother sat down very near him, and caressed him with her hand, and spoke, and addressed him:

"O my son, how long, grieving and bewailing, wilt thou afflict thine heart, being not at all mindful of either food or bed? But it is good to be mingled in love with a woman; for thou shalt not live long for me, but Death and stern Fate already stand near thee. But quickly attend to me, for I am a messenger to thee from Jove. He says that the gods are angry with thee, and that he himself above all the immortals is enraged, because with furious mind thou detainest Hector at the hollow ships, nor dost release him. But come, release him, and receive ransoms for the dead body."

But her swift-footed Achilles, answering, addressed:

"Let him approach hither, who may bear the ransoms, and bear away the body, if indeed the Olympian himself now commands it with a serious mind." Thus they indeed, the mother and the son, amongst the assemblage of the ships, spoke many winged words to each other; but the son of Saturn impelled Iris towards sacred Ilium:

"Go quickly, fleet Iris, having left the seat of Olympus, order magnanimous Priam to ransom his dear son to Ilium, going to the ships of the Greeks; and to carry gifts to Achilles, which may appease his mind, alone; nor let another man of the Trojans go with him. Let some aged herald accompany him, who may guide his mules and well-wheeled chariot, and may bear back to the city the dead body which noble Achilles has slain; nor let death at all be a cause of anxiety to his mind, nor at all a terror; such a conductor, the slayer of Argus, will we give to him, who shall lead him, until, directing, he shall place him beside Achilles. But when he shall have conducted him into the tent of Achilles, he will not kill him himself, and he will ward off all others; for he is neither imprudent, nor rash, nor profane; but will very humanely spare a suppliant man."

Thus he spoke; but wind-footed Iris rushed on, about to carry her message. She came to [the palace] of Priam, and found wailing and lamentation. His sons, sitting around their father within the hall, were drenching their robes with tears; whilst the old man sat in the midst, covered entirely 780 with a cloak; but much filth was around upon the head and neck of the aged man, which, while rolling [on the ground], he had abundantly collected 781 with his own hands. But his daughters and daughters-in-law throughout the dwelling lamented, remembering those who, many and brave, lay, having lost their lives by the hands of the Greeks. Then the ambassadress of Jove stood beside Priam, and addressed him in an under-tone; and tremor seized him as to his limbs:

"Take courage, O Dardanian Priam, in thy mind, nor fear at all; for indeed I come not hither boding 782 evil to thee, but meditating good; for I am an ambassadress from Jove to thee, who, though being far off, greatly cares for and pities thee. The Olympian bids thee ransom noble Hector, and bear presents to Achilles, which may melt his soul; thee alone, nor let another man of the Trojans go with thee. But let some aged herald accompany thee, who may guide thy mules and well-wheeled chariot, and bring back to the city the dead which noble Achilles has slain. Nor let death be a cause of anxiety to thy mind, nor fear at all such a conductor; the slayer of Argus shall attend thee, who shall lead thee, until, guiding, he shall bring thee near Achilles. But when he shall have led thee into the tent of Achilles, he will not slay thee himself, and he will ward off all others; for he is neither imprudent, nor rash, nor profane; but will very humanely spare a suppliant man."

Footnote 780: (return) I take έντυπὰς adverbially, with Eustathius, p. 1474, and understand that he was "so completely enfolded, as to exhibit the entire contour of his person" (Kennedy), with the Schol. Hesych. t.i.p. 1264. Phavorinus, Suidas, and the Schol. on Appoll. Rh. 264. Ernesti well expresses the idea: "Ἐντυπὰς κεκαλυμμένος est, qui ita adstrinxit vestem, eique se involvit, ut tota corporis figura appareat, quod secus est in toga et pallio aut stola."
Footnote 781: (return) Literally, "reaped, cropped."
Footnote 782: (return) See Buttmann, Lexii. p. 445

Thus having spoken, swift-footed Iris departed. But he ordered his sons to prepare his well-wheeled mule-drawn chariot, and to tie a chest upon it; but he descended into an odoriferous chamber of cedar, lofty-roofed, which contained many rarities, and called in his wife Hecuba, and said:

"Unhappy one, an Olympian messenger has come to me from Jove, [that I should] ransom my dear son, going to the ships of the Greeks, and should bear gifts to Achilles, which may melt his soul. But come, tell this to me, what does it appear to thee in thy mind? For my strength and courage vehemently urge me myself to go thither to the ships, into the wide army of the Greeks."

Thus he spoke: but his spouse wept, and answered him in words:

"Ah me, where now is thy prudence gone, for which thou wast formerly distinguished among foreigners, and among those whom thou dost govern? Why dost thou wish to go alone to the ships of the Greeks, before the eyes of the man who slew thy many and brave sons? Certainly an iron heart is thine. For if this cruel and perfidious man shall take and behold 783 thee with his eyes, he will not pity thee, nor will he at all respect thee. But let us now lament him apart, 784 sitting in the hall; but [let it be] as formerly to him, at his birth violent fate spun his thread, when I brought him forth, that he should satiate the swift-footed dogs at a distance from his own parents, with that fierce man, the very middle of whose liver I wish that I had hold of, that, clinging to it, I might devour it; then would the deeds done against my son be repaid; for he did not slay him behaving as a coward, but standing forth in defence of the Trojan men and deep-bosomed Trojan dames, neither mindful of flight nor of receding."

Footnote 783: (return) A somewhat awkward inversion of the sense.
Footnote 784: (return) I.e. without the body of Hector being at hand.

But her again the aged, godlike Priam addressed:

"Do not detain me, desirous to go, nor be thou thyself an evil-omen bird in my palaces; nor shalt thou persuade me. For if indeed any other of earthly beings had ordered me, whether they be prophets, soothsayers, or priests, we might have pronounced it a falsehood, and been the more averse. But now since I myself have heard it from a deity, and have beheld her face to face, I will go, nor shall this word be vain and if it be my fate to die at the ships of the brazen-mailed Greeks, I am willing; for Achilles will forthwith, slay me, embracing my son in my arms, after I have taken away the desire of weeping."

He spoke; and opened the beautiful lids of the chests, and took out thence twelve beautiful mantles, twelve single cloaks, as many tapestried rugs, and, in addition to these, as many tunics; and having weighed it, he took out ten whole talents of gold. He took out beside two glittering tripods, and four goblets, and a very beautiful cup, which the Thracian men had given him when going on an embassy, a mighty possession. Nor now did the old man spare even this in his palaces; for he greatly wished in his mind to ransom his dear son. And he drove away all the Trojans from his porch, chiding them with reproachful words:

"Depart, wretched, reproachful [creatures]; is there not indeed grief to you at home, that ye should come fretting me? Or do ye esteem it of little consequence that Jove, the son of Saturn, has sent sorrows upon me, that I should have lost my bravest son? But ye too shall perceive it, for ye will be much more easy for the Greeks to destroy now, he being dead; but I will descend even to the abode of Hades, before I behold with mine eyes the city sacked and plundered."

He spoke; and chased away the men with his staff; but they went out, the old man driving [them]. He indeed rebuked his own sons, reviling Helenus, Paris, and godlike Agathon, Pammon, Antiphonus, and Polites, brave in the din of battle, Deïphobus, Hippothous, and renowned Dius. To these nine the old man, reproaching, gave orders:

"Haste for me, O slothful children, disgraceful; would that you had all been slain at the swift ships, instead of Hector. Ah me! the most unhappy of all, since I have begotten the bravest sons in wide Troy; but none of whom I think is left: godlike Mestor, and Troulus, who fought from his chariot, and Hector, who was a god among men, for he did not appear to be the son of a mortal man, but of a god. These indeed has Mars destroyed to me; but all these disgraces remain, liars, dancers, 785 most skilled in the choirs, and public robbers of lambs and kids. Will ye not with all haste get ready my chariot, and place all these things upon it, that we may perform our journey?"

Footnote 785: (return) Cicero pro Muræna, vi., "Saltatorem appellat L. Murænam Cato Maledictum est, si vere objicitur, vehementis accusatoris." Cf. Æn. ix. 614.

Thus he spoke; but they, dreading the reproach of their father, lifted out the well-wheeled, mule-drawn chariot, beautiful, newly built, and tied the chest 786 upon it. They then took down the yoke for the mules from the pin, made of box-wood, and embossed, well fitted with rings, and then they brought out the yoke-band, nine cubits in length, along with the yoke. And this indeed they adjusted carefully to the pole at its extremity, and threw the ring over the bolt. Thrice they lapped it on either side to the boss; and when they had fastened, they turned it evenly under the bend; then, bearing the inestimable ransoms of Hector's head from the chamber, they piled them upon the well-polished car. Then they yoked the strong-hoofed mules, patient in labour, which the Mysians formerly gave to Priam, splendid gifts. They also led under the yoke for Priam, the horses, which the old man himself had fed at the well-polished manger. These indeed the herald and Priam yoked in the lofty palace, having prudent counsels in their minds. But near them came Hecuba, with sad mind, bearing sweet wine in her right hand, in a golden goblet, in order that having made libations, they might depart. But she stood before the steeds, and spoke, and addressed them:

"Take, 787 offer a libation to father Jove, and pray that thou mayest return home again from the hostile men; since indeed thy mind urges thee to the ships, I at least not being willing. But do thou pray now to the dark, cloud-compelling Idæan son of Saturn, who looks down upon all Troy; but seek the fleet bird, his messenger, which to him is the most pleasing of birds, and whose strength is very great, on thy right hand, so that, marking him thyself with thine eyes, thou mayest go, relying on him, to the ships of the fleet-horsed Greeks. But if wide-viewing Jove will not give thee his own messenger, I would not at all then, urging, advise thee to go to the ships of the Greeks, though very eager."

Footnote 786: (return) A kind of wicker hamper. Cf. Hesych. t. ii. p. 921.
Footnote 787: (return) See ξ. 219.

But her godlike Priam answering, addressed:

"O spouse, certainly I will not disobey thee, advising this; for it is good to raise one's hands to Jove, if perchance he may compassionate me."

The old man spoke, and bade the attending servant pour pure water upon his hands; for a handmaid stood by, holding in her hands a basin, and also an ewer; and having washed himself, he took the goblet from his wife. Then he prayed, standing in the midst of the enclosure, and poured out a libation of wine, looking towards heaven; and raising his voice, spoke:

"O father Jove, ruling from Ida, most glorious, most great, grant me to come acceptable and pitied to [the tent] of Achilles; and send the swift bird, thy messenger, which is the most agreeable of birds to thee, and whose strength is very great, on my right hand; that I myself, perceiving him with my eyes, may go, relying on him, to the ships of the fleet-horsed Greeks."

Thus he spoke, praying; but to him provident Jove hearkened, and immediately sent an eagle, the Black Hunter, the most certain augury of birds, which they also call Percnos. 788 As large as the well-bolted, closely-fitted door of the lofty-roofed chamber of a wealthy man, so great were its wings on each side; and it appeared to them, rushing on the right hand over the city. But they, having seen it, rejoiced, and the soul was overjoyed in their bosoms. Then the old man, hastening, mounted his polished car, and drove out of the vestibule and much-echoing porch. Before, indeed, the mules drew the four-wheeled car, which prudent Idæus drove; but after [came] the horses, which the old man cheered on, driving briskly through the city with his lash; but all his friends accompanied, greatly weeping for him, as if going to death. But when they had descended from the city, and reached the plain, his sons and sons-in-law then returned to Ilium. Nor did these two, advancing on the plain, escape the notice of far-seeing Jove; but, seeing the old man, he pitied him, and straightway addressed his beloved son:

Footnote 788: (return) See Alberti on Hesych. t. ii. pp. 622, 941; Villois on Apoll. Lex. p. 556.

"O Mercury (for to thee it is peculiarly grateful to associate with man, and thou hearest whomsoever thou art willing), go now, and so convey Priam to the hollow ships of the Greeks, that neither any one may see him, nor indeed any of the other Greeks perceive him until he reach the son of Peleus."

Thus he spoke; nor did the messenger, the son of Argus. disobey. 789 Immediately then he fastened under his feet his beautiful sandals, ambrosial, golden, which carry him as well over the sea, as over the boundless earth, with the blasts of the wind. He also took his rod, with which he soothes the eyes of those men whom he wishes, and again excites others who are asleep; holding this in his hands, the powerful slayer of Argus flew along. But he immediately reached the Troad and the Hellespont, and hastened to go, like unto a princely youth, first springing into youth, whose youth is very graceful. And they, when they had driven by the great tomb of Ilus, stopped their mules and horses, that they might drink in the river; for even now twilight had come over the earth. But the herald, spying, observed Mercury near, and addressed Priam, and said:

Footnote 789: (return) Compare Milton, P.L. v. 285, sqq., with Newton's note.

"Beware, O descendant of Dardanus; this is matter for prudent thought. I perceive a warrior, and I think that he will soon destroy us. But come, let us fly upon our steeds; or let us now, grasping his knees, entreat him, if he would pity us." Thus he spoke, but the mind of the old man was confounded, and he greatly feared; but the hair stood upright on his bending limbs. And he stood stupified; but Mercury himself coming near, taking the old man's hand, interrogated, and addressed him:

"Whither, O father, dost thou this way direct thy horses and mules during the ambrosial night, when other mortals are asleep? Dost thou not fear the valour-breathing Greeks, who, enemies and hostile to thee, are at hand? If any one of these should see thee in the dark and dangerous night, bearing off so many valuables, what intention would then be towards thee? Neither art thou young thyself, and this [is] an old man who accompanies thee, to repel a warrior when first any may molest thee. But I will not do thee injury, but will avert another from thee, for I think thee like my dear father."

But him Priam, the godlike old man, then answered:

"Surely these things are as thou sayest, my dear son. But hitherto some one of the gods has protected me with his hand, who has sent such a favourable conductor to meet me, so beautiful art thou in form and appearance. And thou art also prudent in mind, and of blessed parents." But him again the messenger, the slayer of Argus, addressed: "O old man, thou hast certainly spoken all these things with propriety. But come, tell me this, and relate it truly; whither now dost thou send so many and such valuable treasures amongst foreigners? Whether that these, at least, may remain safe to thee? Or do ye all, now fearing, desert sacred Ilium? For so brave a hero, was he who died, thy son; he was not in aught inferior to the Greeks in battle."

But him Priam, the godlike old man, then answered:

"But who art thou, O best one, and of what parents art thou, who speakest so honourably to me of the death of my luckless son?"

But him again the messenger, the slayer of Argus, addressed:

"Thou triest me, old man. and inquirest concerning noble Hector; whom I, indeed, have very often beheld with mine eyes in the glorious fight, when, routing the Greeks, he slew them at their ships, destroying [them] with his sharp spear; but we, standing, marvelled; for Achilles, enraged with the son of Atreus, did not permit us to fight. But I am his attendant, and the same well-made vessel brought us. I am [one] of the Myrmidons; Polyetor is my father, who, indeed, is rich, but now old as thou. To him there are six sons, but I am his seventh; with whom casting lots, the lot occurred to me to follow [Achilles] hither. And I came to the plain from the ships, for at dawn the rolling-eyed Greeks will raise a fight around the city. For they are indignant sitting quiet, nor can the chiefs of the Greeks restrain them, longing for war."

But him then Priam, the godlike old man, answered:

"If indeed thou art one of the servants of Achilles, the son of Peleus, come now, tell all the truth to me, whether is my son still at the ships, or has Achilles, tearing him limb from limb, cast him to the dogs?"

But him the messenger, the slayer of Argus, again addressed:

"O old man, neither have the dogs yet devoured him, nor the birds, but he still lies at the ship of Achilles, in the same plight as before, at his tents; and it is [now] the twelfth morning him lying, yet his body is not at all putrid, nor do the worms devour him, which consume men slain in battle. Doubtless he will drag him cruelly around the tomb of his dear companion when divine morn appears; but he does not defile him. Approaching, thou indeed thyself wouldst wonder how fresh 790 he lies, while the blood is washed away from around, nor [is he] polluted in any part. But all his wounds are closed, whatever were inflicted; for many thrust a spear into him. Thus do the happy gods regard thy son, though dead; for he was dear to them in their heart."

Thus he spoke; but the old man rejoiced, and answered in words:

"O son, surely it is good to give due gifts to the immortals, for my son, while he was yet in being, never neglected the gods who possess Olympus, in his palace; therefore are they mindful of him, although in the fate of death. But come now, accept from me this beautiful goblet; protect myself, 791 and, with the favour of the gods, conduct me until I come into the tent of the son of Peleus."

Footnote 790: (return) Literally, "dew-like," See Kennedy.
Footnote 791: (return) Heyne prefers, "effect for me the ransom of the body," quoting Hesych., ῥύεσθαι, λοτρώσασθαι.

But him the slayer of Argus again addressed: "Old man, thou triest me, [being] younger; nor wilt thou now persuade me; thou who orderest me to accept thy gifts unknown to Achilles; whom indeed I dread, and scruple in my heart to plunder, lest some evil should afterwards come upon me. Yet would I go as a conductor to thee even to renowned Argos, sedulously, in a swift ship, or accompanying thee on foot; nor, indeed, would any one contend with thee, despising thy guide."

Mercury spoke, and, leaping upon the chariot and horses, quickly took the scourge and the reins in his hands, and breathed bold vigour into the horses and mules. But when they had now reached the ramparts and trench of the ships, then the guards were just employed about their feast, and the messenger, the slayer of Argus, poured sleep upon them all; and immediately he opened the gates and pushed back the bars, and led in Priam, and the splendid gifts upon the car. But when they reached the lofty tent of Achilles which the Myrmidons had reared for their king, lopping fir timbers; and they roofed it over with a thatched roof, mowing it from the mead, and made a great fence around, with thick-set stakes, for their king: one bar only of fir held the door, which, indeed, three Greeks used to fasten, and three used to open the great fastening of the gates; but Achilles even alone used to shoot it. Then, indeed, profitable Mercury opened it for the old man, and led in the splendid presents to swift-footed Achilles; then he descended to the ground, from the chariot, and said:

"O old man, I indeed come, an immortal god, Mercury, to thee; for to thee my father sent me as companion. Yet shall I return indeed, nor be present before the eyes of Achilles; for it would indeed be invidious for an immortal god so openly to aid mortals. But do thou, entering, clasp the knees of the son of Peleus, and supplicate him by his father, and fair-haired mother, and his son; that thou mayest effect his mind."

Thus, indeed, having spoken, Mercury went to lofty Olympus; and Priam leaped from his chariot to the ground, and left Idæus there: but he remained, guarding the steeds and mules; while the old man went straight into the tent, where Achilles, dear to Jove, was sitting. Himself he found within; but his companions sat apart; but two alone, the hero Automedon, and Alcimus, a branch of Mars, standing near, were ministering to him (for, eating and drinking, he had just ceased from food, and the table still remained); but great Priam, entering, escaped his notice, and, standing near, he clasped the knees of Achilles with his hands, and kissed his dreadful man-slaughtering hands, which had slain many sons to him. And as when a dread sense of guilt has seized a man, who, having killed a man in his own country, comes to another people, to [the abode of] some wealthy man, 792 and stupor possesses the spectators; so Achilles wondered, seeing godlike Priam; and the others also wondered, and looked at one another. And Priam, supplicating, spoke [this] speech:

Footnote 792: (return) Probably for the purpose of purification, although, as has been before observed, Homer does not mention this. Compare my note on Æsch. Eum. p. 187, n. 5, and p. 187, n. 1, ed. Bonn.

"Remember thy own father, O Achilles, like unto the gods, of equal age with me, upon the sad threshold of old age. And perhaps indeed his neighbours around are perplexing him, nor is there any one to ward off war and destruction. Yet he indeed, hearing of thee being alive, both rejoices in his mind, and every day expects to see his dear son returned from Troy. But I [am] every way unhappy, for I begat the bravest sons in wide Troy, of whom I say that none are left. Fifty there were to me, when the sons of the Greeks arrived; nineteen indeed from one womb, but the others women bore to me in my palaces. And of the greater number fierce Mars indeed has relaxed the knees under them; but Hector, who was my favourite, 793 and defended the city and ourselves, thou hast lately slain, fighting for his country; on account of whom I now come to the ships of the Greeks, and bring countless ransoms, in order to redeem him from thee. But revere the gods, O Achilles, and have pity on myself, remembering thy father; for I am even more miserable, for I have endured what no other earthly mortal [has], to put to my mouth the hand of a man, the slayer of my son."

Thus he spoke; but in him he excited the desire of mourning for his father; and taking him by the hand, he gently pushed the old man from him. But they indeed, calling to mind, the one 794 wept copiously [for] man-slaughtering Hector, rolling [on the ground] before the feet of Achilles; but Achilles bewailed his father, and again in turn Patroclus; and their lamentation was aroused throughout the house. But when noble Achilles had satiated himself with grief, and the desire [for weeping] had departed from his heart and limbs, immediately rising from his seat, he lifted up the old man with his hand, compassionating both his hoary head and hoary chin; and, addressing him, spoke winged words:

Footnote 793: (return) Literally, "my only son."
Footnote 794: (return) Priam.

"Alas! wretched one, thou hast certainly suffered many evils in thy mind. How hast thou dared to come alone to the ships of the Greeks, into the sight of the man who slew thy many and brave sons? Assuredly thy heart is iron. But come now, sit upon a seat; and let us permit sorrows to sink to rest within thy mind, although grieved; for there is not any use in chill grief. For so have the gods destined to unhappy mortals, that they should live wretched; but they themselves are free from care. 795 Two casks of gifts, 796which he bestows, lie at the threshold of Jupiter, [the one] of evils, and the other of good. To whom thunder-rejoicing Jove, mingling, may give them, sometimes he falls into evil, but sometimes into good; but to whomsoever he gives of the evil, he makes him exposed to injury; and hungry calamity pursues him over the bounteous earth; and he wanders about, honoured neither by gods nor men. So indeed have the gods given illustrious gifts to Peleus from his birth; for he was conspicuous among men, both for riches and wealth, and he ruled over the Myrmidons, and to him, being a mortal, they gave a goddess for a wife. 797 But upon him also has a deity inflicted evil, for there was not to him in his palaces an offspring of kingly sons; but he begat one short-lived son; nor indeed do I cherish him, being old, for I remain in Troy, far away from my country, causing sorrow to thee and to thy sons. Thee too, old man, we learn to have been formerly wealthy: as much as Lesbos, above the seat of Macar, cuts off on the north, and Phrygia beneath, and the boundless Hellespont: among these, O old man, they say that thou wast conspicuous for thy wealth and thy sons. But since the heavenly inhabitants have brought this bane upon thee, wars and the slaying of men are constantly around thy city. Arise, nor grieve incessantly in thy mind; for thou wilt not profit aught, afflicting thyself for thy son, nor wilt thou resuscitate him before thou hast suffered another misfortune."

Footnote 795: (return) This Epicurean sentiment is illustrated with great learning by Duport, pp. 140, sqq.
Footnote 796: (return) See Duport, pp. 142, sqq.
Footnote 797: (return) Catullus, lxii. 25: "Teque adeo eximie tædis felicibus aucte Thessaliæ columen Peleu, quoi Juppiter ipse, Ipse suos divûm genitor concessit amores."

But him Priam, the godlike old man, then, answered:

"Do not at all place me on a seat, Ο Jove-nurtured, whilst Hector lies unburied in thy tents; but redeem him as soon as possible, that I may behold him with mine eyes; and do thou receive the many ransoms which we bring thee; and mayest thou enjoy them, and reach thy father-land, since thou hast suffered me in the first place to live, and to behold the light of the sun."

But him swift-footed Achilles, sternly regarding, then addressed:

"Do not irritate me further, old man, for I also myself meditate ransoming Hector to thee; for the mother who bore me, the daughter of the marine old man, came as a messenger from Jove to me. And I perceive thee also, O Priam, in my mind, nor do thou deceive me, that some one of the gods has led thee to the swift ships of the Greeks; for a mortal would not have dared to come into the camp, not even in very blooming youth, for he could not have escaped the guards, nor indeed pushed back the bars of our gates. Wherefore do not move my mind more to sorrows, lest I leave thee not unharmed, old man, in my tents, though being a suppliant, and violate the commands of Jove."

Thus he spoke; but the old man feared, and obeyed. But the son of Peleus leaped forth, like a lion, from the door of the house, not alone; for two attendants accompanied him, the hero Automedon, and Alcimus, whom Achilles honoured most of his companions next after the deceased Patroclus. These then unharnessed the horses and mules from the yoke, and led in the clear-voiced herald of the old man, and placed him upon a seat. They also took down from the well-polished car the countless ransoms of Hector's head. But they left two cloaks and a well-woven tunic, in order that, having covered the body, he might give it to be borne home. But having called his female attendants, he ordered them to wash and anoint all round, taking it apart, that Priam might not see his son; lest, seeing his son, he might not restrain the wrath in his grieving heart, and might arouse the soul of Achilles, and he might slay him, and violate the commands of Jove. But when the servants had washed and anointed it with oil, they then threw over him a beautiful cloak, and a tunic; then Achilles himself, having raised him up, placed him upon a litter, and his companions, together with [him], lifted him upon the well-polished chariot. But he moaned, and called upon his dear companion by name:

"O Patroclus, be not wrathful with me, if thou shouldst hear, although being in Hades, that I have ransomed noble Hector to his beloved father, since he has not given me unworthy ransoms. Besides even of these will I give thee a share, whatever is just."

Noble Achilles spoke, and returned into the tent, and sat down upon a well-made couch, whence he had risen, at the opposite wall, and addressed Priam:

"Thy son is indeed redeemed to thee, as thou didst desire, and lies upon a bier; and with the early dawn thou shalt behold him, conveying [him away]: but now let us be mindful of the feast; for even fair-haired Niobe was mindful of food, although twelve children perished in her palaces, six daughters and six youthful sons; these indeed Apollo slew with his silver bow, enraged with Niobe; but those, arrow-rejoicing Diana, because, forsooth, she had compared herself with fair-cheeked Latona. She said that [Latona] had borne [only] two, whereas she had borne many; yet those, though being only two, destroyed all [her own]. Nine days indeed they lay in blood, nor was there any one to bury them, for the son of Saturn had made the people stones; but upon the tenth day the heavenly gods interred them. Still was she mindful of food, when she was fatigued with weeping. Now, indeed, ever amidst the rocks, in the desert mountains, in Sipylus, where, they say, the beds of the goddess Nymphs are, who lead the dance around Acheloüs, there, although being a stone, she broods over the sorrows [sent] from the gods. But come now, O noble old man, let us likewise attend to food, but afterwards thou mayest lament thy beloved son, conveying him into Troy; and he will be bewailed by thee with many tears."

Swift Achilles spoke, and leaping up, slew a white sheep, and his companions flayed it well, and fitly dressed it; then they skilfully cut it in pieces, pierced them with spits, roasted them diligently, and drew them all off. Then Automedon, taking bread, distributed it over the table in beautiful baskets; whilst Achilles helped the meat, and they stretched out their hands to the prepared victuals lying before them. But when they had dismissed the desire of food and drink, Dardanian Priam indeed marvelled at Achilles, such and so great; for he was like unto the gods; but Achilles marvelled at Dardanian Priam, seeing his amiable countenance, and hearing his conversation. When, however, they were satisfied with gazing at each other, him Priam, the godlike old man, first addressed:

"Send me now to rest as soon as possible, Ο Jove-nurtured, that we, reclining, may take our fill of sweet sleep; for never have these eyes been closed beneath my eyelids from the time when my son lost his life by thy hands; but I ever lament and cherish many woes, rolling in the dust within the enclosures of my palaces. But now I have tasted food, and poured sweet wine down my throat; for before indeed I had not tasted it."

He spoke; but Achilles ordered his companions, servants, and maids, to place couches beneath the porch, and to spread beautiful purple mats on them, and to strew embroidered carpets over them, and to lay on them well-napped cloaks, to be drawn over all. But they went out of the hall, having a torch in their hands, and hastening, they quickly spread two couches. But the swift-footed Achilles, jocularly addressing him, 798 said:

Footnote 798: (return) "Achilles, in a mood partly jocular and partly serious, reminds Priam of the real circumstances of his situation, not for the sake of alarming him, but of accounting for his choosing the place he did for the couch of the aged king."--Kennedy.

"Do you lie without, O revered old man, lest some counsellor of the Greeks come hither, who, sitting with me, constantly meditate plans, as is just. If any of these should see thee in the dark and dangerous night, he would forthwith tell Agamemnon, the shepherd of the people, and perchance there would be a delay of the redemption of the body. But come, tell me this, and tell it accurately: How many days dost thou desire to perform the funeral rites of noble Hector, that I may myself remain quiet so long, and restrain the people?"

But him Priam, the godlike old man, then answered:

"If indeed thou desirest me to celebrate the funeral of noble Hector, thus doing, O Achilles, thou dost surely gratify me. For thou knowest how we are hemmed in within the city, and it is far to carry wood from the mountain; and the Trojans greatly dread [to do so]. Nine days indeed we would lament him in our halls, but on the tenth would bury him, and the people should feast; but upon the eleventh we would make a tomb to him, and on the twelfth we will fight, if necessary." But him swift-footed Achilles again addressed:

"These things shall be to thee, O aged Priam, as thou desirest; for I will prevent the fight as long a time as thou desirest."

Thus having spoken, he grasped the right hand of the old man near the wrist, lest he should fear in his mind. They indeed, the herald and Priam, slept there in the porch of the house, having prudent counsels in their mind; while Achilles slept in the interior of the well-built tent; and beside him lay fair-cheeked Brisëis.

The other gods indeed and chariot-fighting men slept all night, subdued by gentle slumber; but sleep seized not Mercury, the author of good, revolving in his mind how he should convey away king Priam from the ships, having escaped the notice of the sacred gate-keeper. Accordingly he stood over his head, and addressed him:

"O aged man, certainly evil is not at all a care to thee, that thou sleepest thus amongst hostile men, after Achilles has suffered thee. Now indeed thou hast ransomed thy beloved son, and hast given much; but the sons left behind by thee would give three times as many ransoms for thee alive, if Agamemnon, the son of Atreus, should know of thy being here, and all the Greeks should know of it."

Thus he spoke; but the old man feared, and awoke the herald. Then for them Mercury yoked the horses and mules, and quickly drove them himself through the camp, nor did any one perceive. But when they reached the course of the fair-flowing river, eddying Xanthus, which immortal Jove begat, then indeed Mercury went away to lofty Olympus; and saffron-robed Morn was diffused over the whole earth. They indeed drove the horses towards the city with wailing and lamentation, and the mules bore the body; nor did any other of the men and well-girdled women previously perceive it; but Cassandra, like unto golden Venus, ascending Pergamus, discovered her dear father standing in the driving-seat, and the city-summoning herald. She beheld him also upon the mules, lying on the litter; then indeed she shrieked, and cried aloud throughout the whole city:

"O Trojans and Trojan women, going forth, behold Hector, if ever ye rejoiced at his returning alive from battle; for he was a great joy to the city, and to the whole people."

Thus she spoke; nor was there any man left in the city, nor woman; for insupportable grief came upon them all, and they met him near the gates bringing in the body. But his wife and venerable mother first rushing to the well-wheeled chariot, plucked out their hair, touching his head; and the crowd stood around, weeping. And they indeed would have wept the whole day till sunset before the gates, lamenting Hector, had not the old man addressed the people from his chariot:

"Give way to me, to pass through with the mules; but afterwards shall ye be satiated with weeping, after I shall carry him home." Thus he spoke; but they stood off. and made way for the chariot. But when they had brought him into the illustrious palace, they laid him upon perforated beds, and placed singers beside him, leaders of the dirges, who indeed sang a mournful ditty, while the women also uttered responsive groans. And amongst them white-armed Andromache began the lamentation, holding the head of man-slaughtering Hector between her hands:

"O husband, young in years hast thou died, and hast left me a widow in the palace. And besides, thy son is thus an infant, to whom thou and I, ill-fated, gave birth; nor do I think he will attain to puberty; for before that, this city will be overthrown from its summit. Certainly thou, the protector, art dead, who didst defend its very self, and didst protect its venerable wives and infant children; who will soon be carried away in the hollow ships, and I indeed amongst them. But thou, O my son, wilt either accompany me, where thou shalt labour unworthy tasks, toiling for a merciless lord; or some one of the Greeks, enraged, seizing thee by the hand, will hurl thee from a tower, to sad destruction; to whom doubtless Hector has slain a brother, or a father, or even a son; for by the hands of Hector very many Greeks have grasped the immense earth with their teeth. For thy father was not gentle in the sad conflict; wherefore indeed the people lament him throughout the city. But thou hast caused unutterable grief and sorrow to thy parents, O Hector, but chiefly to me are bitter sorrows left. For thou didst not stretch out thy hands to me from the couch when dying; nor speak any prudent word [of solace], which I might for ever remember, shedding tears night and day."

Thus she spoke, bewailing; but the women also lamented; and to them in turn Hecuba began her vehement lamentation:

"O Hector, far of all my sons dearest to my soul, certainly being alive to me, thou wert beloved by the gods, who truly have had a care of thee, even in the destiny of death. For swift-footed Achilles sold 799 all my other sons, whomsoever he seized, beyond the unfruitful sea, at Samos, Imbrus, and Lemnos without a harbour. But when he had taken away thy life with his long-bladed spear, he often dragged thee round the tomb of his comrade Patroclus, whom thou slewest; but he did not thus raise him up. But now thou liest, to my sorrow, in the palaces, fresh 800 and lately slain like him whom silver-bowed Apollo, attacking, has slain with his mild weapons."

Footnote 799: (return) See Grote, vol. i. p. 399.
Footnote 800: (return) See on ver. 419.

Thus she spoke, weeping; and aroused a vehement lamentation. But to them Helen then, the third, began her lamentation:

"O Hector, far dearest to my soul of all my brothers-in-law, for godlike Alexander is my husband, he who brought me to Troy:--would that I had perished first. But now already this is the twentieth year to me from the time when I came from thence, and quitted my native land; yet have I never heard from thee a harsh or reproachful word; but if any other of my brothers-in-law, or sisters-in-law, or well-attired husband's brothers' wives, reproached me in the palaces, or my mother-in-law (for my father-in-law was ever gentle as a father), then thou, admonishing him with words, didst restrain him, both by thy gentleness and thy gentle words. So that, grieved at heart, I bewail at the same time thee and myself, unhappy; for there is not any other in wide Troy kind and friendly to me; but all abhor me."

Thus she spoke, weeping; and again the countless throng groaned. And aged Priam spoke [this] speech amongst the people:

"O Trojans, now bring wood to the city, nor at all fear in your mind a close ambuscade of the Greeks; for Achilles, dismissing me from the dark ships, thus promised me, that he would not commence hostilities, before the twelfth morning should arrive."

Thus he spoke; and they yoked both oxen and mules beneath the waggons; and then assembled before the city. For nine days indeed they brought together an immense quantity of wood; but when now the tenth morn, bearing light to mortals, had appeared, then indeed, weeping, they carried out noble Hector, and placed the body on the lofty pile, and cast in the fire.

But when the mother of dawn, rosy-fingered Morn, appeared, then were the people assembled round the pile of illustrious Hector. But after they were assembled, and collected together, first indeed they extinguished all the pyre with dark wine, as much as the force of the fire had possessed; but then his brothers and companions collected his white bones, weeping, and the abundant tear streamed down their cheeks. And, taking them, they placed them in a golden urn, covering them with soft purple robes, and forthwith deposited it in a hollow grave; and then strewed it above with numerous great stones. But they built up the tomb in haste, and watches sat around on every side, lest the well-greaved Greeks should make an attack too soon. And having heaped up the tomb, they returned; and then being assembled together in order, they feasted on a splendid banquet in the palaces of Priam, the Jove-nurtured king.

Thus indeed they performed the funeral of steed-breaking Hector.


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