The longevity of Greek ideas, images, and systems of thought bears witness to the incomparable originality of ancient Greek scientific and artistic achievements and the genius of Hellenist society. It is on the foundation of Hellenist achievements that many of our modern advancements have developed. Greek culture also significantly impacted the development of literature and education, beginning with the Romans and expanding to Europe and the West. The best-known literary masterpiece of the Archaic Greek period is the so-called Homeric epics – The Illiad and The Odyssey – and The Homeric Hymns. Contents: THE TRANSLATIONS THE ILIAD: THE ILIAD – Chapman's Translation THE ILIAD – Pope's Translation THE ILIAD – Cowper's Translation THE ILIAD – Butler's Translation THE ILIAD – Lang's Translation THE ILIAD – Buckley's Translation THE ILIAD – Derby's Translation THE ILIAD – Murray's Translation THE ODYSSEY: THE ODYSSEY – Pope's Translation THE ODYSSEY – Cowper's Translation THE ODYSSEY – Lang's Translation THE ODYSSEY – Butler's Translation THE ODYSSEY – Murray's Translation THE ADVENTURES OF ULYSSES – Charles Lamb THE HOMERIC HYMNS - Translated by Hugh G. Evelyn-White FRAGMENTS AND SPURIOUS WORKS: FRAGMENTS OF THE EPIC CYCLE THE STORY OF OEDIPUS THE EPIGONI THE AETHIOPIS THE SACK OF ILIUM THE RETURNS NON-CYCLIC POEMS ATTRIBUTED TO Homer THE TAKING OF OECHALIA THE MARGITES THE BATTLE OF FROGS AND MICE (303 lines) OF THE ORIGIN OF Homer AND HESIOD, AND OF THEIR CONTEST THE GREEK TEXTS: PRONOUNCING ANCIENT GREEK - is a brief guide to pronouncing Ancient Greek, allowing you to voice aloud Homer's original text. ΙΛΙΆΣ – The Iliad - The original Greek text ΟΔΎΣΣΕΙΑ – The Odyssey - The original Greek text ΟΜΗΡΙΚΟΊ ΎΜΝΟΙ – The Homeric Hymns - The original Greek text
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The longevity of Greek ideas, images, and systems of thought bears witness to the incomparable originality of ancient Greek scientific and artistic achievements and the genius of Hellenist society. It is on the foundation of Hellenist achievements that many of our modern advancements have developed. Greek culture also significantly impacted the development of literature and education, beginning with the Romans and expanding to Europe and the West.
The best-known literary masterpiece of the Archaic Greek period is the so-called Homeric epics – The Illiad and The Odyssey – and The Homeric Hymns.
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set in the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of Troy (Ilium) by an alliance of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the famed warrior Achilles. Although the story covers only a few weeks in the final year of the war, The Iliad mentions or alludes to many of the Greek legends about the siege. Along with The Odyssey, also attributed to Homer, The Iliad is among the oldest extant works of Western literature, and its written version is usually dated to around the eighth century BC. The epic poem contains over 15,000 lines and is often considered to be the beginning of classic literature.
To aid reading The Iliad, a list of the principle characters is provided here. It may be useful to create a bookmark of this page if it is your first time reading this complex work.
Achaeans (also called Greeks, Danaans and Argives)
Agamemnon – King of Mycenae and Overlord of the Greeks.
Achilles – Leader of the Myrmidons, half-divine war hero.
Odysseus – King of Ithaca, the wiliest Greek commander and hero of the Odyssey.
Aias (Ajax the Greater) – son of Telamon, with Diomedes, he is second to Achilles in martial prowess.
Menelaus – King of Sparta, husband of Helen and brother of Agamemnon.
Diomedes – son of Tydeus, King of Argos.
Aias (Ajax the Lesser) – son of Oileus, often partner of Ajax the Greater.
Patroclus – Achilles’ closest companion.
Nestor – King of Pylos.
Hector – son of King Priam and the foremost Trojan warrior.
Aeneas – son of Anchises and Aphrodite.
Deiphobus – brother of Hector and Paris.
Paris – Helen’s lover-abductor.
Priam – the aged King of Troy.
Polydamas – a prudent commander whose advice is ignored; he is Hector’s foil.
Agenor – a Trojan warrior who attempts to fight Achilles (Book XXI).
Sarpedon, son of Zeus – killed by Patroclus. Was friend of Glaucus amp; co-leader of the Lycians (fought for the Trojans).
Glaucus, son of Hippolochus – friend of Sarpedon and co-leader of the Lycians (fought for the Trojans).
Euphorbus – first Trojan warrior to wound Patroclus.
Dolon (Δόλων) – a spy upon the Greek camp (Book X).
Antenor – King Priam’s advisor, who argues for returning Helen to end the war. Paris refuses.
Polydorus – son of Priam and Laothoe.
Pandarus – famous archer and son of Lycaon.
The Trojan Women
Hecuba (Ἑκάβη) – Priam’s wife, mother of Hector, Cassandra, Paris, and others.
Helen (Ἑλένη) – Menelaus’s wife; espoused first to Paris, then to Deiphobus; her abduction by Paris precipitated the war.
Andromache (Ἀνδρομάχη) – Hector’s wife, mother of Astyanax (Ἀστυάναξ).
Cassandra (Κασσάνδρα) – Priam’s daughter; courted by Apollo, who bestows the gift of prophecy to her; upon her rejection, he curses her, and her warnings of Trojan doom go unheeded.
Briseis – a Trojan woman captured by the Greeks; she was Achilles’ prize of the Trojan war.
George Chapman published his translation of The Iliad in instalments in 1598. The epic poem is composed in “fourteeners”, a long-line ballad metre that “has room for all of Homer’s figures of speech and plenty of new ones, as well as explanations in parentheses. At its best, as in Achilles’ rejection of the embassy in Iliad Nine; it has great rhetorical power”. The translation quickly established itself as a classic in English poetry. In the preface to his own translation, Pope praises “the daring fiery spirit” of Chapman’s rendering, which is “something like what one might imagine Homer, himself, would have writ before he arrived at years of discretion”. John Keats praised Chapman in the sonnet On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer, which is provided below:
On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer
Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific – and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise -
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
by John Keats
THE flight of cranes, murmur of bees that from their hollows in the rocks seek the spring flowers, swarming of flies to the spring milk, the west wind waving the grain, and the east and south raising the waves of the Icarian Sea; man, conscious of beauty in the world around, labouring upon the soil, tending his herds, labouring at the loom, the forge, the potter’s wheel, and by the work of his hands adding new beauty; man, worshipping on hills and heaths the powers of Nature; sacrificing to the power of the air by lifting the bead of the ox, and causing the blood of sacrifice to spirt towards the sky, sacrificing to the power of the sea by slaying the victim where its blood reddens the wave, and to the power of the under-world by making the blood pour from the lowered neck into a hollow of the ground; each warrior-chief his people’s priest, earth,- sea, and air, temple and Gods in one; the wealth and the worship of Nature, were in Homer’s world. It was still night over Europe. Our earliest rays of intellectual light were yet to spread along the shores of the Mediterranean from that dawn in the east which first shone upon Greece.
Close to the source of light, closer than men of Attic or Achaian Greece, were the kindred people on the isles and mainland of that Asian shore to which afterwards the Greeks across the sea sent colonies. Here, in a far past to which we can assign no date, perhaps in the island of Chios, by the coast of Lydia, Homer lived. The energies of man, much occupied with strife, were shaping, under happiest conditions of race, soil, and climate, a new civilisation, and fame of the deeds of heroes spread by song. Of Homer it has been inferred, from degrees of local knowledge observed in his characters of places, that his travels on the Asian mainland may not have reached farther than Sardes, but that he must at least have voyaged among the Sporades by Icaria, Cos, Nisyrus, Rhodos, and across by Carpathos to Crete; again also across the Thracian Sea to Euboea; and from Euboea through some parts of Greece in Europe. He sang by the way, doubtless, but not as others sang; for he first in Europe was a Master Poet, born to gather, as into one thought, the young life of his time. It was a time rich in all natural forces that can sway the minds of men, rich also in minds that sought in their turn to rule Nature. The expedition against Troy – which Dr. Schliemann’s late researches prove to be no fiction, though the poet dealt with it according to his art – was matter for heroic song that called the Greeks to brotherhood, showing the strength of union and perils of ungoverned wrath.
The true Master Poet speaks from all the depths of all the life he knows. The power of the Iliad lies partly in the fulness of its dealing with all elemental forces in the life of man, showing them stirred with immense energy under conditions of an early civilisation, newly passed out of Asia into Greece and Italy, from which the poet himself drew all his experience and all his illustrations. But the main strength of the poem lies in the handling and the moulding of this matter by the spiritual power that was in Homer himself, and which he had in common with the prophets and the poets who seek to uplift the soul of man. As Master Poet, by this power he shaped all into the clearest truth his age could see, and to a form of art that no age has excelled.
The highest art must spring inevitably from the working of true genius on the essentials of life, with deepest sincerity and highest aim. All lower forms of art are successful in proportion to their power of producing colour¬able imitations of such work. Rules of art are but compiled observations of the characters inseparable from each form of work so done. Thus Homer’s art could be as true as Shakespeare’s, and one or other of these might become the Prince of Poets, and the greatest artist in the world, without help from the schools.
The Iliad, said Aristotle, is pathetic and simple; the Odyssey is ethical and mixed. In the Iliad Homer dealt simply with the strong passions of life; in the Odyssey he gave beautiful shapes to the calm wisdom of maturer years. There is a relation like that of Iliad to Odyssey between Milton’s Paradise Lost and his Paradise Regained, between Fielding’s Tom Jones and his Amelia. The relation is one natural to successive products of a single earnest mind. If the several parts of the Iliad were really found as detached songs recited by the rhapsodists of Chios and other islands and towns of Asiatic Greece; first made known to the Greeks of Europe by Lycurgus, as Plutarch and Aelian say – by Solon, as Diogenes Laertius says; if they were afterwards put into connected order by Peisistratus and his son Hipparchus, with competent help, and thus reduced to writing: such restoration of the work to its integrity must have been easy enough, so far as its main outlines were concerned; difficult only in exact determination of details, choice here and there among variety of versions, detection throughout of corruptions, transpositions, and interpolations. The text that first suffered from variation made by the reciters, suffered next from numerous transcribers, and then it must have suffered a little if it gained much from new efforts made by the Alexandrian critics to separate, in Iliad and Odyssey, Homer’s poem from interpolations and corruptions. It was by these editors-that each poem was divided into twenty-four books; but for the choice of such a number there was no more profound reason than that twenty-four was the number of the letters in the Greek alphabet, and these were the letters used in reckoning.
Many birthplaces have been assigned to Homer. Tradition makes him blind. Criticism has questioned the poet’s blindness, and has even denied him a name. Homer- “Omeros – has been called a derivative from ofiov apeiv, to describe the man who first arranged separate songs together into one great whole. But neither Homer’s Iliad nor God’s world could be made by a fortuitous concurrence of atoms. Homer still speaks to us with one clear voice. John Keats, who, without Greek scholarship, drew inspiration from Greek art, told in a well-known sonnet what he felt upon first reading Chapman’s Homer:
“Much have I travelled in the realms of gold, And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I been told That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne; Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Till I heard CHAPMAN speak out loud and bold: Then felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He stared at the Pacific – and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmise – Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”
It is in Chapman’s translation that the Iliad is best read as an English book. From Homer Chapman received into a mind full of the answering energies of our Elizabethan life, a sacred fire that gave force to his own. The generation that produced a Shakespeare best knew how to translate Homer. Translation itself was in those times a new energy in Literature. Since Amyot in France had, as Montaigne said, made Plutarch himself speak French, endeavours to bring into home fellowship the most famous of the ancients had spread from France to England, but in England, among all such labours, the most arduous and successful was that of George Chapman upon Homer.
George Chapman was born at Hitchin in Hertfordshire; William Browne, a fellow-poet, spoke of him as “ the Shepherd of fair Hitching Hill.” He was about six years older than Shakespeare. His delight in Greek and Roman literature began when he was a student at Trinity College, Oxford; but he did not graduate. He began his career as a poet with two Hymns – - The Shadow of Night – published about two years after Shakespeare, having learnt his art, had begun to produce plays of his own. About that time – Chapman began his attempt to produce a complete translation of Homer, not only of the Iliad and of the Odyssey, but also of all works that had been ascribed to Homer – The Hymns and the Battle of the Frogs and Mice. In 1598 – when Shakespeare, thirty-four years old, had written The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III., King John, Borneo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Bream, The Merchant of Venice, Richard II., and King Henry the Fourth – Chapman, aged forty, published the first specimen of his work on Homer, Seven Books of the Iliads of Homer, Prince of Poets, the seven being the first and second, and from the seventh to the eleventh. In the same year he began his career as a dramatist, but he began too late. Chapman’s liveliest comedy was one that Terence had inspired, and in his tragedy wise – thought en¬cumbered action. He finished the translation of the Iliad about the time when Shakespeare was retiring from the stage. Twelve books of it were published in i610, and the other twelve in 1611. In 1614 followed twelve books of the Odyssey, the other twelve in 1615. Then followed, without date, but probably in 1616, the year of Shakespeare’s death, The Crown of all Homer’s Works; Batrachomyomachia, his Hymns and Epigrams.
The end crowns the work, and this was the crown set to the life-work of George Chapman, who had attained the highest aim of his ambition. I When Chapman speaks out “ loud and bold” his voice is distinctly that ofl 1 an Elizabethan poet. He wrestles for expression, makes bold use of homely phrases, dashes into Euphuism: it is not a whit less true of Chapman than of Pope, that his style is the style of his time. But his soul was the soul of his time, and in the age of Elizabeth were men who could almost grasp Homer by the hand.
Apollo’s priest to th’ Argive fleet doth bring
Gifts for his daughter, pris’ner to the king;
For which her tender’d freedom he entreats;
But, being dismiss’d with contumelious threats,
At Phœbus’ hands, by vengeful pray’r, he seeks
To have a plague inflicted on the Greeks.
Which had; Achilles doth a council cite,
Embold’ning Calchas, in the king’s despite,
To tell the truth why they were punish’d so.
From hence their fierce and deadly strife did grow.
For wrong in which Æacides so raves,
That goddess Thetis, from her throne of waves
Ascending heav’n, of Jove assistance won,
To plague the Greeks by absence of her son,
And make the general himself repent
To wrong so much his army’s ornament.
This found by Juno, she with Jove contends;
Till Vulcan, with heav’n’s cup, the quarrel ends.
Alpha the prayer of Chryses sings:
The army’s plague: the strife of kings.
Achilles’ baneful wrath resound, O Goddess, that impos’d
Infinite sorrows on the Greeks, and many brave souls los’d
From breasts heroic; sent them far to that invisible cave
That no light comforts; and their limbs to dogs and vultures gave:
5 To all which Jove’s will gave effect; from whom first strife begun
Betwixt Atrides, king of men, and Thetis’ godlike son.
What god gave Eris their command, and op’d that fighting vein?
Jove’s and Latona’s son: who fir’d against the king of men,
For contumély shown his priest, infectious sickness sent
10 To plague the army, and to death by troops the soldiers went.
Occasion’d thus: Chryses, the priest, came to the fleet to buy,
For presents of unvalu’d price, his daughter’s liberty;
The golden sceptre and the crown of Phœbus in his hands
Proposing; and made suit to all, but most to the commands
15 Of both th’ Atrides, who most rul’d. “Great Atreus’ sons,” said he,
“And all ye well-greav’d Greeks, the gods, whose habitations be
In heav’nly houses, grace your pow’rs with Priam’s razéd town,
And grant ye happy conduct home! To win which wish’d renown
Of Jove, by honouring his son, far-shooting Phœbus, deign
20 For these fit presents to dissolve the ransomable chain
Of my lov’d daughter’s servitude.” The Greeks entirely gave
Glad acclamatións, for sign that their desires would have
The grave priest reverenc’d, and his gifts of so much price embrac’d.
The Gen’ral yet bore no such mind, but viciously disgrac’d
25 With violent terms the priest, and said:- “Dotard! avoid our fleet,
Where ling’ring be not found by me; nor thy returning feet
Let ever visit us again; lest nor thy godhead’s crown,
Nor sceptre, save thee! Her thou seek’st I still will hold mine own,
Till age deflow’r her. In our court at Argos, far transferr’d
30 From her lov’d country, she shall ply her web, and see prepar’d
With all fit ornaments my bed. Incense me then no more,
But, if thou wilt be safe, be gone.” This said, the sea-beat shore,
Obeying his high will, the priest trod off with haste and fear;
And, walking silent, till he left far off his enemies’ ear,
35 Phœbus, fair hair’d Latona’s son, he stirr’d up with a vow,
To this stern purpose: “Hear, thou God that bear’st the silver bow,
That Chrysa guard’st, rul’st Tenedos with strong hand, and the round
Of Cilla most divine dost walk! O Sminthëus! if crown’d
With thankful off’rings thy rich fane I ever saw, or fir’d
40 Fat thighs of oxen and of goats to thee, this grace desir’d
Vouchsafe to me: pains for my tears let these rude Greeks repay,
Forc’d with thy arrows.” Thus he pray’d, and Phœbus heard him pray,
And, vex’d at heart, down from the tops of steep heav’n stoop’d; his bow,
And quiver cover’d round, his hands did on his shoulders throw;
45 And of the angry Deity the arrows as he mov’d
Rattled about him. Like the night he rang’d the host, and rov’d
(Apart the fleet set) terribly; with his hard-loosing hand
His silver bow twang’d; and his shafts did first the mules command,
And swift hounds; then the Greeks themselves his deadly arrows shot.
50 The fires of death went never out; nine days his shafts flew hot
About the army; and the tenth, Achilles called a court
Of all the Greeks; heav’n’s white-arm’d Queen (who, ev’rywhere cut short,
Beholding her lov’d Greeks, by death) suggested it; and he
(All met in one) arose, and said: “Atrides, now I see
55 We must be wandering again, flight must be still our stay,
If flight can save us now, at once sickness and battle lay
Such strong hand on us. Let us ask some prophet, priest, or prove
Some dream-interpreter (for dreams are often sent from Jove)
Why Phœbus is so much incens’d; if unperforméd vows
60 He blames in us, or hecatombs; and if these knees he bows
To death may yield his graves no more, but off’ring all supply
Of savours burnt from lambs and goats, avert his fervent eye,
And turn his temp’rate.” Thus, he sat; and then stood up to them
Calchas, surnam’d Thestorides, of augurs the supreme;
65 He knew things present, past, to come, and rul’d the equipage
Of th’ Argive fleet to Ilion, for his prophetic rage
Giv’n by Apollo; who, well-seen in th’ ill they felt, propos’d
This to Achilles: “Jove’s belov’d, would thy charge see disclos’d
The secret of Apollo’s wrath? then cov’nant and take oath
70 To my discov’ry, that, with words and pow’rful actions both,
Thy strength will guard the truth in me; because I well conceive
That he whose empire governs all, whom all the Grecians give
Confirm’d obedience, will be mov’d; and then you know the state
Of him that moves him. When a king hath once mark’d for his hate
75 A man inferior, though that day his wrath seems to digest
Th’ offence he takes, yet evermore he rakes up in his breast
Brands of quick anger, till revenge hath quench’d to his desire
The fire reservéd. Tell me, then, if, whatsoever ire
Suggests in hurt of me to him, thy valour will prevent?”
80 Achilles answer’d: “All thou know’st speak, and be confident;
For by Apollo, Jove’s belov’d, (to whom performing vows,
O Calchas, for the state of Greece, thy spirit prophetic shows
Skills that direct us) not a man of all these Grecians here,
I living, and enjoy’ng the light shot through this flow’ry sphere,
85 Shall touch thee with offensive hands; though Agamemnon be
The man in question, that doth boast the mightiest empery
Of all our army.” Then took heart the prophet unreprov’d,
And said: “They are not unpaid vows, nor hecatombs, that mov’d
The God against us; his offence is for his priest impair’d
90 By Agamemnon, that refus’d the present he preferr’d,
And kept his daughter. This is cause why heav’n’s Far-darter darts
These plagues amongst us; and this still will empty in our hearts
His deathful quiver, uncontain’d till to her lovéd sire
The black-eyed damsel be resign’d; no rédemptory hire
95 Took for her freedom, – not a gift, but all the ransom quit,
And she convey’d, with sacrifice, till her enfranchis’d feet
Tread Chrysa under; then the God, so pleas’d, perhaps we may
Move to remission.” Thus, he sate; and up, the great in sway,
Heroic Agamemnon rose, eagérly bearing all;
100 His mind’s seat overcast with fumes; an anger general
Fill’d all his faculties; his eyes sparkled like kindling fire,
Which sternly cast upon the priest, thus vented he his ire:
“Prophet of ill! for never good came from thee towards me
Not to a word’s worth; evermore thou took’st delight to be
105 Offensive in thy auguries, which thou continu’st still,
Now casting thy prophetic gall, and vouching all our ill,
Shot from Apollo, is impos’d since I refus’d the price
Of fair Chryseis’ liberty; which would in no worth rise
To my rate of herself, which moves my vows to have her home,
110 Past Clytemnestra loving her, that grac’d my nuptial room
With her virginity and flow’r. Nor ask her merits less
For person, disposition, wit, and skill in housewif’ries.
And yet, for all this, she shall go, if more conducible
That course be than her holding here. I rather wish the weal
115 Of my lov’d army than the death. Provide yet instantly
Supply for her, that I alone of all our royalty
Lose not my winnings. ’Tis not fit. Ye see all I lose mine
Forc’d by another, see as well some other may resign
His prise to me.” To this replied the swift-foot, god-like, son
120 Of Thetis, thus: “King of us all, in all ambition
Most covetous of all that breathe, why should the great-soul’d Greeks
Supply thy lost prise out of theirs? Nor what thy av’rice seeks
Our common treasury can find; so little it doth guard
Of what our ras’d towns yielded us; of all which most is shar’d,
125 And giv’n our soldiers; which again to take into our hands
Were ignominious and base. Now then, since God commands,
Part with thy most-lov’d prise to him; not any one of us
Exacts it of thee, yet we all, all loss thou suffer’st thus,
Will treble, quadruple, in gain, when Jupiter bestows
130 The sack of well-wall’d Troy on us; which by his word he owes.”
“Do not deceive yourself with wit,” he answer’d, “god-like man,
Though your good name may colour it; ’tis not your swift foot can
Outrun me here; nor shall the gloss, set on it with the God,
Persuade me to my wrong. Wouldst thou maintain in sure abode
135 Thine own prise, and slight me of mine? Resolve this: if our friends,
As fits in equity my worth, will right me with amends,
So rest it; otherwise, myself will enter personally
On thy prise, that of Ithacus, or Ajax, for supply;
Let him on whom I enter rage. But come, we’ll order these
140 Hereafter, and in other place. Now put to sacred seas
Our black sail; in it rowers put, in it fit sacrifice;
And to these I will make ascend my so much envied prise,
Bright-cheek’d Chryseis. For condúct of all which, we must choose
A chief out of our counsellors. Thy service we must use,
145 Idomenëus; Ajax, thine; or thine, wise Ithacus;
Or thine, thou terriblest of men, thou son of Peleüs,
Which fittest were, that thou might’st see these holy acts perform’d
For which thy cunning zeal so pleads; and he, whose bow thus storm’d
For our offences, may be calm’d.” Achilles, with a frown,
150 Thus answer’d: “O thou impudent! of no good but thine own
Ever respectful, but of that with all craft covetous,
With what heart can a man attempt a service dangerous,
Or at thy voice be spirited to fly upon a foe,
Thy mind thus wretched? For myself, I was not injur’d so
155 By any Trojan, that my pow’rs should bid them any blows;
In nothing bear they blame of me; Phthia, whose bosom flows
With corn and people, never felt impair of her increase
By their invasion; hills enow, and far-resounding seas,
Pour out their shades and deeps between; but thee, thou frontless man,
160 We follow, and thy triumphs make with bonfires of our bane;
Thine, and thy brother’s, vengeance sought, thou dog’s eyes, of this Troy
By our expos’d lives; whose deserts thou neither dost employ
With honour nor with care. And now, thou threat’st to force from me
The fruit of my sweat, which the Greeks gave all; and though it be,
165 Compar’d with thy part, then snatch’d up, nothing; nor ever is
At any sack’d town; but of fight, the fetcher in of this,
My hands have most share; in whose toils when I have emptied me
Of all my forces, my amends in liberality,
Though it be little, I accept, and turn pleas’d to my tent;
170 And yet that little thou esteem’st too great a continent
In thy incontinent avarice. For Phthia therefore now
My course is; since ’tis better far, than here t’ endure that thou
Should’st still be ravishing my right, draw my whole treasure dry,
And add dishonour.” He replied: “If thy heart serve thee, fly;
175 Stay not for my cause; others here will aid and honour me;
If not, yet Jove I know is sure; that counsellor is he
That I depend on. As for thee, of all our Jove-kept kings
Thou still art most my enemy; strifes, battles, bloody things,
Make thy blood-feasts still. But if strength, that these moods build upon,
180 Flow in thy nerves, God gave thee it; and so ’tis not thine own,
But in his hánds still. What then lifts thy pride in this so high?
Home with thy fleet, and Myrmidons; use there their empery;
Command not here. I weigh thee not, nor mean to magnify
Thy rough-hewn rages, but, instead, I thus far threaten thee:
185 Since Phœbus needs will force from me Chryseis, she shall go;
My ships and friends shall waft her home; but I will imitate so
His pleasure, that mine own shall take, in person, from thy tent
Bright-cheek’d Briseis; and so tell thy strength how eminent
My pow’r is, being compar’d with thine; all other making fear
190 To vaunt equality with me, or in this proud kind bear
Their beards against me.” Thetis’ son at this stood vex’d, his heart
Bristled his bosom, and two ways drew his discursive part;
If, from his thigh his sharp sword drawn, he should make room about
Atrides’ person, slaught’ring him, or sit his anger out,
195 And curb his spirit. While these thoughts striv’d in his blood and mind,
And he his sword drew, down from heav’n Athenia stoop’d, and shin’d
About his temples, being sent by th’ ivory-wristed Queen,
Saturnia, who out of her heart had ever loving been,
And careful for the good of both. She stood behind, and took
200 Achilles by the yellow curls, and only gave her look
To him appearance; not a man of all the rest could see.
He turning back his eye, amaze strook every faculty;
Yet straight he knew her by her eyes, so terrible they were,
Sparkling with ardour, and thus spake: “Thou seed of Jupiter,
205 Why com’st thou? To behold his pride, that boasts our empery?
Then witness with it my revenge, and see that insolence die
That lives to wrong me.” She replied: “I come from heav’n to see
Thy anger settled, if thy soul will use her sov’reignty
In fit reflection. I am sent from Juno, whose affects
210 Stand heartily inclin’d to both. Come, give us both respects,
And cease contention; draw no sword; use words, and such as may
Be bitter to his pride, but just; for, trust in what I say,
A time shall come, when, thrice the worth of that he forceth now,
He shall propose for recompense of these wrongs; therefore throw
215 Reins on thy passions, and serve us.” He answer’d: “Though my heart
Burn in just anger, yet my soul must conquer th’ angry part,
And yield you conquest. Who subdues his earthly part for heav’n,
Heav’n to his pray’rs subdues his wish.” This said, her charge was given
Fit honour; in his silver hilt he held his able hand,
220 And forc’d his broad sword up; and up to heav’n did re-ascend
Minerva, who, in Jove’s high roof that bears the rough shield, took
Her place with other deities. She gone, again forsook
Patience his passion, and no more his silence could confine
His wrath, that this broad language gave: “Thou ever steep’d in wine,
225 Dog’s face, with heart but of a hart, that nor in th’ open eye
Of fight dar’st thrust into a prease, nor with our noblest lie
In secret ambush! These works seem too full of death for thee;
’Tis safer far in th’ open host to dare an injury
To any crosser of thy lust. Thou subject-eating king!
230 Base spirits thou govern’st, or this wrong had been the last foul thing
Thou ever author’dst; yet I vow, and by a great oath swear,
Ev’n by this sceptre, that, as this never again shall bear
Green leaves or branches, nor increase with any growth his size,
Nor did since first it left the hills, and had his faculties
235 And ornaments bereft with iron; which now to other end
Judges of Greece bear, and their laws, receiv’d from Jove, defend;
(For which my oath to thee is great); so, whensoever need
Shall burn with thirst of me thy host, no pray’rs shall ever breed
Affection in me to their aid, though well-deservéd woes
240 Afflict thee for them, when to death man-slaught’ring Hector throws
Whole troops of them, and thou torment’st thy vex’d mind with conceit
Of thy rude rage now, and his wrong that most deserv’d the right
Of all thy army.” Thus, he threw his sceptre ‘gainst the ground,
With golden studs stuck, and took seat. Atrides’ breast was drown’d
245 In rising choler. Up to both sweet-spoken Nestor stood,
The cunning Pylian orator, whose tongue pour’d forth a flood
Of more-than-honey-sweet discourse; two ages were increas’d
Of divers-languag’d men, all born in his time and deceas’d,
In sacred Pylos, where he reign’d amongst the third-ag’d men.
250 He, well-seen in the world, advis’d, and thus express’d it then:
“O Gods! Our Greek earth will be drown’d in just tears; rapeful Troy,
Her king, and all his sons, will make as just a mock, and joy,
Of these disjunctions; if of you, that all our host excel
In counsel and in skill of fight, they hear this. Come, repel
255 These young men’s passions. Y’ are not both, put both your years in one,
So old as I. I liv’d long since, and was companion
With men superior to you both, who yet would ever hear
My counsels with respect. My eyes yet never witness were,
Nor ever will be, of such men as then delighted them;
260 Pirithous, Exadius, and god-like Polypheme,
Cæneus, and Dryas prince of men, Ægean Theseüs,
A man like heav’n’s immortals form’d; all, all most vigorous,
Of all men that ev’n those days bred; most vig’rous men, and fought
With beasts most vig’rous, mountain beasts, (for men in strength were nought
265 Match’d with their forces) fought with them, and bravely fought them down
Yet ev’n with these men I convers’d, being call’d to the renown
Of their societies, by their suits, from Pylos far, to fight
In th’ Apian kingdom; and I fought, to a degree of might
That help’d ev’n their mights, against such as no man now would dare
270 To meet in conflict; yet ev’n these my counsels still would hear,
And with obedience crown my words. Give you such palm to them;
’Tis better than to wreath your wraths. Atrides, give not stream
To all thy pow’r, nor force his prise, but yield her still his own,
As all men else do. Nor do thou encounter with thy crown,
275 Great son of Peleus, since no king that ever Jove allow’d
Grace of a sceptre equals him. Suppose thy nerves endow’d
With strength superior, and thy birth a very goddess gave,
Yet he of force is mightier, since what his own nerves have
Is amplified with just command of many other. King of men,
280 Command thou then thyself; and I with my pray’rs will obtain
Grace of Achilles to subdue his fury; whose parts are
Worth our intreaty, being chief check to all our ill in war.”
“All this, good father,” said the king, “is comely and good right;
But this man breaks all such bounds; he affects, past all men, height;
285 All would in his pow’r hold, all make his subjects, give to all
His hot will for their temp’rate law; all which he never shall
Persuade at my hands. If the gods have giv’n him the great style
Of ablest soldier, made they that his licence to revile
Men with vile language?” Thetis’ son prevented him, and said:
290 “Fearful and vile I might be thought, if the exactions laid
By all means on me I should bear. Others command to this,
Thou shalt not me; or if thou dost, far my free spirit is
From serving thy command. Beside, this I affirm (afford
Impression of it in thy soul) I will not use my sword
295 On thee or any for a wench, unjustly though thou tak’st
The thing thou gav’st; but all things else, that in my ship thou mak’st
Greedy survey of, do not touch without my leave; or do, -
Add that act’s wrong to this, that these may see that outrage too,
And then comes my part; then be sure, thy blood upon my lance
300 Shall flow in vengeance.” These high terms these two at variance
Us’d to each other; left their seats; and after them arose
The whole court. To his tents and ships, with friends and soldiers, goes
Angry Achilles. Atreus’ son the swift ship launch’d, and put
Within it twenty chosen row’rs, within it likewise shut
305 The hecatomb t’ appease the God; then caus’d to come aboard
Fair-cheek’d Chryseis; for the chief, he in whom Pallas pour’d
Her store of counsels, Ithacus, aboard went last; and then
The moist ways of the sea they sail’d. And now the king of men
Bade all the host to sacrifice. They sacrific’d, and cast
310 The offal of all to the deeps; the angry God they grac’d
With perfect hecatombs; some bulls, some goats, along the shore
Of the unfruitful sea, inflam’d. To heav’n the thick fumes bore
Enwrappéd savours. Thus, though all the politic king made shew
Respects to heav’n, yet he himself all that time did pursue
315 His own affections; the late jar, in which he thunder’d threats
Against Achilles, still he fed, and his affections’ heats
Thus vented to Talthybius, and grave Eurybates,
Heralds, and ministers of trust, to all his messages.
“Haste to Achilles’ tent; where take Briseis’ hand, and bring
320 Her beauties to us. If he fail to yield her, say your king
Will come himself, with multitudes that shall the horribler
Make both his presence, and your charge, that so he dares defer.”
This said, he sent them with a charge of hard condition.
They went unwillingly, and trod the fruitless sea’s shore; soon
325 They reach’d the navy and the tents, in which the quarter lay
Of all the Myrmidons, and found the chief Chief in their sway
Set at his black bark in his tent. Nor was Achilles glad
To see their presence; nor themselves in any glory had
Their message, but with rev’rence stood, and fear’d th’ offended king,
330 Ask’d not the dame, nor spake a word. He yet, well knowing the thing
That caus’d their coming, grac’d them thus: “Heralds, ye men that bear
The messages of men and gods, y’ are welcome, come ye near.
I nothing blame you, but your king; ’tis he I know doth send
You for Briseis; she is his. Patroclus, honour’d friend,
335 Bring forth the damsel, and these men let lead her to their lord.
But, heralds, be you witnesses, before the most ador’d,
Before us mortals, and before your most ungentle king,
Of what I suffer, that, if war ever hereafter bring
My aid in question, to avert any severest bane
340 It brings on others, I am ‘scus’d to keep mine aid in wane,
Since they mine honour. But your king, in tempting mischief, raves,
Nor sees at once by present things the future; how like waves
Ills follow ills; injustices being never so secure
In present times, but after-plagues ev’n then are seen as sure;
345 Which yet he sees not, and so soothes his present lust, which, check’d,
Would check plagues future; and he might, in succouring right, protect
Such as fight for his right at fleet. They still in safety fight,
That fight still justly.” This speech us’d, Patroclus did the rite
His friend commanded, and brought forth Briseis from her tent,
350 Gave her the heralds, and away to th’ Achive ships they went.
She sad, and scarce for grief could go. Her love all friends forsook,
And wept for anger. To the shore of th’ old sea he betook
Himself alone, and casting forth upon the purple sea
His wet eyes, and his hands to heav’n advancing, this sad plea
355 Made to his mother; “Mother! Since you brought me forth to breathe
So short a life, Olympius had good right to bequeath
My short life honour; yet that right he doth in no degree,
But lets Atrides do me shame, and force that prise from me
That all the Greeks gave.” This with tears he utter’d, and she heard,
360 Set with her old sire in his deeps, and instantly appear’d
Up from the grey sea like a cloud, sate by his side, and said:
“Why weeps my son? What grieves thee? Speak, conceal not what hath laid
Such hard hand on thee, let both know.” He, sighing like a storm,
Replied: “Thou dost know. Why should I things known again inform?
365 We march’d to Thebes, the sacred town of king Eëtion,
Sack’d it, and brought to fleet the spoil, which every valiant son
Of Greece indifferently shar’d. Atrides had for share
Fair cheek’d Chryseis. After which, his priest that shoots so far,
Chryses, the fair Chryseis’ sire, arriv’d at th’ Achive fleet,
370 With infinite ransom, to redeem the dear imprison’d feet
Of his fair daughter. In his hands he held Apollo’s crown,
And golden sceptre; making suit to ev’ry Grecian son,
But most the sons of Atreüs, the others’ orderers,
Yet they least heard him; all the rest receiv’d with rev’rend ears
375 The motion, both the priest and gifts gracing, and holding worth
His wish’d acceptance. Atreus’ son yet (vex’d) commanded forth
With rude terms Phœbus’ rev’rend priest; who, angry, made retreat,
And pray’d to Phœbus, in whose grace he standing passing great
Got his petitión. The God an ill shaft sent abroad
380 That tumbled down the Greeks in heaps. The host had no abode
That was not visited. We ask’d a prophet that well knew
The cause of all; and from his lips Apollo’s prophecies flew,
Telling his anger. First myself exhorted to appease
The anger’d God; which Atreus’ son did at the heart displease,
385 And up he stood, us’d threats, perform’d. The black-eyed Greeks sent home
Chryseis to her sire, and gave his God a hecatomb.
Then, for Briseis, to my tents Atrides’ heralds came,
And took her that the Greeks gave all. If then thy pow’rs can frame
Wreak for thy son, afford it. Scale Olympus, and implore
390 Jove (if by either word, or fact, thou ever didst restore
Joy to his griev’d heart) now to help. I oft have heard thee vaunt,
In court of Peleus, that alone thy hand was conversant.
In rescue from a cruel spoil the black-cloud-gath’ring Jove,
Whom other Godheads would have bound (the Pow’r whose pace doth move
395 The round earth, heav’n’s great Queen, and Pallas); to whose bands
Thou cam’st with rescue, bringing up him with the hundred hands
To great Olympus, whom the Gods call Briarëus, men
Ægæon, who his sire surpass’d, and was as strong again,
And in that grace sat glad by Jove. Th’ immortals stood dismay’d
400 At his ascensïon, and gave free passage to his aid.
Of all this tell Jove; kneel to him, embrace his knee, and pray,
If Troy’s aid he will ever deign, that now their forces may
Beat home the Greeks to fleet and sea; embruing their retreat
In slaughter; their pains pay’ng the wreak of their proud sov’reign’s heat;
405 And that far-ruling king may know, from his poor soldier’s harms
His own harm falls; his own and all in mine, his best in arms.”
Her answer she pour’d out in tears: “O me, my son,” said she,
“Why brought I up thy being at all, that brought thee forth to be
Sad subject of so hard a fate? O would to heav’n, that since
410 Thy fate is little, and not long, thou might’st without offence
And tears perform it! But to live, thrall to so stern a fate
As grants thee least life, and that least so most unfortunate,
Grieves me t’ have giv’n thee any life. But what thou wishest now,
If Jove will grant, I’ll up and ask; Olympus crown’d with snow
415 I’ll climb; but sit thou fast at fleet, renounce all war, and feed
Thy heart with wrath, and hope of wreak; till which come, thou shalt need
A little patience. Jupiter went yesterday to feast
Amongst the blameless Æthiops, in th’ ocean’s deepen’d breast,
All Gods attending him; the twelfth, high heav’n again he sees,
420 And then his brass-pav’d court I’ll scale, cling to his pow’rful knees,
And doubt not but to win thy wish.” Thus, made she her remove,
And left wrath tyring on her son, for his enforcèd love.
Ulysses, with the hecatomb, arriv’d at Chrysa’s shore;
And when amidst the hav’n’s deep mouth, they came to use the oar,
425 They straight strook sail, then roll’d them up, and on the hatches threw;
The top-mast to the kelsine then, with halyards down they drew;
Then brought the ship to port with oars; then forkéd anchor cast;
And, ‘gainst the violence of storm, for drifting made her fast.
All come ashore, they all expos’d the holy hecatomb
430 To angry Phœbus, and, with it, Chryseis welcom’d home;
Whom to her sire, wise Ithacus, that did at th’ altar stand,
For honour led, and, spoken thus, resign’d her to his hand:
“Chryses, the mighty king of men, great Agamemnon, sends
Thy lov’d seed by my hands to thine; and to thy God commends
435 A hecatomb, which my charge is to sacrifice, and seek
Our much-sigh-mix’d woe his recure, invok’d by ev’ry Greek.”
Thus he resign’d her, and her sire receiv’d her highly joy’d.
About the well-built altar, then, they orderly employ’d
The sacred off’ring, wash’d their hands, took salt cakes; and the priest,
440 With hands held up to heav’n, thus pray’d: “O thou that all things seest,
Fautour of Chrysa, whose fair hand doth guardfully dispose
Celestial Cilla, governing in all pow’r Tenedos,
O hear thy priest, and as thy hand, in free grace to my pray’rs,
Shot fervent plague-shafts through the Greeks, now hearten their affairs
445 With health renew’d, and quite remove th’ infection from their blood.”
He pray’d; and to his pray’rs again the God propitious stood.
All, after pray’r, cast on salt cakes, drew back, kill’d, flay’d the beeves,
Cut out and dubb’d with fat their thighs, fair dress’d with doubled leaves,
And on them all the sweetbreads prick’d. The priest, with small sere wood,
450 Did sacrifice, pour’d on red wine; by whom the young men stood,
And turn’d, in five ranks, spits; on which (the legs enough) they eat
The inwards; then in giggots cut the other fit for meat,
And put to fire; which, roasted well they drew. The labour done,
They serv’d the feast in, that fed all to satisfaction.
455 Desire of meat and wine thus quench’d, the youths crown’d cups of wine
Drunk off, and fill’d again to all. That day was held divine,
And spent in pæans to the Sun, who heard with pleaséd ear;
When whose bright chariot stoop’d to sea, and twilight hid the clear,
All soundly on their cables slept, ev’n till the night was worn.
460 And when the lady of the light, the rosy-finger’d Morn,
Rose from the hills, all fresh arose, and to the camp retir’d.
Apollo with a fore-right wind their swelling bark inspir’d.
The top-mast hoisted, milk-white sails on his round breast they put,
The mizens strooted with the gale, the ship her course did cut
465 So swiftly that the parted waves against her ribs did roar;
Which, coming to the camp, they drew aloft the sandy shore,
Where, laid on stocks, each soldier kept his quarter as before.
But Peleus’ son, swift-foot Achilles, at his swift ships sate,
Burning in wrath, nor ever came to councils of estate
470 That make men honour’d, never trod the fierce embattled field,
But kept close, and his lov’d heart pin’d, what fight and cries could yield
Thirsting at all parts to the host. And now, since first he told
His wrongs to Thetis, twelve fair morns their ensigns did unfold,
And then the ever-living gods mounted Olympus, Jove
475 First in ascension. Thetis then, remember’d well to move
Achilles’ motion, rose from sea, and, by the morn’s first light,
The great heav’n and Olympus climb’d; where, in supremest height
Of all that many-headed hill, she saw the far-seen son
Of Saturn, set from all the rest, in his free seat alone.
480 Before whom, on her own knees fall’n, the knees of Jupiter
Her left hand held, her right his chin, and thus she did prefer
Her son’s petition: “Father Jove! If ever I have stood
Aidful to thee in word or work, with this imploréd good
Requite my aid, renown my son, since in so short a race
485 (Past others) thou confin’st his life. An insolent disgrace
Is done him by the king of men; he forc’d from him a prise
Won with his sword. But thou, O Jove, that art most strong, most wise,
Honour my son for my sake; add strength to the Trojans’ side
By his side’s weakness in his want; and see Troy amplified
490 In conquest, so much, and so long, till Greece may give again
The glory reft him, and the more illustrate the free reign
Of his wrong’d honour.” Jove at this sate silent; not a word
In long space pass’d him. Thetis still hung on his knee, implor’d
The second time his help, and said: “Grant, or deny my suit,
495 Be free in what thou dost; I know, thou canst not sit thus mute
For fear of any; speak, deny, that so I may be sure,
Of all heav’n’s Goddesses ’tis I, that only must endure
Dishonour by thee.” Jupiter, the great cloud-gath’rer, griev’d
With thought of what a world of griefs this suit ask’d, being achiev’d,
500 Swell’d, sigh’d, and answer’d: “Works of death thou urgest. O, at this
Juno will storm, and all my pow’rs inflame with contumelies.
Ever she wrangles, charging me in ear of all the Gods
That I am partial still, that I add the displeasing odds
Of my aid to the Ilians. Begone then, lest she see;
505 Leave thy request to my care; yet, that trust may hearten thee
With thy desire’s grant, and my pow’r to give it act approve
How vain her strife is, to thy pray’r my eminent head shall move;
Which is the great sign of my will with all th’ immortal states;
Irrevocable; never fails; never without the rates
510 Of all pow’rs else; when my head bows, all heads bow with it still
As their first mover; and gives pow’r to any work I will.”
He said; and his black eyebrows bent; above his deathless head
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