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Rhapsody 11

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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ARGUMENT.

Agamemnon distinguishes himself, but, being wounded, retires from the field. Diomede is wounded by Paris: Ulysses by Socus. Ajax and Menelaus then go to the relief of Ajax, and Eurypylus, who had joined them, is shot in the thigh by Paris, who also wounds Machaon. Nestor conveys Machaon from the field. Achilles sends Patroclus to the tent of Nestor, who exhorts Patroclus to engage in battle, assuming the armour of Achilles.

 

But Aurora was rising from her couch, from beside glorious Tithonus, that she might bear light to immortals and to mortals, when Jove sent forth fell Discord to the swift ships of the Greeks, bearing in her hands the portent of war. And she stood upon the huge[359] black ship of Ulysses, which was in the centre, to shout to both sides, as well to the tents of Telamonian Ajax, as to those of Achilles; who had both drawn up their equal ships at the very extremities, relying on their valour and strength of hands. There standing, the goddess shouted both loudly and terribly, in Orthian strain,[360] to the Greeks, and implanted mighty strength in the heart of each, to war and fight incessantly. And immediately war became more sweet to them, than to return in the hollow ships to their dear fatherland. Then the son of Atreus shouted aloud, and ordered the Greeks to be girded; and arrayed himself, putting on his shining armour. First he put upon his legs his beautiful greaves, fitted with silver clasps; next he placed around his breast a corslet which Cinyras once gave him, to be a pledge of hospitality. For a great rumour was heard at Cyprus, that the Greeks were about to sail to Troy in ships: wherefore he gave him this, gratifying the king. Ten bars indeed [of the corslet] were of dark cyanus[361], twelve of gold, and twenty of tin; and three serpents of cyanus stretched towards the neck on each side, like unto rainbows, which the son of Saturn hath fixed in a cloud[362], a sign to articulate-speaking men. Then around his shoulders he hung his sword, on which glittered golden studs; and a silver scabbard enclosed it, fitted with golden rings. Next he took up his shield, mortal-covering[363], variously wrought, strong, beautiful, around which were ten brazen orbs. Upon it were twenty white bosses of tin, and in the midst was [one] of dark cyanus. On it a grim-visaged Gorgon was placed as an ornament, looking horribly, and around [were] Terror and Flight. The belt was of silver, but round it a snake of cyanus was twisted, and there were three heads entwined, springing from one neck. Upon his head also he placed his helmet, adorned with studs on all sides, having four bosses, crested with horse-hair, and dreadfully nodded the tuft from above. He then took two strong spears, tipped with brass, sharp; and the brass of them glittered afar, even to heaven: and Minerva and Juno thundered above, honouring the king of Mycenae, rich in gold.

[Footnote 359: Cf. Buttm. Lexil. p. 378, sqq.]

[Footnote 360: I. e. shrill, at the full pitch of the voice. Cf. Aesch. Pers. [Greek: Molpedon nyphemesen, orthion d' ama Antelalaxe].]

[Footnote 361: I have retained this word, as we cannot ascertain what precise metal is meant.]

[Footnote 362: Cf. Genes. ix. 13.]

[Footnote 363: See Buttm. Lexil. p. 33.]

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