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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 24

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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"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."

[Footnote 776: See Grote, vol. i. p. 257.]

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