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Rhapsody 8

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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ARGUMENT.

Jove assembles the gods, and forbids them to interfere between the Greeks and Trojans. He then repairs to Ida, where, having consulted the scales of destiny, he directs his lightning against the Greeks. Nestor, in the chariot of Diomede, goes against Hector, whose charioteer is slain by Diomede. Jove again interposes his thunders, and the Greeks seek refuge within the rampart. Upon a favourable omen accompanying the prayer of Agamemnon, Diomede and the rest set out, and Teucer performs great exploits, but is disabled by Hector. Juno and Minerva are prevented interfering by Jove, and Hector takes measures to insure the safety of Troy during the night.

 

Now did saffron-mantled morn diffuse herself over all the earth, and thunder-rejoicing Jove made an assembly of the gods on the highest peak of many-topped Olympus. And he himself harangued them, and all the other deities hearkened (to his command):[266]

"Hear me, all ye gods and all ye goddesses, that I may tell you what the soul in my breast prompts me. Let no female deity, therefore, nor any male, attempt to infringe this my injunction; but do ye all at once assent, that I may very speedily bring these matters to their issue. Whomsoever of the gods I shall discover, having gone apart from [the rest], wishing to aid either the Trojans or the Greeks, disgracefully smitten shall he return to Olympus: or seizing, I will hurl him into gloomy Tartarus, very far hence, where there is a very deep gulf beneath the earth, and iron portals, and a brazen threshold, as far below Hades as heaven is from earth;[267] then shall he know by how much I am the most powerful of all the gods. But come, ye gods, and try me, that ye may all know. Having suspended a golden chain from heaven, do all ye gods and goddesses suspend yourselves therefrom; yet would ye not draw down from heaven to earth your supreme counsellor Jove, not even if ye labour ever so much: but whenever I, desiring, should wish to pull it, I could draw it up together, earth, and ocean, and all: then, indeed, would I bind the chain around the top of Olympus, and all these should hang aloft. By so much do I surpass both gods and men." [268]

[Footnote 266: I. e. dii obsequtii sunt, ut convocati convenirent.—Heyne.]

[Footnote 267: See the notes of Newton on Parad. Lost, i. 74.]

[Footnote 268: Referring to this address of Jove, Coleridge remarks: "Although the supremacy of Jove comes far short of the true conception of almighty power, the characteristic point which seems to be fairly established is, that he is the active and ruling power of the popular mythology, the supreme and despotic chief of an aristocracy of weaker divinities, accustomed to consult with them and liable to their opposition and even violence, yet, upon the whole, substantially aristocratic, and independent of any recognized permanent superior."—Classic Poets, p. 159.]

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