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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 1

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Apollo, enraged at the insult offered to his priest, Chryses, sends a pestilence upon the Greeks. A council is called, and Agamemnon, being compelled to restore the daughter of Chryses, whom he had taken from him, in revenge deprives Achilles of Hippodameia. Achilles resigns her, but refuses to aid the Greeks in battle, and at his request, his mother, Thetis, petitions Jove to honour her offended son at the expense of the Greeks. Jupiter, despite the opposition of Juno, grants her request.

Sing, O goddess, the destructive wrath of Achilles, son of Peleus, which brought countless woes upon the Greeks,[1] and hurled many valiant souls of heroes down to Hades, and made themselves[2] a prey to dogs and to all birds [but the will of Jove was being accomplished], from the time when Atrides, king of men, and noble Achilles, first contending, were disunited.

[Footnote 1: Although, as Ernesti observes, the verb [Greek: proiapsen] does not necessarily contain the idea of a premature death, yet the ancient interpreters are almost unanimous in understanding it so. Thus Eustathius, p. 13, ed. Bas.: [Greek: meta blazes eis Aioen pro to deontos epemphen, os tes protheseos] (_i.e._ pro) [Greek: kairikon ti delouses, e aplos epemphen, os pleonazouses tes protheseos.] Hesych. t. ii. p. 1029, s. n.: [Greek: proiapsen—deloi de dia tes lezeos ten met' odunes auton apoleian]. Cf. Virg. AEn. xii. 952: "Vitaque cum gemitu fugit indignata sub umbras," where Servius well observes, "quia discedebat a juvene: nam volunt philosophi, invitam animam discedere a corpore, cum quo adhuc habitare legibus naturae poterat." I have, however, followed Ernesti, with the later commentators.]

[Footnote 2: I.e. their bodies. Cf. AE. i. 44, vi. 362, where there is a similar sense of the pronoun.]

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