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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 18

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Thus he spoke; but him a black cloud of grief overshadowed, and taking the burnt ashes with both hands, he poured them on his head, and denied his comely countenance; but the dark ashes everywhere adhered to his rich[570] tunic. But he, mighty, lay extended at great length in the dust, and tearing, he disordered his hair with his hands. The handmaids, whom Achilles and Patroclus had taken, grieved in their souls, shrieked aloud, and ran out of the door round warlike Achilles; and all smote their breasts with their hands,[571] and the limbs of each were relaxed. Antilochus, on the other side, lamented, shedding tears, holding the hands of Achilles; (and he kept groaning within his generous heart,) for he feared lest he should cut his throat with his sword. Then he moaned dreadfully, and his venerable mother heard him, sitting in the depths of the sea, beside her aged father, and immediately lamented: and all the goddesses assembled around her, as many Nereides as were at the bottom of the sea. There were Glauce, Thaleia, and Cymodoce, Nesaea, Spio, Thoa, and large-eyed Halia, Cymothoe, Actaea, and Limnorea, Melita, Iaera, Amphithoe, and Agave, Doto, Proto, Pherusa, and Dynamene, Dexamene, Amphinome, and Callianira, Doris, Panope, and distinguished Galatea, Nemertes, Apseudes, and Callianassa. There were also Clymene, Ianira, and Ianassa, Maera, Orithya, and fair-haired Amathea, and other Nereides which were in the depths of the sea. But the resplendent cave was full of them, and all at once they beat their breasts; but Thetis began the lamentation:

[Footnote 570: So [Greek: nektareon eanon], iii. 385.—Heyne.]

[Footnote 571: In illustration of this custom of mourners, cf. Virg. Aen. i. 484:--

"Crinibus Iliades passis, peplumque ferebant Suppliciter tristes, et tunsae pectora palmis."

Ovid, Fast. iv. 454: "Et feriunt moestae pectora nuda manus." Silius, xii. 528. Petronius, ciii. p. 509, ed. Burm.: "Sparsis prosequi crinibus, aut nudatum pectus plangere;" cxv.: "Percussi semel iterumque pectus." See Westerhov, on Ter. Hec. ii. 3, 49; Northmore on Tryphiodor. 34; and Blomf. on Aesch. Choeph. 27.]

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