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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 19

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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"My son, let us suffer him now to lie, grieved although we be, since first he has been laid low by the counsel of the gods: but do thou receive these distinguished arms from Vulcan, very beautiful, such as no man has ever worn upon his shoulders."

Having thus spoken, the goddess placed the armour before Achilles; and they, all curiously wrought, clashed aloud. Then tremor seized all the Myrmidons, nor did any one dare to look directly at them, but they fled in fear. But when Achilles saw them, the more rage entered him; and his eyes shone terribly beneath his eyelids, like a flame; and he was delighted, holding in his hands the splendid gifts of the god. But after he had delighted his mind, beholding these artificial works, he immediately addressed to his mother winged words:

"Mother mine, the god hath indeed given arms, such as are fit to be works of immortals, nor that a mortal man could make. Truly now will I arm myself; but I very much fear lest, in the meantime, the flies, having entered the gallant son of Menoetius, by his spear-inflicted wounds, create maggots, and pollute the corse, (for life in it is destroyed,) and all the parts of the body grow putrid."

But him the silver-footed goddess Thetis then answered:

"My child, let not these things be a care to thy mind. I will endeavour to drive away from him the fierce swarms, the flies which devour heroes slain in battle. For although he lie an entire year, his body shall always be uncorrupted, or even better. But do thou, having summoned the Grecian heroes to an assembly, having renounced thy wrath towards Agamemnon, the shepherd of the people, arm thyself quickly for war, and put on thy might."

Thus, therefore, having spoken, she infused into him the most daring courage, and then instilled into Patroclus, through the nostrils, ambrosia and ruby nectar,[620] that his body might be uncorrupted.

[Footnote 620: Milton, P.L. v. 633: "with angels' food, and rubied nectar flows."]

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