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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 2

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Jove sends a dream to Agamemnon, in consequence of which he re-assembles the army. Thersites is punished for his insolent speech, and the troops are restrained from seeking a return homewards. The catalogue of the ships and the forces of the confederates follows.


The rest, then, both gods and horse-arraying men,[71] slept all the night: but Jove sweet sleep possessed not; but he was pondering in his mind how he might honour Achilles, and destroy many at the ships of the Greeks. But this device appeared best to him in his mind, to send a fatal dream[72] to Agamemnon, the son of Atreus. And addressing him, he spoke winged words:

"Haste away, pernicious dream, to the swift ships of the Greeks. Going into the tent of Agamemnon, son of Atreus, utter very accurately everything as I shall command thee. Bid him arm the long-haired Achaeans[73] with all their array; for now perhaps he may[74] take the wide-wayed city of the Trojans; for the immortals who possess the Olympian mansions no longer think dividedly, for Juno, supplicating, hath bent all [to her will]. And woes are impending over the Trojans."

Thus he spake: and the dream[75] accordingly departed, as soon as it heard the mandate. And quickly it came to the swift ships of the Greeks, and went unto Agamemnon, the son of Atreus. But him it found sleeping in his tent, and ambrosial slumber was diffused around. And he stood over his head, like unto Nestor, the son of Neleus, him, to wit, whom Agamemnon honoured most of the old men. To him assimilating himself, the divine dream addressed him:

[Footnote 71: See Anthon, who observes that "fighting from on horseback was not practised in the Homeric times."]

[Footnote 72: Some would personify Oneirus, as god of dreams.]

[Footnote 73: Observe the distinction, for the Abantes, ver. 542, and the Thracians, iv. 533, wore their hair differently.]

[Footnote 74: [Greek: ken] limits the assertion to probability, so that Jupiter does not utter a direct falsehood.]

[Footnote 75: In defence of this cheating conduct of Jove, at which Plato was much scandalized, Coleridge, p. 154, observes: "The [Greek: oulos oneiros] was a lying spirit, which the father of gods and men had a supreme right to commission for the purpose of working out his ultimate will."]

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