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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 21

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Page 3

"O gods! surely I perceive this, a great marvel, with mine eyes. Doubtless the magnanimous Trojans whom I have slain will rise again from the murky darkness, as now this man has returned, escaping the merciless day, having been sold in sacred Lemnos; nor has the depth of the sea restrained him, which restrains many against their will. But come now, he shall taste the point of my spear, that I may know in my mind, and learn, whether he will in like manner return thence, or whether the fruitful earth will detain him, which detains even the mighty."

Thus he pondered, remaining still; but near him came Lycaon, in consternation, anxious to touch his knees; for he very much wished in his mind to escape evil death and black fate. Meanwhile noble Achilles raised his long spear, desiring to wound him; but he ran in under it, and, stooping, seized his knees, but the spear stuck fixed in the earth over his back, eager to be satiated with human flesh. But he, having grasped his knees with one hand, supplicated him, and with the other held the sharp spear, nor did he let it go; and, supplicating, addressed to him winged words:

"O Achilles, embracing thy knees, I supplicate thee; but do thou respect and pity me. I am to thee in place of a suppliant, to be revered, O Jove-nurtured one! For with thee I first tasted the fruit of Ceres on that day when thou tookest me in the well-cultivated field, and didst sell[671] me, leading me away from my father and friends, to sacred Lemnos; and I brought thee the price of a hundred oxen. But now will I redeem myself, giving thrice as many. This is already the twelfth morning to me since I came to Troy, having suffered much, and now again pernicious fate has placed me in thy hands. Certainly I must be hated by father Jove, who has again given me to thee. For my mother Laothoe, the daughter of aged Altes, brought forth short-lived me, of Altes, who rules over the warlike Lelegans, possessing lofty Padasus, near the Satnio: and Priam possessed his daughter, as well as many others; but from her we two were born, but thou wilt slay both. Him, godlike Polydorus, thou hast subdued already among the foremost infantry, when thou smotest him with the sharp spear, and now will evil be to me here; for I do not think that I shall escape thy hands, since a deity has brought me near thee. Yet another thing will I tell thee, and do thou store it in thy mind. Do not slay me, for I am not of the same womb with Hector, who killed thy companion, both gentle and brave." Thus then, indeed, the noble son of Priam addressed him, supplicating with words; but he heard a stern reply.

[Footnote 671: Hesych. [Greek: erasas eisto peras tes thalasses diaperasas epolysas]. See Schol. on ver. 40.]

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