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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 23

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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"Hail! O Patroclus, even in the dwellings of Hades; for now shall I accomplish all those things which formerly I promised, that having dragged Hector hither, I would give him to the dogs to be devoured raw; and that before thy pile I would cut the necks of twelve illustrious sons of the Trojans, enraged on account of thee slain."

He spoke, and meditated unworthy deeds against noble Hector, having stretched him prone in the dust before the bier of Menoetiades; but they each stripped off his brazen, glittering armour, and unyoked their high-sounding steeds. They sat also in crowds at the ship of swift-footed Aeacides; but he afforded to them an agreeable funeral feast.[722] Many white bulls[723] were stretched around by the axe, having their throats cut, and many sheep and bleating goats. Many white-tusked swine also, abounding in fat, were extended for roasting in the flame of Vulcan; and on every side around the dead body flowed abundant blood. But the chiefs of the Greeks led the king, the swift-footed son of Peleus, to noble Agamemnon, hardly persuading him enraged at heart on account of his companion. But when advancing they reached the tent of Agamemnon, he straightway ordered the clear-voiced heralds to place a large tripod on the fire, if he could persuade the son of Peleus to wash away the bloody gore. But he sternly refused, and besides swore an oath:[724]

[Footnote 722: [Greek: Taphos' to ginomenon perideipnon epi te ton katoichomenon time].—Hesych.]

[Footnote 723: On these funeral sacrifices, see Comm. on Aen. xi. l. c.; and Lomeier de Lustrationibus, Sec. xxxi.]

[Footnote 724: Buttm. Lexil. p. 436, after insisting strongly on the personification of [Greek: Orkos], observes on this passage: "I see no reason why we should not suppose that in the poet's mind Jupiter was put in opposition to [Greek: orkon], exactly in the same sense as [Greek: orkos] is actually found in opposition to [Greek: Zeus] in Pindar, Pyth. iv. 297. [Greek: Karteros orkos ammi martys esto Zeus o genethlios amphoterois]. Further, the expressions [Greek: megas orkos, karteros orkos] suit much better the idea of the witness or pledge of the oath, than they do the oath itself."]

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