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Three Millennia of Greek Literature


Rhapsody 24

Literally Translated, with Explanatory Notes, by Theodore Alois Buckley

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Jove orders Thetis to go to Achilles, and demand the restoration of Hector's body. Mercury is also sent to Priam, whom he guides in safety through the Grecian camp, to the tent of Achilles. A pathetic interview follows, and Priam ransoms the body of his son, and obtains a twelve days' truce, during which he performs his funeral obsequies.


The assembly was dissolved, and the people were dispersed, to go each to their hollow barks. They indeed took care to indulge in the banquet and sweet slumber; but Achilles wept, remembering his dear companion, nor did all-subduing sleep possess him, but he was rolled here and there, longing for the vigour and valiant might of Patroclus. And whatever things he had accomplished with him, and hardships he had suffered, both [encountering] the battles of heroes, and measuring the grievous waves, remembering these things, he shed the warm tear, lying at one time upon his sides,[773] at others again on his back, and at other times on his face; but again starting up, he wandered about in sadness along the shore of the sea; nor did Morn, appearing over the sea and the shores, escape his notice. But he, when he had harnessed his fleet steeds to his chariot, bound Hector to be dragged after his chariot; and having drawn him thrice around the tomb of the dead son of Menoetius, again rested in his tent; and left him there, having stretched him on his face in the dust. But Apollo kept off all pollution from his body, pitying the hero, although dead; and encircled him with the golden aegis, lest that, dragging, he might lacerate him.

[Footnote 773: Cf. Heliodor. Ethiop. vii. p. 325: [Greek: Pannychios goun ekeito, mukna men pros ekateran pleyran to soma diastrephousa]. Chariton quotes the line of Homer, when describing the uneasy rest of a love-stricken being.]

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