The Iliad of Homer

Page: 354

"Many gifts he gave, and o'er
Dolopia bade me rule; thee in his arms
He brought an infant, on my bosom laid
The precious charge, and anxiously enjoin'd
That I should rear thee as my own with all
A parent's love. I fail'd not in my trust
And oft, while round my neck thy hands were lock'd,
From thy sweet lips the half articulate sound
Of Father came; and oft, as children use,
Mewling and puking didst thou drench my tunic."

"This description," observes my learned friend (notes, p. 121) "is taken from the passage of Homer, II ix, in translating which, Pope, with that squeamish, artificial taste, which distinguished the age of Anne, omits the natural (and, let me add, affecting) circumstance."

"And the wine
Held to thy lips, and many a time in fits
Of infant frowardness the purple juice
Rejecting thou hast deluged all my vest,
And fill'd my bosom."



Where Calydon. For a good sketch of the story of Meleager, too long to be inserted here, see Grote, vol. i. p. 195, sqq.; and for the authorities, see my notes to the prose translation, p. 166.


"Gifts can conquer"—It is well observed by Bishop Thirlwall, "Greece," vol. i. p, 180, that the law of honour among the Greeks did not compel them to treasure up in their memory the offensive language which might be addressed to them by a passionate adversary, nor to conceive that it left a stain which could only be washed away by blood. Even for real and deep injuries they were commonly willing to accept a pecuniary compensation."


"The boon of sleep."—Milton

"All else of nature's common gift partake:
Unhappy Dido was alone awake."

—Dryden's Virgil, iv. 767.


The king of Crete: Idomeneus.


Soft wool within, i e. a kind of woollen stuffing, pressed in between the straps, to protect the head, and make the helmet fit close.


"All the circumstances of this action—the night, Rhesus buried in a profound sleep, and Diomede with the sword in his hand hanging over the head of that prince—furnished Homer with the idea of this fiction, which represents Rhesus lying fast asleep, and, as it were, beholding his enemy in a dream, plunging the sword into his bosom. This image is very natural; for a man in his condition awakes no farther than to see confusedly what environs him, and to think it not a reality but a dream."—Pope.

"There's one did laugh in his sleep, and one cry'd murder;
They wak'd each other."


"Aurora now had left her saffron bed,
And beams of early light the heavens o'erspread."

Dryden's Virgil, iv. 639


Red drops of blood. "This phenomenon, if a mere fruit of the poet's imagination, might seem arbitrary or far-fetched. It is one, however, of ascertained reality, and of no uncommon occurrence in the climate of Greece."—Mure, i p. 493. Cf. Tasso, Gier. Lib. ix. 15:

"La terra in vece del notturno gelo
Bagnan rugiade tepide, e sanguigne."
"No thought of flight,
None of retreat, no unbecoming deed
That argued fear."

—"Paradise Lost," vi. 236.


One of love. Although a bastard brother received only a small portion of the inheritance, he was commonly very well treated. Priam appears to be the only one of whom polygamy is directly asserted in the Iliad. Grote, vol. ii. p. 114, note.

"Circled with foes as when a packe of bloodie jackals cling
About a goodly palmed hart, hurt with a hunter's bow
Whose escape his nimble feet insure, whilst his warm blood doth flow,
And his light knees have power to move: but (maistred by his wound)
Embost within a shady hill, the jackals charge him round,
And teare his flesh—when instantly fortune sends in the powers
Of some sterne lion, with whose sighte they flie and he devours.
So they around Ulysses prest."



Simois, railing, &c.

"In those bloody fields
Where Simois rolls the bodies and the shields
Of heroes."

—Dryden's Virgil, i. 142.

"Where yon disorder'd heap of ruin lies,
Stones rent from stones,—where clouds of dust arise,—
Amid that smother, Neptune holds his place,
Below the wall's foundation drives his mace,
And heaves the building from the solid base."

Dryden's Virgil, ii. 825.


Why boast we.

"Wherefore do I assume
These royalties and not refuse to reign,
Refusing to accept as great a share
Of hazard as of honour, due alike to him
Who reigns, and so much to him due
Of hazard more, as he above the rest
High honour'd sits."

—"Paradise Lost," ii. 450.


Each equal weight.

"Long time in even scale
The battle hung."

—"Paradise Lost," vi. 245.

"He on his impious foes right onward drove,
Gloomy as night."

—"Paradise Lost," vi. 831


Renown'd for justice and for length of days, Arrian. de Exp. Alex. iv. p. 239, also speaks of the independence of these people, which he regards as the result of their poverty and uprightness. Some authors have regarded the phrase "Hippomolgian," i.e. "milking their mares," as an epithet applicable to numerous tribes, since the oldest of the Samatian nomads made their mares' milk one of their chief articles of diet. The epithet abion or abion, in this passage, has occasioned much discussion. It may mean, according as we read it, either "long-lived," or "bowless," the latter epithet indicating that they did not depend upon archery for subsistence.


Compare Chapman's quaint, bold verses:—

"And as a round piece of a rocke, which with a winter's flood