The Metamorphoses of Ovid - Literally Translated into English Prose, with Copious Notes - and Explanations
by Publius Ovidius Naso
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

"'And shall I put up with thee, too, Caenis? for to me thou shalt ever be a woman, to me always Caenis. Does not thy natal origin lower thy {spirit}? And does it not occur to thy mind for what {foul} deed thou didst get thy reward, and at what price the false resemblance to a man? Consider both what thou wast born, as well as what thou hast submitted to: go, and take up a distaff together with thy baskets, and twist the threads[46] with thy thumb; leave warfare to men.' As he is vaunting in such terms, Caeneus pierces his side, stretched in running, with a lance hurled at him, just where the man is joined to the horse. He raves with pain, and strikes at the exposed face of the Phylleian [47] youth with his pike. It bounds back no otherwise than hail from the roof of a house; or than if any one were to beat a hollow drum with a little pebble. Hand to hand he encounters him, and strives to plunge his sword into his tough side; {but} the parts are impervious to his sword. 'Yet,' says he, 'thou shalt not escape me; with the middle of the sword shalt thou be slain, since the point is blunt;' and {then} he slants the sword against his side, and grasps his stomach with his long right arm. The blow produces an echo, as on a body of marble when struck; and the shivered blade flies different ways, upon striking his neck.

"After Caeneus had enough exposed his unhurt limbs to him in his amazement, 'Come now,' said he, 'let us try thy body with my steel;' and up to the hilt he plunged his fatal sword into his shoulder-blade, and extended his hand unseen into his entrails, and worked it about, and in the wound made a {fresh} wound. Lo! the double-limbed {monsters,} enraged, rush on in an impetuous manner, and all of them hurl and thrust their weapons at him alone. Their weapons fall blunted. Unstabbed and bloodless the Elateian Caeneus remains from each blow. This strange thing makes them astonished. 'Oh great disgrace!' cries Monychus; 'a {whole} people, we are overcome by one, and that hardly a man; although, {indeed}, he is a man; and we by our dastardly actions, are what he {once} was. What signify our huge limbs? What our twofold strength? What that our twofold nature has united in us the stoutest animals in existence? I neither believe that we are born of a Goddess for our mother, nor of Ixion, who was so great a person, that he conceived hopes of {even} the supreme Juno. By a half male foe are we baffled. Heap upon him stones and beams, and entire mountains, and dash out his long-lived breath, by throwing {whole} woods {upon him}. Let a {whole} wood press on his jaws; and weight shall be in the place of wounds.'

"{Thus} he said; and by chance having got a tree, thrown down by the power of the boisterous South wind, he threw it against the powerful foe: and he was an example {to the rest}; and in a short time, Othrys, thou wast bare of trees, and Pelion had no shades. Overwhelmed by this huge heap, Caeneus swelters beneath the weight of the trees, and bears on his brawny shoulders the piled-up oaks. But after the load has increased upon his face and his head, and his breath has no air to draw; at one moment he faints, at another he endeavours, in vain, to raise himself into the {open} air, and to throw off the wood cast {upon him}: and sometimes he moves it. Just as lo! we see, if lofty Ida is convulsed with earthquakes. The event is doubtful. Some gave out that his body was hurled to roomy Tartarus by the weight of the wood. The son of Ampycus denied this, and saw go forth into the liquid air, from amid the pile, a bird with tawny wings; which then was beheld by me for the first time, then, {too}, for the last. When Mopsus saw it with gentle flight surveying his camp, and making a noise around it with a vast clamour, following him both with his eyes and his feelings, he said, 'Hail! thou glory of the Lapithaean race, once the greatest of men, but now the only bird {of thy kind}, Caeneus.' This thing was credited from its assertor. Grief added resentment, and we bore it with disgust, that one was overpowered by foes so many. Nor did we cease to exercise our weapons, in {shedding their} blood, before a part of them was put to death, and flight and the night dispersed the rest."

[Footnote 17: This toil.—Ver. 146. Clarke translates 'Hic labor,' 'This laborious bout.']

[Footnote 18: Its entrails.—Ver. 152. The 'prosecta,' or 'prosiciae,' or 'ablegamina,' were portions of the animal which were the first cut off, for the purpose of becoming as a sacrifice to the Deities. The 'prosecta,' in general, consisted of a portion of the entrails.]

[Footnote 19: Roasted flesh.—Ver. 155. We are informed by Servius, that boiled meat was not eaten in the heroic ages.]

[Footnote 20: Melody of voices.—Ver. 157. Plutarch remarks, that that entertainment is the most pleasant where no musician is introduced; conversation, in his opinion, being preferable.]

[Footnote 21: Perrhaebean.—Ver. 172. The Perrhaebeans were a people of Thessaly, who, having been conquered by the Lapithae, betook themselves to the mountain fortresses of Pindus.]

[Footnote 22: Eloquent old man.—Ver. 176-181. Clarke renders these lines, 'Come, tell us, O eloquent old gentleman, the wisdom of our age, who was that Caeneus, and why he was turned into the other sex? in which war, or what engagement, he was known to you? by whom he was conquered, if he was conquered by any one?' Upon that, the old blade replied.']

[Footnote 23: Two hundred.—Ver. 188. Ovid does not here follow the more probable version, that the age of Nestor was three generations of thirty years each.]

[Footnote 24: The Atracian.—Ver. 209. 'Atracides' is an epithet, meaning 'Thessalian,' as Atrax, or Atracia, was a town of Thessaly, situated near the banks of the river Peneus.]

[Footnote 25: Hippodame.—Ver. 210. She is called Ischomache by Propertius, and Deidamia by Plutarch.]

[Footnote 26: With the fires.—Ver. 215. These fires would be those of the nuptial torches, and of the altars for sacrifice to Hymenaeus and the other tutelary divinities of marriage.]

[Footnote 27: Clots of blood.—Ver. 238. Clarke renders 'Sanguinis globos,' 'goblets of blood.']

[Footnote 28: Double-limbed.—Ver. 240. Clarke translates, 'Ardescunt bimembres,' 'The double-limbed fellows are in a flame.']

[Footnote 29: Shattered cask.—Ver. 243. 'Cadi' were not only earthenware vessels, in which wine was kept, but also the vessels used for drawing water.]

[Footnote 30: A chandelier.—Ver. 247. 'Funale' ordinarily means, 'a link,' or 'torch,' made of fibrous substances twisted together, and smeared with pitch or wax. In this instance the word seems to mean a chandelier with several branches.]

[Footnote 31: A votive stag.—Ver. 267. It appears that the horns of a stag were frequently offered as a votive gift to the Deities, especially to Diana, the patroness of the chase. Thus in the seventh Eclogue of Virgil, Mycon vows to present to Diana, 'Vivacis cornua cervi,' 'The horns of a long-lived stag.']

[Footnote 32: Cheeks covered.—Ver. 291. 'Prima tectus lanugine malas,' is not very elegantly rendered by Clarke, 'Having his chaps covered with down, then first putting out.']

[Footnote 33: Nessus.—Ver. 309. We have already seen how Nessus the Centaur met his death from the arrow of Hercules, when about to offer violence to Deianira.]

[Footnote 34: A wound in front.—Ver. 312. It has been suggested that, perhaps Ovid here had in his mind the story of one Pomponius, of whom Quintilian relates, that, having received a wound in his face, he was showing it to Caesar, on which he was advised by the latter never to look behind him when he was running away.]

[Footnote 35: Strap of his lance.—Ver. 321. The 'amentum' was the thong, or strap of leather, with which the lance, or javelin, was fastened, in order to draw it back when thrown.]

[Footnote 36: Not used to bear.—Ver. 346. He alludes to the twofold nature, or 'horse-part' of the Centaur, as Clarke calls it.]

[Footnote 37: The Dolopians.—Ver. 364. They were a people of Phthiotis and Thessaly.]

[Footnote 38: Pierces two breasts.—Ver. 377. He says this by poetical license, in allusion to the two-fold form of the Centaurs.]

[Footnote 39: Cyllarus.—Ver. 393. This was also the name of the horse which Castor tamed, to which Ovid alludes in the 401st line.]

[Footnote 40: Then ought I.—Ver. 445. Nestor here shows a little of the propensity for boasting, which distinguishes him in the Iliad.]

[Footnote 41: Pelethronian.—Ver. 452. Pelethronia was a region of Thessaly, which contained a town and a mountain of that name.]

[Footnote 42: Erigdupus.—Ver. 453. The signification of this name is 'The noise of strife.']

[Footnote 43: Mopsus.—Ver. 456. He was a prophet, and one of the Lapithae. There are two other persons mentioned in ancient history of the same name.]

[Footnote 44: Emathian.—Ver. 462. Properly, Emathia was a name of Macedonia; but it is here applied to Thessaly, which adjoined to that country.]

[Footnote 45: Macedonian pike.—Ver. 466. The 'sarissa' is supposed to have been a kind of pike with which the soldiers of the Macedonia phalanx were armed. Its ordinary length was twenty-one feet; but those used by the phalanx were twenty-four feet long.]

[Footnote 46: Twist the threads.—Ver. 475. The woof was called 'subtegmen,' 'subtemen,' or 'trama,' while the warp was called 'stamen,' from 'stare,' 'to stand,' on account of its erect position in the loom.]

[Footnote 47: Phylleian.—Ver. 479. Phyllus was a city of Phthiotis, in Thessaly.]


We learn from Diodorus Siculus, and other ancient authors, that the people of Thessaly, and those especially who lived near Mount Pelion, were the first who trained horses for riding, and used them as a substitute for chariots. Pliny the Elder says that they excelled all the other people of Greece in horsemanship, and that they carried it to such perfection, that the name of hippeus, 'a horseman,' and that of 'Thessalian,' became synonymous. Again, the Thessalians, from their dexterity in killing the wild bulls that infested the neighbouring mountains, sometimes with darts or spears, and at other times in close engagement, acquired the name of Hippocentaurs, that is, 'horsemen that hunted bulls,' or simply kentauroi, 'Centaurs.'

It is not improbable that, because the Thessalians began to practise riding in the reign of Ixion, the poets made the Centaurs his sons; and they were said to have a cloud for their mother, which Jupiter put in the place of Juno, to baulk the attempt of Ixion on her virtue, because, according to Palaephatus, many of them lived in a city called Nephele, which, in Greek, signifies a cloud. As another method of accounting for their alleged descent from a cloud, it has been suggested that the Centaurs were a rapacious race of men, who ravaged the neighbouring country: that those who wrote the first accounts of them, in the ancient dialect of Greece, gave them the name of Nephelim, (the epithet of the giants of Scripture,) many Phoenician words having been imported in the early language of that country; and that in later times, finding them called by this name, the Greek word Nephele, signifying 'a cloud,' persons readily adopted the fable that they were born of one.

The Centaurs being the descendants of Centaurus, the son of Ixion, and Pirithoues being also the son of Ixion, by Dia, the former, declared war against Pirithoues, asserting, that, as the descendants of Ixion, they had a right to share in the succession to his dominions. This quarrel, however, was made up, and they continued on friendly terms, until the attempt of Eurytus, or Eurytion, on Hippodamia, the bride of Pirithoues, which was followed by the consequences here described by Ovid. The Centaurs are twice mentioned in the Iliad as pheres, or 'wild beasts,' and once under the name of 'Centaurs.' Pindar is the first writer that mentions them as being of a twofold form, partly man, and partly horse. In the twenty-first Book of the Odyssey, line 295, Eurytion is said to have had his ears and nose cut off by way of punishment, and that, from that period, 'discord arose between the Centaurs and men.'

Buttman, (Mythologus, ii. p. 22, as quoted by Mr. Keightley), says that the names of Centaurs and Lapithae are two purely poetic names, used to designate two opposite races of men,—the former, the rude horse-riding tribes, which tradition records to have been spread over the north of Greece: the latter, the more civilized race, which founded towns, and gradually drove their wild neighbours back into the mountains. He thinks that the explanation of the word 'Centaurs,' as 'Air-piercers,' (from kentein ten auran) not an improbable one, for the idea is suggested by the figure of a Cossack leaning forward with his protruded lance as he gallops along. But he regards the idea of kentauros, having been in its origin simply kentor, as much more probable, [it meaning simply 'the spurrer-on.'] Lapithae may, he thinks, have signified 'Stone persuaders,' from laas peithein, a poetic appellation for the builders of towns. He supposes Hippodamia to have been a Centauress, married to the prince of the Lapithae, and thus accounts for the Centaurs having been at the wedding. Mr. Keightley, in his 'Mythology of Ancient Greece and Italy,' remarks that 'it is certainly not a little strange that a rude mountain race like the Centaurs should be viewed as horsemen; and the legend which ascribes the perfecting of the art of horsemanship to the Lapithae, is unquestionably the more probable one. The name Centaur, which so much resembles the Greek verb kenteo, 'to spur,' we fancy gave origin to the fiction. This derivation of it is, however, rather dubious.'

After the battle here described, the Centaurs retreated to the mountains of Arcadia. The Lapithae pursuing them, drove them to the Promontory of Malea in Laconia, where, according to Apollodorus, Neptune took them into his protection. Servius and Antimachus, as quoted by Comes Natalis, say that some of them fled to the Isle of the Sirens (or rather to that side of Italy which those Nymphs had made their abode); and that there they were destroyed by the voluptuous and debauched lives they led.

The fable of Caeneus, which Ovid has introduced, is perhaps simply founded on the prodigious strength and the goodness of the armour of a person of that name. The story of Halyonome killing herself on the body of Cyllarus, may possibly have been handed down by tradition. It is not unlikely that, if the Centaurs were horsemen, their women were not unacquainted with horsemanship; indeed, representations of female Centaurs are given, on ancient monuments, as drawing the chariot of Bacchus.

FABLES V. AND VI. [XII.536-628]

Periclymenus, the brother of Nestor, who has received from Neptune the power of transforming himself, is changed into an eagle, in a combat with Hercules; and in his flight is shot by him with an arrow. Neptune prays Apollo to avenge the death of Cygnus: because the Destinies will not permit him to do so himself. Apollo enters the Trojan camp in disguise, and directs the arrow which Paris aims at Achilles; who is mortally wounded in the heel, the only vulnerable part of his body.

As the Pylian related this fight between the Lapithae and the Centaurs, {but} half human, Tlepolemus[48] could not endure his sorrow for Alcides being passed by with silent lips, and said, "It is strange, old man, that thou shouldst have a forgetfulness of the exploits of Hercules; at least, my father himself used often to relate to me, that these cloud-begotten {monsters} were conquered by him." The Pylian, sad at this, said, "Why dost thou force me to call to mind my misfortunes, and to rip up my sorrows, concealed beneath years, and to confess my hatred of, and disgust at, thy father? He, indeed, ye Gods! performed things beyond all belief, and filled the world with his services; which I could rather wish could be denied; but we are in the habit of praising neither Deiphobus nor Polydamas,[49] nor Hector himself: for who would commend an enemy? That father of thine once overthrew the walls of Messene, and demolished guiltless cities, Elis and Pylos, and carried the sword and flames into my abode. And, that I may say nothing of others whom he slew, we were twice six sons of Neleus, goodly youths; the twice six fell by the might of Hercules, myself alone excepted. And that the others were vanquished might have been endured; {but} the death of Periclymenus is wonderful; to whom Neptune, the founder of the Neleian family, had granted to be able to assume whatever shapes he might choose, and again, when assumed, to lay them aside. He, after he had in vain been turned into all other shapes, was turned into the form of the bird that is wont to carry the lightnings in his crooked talons, the most acceptable to the king of the Gods. Using the strength of {that} bird, his wings, and his crooked bill, together with his hooked talons, he tore the face of the hero. The Tirynthian hero aims at him his bow, too unerring, and hits him, as he moves his limbs aloft amid the clouds, and hovering {in the air}, just where the wing is joined to the side.

"Nor is the wound a great one, but his sinews, cut by the wound, fail him, and deny him motion and strength for flying. He fell down to the earth, his weakened pinions not catching the air; and where the smooth arrow had stuck in his wing, it was pressed {still further} by the weight of his pierced body, and it was driven, through the upper side, into the left part of the neck. Do I seem to be owing encomiums to the exploits of thy {father} Hercules, most graceful leader of the Rhodian fleet?[50] Yet I will no further avenge my brothers, than by being silent on his brave deeds: with thyself I have a firm friendship." After the son[51] of Neleus had said these things with his honied tongue, the gifts of Bacchus being resumed after the discourse of the aged man, they arose from their couches: the rest of the night was given to sleep.

But the God who commands the waters of the sea with his trident, laments, with the affection of a father, the body of his son, changed into the bird of the son of Sthenelus; and abhorring the ruthless Achilles, pursues his resentful wrath in more than an ordinary manner. And now, the war having been protracted for almost twice five years, with such words as these he addresses the unshorn Smintheus:[52] "O thou, most acceptable to me, by far, of the sons of my brother, who, together with me, didst build the walls of Troy in vain; and dost thou not grieve when thou lookest upon these towers so soon to fall? or dost thou not lament that so many thousands are slain in defending these walls? and (not to recount them all) does not the ghost of Hector, dragged around his Pergamus, recur to thee? Though still the fierce Achilles, more blood-stained than war itself, lives on, the destroyer of our toil, let him but put himself in my power, I will make him feel what I can do with my triple spear. But since it is not allowed us to encounter the enemy in close fight, destroy him, when off his guard, with a secret shaft."

He nodded his assent; and the Delian {God}, indulging together both his own resentment and that of his uncle, veiled in a cloud, comes to the Trojan army, and in the midst of the slaughter of the men, he sees Paris, at intervals, scattering his darts among the ignoble Greeks; and, discovering himself to be a Divinity, he says, "Why dost thou waste thy arrows upon the blood of the vulgar? If thou hast any concern for thy friends, turn upon the grandson of AEacus, and avenge thy slaughtered brothers." {Thus} he said; and pointing at the son of Peleus, mowing down the bodies of the Trojans with the sword, he turned his bow towards him, and directed his unerring arrow with a fatal right hand. This was {the only thing} at which, after {the death of} Hector, the aged Priam could rejoice. And art thou then, Achilles, the conqueror of men so great, conquered by the cowardly ravisher of a Grecian wife? But if it had been fated for thee to fall by the hand of a woman, thou wouldst rather have fallen by the Thermodontean[53] battle-axe.

Now that dread of the Phrygians, the glory and defence of the Pelasgian name, the grandson of AEacus, a head invincible in war, had been burnt: the same Divinity had armed him,[54] and had burned him. He is now {but} ashes; and there remains of Achilles, so renowned, I know not what; that which will not well fill a little urn. But his glory lives, which can fill the whole world: this allowance is befitting that hero, and in this the son of Peleus is equal to himself, and knows not the empty Tartarus. Even his very shield gives occasion for war, that you may know to whom it belongs; and arms are wielded for arms. The son of Tydeus does not dare to claim them, nor Ajax, the son of Oileus,[55] nor the younger son of Atreus, nor he who is his superior both in war and age, nor {any} others; the hope of so much glory exists only in him begotten by Telamon and {the son} of Laertes. The descendant of Tantalus[56] removes from himself the burden and the odium {of a decision}, and orders the Argive leaders to sit in the midst of the camp, and transfers the judgment of the dispute to them all.

[Footnote 48: Tlepolemus.—Ver. 537. He was a son of Hercules, by Astioche.]

[Footnote 49: Polydamas.—Ver. 547. He was a noble Trojan, of great bravery, who had married a daughter of Priam.]

[Footnote 50: Rhodian fleet.—Ver. 575. Tlepolemus, when a youth, slew his uncle, Lycimnius, the son of Mars. Flying from his country with some followers, he retired to the Island of Rhodes, where he gained the sovereignty. He went to the Trojan war with nine ships, to aid the Greeks, where he fell by the hand of Sarpedon.]

[Footnote 51: After the son.—Ver. 578-9. 'A sermone senis repetito munere Bacchi Surrexere toris.' These words are thus quaintly rendered in Clarke's translation: 'From listening to the old gentleman's discourse, they return again to their bottle; and taking the other glass, they departed.']

[Footnote 52: Smintheus.—Ver. 585. Apollo was so called, in many of the cities of Asia, and was worshipped under this name, in the Isle of Tenedos. He is said by Eustathius, to have been so called from Smynthus, a town near Troy. But, according to other accounts, he received the epithet from the Cretan word sminthos, a mouse; being supposed to protect man against the depredations of that kind of vermin.]

[Footnote 53: Thermodontean.—Ver. 611. He alludes to Penthesilea, the Queen of the Amazons, who, aiding the Trojans against the Greeks, was slain by Achilles. The battle-axe was the usual weapon of the Amazons]

[Footnote 54: Had armed him.—Ver. 614. Vulcan, the God of Fire, made his armour at the request of his mother, Thetis; and now his body was burned by fire.]

[Footnote 55: Son of Oileus.—Ver. 622. This was Ajax, the King of the Locrians.]

[Footnote 56: Descendant of Tantalus.—Ver. 626. Agamemnon was the son of Atreus, grandson of Pelops, and great-grandson of Tantalus. He wisely refused to take upon himself alone the onus of deciding the contention between Ajax and Ulysses.]


Periclymenus was the son of Neleus and Chloris, as we are told by Homer, Apollodorus, and other authors. According to these authors, Neleus, king of Orchomenus, was the son of Neptune, who assumed the form of the river Enipeus, the more easily to deceive Tyro, the daughter of Salmoneus. Neleus married Chloris, the daughter of Amphion, king of Thebes, who bore him eleven sons and one daughter, of which number, Homer names but three. Periclymenus, the youngest of the family, was a warlike prince, and, according to Apollodorus, accompanied Jason in the expedition of the Argonauts. Hercules, after having instituted the Olympic games, marched into Messenia, and declared war with Neleus. The ancient writers differ as to the cause of this expedition; but they agree in stating, that Hercules made himself master of Pylos, a town which Neleus had built, as a refuge from the capricious humours of his brother Pelias; and that Neleus and all his children were killed, except Nestor, who had been brought up among the Geranians, and who afterwards reigned in Pylos. The story which here relates how Periclymenus transformed himself into an eagle, and was then killed by Hercules, may possibly mean, that having long resisted the attacks of his formidable enemy, he was at length put to flight, and slain by an arrow. It is said that Neptune had given him the power to metamorphose himself into different figures, very probably because his grandfather, who was a maritime prince, had taught him the art of war and various stratagems, which he industriously made use of, to avert the ruin of his family.

In relation to the story of the death of Achilles, Dictys the Cretan tells us, that Achilles having seen Polyxena, the daughter of Priam, along with Cassandra, as she was sacrificing to Apollo, fell in love with her, and demanded her in marriage and that Hector would not consent to it, except on condition of his betraying the Greeks. This demand, so injurious to his honour, provoked Achilles so much, that he forthwith slew Hector, and dragged his body round the walls of the city. He further says that when Priam went to demand the body of Hector, he took Polyxena with him, in order to soften Achilles. His design succeeded, and Priam then agreed to give her to him in marriage. On the day appointed for the solemnity in the temple of Apollo, Paris, concealing himself behind the altar, while Deiphobus pretended to embrace Achilles, wounded him in the heel, and killed him on the spot, either because the arrow was poisoned, or because he was wounded on the great tendon, which has since been called 'tendon Achillis,' a spot where a wound might very easily be mortal.

This story of the death of Achilles does not seem to have been known to Homer; for he appears, in the twenty-fourth book of the Odyssey, to insinuate that that hero died in battle, fighting for the Grecian cause.

After his death Achilles was honoured as a Demigod, and Strabo says that he had a temple near the promontory of Sigaeum. Pausanias and Pliny the Elder make mention of an island in the Euxine Sea, where the memory of Achilles was expressly honoured, from which circumstances it had the name of Achillea.


FABLE I. [XIII.1-438]

After the death of Achilles, Ajax and Ulysses contend for his armour; the Greek chiefs having adjudged it to the last, Ajax kills himself in despair, and his blood is changed into a flower. When Ulysses has brought Philoctetes, who is possessed of the arrows of Hercules, to the siege, and the destinies of Troy are thereby accomplished, the city is taken and sacked, and Hecuba becomes the slave of Ulysses.

The chiefs were seated; and a ring of the common people standing {around}, Ajax, the lord of the seven-fold shield, arose before them. And as he was impatient in his wrath, with stern features he looked back upon the Sigaean shores, and the fleet upon the shore, and, stretching out his hands, he said, "We are pleading,[1] O Jupiter, our cause before the ships, and Ulysses vies with me! But he did not hesitate to yield to the flames of Hector, which I withstood, {and} which I drove from this fleet. It is safer, therefore, for him to contend with artful words than with his {right} hand. But neither does my talent lie in speaking, nor his[2] in acting; and as great ability as I have in fierce warfare, so much has he in talking. Nor do I think, O Pelasgians, that my deeds need be related to you; for you have been eye-witnesses of them. Let Ulysses recount his, which he has performed without any witness, {and} of which night alone[3] is conscious. I own that the prize that is sought is great; but the rival of Ajax lessens its value. It is no proud thing, great though it may be, to possess any thing which Ulysses has hoped for. Already has he obtained the reward of this contest, in which, when he shall have been worsted, he will be said to have contended with me. And I, if my prowess were to be questioned, should prevail by the nobleness of my birth, being the son of Telamon, who took the city[4] of Troy under the valiant Hercules, and entered the Colchian shores in the Pagasaean ship. AEacus was his father, who there gives laws to the silent {shades}, where the heavy stone urges {downward} Sisyphus,[5] the son of AEolus.

"The supreme Jupiter owns AEacus, and confesses that he is his offspring. Thus Ajax is the third[6] from Jupiter. And yet, O Greeks, let not this line of descent avail me in this cause, if it be not common to me with the great Achilles. He was my cousin;[7] I ask for what belonged to my cousin? Why does one descended from the blood of Sisyphus, and very like him in thefts and fraud, intrude the name of a strange family among the descendants of AEacus? Are the arms to be denied me, because I took up arms before {him}, and through the means of no informer?[8] and shall one seem preferable who was the last to take them up, and who, by feigning madness, declined war, until the son of Nauplius,[9] more cunning than he, but more unhappy for himself, discovered the contrivance[10] of his cowardly mind, and dragged him forth to the arms which he had avoided. Now let him take the best arms who would have taken none. Let me be dishonoured, and stripped of the gifts that belonged to my cousin, who presented myself in the front of danger. And I could wish that that madness had been either real or believed {so to be}, and that he had never attended us as a companion to the Phrygian towers, this counsellor of evil! Then, son of Poeas,[11] Lemnos would not have had thee exposed {there} through our guilt; who now, as they say, concealed in sylvan caves, art moving the {very} rocks with thy groans, and art wishing for the son of Laertes what he has deserved; which, may the Gods, the Gods, {I say}, grant thee not to pray in vain.

"And now, he that was sworn upon the same arms with ourselves, one of our leaders, alas! by whom, as his successor, the arrows of Hercules are used, broken by disease and famine, is being clothed[12] and fed by birds; and in shooting fowls, he is employing the shafts destined for the destruction of Troy. Still, he lives, because he did not accompany Ulysses. And the unhappy Palamedes would have preferred that he had been left behind; {then} he would have been living, or, at least, he would have had a death without any criminality. Him, {Ulysses} remembering too well the unlucky discovery of his madness, pretended to be betraying the Grecian interests, and proved his feigned charge, and shewed {the Greeks} the gold, which he had previously hidden in the ground. By exile then, or by death,[13] has he withdrawn from the Greeks their {best} strength. Thus Ulysses fights, thus is he to be dreaded. Though he were to excel even the faithful Nestor in eloquence, yet he would never cause me to believe that the forsaking of Nestor[14] was not a crime; who, when he implored {the aid of} Ulysses, retarded by the wound of his steed, and wearied with the years of old age, was deserted by his companion. The son of Tydeus knows full well that these charges are not invented by me, who calling on him often by name, rebuked him, and upbraided[15] his trembling friend with his flight. The Gods above behold the affairs of men with just eyes. Lo! he wants help, himself, who gave it not; and as he left {another}, so was he doomed to be left: {such} law had he made for himself.

"He called aloud to his companions. I came, and I saw him trembling, and pale with fear, and shuddering at the impending death. I opposed the mass of my shield {to the enemy}, and covered him[16] as he lay; and I preserved (and that is the least part of my praise) his dastardly life. If thou dost persist in vying, let us return to that place; restore the enemy, and thy wound, and thy wonted fear; and hide behind my shield, and under that contend with me. But, after I delivered him, he to whom his wounds {before} gave no strength for standing, fled, retarded by no wound {whatever}. Hector approaches, and brings the Gods along with him to battle, and where he rushes on, not only art thou alarmed, Ulysses, but even the valiant {are}; so great terror does he bring. Him, as he exulted in the successes of his bloodstained slaughter, in close conflict, I laid flat with a huge stone. Him demanding one with whom he might engage, did I alone withstand; and you, Greeks, prayed {it might fall} to my lot;[17] and your prayers prevailed. If you inquire into the issue of this fight, I was not beaten by him.

"Lo! the Trojans bring fire and sword, and Jove, {as well}, against the Grecian fleet. Where is now the eloquent Ulysses? I, forsooth, protected a thousand ships, the hopes of your return, with my breast. Grant me the arms, in return for so many ships. But, if I may be allowed to speak the truth, a greater honour is sought for them than is for me, and our glory is united; and Ajax is sought for the arms, and not the arms by Ajax. Let the Ithacan {Ulysses} compare with these things Rhesus,[18] and the unwarlike Dolon,[19] and Helenus,[20] the son of Priam, made captive with the ravished Pallas. By daylight nothing was done; nothing when Diomedes was afar. If once you give these arms for services so mean, divide them, and that of Diomedes would be the greater share of them. But, why these for the Ithacan? who, by stealth and unarmed, ever does his work, and deceives the unwary enemy by stratagem? The very brilliancy of his helmet, as it sparkles with bright gold, will betray his plans, and discover him as he lies hid. But neither will the Dulichian[21] head, beneath the helm of Achilles, sustain a weight so great; and the spear[22] from Pelion must be heavy and burdensome for unwarlike arms. Nor will the shield, embossed with the form of the great globe, beseem a dastard left hand, and one formed for theft. Why {then}, caitiff, dost thou ask for a gift that will {but} weaken thee? should the mistake of the Grecian people bestow it on thee, there would be a cause for thee to be stripped, not for thee to be dreaded by the enemy. Thy flight, too, (in which, alone, most dastardly {wretch}! thou dost excel all {others},) will be retarded, when dragging a load so great. Besides, that shield of thine, which has so rarely experienced the conflict, is unhurt; for mine, which is gaping in a thousand wounds from bearing the darts, a new successor must be obtained. In fine, what need is there for words? Let us be tried in action. Let the arms of that brave hero be thrown in the midst of the enemy: order them to be fetched thence, and adorn him that brings them back, with them so brought off."

The son of Telamon had {now} ended, and a murmur among the multitude ensued upon his closing words, until the Laertian hero stood up, and fixing his eyes, for a short time, on the ground, raised them towards the chiefs, and opened his mouth in the accents that were looked for; nor was gracefulness wanting to his eloquent words.

"If my prayers had been of any avail together with yours, Pelasgians, the successor to a prize so great would not {now} be in question, and thou wouldst now be enjoying thine arms, and we thee, O Achilles. But since the unjust Fates have denied him to me and to yourselves, (and here he wiped his eyes with his hands as though shedding tears,) who could better succeed the great Achilles than he through whom[23] the great Achilles joined the Greeks? Only let it not avail him that he seems to be as stupid as he {really} is; and let not my talents, which ever served you, O Greeks, be a prejudice to me: and let this eloquence of mine, if there is any, which now pleads for its possessor, and has often {done so} for yourselves, stand clear of envy, and let each man not disown his own advantages. For {as to} descent and ancestors, and the things which we have not made ourselves, I scarce call these our own. But, indeed, since Ajax boasts that he is the great grandson of Jove, Jupiter, too, is the founder of my family, and by just as many degrees am I distant from him. For Laertes is my father, Arcesius his, Jupiter his; nor was any one of these {ever} condemned[24] and banished. Through the mother,[25] too, Cyllenian {Mercury}, another noble stock, is added to myself. On the side of either parent there was a God. But neither because I am more nobly born on my mother's side, nor because my father is innocent of his brother's blood, do I claim the arms {now} in question. By {personal} merit weigh the cause. So that it be no merit in Ajax that Telamon and Peleus were brothers; and {so that} not consanguinity, but the honour of merit, be regarded in {the disposal of} these spoils. Or if nearness of relationship and the next heir is sought, Peleus is his sire, and Pyrrhus is his son. What room, {then}, is there for Ajax? Let them be taken to Phthia[26] or to Scyros. Nor is Teucer[27] any less a cousin of Achilles than he; and yet does he sue for, does he expect to bear away the arms?

"Since then the contest is simply one of deeds; I, in truth, have done more than what it is easy for me to comprise in words. Yet I shall proceed in the order of events. {Thetis}, the Nereid mother, prescient of coming death, conceals her son by his dress. The disguise of the assumed dress deceived all, among whom was Ajax. Amid woman's trinkets I mixed arms such as would affect the mind of a man. And not yet had the hero thrown aside the dress of a maiden, when, as he was brandishing a shield and a spear, I said, 'O son of a Goddess, Pergamus reserves itself to fall through thee. Why, {then}, dost thou delay to overthrow the mighty Troy?' And {then} I laid my hands on him, and to brave deeds I sent forth the brave. His deeds then are my own. 'Twas I that subdued Telephus, as he fought with his lance; 'twas I that recovered him, vanquished, and begging {for his life}. That Thebes has fallen, is my doing. Believe me, that I took Lesbos, that I {took} Tenedos, Chrysa[28] and Cylla, cities of Apollo, and Scyros {too}. Consider too, that the Lyrnessian[29] walls were levelled with the ground, shaken by my right hand. And, not to mention other things, 'twas I, in fact, that found one who might slay the fierce Hector; through me the renowned Hector lies prostrate. By those arms through which Achilles was found out, I demand these arms. To him when living I gave them; after his death I ask them back again.

"After the grief of one[30] had reached all the Greeks, and a thousand ships had filled the Euboean Aulis, the breezes long expected were either not existing or adverse to the fleet; and the ruthless oracles commanded Agamemnon to slay his innocent daughter for the cruel Diana. This the father refuses, and is enraged against the Gods themselves, and, a king, he is still a father. By my words I swayed the gentle disposition of the parent to the public advantage. Now, indeed, I make this confession, and let the son of Atreus forgive me as I confess it; before a partial judge I upheld a difficult cause. Yet the good of the people and his brother, and the supreme power of the sceptre granted to him, influence him to balance praise against blood. I was sent, too, to the mother, who was not to be persuaded, but to be deceived with craft; to whom, if the son of Telamon had gone, until even now would our sails have been without wind. A bold envoy, too, I was sent to the towers of Ilium, and the senate-house of lofty Troy was seen and entered by me; and still was it filled with their heroes. Undaunted, I pleaded the cause which all Greece had entrusted to me; and I accused Paris, and I demanded back the plunder, and Helen {as well}; and I moved Priam and Antenor[31], related to Priam. But Paris and his brothers, and those who, under him, had been ravishers, scarce withheld their wicked hands; {and} this thou knowest, Menelaues, and that was the first day of my danger in company with thee. It were a tedious matter to relate the things which, by my counsel and my valour, I have successfully executed in the duration of this tedious warfare.

"After the first encounter, the enemy for a long time kept themselves within the walls of the city, and there was no opportunity for open fight. At length, in the tenth year we fought. {And} what wast thou doing in the mean time, thou, who knowest of nothing but battles? what was the use of thee? But if thou inquirest into my actions: I lay ambuscades for the enemy; I surround the trenches[32] with redoubts; I cheer our allies that they may bear with patient minds the tediousness of a protracted war; I show, {too}, how we are to be supported, and how to be armed; I am sent[33] whither necessity requires. Lo! by the advice of Jove, the king, deceived by a form in his sleep, commands him to dismiss all care of the war {thus} begun. He is enabled, through the author of it, to defend his own cause. Ajax should not have allowed this, and should have demanded that Troy be razed. And he should have fought, the {only} thing he could do. Why, does he not stop them when about to depart? Why does he not take up arms, and {why not} suggest some course for the fickle multitude to pursue? This was not too much for him, who never says any thing but what is grand. Well, and didst thou take to flight? I was witness of it, and ashamed I was to see, when thou wast turning thy back, and wast preparing the sails of disgrace. Without delay, I exclaimed, 'What are you doing? What madness made you, O my friends, quit Troy, {well nigh} taken? And what, in this tenth year, are you carrying home but disgrace?'

"With these and other {words}, for which grief itself had made me eloquent, I brought back the resisting {Greeks} from the flying fleet. The son of Atreus calls together his allies, struck with terror; nor, even yet, does the son of Telamon dare to utter a word; yet Thersites[34] dares to launch out against the kings with impudent remarks, although not unpunished by myself. I am aroused, and I incite the trembling citizens against the foe, and by my voice I reclaim their lost courage. From that time, whatever that man, whom I drew away as he was turning his back, may seem to have done bravely, is {all} my own. In fine, who of the Greeks is either praising thee, or resorts to thee; but with me the son of Tydeus shares his exploits; he praises me, and is ever confident while Ulysses is his companion. It is something, out of so many thousands of the Greeks, to be singled out alone by Diomedes. Nor was it lot that ordered me to go forth; and yet, despising the dangers of the night and of the enemy, I slew Dolon, {one} of the Phrygian race, who dared the same things that we {dared}; though not before I had compelled him[35] to disclose everything, and had learned what perfidious Troy designed. Everything had I {now} discovered, and I had nothing {further} to find out, and I might now have returned, with my praises going before me. Not content with that, I sought the tent of Rhesus, and in his own camp slew himself and his attendants. And thus, as a conqueror, and having gained my own desires, I returned in the captured chariot, resembling a joyous triumph. Deny me the arms of him whose horses the enemy had demanded as the price for {one} night's service; and let Ajax be {esteemed} your greater benefactor.

"Why should I make reference to the troops of Lycian Sarpedon,[36] mowed down by my sword? With much bloodshed I slew Coeranos, the son of Iphitus, and Alastor, and Chromius, and Alcander, and Halius, and Noemon, and Prytanis, and I put to death Thoon, with Chersidamas, and Charops, and Ennomos, impelled by his relentless fate; five of less renown fell by my hand beneath the city walls. I, too, fellow-citizens, have wounds, honourable in their place.[37] Believe not {his} crafty words; here! behold them." And {then}, with his hand, he pulls aside his garment, and, "this is the breast," says he, "that has been ever employed in your service."

"But the son of Telamon has spent none of his blood on his friends for so many years, and he has a body without a {single} wound.[38] But what signifies that, if he says that he bore arms for the Pelasgian fleet against both the Trojans and Jupiter himself? I confess it, he did bear them; nor is it any part of mine with malice to detract from the good deeds {of others;} but let him not alone lay claim to what belongs to all, and let him give to yourselves, as well, some of the honour. The descendant of Actor, safe under the appearance of Achilles, repelled the Trojans, with their defender, from the ships on the point of being burnt. He, too, unmindful of the king, and of the chiefs, and of myself, fancies that he alone dared to engage[39] with Hector in combat, being the ninth in that duty, and preferred by favour of the lot. But yet, most brave {chief}, what was the issue of thy combat? Hector came off, injured by no wound. Ah, wretched me! with how much grief am I compelled to recollect that time at which Achilles, the bulwark of the Greeks, was slain: nor tears, nor grief, nor fear, hindered me from carrying his body aloft from the ground; on these shoulders, I say, on these shoulders I bore the body of Achilles, and his arms together {with him}, which now, too, I am endeavouring to bear off. I have strength to suffice for such a weight, {and}, assuredly, I have a soul that will be sensible of your honours.

"Was then, forsooth! his azure mother {so} anxious in her son's behalf that the heavenly gifts, a work of so great ingenuity, a rough soldier, and one without any genius, should put on? For he will not understand the engravings on the shield; the ocean, and the earth, and the stars with the lofty heavens and the Pleiades, and the Hyades, and the Bear that avoids the sea, and the different cities, and the blazing sword of Orion; arms he insists on receiving, which he does not understand. What! and does he charge that I, avoiding the duties of this laborious war, came but late to the toil begun? and does he not perceive that {in this} he is defaming the brave Achilles? If he calls dissembling a crime, we have both of us dissembled. If delay {stands} for a fault, I was earlier than he. A fond wife detained me, a fond mother Achilles. The first part of our time was given to them, the rest to yourselves. I am not alarmed, if now I am unable to defend myself against this accusation, in common with so great a man. Yet he was found out by the dexterity of Ulysses, but not Ulysses {by that} of Ajax.

"And that we may not be surprised at his pouring out on me the reproaches of his silly tongue, against you, too, does he make objections worthy of shame. Is it base for me, with a false crime to have charged Palamedes, {and} honourable for you to have condemned him? But neither could {Palamedes}, the son of Nauplius, defend a crime so great, and so manifest; nor did you {only} hear the charges against him, {but} you witnessed them, and in the bribe {itself} the charge was established. Nor have I deserved to be accused, because Lemnos, {the isle} of Vulcan, {still} receives {Philoctetes}, the son of Poeas. {Greeks}, defend your own acts! for you consented to it. Nor yet shall I deny that I advised him to withdraw himself from the toils of the warfare and the voyage, and to try by rest to assuage his cruel pains. He consented, and {still} he lives. This advice was not only well-meant, but {it was} fortunate as well, when 'twas enough to be well-meant. Since our prophets demand him for the purpose of destroying Troy, entrust not that to me. The son of Telamon will be better to go, and by his eloquence will soften the hero, maddened by diseases and anger, or by some wile will skilfully bring him thence. Sooner will Simois flow backward, and Ida stand without foliage, and Achaia promise aid to Troy, than, my breast being inactive in your interest, the skill of stupid Ajax shall avail the Greeks.

"Though thou be, relentless Philoctetes, enraged against thy friends and the king, and myself, though thou curse and devote my head, everlastingly, and though thou wish to have me in thy anguish thrown in thy way perchance, and to shed my blood; and though if I meet thee, so thou wilt have the opportunity of meeting me, still will I attempt {thee, and} will endeavour to bring thee back with me. And, if Fortune favours me, I will as surely be the possessor of thy arrows, as I was the possessor of the Dardanian prophet[40] whom I took {prisoner; and so} I revealed the answers of the Deities and the fates of Troy; {and} as I carried off the hidden statue[41] of the Phrygian Minerva from the midst of the enemy. And does Ajax, {then}, compare himself with me? The Fates, in fact, would not allow Troy to be captured without that {statue}. Where is the valiant Ajax? where are the boastful words of that mighty man? Why art thou trembling here? Why dares Ulysses to go through the guards, and to entrust himself to the night, and, through fell swords, to enter not only the walls of Troy, but even its highest towers, and to tear the Goddess from her shrine, and, {thus} torn, to bear her off amid the enemy?

"Had I not done these things, in vain would the son of Telamon been bearing the seven hides of the bulls on his left arm. On that night was the victory over Troy gained by me; then did I conquer Pergamus, when I rendered it capable of being conquered. Forbear by thy looks,[42] and thy muttering, to show me the son of Tydeus; a part of the glory in these things is his own. Neither wast thou alone, when for the allied fleet thou didst grasp thy shield: a multitude was attending thee, {while} but one fell to me: who, did he not know that a fighting man is of less value than a wise one, and that the reward is not the due of the invincible right hand, would himself, too, have been suing for these {arms}; the more discreet Ajax would have been suing, and the fierce Eurypilus,[43] and the son of the famous Andremon;[44] no less, {too} would Idomeneus,[45] and Meriones[46] sprung from the same land, and the brother of the greater son of Atreus have sought them. But these, brave in action, (nor are they second to thee in war,) have {all} yielded to my wisdom. Thy right hand is of value in war, {but} thy temper is one that stands in need of my direction. Thou hast strength without intelligence; I have a care for the future. Thou art able to fight; with me, the son of Atreus chooses the {proper} time for fighting. Thou only art of service with thy body; I with my mind: and as much as he who guides the bark, is superior to the capacity of the rower, as much as the general is greater than the soldier, so much do I excel thee; and in my body there is an intellect that is superior to hands: in that {lies} all my vigour.

"But you, ye chieftains, give the reward to your watchful {servant;} and for the cares of so many years which I have passed in anxiety, grant this honour as a compensation for my services. Our toil is now at its close; I have removed the opposing Fates, and by rendering it capable of being taken, {in effect} I have taken the lofty Pergamus. Now, by our common hopes, and the walls of the Trojans doomed to fall, and by those Gods whom lately I took from the enemy, by anything that remains, through wisdom to be done; if, too, anything {remains} of bold enterprize, and to be recovered from a dangerous spot; if you think that anything is still wanting for the downfall of Troy; {then} remember me; or if you give not me the arms, concede them to this;" and {then} he discovers the fatal statue of Minerva.

The body of the chiefs is moved, and {then}, in fact appears what eloquence can do; and the fluent man receives the arms of a brave one. He, who so often has alone withstood both Hector, and the sword, and flames, and Jove {himself}, cannot {now} withstand his wrath alone, and grief conquers the man that is invincible. He seizes his sword, and he says:— "This, at least, is my own; or will Ulysses claim this, too, for himself. This must I use against myself; and {the blade}, which has often been wet with the blood of the Phrygians, will now be wet with the slaughter of its owner: that no one but Ajax {himself}, may be enabled to conquer Ajax."

{Thus} he said; and he plunged the fatal sword into his breast, then for the first time suffering a wound, where it lay exposed to the steel. Nor were his hands able to draw out the weapon there fixed: the blood itself forced it out. And the earth, made red by the blood, produced a purple flower from the green turf, {the same} which had formerly been produced from the Oebalian wound. Letters common to {that} youth and to the hero, were inscribed in the middle of the leaves; the latter {belonging to} the name,[47] the former to the lamentation.

The conqueror, Ulysses, set sail for the country of Hypsipyle,[48] and of the illustrious Thoas, and the regions infamous for the slaughter {there} of the husbands of old; that he might bring back the arrows, the weapons of the Tirynthian {hero}. After he had carried them back to the Greeks, their owner attending too, the concluding hand was put, at length, to this protracted war. Troy and Priam fell together; the wretched wife of Priam lost after every thing {else} her human form, and alarmed a foreign air[49] with her barkings. Where the long Hellespont is reduced into a narrow compass, Ilion was in flames; nor had the flames yet ceased; and the altar of Jove had drank up the scanty blood of the aged Priam. The priestess of Apollo[50] dragged by the hair, extends her unavailing hands towards the heavens. The victorious Greeks drag along the Dardanian matrons, embracing, while they may, the statues of their country's Gods, and clinging to the burning temples, an envied spoil. Astyanax[51] is hurled from those towers from which he was often wont, when shown by his mother, to behold his father, fighting for himself, and defending the kingdom of his ancestors.

And now Boreas bids them depart, and with a favourable breeze, the sails, as they wave, resound, {and} the sailors bid them take advantage of the winds. "Troy, farewell!" the Trojan women cry;— "We are torn away!" and they give kisses to the soil, and leave the smoking roofs of their country. The last that goes on board the fleet, a dreadful sight, is Hecuba, found amid the sepulchres of her children. Dulichian hands have dragged her away, while clinging to their tombs and giving kisses to their bones; yet the ashes of one has she taken out, and, {so} taken out, has carried with her in her bosom the ashes of Hector. On the tomb of Hector she leaves the grey hair of her head, an humble offering, her hair and her tears. There is opposite to Phrygia, where Troy stood, a land inhabited by the men of Bistonia. There, was the rich palace of Polymnestor, to whom thy father, Polydorus, entrusted thee, to be brought up privately, and removed thee {afar} from the Phrygian arms. A wise resolution; had he not added, {as well}, great riches, the reward of crime, the incentive of an avaricious disposition. When the fortunes of the Phrygians were ruined, the wicked king of the Phrygians took a sword, and plunged it in the throat of his fosterchild; and, as though the crime could be removed with the body, he hurled him lifeless from a rock into the waters below.

[Footnote 1: We are pleading.—Ver. 5. The skill of the Poet is perceptible in the abrupt commencement of the speech of the impetuous Ajax.]

[Footnote 2: Nor his.—Ver. 11. Ajax often uses the pronoun 'iste' as a term of reproach.]

[Footnote 3: Night alone.—Ver. 15. By this he means that the alleged exploits of Ulysses were altogether fictitious; or that they were done in the dark to conceal his fear.]

[Footnote 4: Took the city.—Ver. 23. Telamon, was the companion of Hercules when he sacked Troy, as a punishment for the perfidy of Laomedon.]

[Footnote 5: Sisyphus.—Ver. 26. This is intended as a reproachful hint against Ulysses, whose mother, Anticlea, was said to have been seduced by Sisyphus before her marriage to Laertes.]

[Footnote 6: Ajax is the third.—Ver. 28. That is the third, exclusive of Jupiter; for Ajax was the grandson of AEacus, and the great grandson of Jupiter.]

[Footnote 7: My cousin.—Ver. 31. 'Frater' here means, not 'brother,' but 'cousin,' as Peleus and Telamon, the fathers of Achilles and Ajax, were brothers.]

[Footnote 8: No informer.—Ver. 34. He alludes to the means which Ulysses adopted to avoid going to the Trojan war. Pretending to be seized with madness, he ploughed the sea-shore, and sowed it with salt. To ascertain the truth, Palamedes placed his infant son, Telemachus, before the plough; on which Ulysses turned on one side, to avoid hurting the child, which was considered a proof that his madness was not real.]

[Footnote 9: Son of Nauplius.—Ver. 39. Palamedes was the son of Nauplius, the king of Euboea, and a son of Neptune.]

[Footnote 10: The contrivance.—Ver. 38. Ulysses forged a letter from Priam, in which the king thanked Palamedes for his intended assistance to the Trojan cause, and begged to present him a sum of money. By bribing the servants of Palamedes, he caused a large quantity of gold to be buried in the ground, under his tent. He then caused the letter to be intercepted, and to be carried to Agamemnon. On the appearance of Palamedes to answer the charge, Ulysses appeared seemingly as his friend, and suggested, that if no gold should be found in his possession, he must be innocent. The gold, however, being found, Palamedes was stoned to death.]

[Footnote 11: Son of Poeas.—Ver. 45. Philoctetes was the possessor of the arrows of Hercules, without the presence of which Troy could not be taken. Accompanying the Greeks to the Trojan war, he was wounded in the foot by one of the arrows; and the smell arising from the wound was so offensive, that, by the advice of Ulysses, he was left behind, in the island of Lemnos, one of the Cyclades.]

[Footnote 12: Is being clothed.—Ver. 53. The Poet Attius, as quoted by Cicero, says that Philoctetes, while in Lemnos, made himself clothing out of the feathers of birds.]

[Footnote 13: Or by death.—Ver. 61. Exile in the case of Philoctetes; death, in that of Palamedes.]

[Footnote 14: Forsaking of Nestor.—Ver. 64. Nestor having been wounded by Paris, and being overtaken by Hector, was on the point of perishing, when Diomedes came to his rescue, Ulysses having taken to flight. See the Iliad, Book iii.]

[Footnote 15: And upbraided.—Ver. 69. He alludes to the words in the Iliad, which Homer puts in the mouth of Diomedes.]

[Footnote 16: And covered him.—Ver. 75. Ajax, at the request of Menelaues, protected Ulysses with his shield, when he was wounded.]

[Footnote 17: Fall to my lot.—Ver. 85. He alludes to the occasion when some of the bravest of the Greeks drew lots which should accept the challenge of Hector: the Greeks wishing, according to Homer, that the lot might fall to Ajax Telamon, Ajax Oileus, or Agamemnon.]

[Footnote 18: Rhesus.—Ver. 98. He was slain by Ulysses and Diomedes on the night on which he arrived, Iliad, Book x.]

[Footnote 19: Dolon.—Ver. 98. Being sent out by Hector to spy, he was intercepted by Ulysses and Diomedes, and slain at Troy. Iliad, Book x.]

[Footnote 20: Helenus.—Ver. 99. Being skilled in prophesy, after he was taken prisoner by Diomedes and Ulysses, his life was saved; and marrying Andromache, after the death of Pyrrhus, he succeeded to the throne of part of the kingdom of Chaonia.]

[Footnote 21: Dulichian.—Ver. 107. Dulichium was an island of the Ionian Sea, near Ithaca, and part of the realms of Ulysses.]

[Footnote 22: The spear.—Ver. 109. The spear of Achilles had been cut from the wood on Mount Pelion, and given by the Centaur Chiron to his father Peleus.]

[Footnote 23: He through whom.—Ver. 134. Through whom Achilles had been discovered, concealed among the daughters of Lycomedes, king of Seyros.]

[Footnote 24: Ever condemned.—Ver. 145. He alludes to the joint crime of Peleus the uncle, and Telamon, the father of Ajax, who were banished for the murder of their brother Phocus.]

[Footnote 25: Through the mother.—Ver. 146. Anticlea, the mother of Ulysses, was the daughter of Autolycus, of whom Mercury was the father by Chione, the daughter of Daedalion.]

[Footnote 26: Phthia.—Ver. 156. Phthia was the city of Thessaly, where Peleus, the father of Achilles, was residing; while Pyrrhus, his son, was living with his mother Deidamia, in the isle of Scyros, one of the Cyclades.]

[Footnote 27: Teucer.—Ver. 157. Teucer was the cousin of Achilles, being the son of Telamon, and the half-brother of Ajax; Hesione being the mother of Teucer, while Ajax was the son of Euboea.]

[Footnote 28: Chrysa.—Ver. 174. Chrysa and Cylla were cities in the vicinity of Troy. This Scyros was, probably, not the island of that name, but some place near Troy.]

[Footnote 29: Lyrnessian.—Ver. 176. This was a city of the Troad, on the taking of which by Achilles, Hippodamia, or Briseis, the daughter of Bryses, was made captive by Achilles.]

[Footnote 30: Grief of one.—Ver. 181. He alludes to the misfortune of Menelaues in losing his wife, if, indeed, it could be deemed a misfortune.]

[Footnote 31: Antenor.—Ver. 201. Antenor, who was related to Priam, always advocated peace with the Greeks; for which reason, according to Livy, the Greeks did not treat him as an enemy.]

[Footnote 32: Surround the trenches.—Ver. 212. He probably alludes to the trenches thrown up before the ships of the Greeks, and defended by embankments, which were afterwards destroyed by Neptune.]

[Footnote 33: I am sent.—Ver. 215. As on the occasion when he was sent to restore Chryseis to her father Chryses, the priest of Apollo, that the pestilence might be stayed, which had been sent by the offended God.]

[Footnote 34: Thersites.—Ver. 233. He was the most deformed, cowardly, and impudent of the Greeks, who, always abusing his betters, was beaten by Ulysses, and was at last killed by Achilles with a blow of his fist.]

[Footnote 35: Compelled him.—Ver. 245. When he was taken prisoner by them, Ulysses and Diomedes compelled Dolon to disclose what was going on in the Trojan camp, and learned from him the recent arrival of Rhesus, the son of either Mars or Strymon, and the king of Thrace.]

[Footnote 36: Sarpedon.—Ver. 255. He was the son of Jupiter and Europa, and was king of Lycia. Aiding the Trojans, he was slain by Patroclus.]

[Footnote 37: In their place.—Ver. 263. That is, inflicted on the breast, and not on the back.]

[Footnote 38: A single wound.—Ver. 267. He alludes to his being invulnerable, from having been wrapped in the lion's skin of Hercules.]

[Footnote 39: Dared to engage.—Ver. 275. Hector and Ajax Telamon meeting in single combat, neither was the conqueror; but on parting they exchanged gifts, which were fatal to them both. Hector was dragged round the walls of Troy by the belt which he received from Ajax; while the latter committed suicide with the sword which was given to him by Hector.]

[Footnote 40: Dardanian prophet.—Ver. 335. Helenus, the son of Priam.]

[Footnote 41: The hidden statue.—Ver. 337. This was the Palladium, or statue of Minerva, which was destined to be the guardian of the safety of Troy, so long as it was in the possession of the Trojans.]

[Footnote 42: By thy looks.—Ver. 350. We are to suppose, that here Ajax is nodding at, or pointing towards Diomedes, as having helped Ulysses on all the occasions which he names, he having been his constant companion in his exploits.]

[Footnote 43: Eurypilus.—Ver. 357. He was the son of Evaemon, and came with forty ships to aid the Greeks. He was from Ormenius, a city of Thessaly.]

[Footnote 44: Andremon.—Ver. 357. Thoas, the son of Andremon, was the leader of the AEtolians; he came with forty ships to the Trojan war.]

[Footnote 45: Idomeneus.—Ver. 358. He was the son of Deucalion, king of Crete. After the siege of Troy, he settled at Salentinum, a promontory of Calabria, in Italy.]

[Footnote 46: Meriones.—Ver. 359. He was the nephew and charioteer of Idomeneus.]

[Footnote 47: To the name.—Ver. 398. See note to Book x., line 207.]

[Footnote 48: Country of Hypsipyle.—Ver. 399. The island of Lemnos is here called the country of Hypsipyle, who saved the life of her father Thoas, when the other women of the island slew the males.]

[Footnote 49: A foreign air.—Ver. 406. Namely, Thrace, which was far away from her native country.]

[Footnote 50: Priestess of Apollo.—Ver. 410. Cassandra was the priestess of Apollo. Being ravished by Ajax Oileus, she became the captive of Agamemnon, and was slain by Clytemnestra.]

[Footnote 51: Astyanax.—Ver. 415. He was the only child of Hector and Andromache. Ulysses threw him from the top of a high tower, that none of the royal blood might survive.]


It may with justice be said, that in the speeches of Ajax Telamon, and Ulysses, here given, the Poet has presented us with a masterpiece of genius; both in the lively colours in which he has described the two rivals, and the ingenious manner in which he has throughout sustained the contrast between their respective characters.

The ancient writers are not agreed upon the question, who was the mother of Ajax Telamon; Dares says that it was Hesione; while Apollodorus, Plutarch, Tzetzes and others, allege that it was Periboea, the daughter of Alcathoues, the son of Pelops. Pindar and Apollodorus say, that Hercules, on going to visit his friend Telamon, prayed to Jupiter that Telamon might have a son, whose skin should be as impenetrable as that of the Nemaean lion, which he then wore. As he prayed, he espied an eagle; upon which, he informed his friend that a favourable event awaited his prayer, and desired him to call his son after the name of an eagle, which in the Greek is aietos. The Scholiast on Sophocles, Suidas and Tzetzes, say further, that when Hercules returned to see Telamon, after the birth of Ajax, he covered him with the lion's skin, and that by this means Ajax became invulnerable except in that spot of his body, which was beneath the hole which the arrow of Hercules had made in the skin of the beast.

Dictys, Suidas, and Cedrenus affirm, that the dispute of Ulysses and Ajax Telamon was about the Palladium, to which each of them laid claim. They add, that the Grecian nobles, having adjudged it to Ulysses, Ajax threatened to slay them, and was found dead in his tent the next morning; but it is more generally stated to the effect here related by Ovid, that he killed himself, because he could not obtain the armour of Achilles. Filled with grief and anger combined, he became distracted; and after falling on some flocks, which in his madness he took for enemies, he at last stabbed himself with the sword which he had received from Hector. This account has been followed by Euripides, in his tragedy on the subject of the death of Ajax; and Homer seems to allude to this story, when he makes Ulysses say, that on his descent to the Infernal Regions, the shades of all the Grecian heroes immediately met him, except that of Ajax, whose resentment at their former dispute about the armour of Achilles was still so warm, that he would not come near him. The Scholiast on Homer, and Eustathius, say that Agamemnon being much embarrassed how to behave in a dispute which might have proved fatal to the Grecian cause, ordered the Trojan prisoners to come before the council to give their opinion, as to which of them had done the most mischief; and that they answered in favour of Ulysses. The Scholiast on Aristophanes also adds, that Agamemnon, not satisfied with this enquiry, sent out spies to know what was the opinion of the Trojans on the relative merits of Ulysses and Ajax; and that upon their report, he decided in favour of Ulysses.

According to Pliny and Pausanias, Ajax was buried near the promontory of Sigaeum, where a tomb was erected for him; though other writers, on the authority of Dictys, place his tomb on the promontory of Rhoetaeum. Horace speaks of him as being denied the honour of a funeral; but he evidently alludes to a passage in the tragedy of Sophocles, where the poet introduces Agamemnon as obstinately refusing to allow him burial, till he is softened by the entreaties of Teucer.

It is probable that Homer knew nothing of the story here mentioned relative to the concealment of Achilles, disguised in female apparel, by Thetis, in the court of Lycomedes, her brother; for speaking of the manner in which Achilles engaged in the war, he says that Nestor and Ulysses went to visit Peleus and Menoetius, and easily prevailed with them that Achilles and Patroclus should accompany them to the war. It was, however, at the court of Lycomedes that Achilles fell in love with and married Deidamia, by whom he had Pyrrhus, or Neoptolemus, who was present at the taking of Troy, at a very early age.

The story of Polydorus is related in the third Book of the AEneid, and is also told by Hyginus, with some variations. He says that Polydorus was sent by Priam to Polymnestor, king of Thrace, while he was yet in his cradle; and that Ilione, the daughter of Priam, distrusting the cruelty and avarice of Polymnestor, who was her husband, educated the child as her own son, and made their own son Deiphylus pass for Polydorus, the two infants being of the same age. He also says that the Greeks, after the taking of Troy, offered Electra to Polymnestor in marriage, on condition that he should divorce Ilione, and slay Polydorus, and that Polymnestor, having acceded to their proposal, unconsciously killed his own son Deiphylus. Polydorus going to consult the oracle concerning his future fortune, was told, that his father was dead, and his native city reduced to ashes; on which he imagined that the oracle had deceived him; but returning to Thrace, his sister informed him of the secret, on which he deprived Polymnestor of his sight.


In returning from Troy, the Greeks are stopped in Thrace by the shade of Achilles, who requests that Polyxena shall be sacrificed to his manes. While Hecuba is fetching water with which to bathe the body of her daughter, she espies the corpse of her son Polydorus. In her exasperations she repairs to the court of Polymnestor; and having torn out his eyes, is transformed into a bitch. Memnon, who has been slain by Achilles, is honoured with a magnificent funeral, and, at the prayer of Aurora, his ashes are transformed by Jupiter into birds, since called Memnonides.

On the Thracian shore the son of Atreus had moored his fleet, until the sea was calm, {and} until the wind was more propitious. Here, on a sudden, Achilles, as great as he was wont to be when alive, rises from the ground, bursting far and wide, and, like to one threatening, revives the countenance of that time when he fiercely attacked Agamemnon with his lawless sword. "And are you departing, unmindful of me, ye Greeks?" he says; "and is all grateful remembrance of my valour buried together with me? Do not so. And that my sepulchre may not be without honour, let Polyxena slain appease the ghost of Achilles." {Thus} he said; and his companions obeying the implacable shade, the noble and unfortunate maid, and more than {an ordinary} woman, torn from the bosom of her mother, which she now cherished almost alone, was led to the tomb, and became a sacrifice at his ruthless pile.

She, mindful of herself, after she was brought to the cruel altar, and had perceived that the savage rites were preparing for her; and when she saw Neoptolemus standing {by}, and wielding his sword, and fixing his eyes upon her countenance, said— "Quickly make use of this noble blood: {in me} there is no resistance: and do thou bury thy weapons either in my throat or in my breast!" and, at the same time she laid bare her throat and her breast; "should I, Polyxena, forsooth,[52] either endure to be the slave of any person, or will any sacred Deity be appeased by such a sacrifice. I only wish that my death could be concealed from my mother. My mother is the impediment; and she lessens my joys at death. Yet it is not my death, but her own life, that should be lamented by her. Only, stand ye off, lest I should go to the Stygian shades not a free woman: if {in this} I demand what is just; and withhold the hands of males from the contact of a virgin. My blood will be the more acceptable to him, whoever it is that you are preparing to appease by my slaughter. Yet, if the last prayers of my lips move any of you,—'tis the daughter of king Priam, {and} not a captive that entreats—return my body unconsumed to my mother, and let her not purchase for me with gold, but with tears, the sad privilege of a sepulchre. When {in former times} she could, then used she to purchase with gold."

{Thus} she said; but the people did not restrain those tears which she restrained. Even the priest himself, weeping and reluctant, divided her presented breast with the piercing steel. She, sinking to the earth on her failing knees, maintained an undaunted countenance to the last moment of her life. Even then was it her care, when she fell, to cover the features that ought to be concealed, and to preserve the honour of her chaste modesty. The Trojan matrons received her, and reckoned the children of Priam whom they had had to deplore; and how much blood one house had expended. And they lament thee, Oh virgin! and thee, Oh thou! so lately called a royal wife {and} a royal mother, {once} the resemblance of flourishing Asia, but now a worthless prey amid the plunder {of Troy}; which the conquering Ulysses would have declined as his, but that thou hadst brought Hector forth. {And} scarce did Hector find an owner for his mother. She, embracing the body bereft of a soul so brave, gave to that as well, those tears which so oft she had given for her country, her children, and her husband; {and} her tears she poured in his wounds. And she impressed kisses with her lips, and beat her breast {now} accustomed to it; and trailing her grey hairs in the clotted blood, many things indeed did she say, but these as well, as she tore her breast:

"My daughter, the last affliction (for what now remains?) to thy mother: my daughter, thou liest prostrate, and I behold thy wound {as} my own wounds. Lo! lest I should have lost any one of my children without bloodshed, thou, too, dost receive thy wound. Still, because {thou wast} a woman, I supposed thee safe from the sword; and {yet}, a woman, thou hast fallen by the sword. The same Achilles, the ruin of Troy, and the bereaver of myself, the same has destroyed thus many of thy brothers, {and} thyself. But, after he had fallen by the arrows of Paris and of Phoebus, 'Now, at least,' I said, 'Achilles is no {longer} to be dreaded;' and yet even now, was he to be dreaded by me. The very ashes of him, as he lies buried, rage against this family; and {even} in the tomb have we found him an enemy. For the descendant of AEacus have I been {thus} prolific. Great Ilion lies prostrate, and the public calamity is completed by a dreadful catastrophe; if indeed, it is completed. Pergamus alone remains for me: and my sorrow is still in its career. So lately the greatest woman in the world, powerful in so many sons-in-law, and children[53], and daughters-in-law, and in my husband, now I am dragged into exile, destitute, {and} torn away from the tombs of my kindred, as a present to Penelope. She, pointing me out to the matrons of Ithaca, as I tease my allotted task, will say, 'This is that famous mother of Hector; this is the wife of Priam.' And, now thou, who after the loss of so many {children}, alone didst alleviate the sorrows of thy mother, hast made the atonement at the tomb of the enemy. Atoning sacrifices for an enemy have I brought forth. For what purpose, lasting like iron, am I reserved? and why do I linger {here}? To what end dost thou, pernicious age, detain me? Why, ye cruel Deities, unless to the end that I may see fresh deaths, do ye reprieve an aged woman of years so prolonged? Who could have supposed, that after the fall of Troy, Priam could have been pronounced happy? Blessed in his death, he has not beheld thee, my daughter, {thus} cut off; and at the same moment, he lost his life and his kingdom.

"But, I suppose, thou, a maiden of royal birth, wilt be honoured with funeral rites, and thy body will be deposited in the tombs of thy ancestors. This is not the fortune of thy house; tears and a handful of foreign sand will be thy lot, the {only} gifts of a mother. We have lost all; a child most dear to his mother, now alone remains as a reason for me to endure to live yet for a short time, once the youngest of {all} my male issue, Polydorus, entrusted on these coasts to the Ismarian king. Why, in the mean time, am I delaying to bathe her cruel wounds with the stream, her features, too, besmeared with dreadful blood?"

{Thus} she spoke; and with aged step she proceeded towards the shore, tearing her grey locks. "Give me an urn, ye Trojan women," the unhappy {mother} had just said, in order that she might take up the flowing waters, {when} she beheld[54] the body of Polydorus thrown up on the shore, and the great wounds made by the Thracian weapons. The Trojan women cried out aloud; with grief she was struck dumb; and very grief consumed both her voice and the tears that arose within; and much resembling a hard rock she became benumbed. And at one moment she fixed her eyes on the ground before her; {and} sometimes she raised her haggard features towards the skies; {and} now she viewed the features, now the wounds of her son, as he lay; the wounds especially; and she armed and prepared herself for vengeance by rage. Soon as she was inflamed by it, as though she {still} remained a queen, she determined to be revenged, and was wholly {employed} in {devising} a {fitting} form of punishment. And as the lioness rages when bereft of her sucking whelp, and having found the tracks of his feet, follows the enemy that she sees not; so Hecuba, after she had mingled rage with mourning, not forgetful of her spirit, {but} forgetful of her years, went to Polymnestor, the contriver of this dreadful murder, and demanded an interview; for that it was her wish to show him a concealed treasure left for him to give to her son.

The Odrysian {king} believes her, and, inured to the love of gain, comes to a secret spot. Then with soothing lips, he craftily says, "Away with delays, Hecuba, {and} give the present to thy son; all that thou givest, and what thou hast already given, I swear by the Gods above, shall be his." Sternly she eyes him as he speaks, and falsely swears; and she boils with heaving rage; and so flies on him, seized by a throng of the captive matrons, and thrusts her fingers into his perfidious eyes; and of their sight she despoils his cheeks, and plunges her hands {into the sockets}, ('tis rage that makes her strong); and, defiled with his guilty blood, she tears not his eyes, for they are not left, {but} the places for his eyes.

Provoked by the death of their king, the Thracian people begin to attack the Trojan {matron} with the hurling of darts and of stones. But she attacks the stones thrown at her with a hoarse noise, and with bites; and attempting to speak, her mouth just ready for the words, she barks aloud. The place {still} exists, and derives its name[55] from the circumstance; and long remembering her ancient misfortunes, even then did she howl dismally through the Sithonian plains. Her {sad} fortune moved both her own Trojans, and her Pelasgian foes, and all the Gods as well; so much so, that even the wife and sister of Jove herself denied that Hecuba had deserved that fate.

Although she has favoured those same arms, there is not leisure for Aurora to be moved by the calamities and the fall of Troy. A nearer care and grief at home for her lost Memnon is afflicting her. Him his rosy-coloured mother saw perish by the spear of Achilles on the Phrygian plains. {This} she saw; and that colour with which the hours of the morning grow ruddy, turned pale, and the aether lay hid in clouds. But the parent could not endure to behold his limbs laid on the closing flames. But with loose hair, just as she was, she disdained not to fall down at the knees of great Jove, and to add these words to her tears: "Inferior to all {the Goddesses} which the golden aether does sustain, (for throughout all the world are my temples the fewest), still, a Goddess, I am come; not that thou shouldst grant me temples and days of sacrifice, and altars to be heated with fires. But if thou considerest how much I, a female, perform for thee, at the time when, with the early dawn, I keep the confines of the night, thou wouldst think that some reward ought to be given to me. But that is not my care, nor is such now the condition of Aurora such that she should demand the honours deserved by her. Bereft of my Memnon am I come; {of him} who, in vain, wielded valiant arms for his uncle, and who in his early years ('twas thus ye willed it,) was slain by the brave Achilles. Give him, I pray, supreme ruler of the Gods, some honour, as a solace for his death, and ease the wounds of a mother."

Jove nods his assent; when {suddenly} the lofty pile of Memnon sinks with its towering fires, and volumes of black smoke darken the {light of} day. Just as when the rivers exhale the rising fogs, and the sun is not admitted below them. The black embers fly, and rolling into one body, they thicken, and take a form, and assume heat and life from the flames. Their own lightness gives them wings; and first, like birds, {and} then real birds, they flutter with their wings. At once innumerable sisters are fluttering, whose natal origin is the same. And thrice do they go around the pile, and thrice does their clamour rise in concert into the air. In the fourth flight they separate their company. Then two fierce tribes wage war from opposite sides, and with their beaks and crooked claws expend their rage, and weary their wings and opposing breasts; and down their kindred bodies fall, a sacrifice to the entombed ashes, and they remember that from a great man they have received their birth. Their progenitor gives a name to these birds so suddenly formed, called Memnonides after him; when the Sun has run through the twelve signs {of the Zodiac}, they fight, doomed to perish in battle, in honour of their parent.[56]

To others, therefore, it seemed a sad thing, that the daughter of Dymas was {now} barking; {but} Aurora was intent on her own sorrows; and even now she sheds the tears of affection, and sprinkles them in dew over all the world.

[Footnote 52: Forsooth.—460. Clarke translates 'scilicet,' 'I warrant ye.']

[Footnote 53: And children.—Ver. 509. Hyginus names fifty-four children of Priam, of whom seventeen were by Hecuba.]

[Footnote 54: She beheld.—Ver. 536. Euripides represents, in his tragedy of Hecuba, that a female servant, sent by Hecuba to bring water from the sea shore for the purpose of washing the body of Polyxena, was the first to see the corpse of Polydorus.]

[Footnote 55: Derives its name.—Ver. 569. Strabo places it near Sestos, in the Thracian Chersonesus, and calls it kunos sema, 'The bitches' tomb.']

[Footnote 56: Of their parent.—Ver. 619. He perhaps alludes to the fights of the Gladiators, on the occasion of the funerals of the Roman patricians. 'Parentali periturae Marte,' is rendered by Clarke, 'to fall in the fight of parentation.']


The particulars which Ovid here gives of the misfortunes that befell the family of Priam, with the exception of a few circumstances, agree perfectly with the narratives of the ancient historians.

According to Dictys, Philostratus, and Hyginus, after Achilles was slain by the treachery of Paris, on the eve of his marriage with Polyxena, she became inconsolable at his death, and returning to the Grecian camp, she was kindly received by Agamemnon; but being unable to get the better of her despair, she stole out of the camp at night, and stabbed herself at the tomb of Achilles. Philostratus adds, that the ghost of Achilles appeared to Apollonius Tyanaeus, the hero of his story, and gave him permission to ask him any questions he pleased, assuring him, that he would give him full information on the subject of them. Among other things, Apollonius desired to know if it was the truth that the Greeks had sacrificed Polyxena on his tomb; to which the ghost replied, that her grief made her take the resolution not to survive her intended husband, and that she had killed herself.

Other writers, agreeing with Ovid as to the manner of her death, tell us that it was Pyrrhus who sacrificed Polyxena to his father's shade, to revenge his death, of which, though innocently, she had been the cause. Pausanias, who says that this was the general opinion, avers, on what ground it is difficult to conceive, that Homer designedly omitted this fact, because it was so dishonourable to the Greeks; and in his description of the paintings at Delphi, by Polygnotus, of the destruction of Troy, he says that Polyxena was there represented as being led out to the tomb of Achilles, where she was sacrificed by the Greeks. He also says, that he had seen her story painted in the same manner at Pergamus, Athens, and other places. Many of the poets, and Virgil in the number, affirm that Polyxena was sacrificed in Phrygia, near Troy, on the tomb of Achilles, he having desired it at his death; while Euripides says that it was in the Thracian Chersonesus, on a cenotaph, which was erected there in honour of Achilles: and that his ghost appearing, Calchas was consulted, who answered, that it was necessary to sacrifice Polyxena, which was accordingly done by Pyrrhus.

The ancient writers are divided as to the descent of Hecuba. Homer, who has been followed by his Scholiast, and by Ovid and Suidas, says that she was the daughter of Dymas, King of Phrygia. Euripides says that she was the daughter of Cisscus, and with him Virgil and Servius agree. Apollodorus, again, makes her to be descended from Sangar and Merope. In the distribution of spoil after the siege of Troy, Hecuba fell to the share of Ulysses, and became his slave; but died soon after, in Thrace. Plautus and Servius allege that the Greeks themselves circulated the story of her transformation into a bitch, because she was perpetually railing at them, to provoke them to put her to death, rather than condemn her to pass her life as a slave. According to Strabo and Pomponius Mela, in their time, the place of her burial was still to be seen in Thrace. Euripides, in his Hecuba, has not followed this tradition, but represents her as complaining that the Greeks had chained her to the door of Agamemnon like a dog. Perhaps she became the slave of Agamemnon after Ulysses had left the army, on his return to Ithaca; and it is possible that the story of her transformation may have been solely founded on this tradition. She bore to Priam ten sons and seven daughters, and survived them all except Helenus; most of her sons having fallen by the hand of Achilles.

Many ancient writers, with whom Ovid here agrees, affirm that Memnon was the son of Tithonus, the brother of Priam, and Aurora, or Eos, the Goddess of the morn. They also say that he came to assist the Trojans with ten thousand Persians, and as many AEthiopians. Diodorus Siculus asserts that Memnon was said to have been the son of Aurora, because he left Phrygia, and went to settle in the East. It is not clear in what country he fixed his residence. Some say that it was at Susa, in Persia; others that it was in Egypt, or in AEthiopia, which perhaps amounts to the same, as AEthiopia was not in general distinguished from the Higher or Upper Egypt. Marsham is of opinion that Memnon was the same with Amenophis, one of the kings of Egypt: while Le Clerc considers him to have been the same person as Ham, the son of Noah; and Vossius identifies him with Boalcis, a God of the Syrians. It seems probable that he was an Egyptian, who had perhaps formed an alliance with the reigning family of Troy.

FABLES V. AND VI. [XIII.623-718]

After the taking of Troy, AEneas escapes with his father and his son, and goes to Delos. Anius, the priest of Apollo, recounts to him how his daughters have been transformed into doves, and at parting they exchange presents. The Poet here introduces the story of the daughters of Orion, who, having sacrificed their lives for the safety of Thebes, when ravaged by a plague, two young men arise out of their ashes.

But yet the Fates do not allow the hope of Troy to be ruined even with its walls. The Cytherean hero bears on his shoulders the sacred relics and his father, another sacred relic, a venerable burden. In his affection, out of wealth so great, he selects that prize, and his own Ascanius, and with his flying fleet is borne through the seas from Antandros,[57] and leaves the accursed thresholds of the Thracians, and the earth streaming with the blood of Polydorus; and, with good winds and favouring tide, he enters the city of Apollo, his companions attending him.

Anius, by whom, as king, men were, {and} by whom, as priest, Phoebus was duly provided for, received him both into his temple and his house, and showed him the city and the dedicated temples, and the two trunks of trees once grasped[58] by Latona in her labour. Frankincense being given to the flames, and wine poured forth on the frankincense, and the entrails of slain oxen[59] being duly burnt, they repair to the royal palace, and reclining on lofty couches, with flowing wine, they take the gifts of Ceres. Then the pious Anchises {says}, "O chosen priest of Phoebus, am I deceived? or didst thou not have a son, also, when first I beheld these walls, and twice two daughters, so far as I remember?" To him Anius replies, shaking his temples wreathed with snow-white fillets, and says, "Thou art not mistaken, greatest hero; thou didst see me the parent of five children, whom now (so great a vicissitude of fortune affects mankind) thou seest almost bereft {of all}. For what assistance is my absent son to me, whom Andros, a land {so} called after his name, possesses, holding that place and kingdom on behalf of his father?

"The Delian {God} granted him {the art of} augury; to my female progeny Liber gave other gifts, exceeding {both} wishes and belief. For, at the touch of my daughters, all things were transformed into corn, and the stream of wine, and the berry of Minerva; and in these were there rich advantages. When the son of Atreus, the destroyer of Troy, learned this (that thou mayst not suppose that we, too, did not in some degree feel your storms) using the force of arms, he dragged them reluctantly from the bosom of their father, and commanded them to feed, with their heavenly gifts, the Argive fleet. Whither each of them could, they made their escape. Euboea was sought by two; and by as many of my daughters, was Andros, their brother's {island}, sought. The forces came, and threatened war if they were not given up. Natural affection, subdued by fear, surrendered to punishment those kindred breasts; and, that thou mayst be able to forgive a timid brother, there was no AEneas, no Hector to defend Andros, through whom you {Trojans} held out to the tenth year. And now chains were being provided for their captive arms. Lifting up towards heaven their arms still free, they said, 'Father Bacchus, give us thy aid!' and the author of their gift did give them aid; if destroying them, in a wondrous manner, be called giving aid. By what means they lost their shape, neither could I learn, nor can I now tell. The sum of their calamity is known {to me}: they assumed wings, and were changed into birds of thy consort,[60] the snow-white doves."

With such and other discourse, after they have passed the {time of} feasting, the table being removed, they seek sleep. And they rise with the day, and repair to the oracle of Phoebus, who bids them seek the ancient mother and the kindred shores. The king attends, and presents them with gifts when about to depart; a sceptre to Anchises, a scarf and a quiver to his grandson, {and} a goblet to AEneas, which formerly Therses, his Ismenian guest, had sent him from the Aonian shores; this Therses had sent to him, {but} the Mylean Alcon had made it, and had carved it with this long device:

There was a city, and you might point out {its} seven gates: these were in place of[61] a name, and showed what {city} it was. Before the city was a funeral, and tombs, and fires, and funeral piles; and matrons, with hair dishevelled and naked breasts, expressed their grief; the Nymphs, too, seem to be weeping, and to mourn their springs dried up. Without foliage the bared tree runs straight up; the goats are gnawing the dried stones. Lo! he represents the daughters of Orion in the middle of Thebes; the one, as presenting her breast, more than woman's, with her bared throat; the other, thrusting a sword in her valorous wounds, as dying for her people, and as being borne, with an honoured funeral, through the city, and as being burnt in a conspicuous part {of it}; {and} then from the virgin embers, lest the race should fail, twin youths arising, whom Fame calls 'Coronae,'[62] and for their mothers' ashes leading the {funeral} procession.

Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9     Next Part
Home - Random Browse