« السابقةمتابعة »
Hath Yudhi-sthira vanquished self, to melt
But the King yet spake :
Straight as he spake, brightly great Indra smiled;
Hear thou my word! Because thou didst not mount
ARNOLD: Indian Idylls. THE ILIAD.
'HE Iliad, or story of the fall of Ilium (Troy), is sup
posed to have been written by Homer, about the tenth century B. C. The legendary history of Homer represents him as a schoolmaster and poet of Smyrna, who while visiting in Ithaca became blind, and afterwards spent his life travelling from place to place reciting his poems, until he died in Ios. Seven cities, Smyrna, Chios, Colophon, Ithaca, Pylos, Argos, and Athens, claimed to be his birthplace.
In 1795, Wolf, a German scholar, published his “ Prolegomena,” which set forth his theory that Homer was a fictitious character, and that the Iliad was made up of originally unconnected poems, collected and combined by Pisistratus.
Though for a time the Wolfian theory had many advocates, it is now generally conceded that although the stories of the fall of Troy were current long before Homer, they were collected and recast into one poem by some great poet. That the Iliad is the work of one man is clearly shown by its unity, its sustained simplicity of style, and the centralization of interest in the character of Achilles.
The destruction of Troy, for a time regarded as a poetic fiction, is now believed by many scholars to be an actual historical event which took place about the time of the Æolian migration.
The whole story of the fall of Troy is not related in the Iliad, the poem opening nine years after the beginning of the war, and closing with the death of Hector.
The Iliad is divided into twenty-four books, and contains nineteen thousand four hundred and sixty-five lines.
As a work of art the Iliad has never been excelled ; moreover, it possesses what all works of art do not, — "the
touches of things human” that make it ours, although the centuries lie between us and its unknown author, who told his stirring story in such swift-moving verses, with such touches of pathos and humor, and with such evident joy of living. Another evidence of the perfection of Homer's art is that while his heroes are perfect types of Greeks and Trojans, they are also typical men, and for that reason, still keep their hold upon us.
It is this human interest, simplicity of style, and grandeur of treatment that have rendered Homer immortal and his work imperishable.
BIBLIOGRAPHY AND CRITICISM, THE ILIAD. M. Arnold's Essay on Homer, 1876, pp. 284-425; H. Bonitz's Origin of the Homeric Poems, tr. 1880; R. C. Jebb's Introduction to Homer, 1887; F. B. Jevons's History of Greek Literature, 1886, pp. 7-17; A. Lang's Homer and the Epic, 1893 ; W. Leaf's Companion to the Iliad for English Readers, 1892 ; J. A. Symonds's Studies in Greek Poets, ed. 3, 1893.
STANDARD ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS, The ILIAD. The Iliad, Tr. into English blank verse by W. C. Bryant, 2 vols., 1871 (Primitive in spirit, like Homer. Union of literalness with simplicity); The Iliad, Tr. according to the Greek with introduction and notes by George Chapman (1615), Ed. 2, 2 vols., 1874 (Written in verse. Pope says a daring and fiery spirit animates this translation, something like that in which one might imagine Homer would have written before he came to years of discretion); The Iliad, Tr. by William Cowper (Very literal and inattentive to melody, but has more of simple majesty and manner of Homer than Pope) ; The Iliad, rendered into English blank verse by the Earl of Derby, 2 vols., 1864; The Iliad, Tr. by Alexander Pope, with notes by the Rev. T. W. A. Buckley, n. d. (Written in couplets. Highly ornamented paraphrase).
THE STORY OF THE ILIAD.
For nine years a fleet of one thousand one hundred and eighty-six ships and an army of more than one hundred thousand Greeks, under the command of Agamemnon, lay before King Priam's city of Troy to avenge the wrongs of Menelaus, King of Sparta, and to reclaim Helen, his wife, who had been carried away by Priam's son Paris, at the instigation of Venus.
Though they had not succeeded in taking Troy, the Greeks had conquered many of the surrounding cities. From one of these, Agamemnon had taken as his share of the booty Chryseis, the beautiful daughter of the priest Chryses; and when her father had come to ransom her, he had been insulted and driven away by the king. Chryses had prayed to Apollo for revenge, and the god had sent upon the Greeks a pestilence which was slaying so many thousands that a meeting was called to consult upon what to do to check the plague and conciliate the god.
Calchas the seer had declared that the plague was sent because of the detention of Chryseis, and Agamemnon, though indignant with the priest, announced that he would send her back to save his army from destruction.
“ Note, however,” said he, “ that I have now given up my booty. See that I am recompensed for what I lose.”
Then rose the leader of the Myrmidons, swift-footed Achilles, in his wrath, and denounced Agamemnon for his greediness.
“Thou hast ever had thy share and more of all the booty, and thou knowest well that there is now no common store from which to give thee spoil. But wait until Troy town is sacked, and we will gladly give thee three and fourfold thy recompense."
The angry Agamemnon declared that if he were not given the worth of what he had lost he would seize the maidens of Ajax and Ulysses, or Achilles' maid, Briseis.
Achilles was beside himself with rage. He had not come to Troy to contribute to Agamemnon's glory. He and his followers had long borne the brunt of battle only to see the largest share of booty given to Agamemnon, who lay idle in his ships. Sooner than endure longer such indignity he would return home to Phthia.
"Go!" replied Agamemnon. “I detest thee and thy ways. Go back over the sea and rule over thy Myrmidons. But since Phæbus has taken away my maid, I will carry off thy prize, thy rosy-cheeked Briseis, that thou may'st learn that I am indeed king.”
Warned by Pallas Athene, Achilles took his hand from his sword hilt, and contented himself with telling Agamemnon that he would see the day when he would fret to think he had driven Achilles from the Grecian ranks.
Though the persuasive orator, Nestor, endeavored to make peace between the chiefs, Agamemnon could not be softened. As soon as the black ship bearing Chryseis set sail, he sent his unwilling men to where Achilles sat by his tent, beside the barren deep, to take the fair Briseis, whom Achilles ordered to be led forth to them. Then the long days dragged by in the tent where the chief sat eating his heart out in idleness, while his men engaged in athletic sports, and the rest of the Greeks fought before Troy.
Both armies, worn out with indecisive battles, gladly hailed Hector's proposal that a combat between Paris and Mene. laus should decide the war.
As the armies stood in silence, watching the preparations for the combat, Helen, summoned by Iris, left her room in Priam's palace, where she was weaving among her maidens, and, robed and veiled in white, and shedding tears at the recollection of her former home and husband, went down to the Scæan gates, where sat Priam and the men too old for
When they saw bright-haired Helen they whispered among themselves that it was little wonder that men warred for her sake, so fair was she, so like unto the deathless goddesses.
In response to Priam's tender greeting she seated herself