The Iliad of Homer, done into English prose (1)
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Title: The Iliad
Translators: Andrew Lang, Walter Leaf and Ernest Meyers
Release Date: February, 2002 [eBook #3059]
[Most recently updated: January 20, 2022]
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Sandra Stewart and Jim Tinsley
* START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE ILIAD *
ILIAD OF HOMER
Done into English Prose
Andrew Lang, M.A. Walter Leaf, Litt. D.
Late fellow of Merton College, Late fellow of Trinity College,
Ernest Meyers, M.A.
Late fellow of Wadham College,
MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED
ST. MARTINS STREET, LONDON
THE ILIAD OF HOMER
The execution of this version of the _Iliad_ has been entrusted to the
three Translators in the following three parts:
Books I. — IX. . . . . W. Leaf.
Books X. — XVI. . . . . A. Lang.
Books XVII. — XXIV. . . . . E. Myers.
Each Translator is therefore responsible for his own portion; but the
whole has been revised by all three Translators, and the rendering of
passages or phrases recurring in more than one portion has been
determined after deliberation in common. Even in these, however, a
certain elasticity has been deemed desirable.
On a few doubtful points, though very rarely, the opinion of two of the
translators has had to be adopted to the suppression of that held by
the third. Thus, for instance, the Translator of Books X. - XVI. Would
have preferred “c” and “us” to “k” and “os” in the spelling of all
The text followed has been that of La Roche (Leipzig, 1873), except
where the adoption of a different reading has been specified in a
footnote. Where the balance of evidence, external and internal, has
seemed to the Translator to be against the genuineness of the passage,
such passage has been enclosed in brackets .
The Translator of Books X. - XVI. has to thank Mr. R.W. Raper, Fellow
of Trinity College, Oxford, for his valuable aid in revising the
proof-sheets of these Books.
NOTE TO REVISED EDITION
In the present Edition the translation has been carefully revised
throughout, and numerous minor corrections have been made. The Notes at
the end of the volume have been, with a few exceptions, omitted; one of
the Translators hopes to publish very shortly a Companion to the Iliad
for English readers, which will deal fully with most of the points
therein referred to.
The use of square brackets has in this edition been restricted to
passages where there is external evidence, such as absence from the
best MSS., for believing in interpolation. One or two departures from
this Rule are noticed in footnotes.
The sacred soil of Ilios is rent
With shaft and pit; foiled waters wander slow
Through plains where Simois and Scamander went
To war with gods and heroes long ago.
Not yet to dark Cassandra lying low
In rich Mycenae do the Fates relent;
The bones of Agamemnon are a show,
And ruined is his royal monument.
The dust and awful treasures of the dead
Hath learning scattered wide; but vainly thee,
Homer, she meteth with her Lesbian lead,
And strives to rend thy songs, too blind is she
To know the crown on thine immortal head
Of indivisible supremacy.
Athwart the sunrise of our western day
The form of great Achilles, high and clear,
Stands forth in arms, wielding the Pelian spear.
The sanguine tides of that immortal fray,
Swept on by gods, around him surge and sway,
Wherethrough the helms of many a warrior peer,
Strong men and swift, their tossing plumes uprear.
But stronger, swifter, goodlier he than they,
More awful, more divine. Yet mark anigh;
Some fiery pang hath rent his soul within,
Some hovering shade his brows encompasseth.
What gifts hath Fate for all his chivalry?
Even such as hearts heroic oftenest win;
Honour, a friend, anguish, untimely death.
THE ILIAD OF HOMER
How Agamemnon and Achilles fell out at the siege of Troy; and Achilles
withdrew himself from battle, and won from Zeus a pledge that his wrong
should be avenged on Agamemnon and the Achaians.
Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles Peleus' son, the ruinous wrath
that brought on the Achaians woes innumerable, and hurled down into
Hades many strong souls of heroes, and gave their bodies to be a prey
to dogs and all winged fowls; and so the counsel of Zeus wrought out
its accomplishment from the day when first strife parted Atreides king
of men and noble Achilles.
Who then among the gods set the twain at strife and variance? Even the
son of Leto and of Zeus; for he in anger at the king sent a sore plague
upon the host, that the folk began to perish, because Atreides had done
dishonour to Chryses the priest. For he had come to the Achaians' fleet
ships to win his daughter's freedom, and brought a ransom beyond
telling; and bare in his hands the fillet of Apollo the Far-darter upon
a golden staff; and made his prayer unto all the Achaians, and most of
all to the two sons of Atreus, orderers of the host: “Ye sons of Atreus
and all ye well-greaved Achaians, now may the gods that dwell in the
mansions of Olympus grant you to lay waste the city of Priam, and to
fare happily homeward; only set ye my dear child free, and accept the
ransom in reverence to the son of Zeus, far-darting Apollo.”
Then all the other Achaians cried assent, to reverence the priest and
accept his goodly ransom; yet the thing pleased not the heart of
Agamemnon son of Atreus, but he roughly sent him away, and laid stern
charge upon him, saying: “Let me not find thee, old man, amid the
hollow ships, whether tarrying now or returning again hereafter, lest
the staff and fillet of the god avail thee naught. And her will I not
set free; nay, ere that shall old age come on her in our house, in
Argos, far from her native land, where she shall ply the loom and serve
my couch. But depart, provoke me not, that thou mayest the rather go in
So said he, and the old man was afraid and obeyed his word, and fared
silently along the shore of the loud-sounding sea. Then went that aged
man apart and prayed aloud to king Apollo, whom Leto of the fair locks
bare: “Hear me, god of the silver bow, that standest over Chryse and
holy Killa, and rulest Tenedos with might, O Smintheus! If ever I built
a temple gracious in thine eyes, or if ever I burnt to thee fat flesh
of thighs of bulls or goats, fulfil thou this my desire; let the
Danaans pay by thine arrows for my tears.”
So spake he in prayer, and Phoebus Apollo heard him, and came down from
the peaks of Olympus wroth at heart, bearing on his shoulders his bow
and covered quiver. And the arrows clanged upon his shoulders in wrath,
as the god moved; and he descended like to night. Then he sate him
aloof from the ships, and let an arrow fly; and there was heard a dread
clanging of the silver bow. First did he assail the mules and fleet
dogs, but afterward, aiming at the men his piercing dart, he smote; and
the pyres of the dead burnt continually in multitude.
Now for nine days ranged the god's shafts through the host; but on the
tenth Achilles summoned the folk to assembly, for in his mind did
goddess Hera of the white arms put the thought, because she had pity on
the Danaans when she beheld them perishing. Now when they had gathered
and were met in assembly, then Achilles fleet of foot stood up and
spake among them: “Son of Atreus, now deem I that we shall return
wandering home again—if verily we might escape death—if war at once and
pestilence must indeed ravage the Achaians. But come, let us now
inquire of some soothsayer or priest, yea, or an interpreter of
dreams—seeing that a dream too is of Zeus—who shall say wherefore
Phoebus Apollo is so wroth, whether he blame us by reason of vow or
hecatomb; if perchance he would accept the savour of lambs or
unblemished goats, and so would take away the pestilence from us.”
So spake he and sate him down; and there stood up before them Kalchas
son of Thestor, most excellent far of augurs, who knew both things that
were and that should be and that had been before, and guided the ships
of the Achaians to Ilios by his soothsaying that Phoebus Apollo
bestowed on him. He of good intent made harangue and spake amid them:
“Achilles, dear to Zeus, thou biddest me tell the wrath of Apollo, the
king that smiteth afar. Therefore will I speak; but do thou make
covenant with me, and swear that verily with all thy heart thou wilt
aid me both by word and deed. For of a truth I deem that I shall
provoke one that ruleth all the Argives with might, and whom the
Achaians obey. For a king is more of might when he is wroth with a
meaner man; even though for the one day he swallow his anger, yet doth
he still keep his displeasure thereafter in his breast till he
accomplish it. Consider thou, then, if thou wilt hold me safe.”
And Achilles fleet of foot made answer and spake to him: “Yea, be of
good courage, speak whatever soothsaying thou knowest; for by Apollo
dear to Zeus, him by whose worship thou, O Kalchas, declarest thy
soothsaying to the Danaans, no man while I live and behold light on
earth shall lay violent hands upon thee amid the hollow ships, no man
of all the Danaans, not even if thou mean Agamemnon, that now avoweth
him to be greatest far of the Achaians.”
Then was the noble seer of good courage, and spake: “Neither by reason
of a vow is he displeased, nor for any hecatomb, but for his priest's
sake to whom Agamemnon did despite, and set not his daughter free and
accepted not the ransom; therefore hath the Far-darter brought woes
upon us, yea, and will bring. Nor will he ever remove the loathly
pestilence from the Danaans till we have given the bright-eyed damsel
to her father, unbought, unransomed, and carried a holy hecatomb to
Chryse; then might we propitiate him to our prayer.”
So said he and sate him down, and there stood up before them the hero
son of Atreus, wide-ruling Agamemnon, sore displeased; and his dark
heart within him was greatly filled with anger, and his eyes were like
flashing fire. To Kalchas first spake he with look of ill: “Thou seer
of evil, never yet hast thou told me the thing that is pleasant. Evil
is ever the joy of thy heart to prophesy, but never yet didst thou tell
any good matter nor bring to pass. And now with soothsaying thou makest
harangue among the Danaans, how that the Far-darter bringeth woes upon