the sorrow of Achilles

An Ancient Greek expression of sorrow, especially mixed with anger, is “popoi”. The “p” sound must have been evocative of these emotions. Here Achilles is mourning Patroclus in the last line every word has a “p” in it. (Pieiras perthonte poleis meropon anthropon) expressing Achilles sorrow at the death of his best friend.

τόφρα δέ μοι παρὰ νηυσὶ κορωνίσι κείσεαι αὔτως,
ἀμφὶ δὲ σὲ Τρῳαὶ καὶ Δαρδανίδες βαθύκολποι
κλαύσονται νύκτάς τε καὶ ἤματα δάκρυ χέουσαι,
τὰς αὐτοὶ καμόμεσθα βίηφί τε δουρί τε μακρῷ
πιείρας πέρθοντε πόλεις μερόπων ἀνθρώπων.

so long will you lie just as you are beside beaked ships, and around you the Trojan. women and the Dardanian women with their deep bosoms will weep day and night pouring out their tears, the women we won by force and the long spear when we sacked the rich cities of mortal men.

Iliad 18.338

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2 Responses to the sorrow of Achilles

  1. Reminds me of ‘p’ as the stopper sound of Latin. ‘Paro’ is ‘to prepare,’ as one has to stop and get ready. It also means to give birth to thought, or a child (in Spanish for that last one). There is definitely the need to stop and do something; perhaps associated with stopping life and grieving. An emotional sentence, that last one, at any rate.


  2. platosparks says:

    I think you are absolutely right. The ‘p’s are stoppers and break up the sentence as if Achilles has difficulty speaking as his sentence is broken up by grief.


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