The galloping horses

I am including this passage from the chariot race in book 23 of the Iliad because in the last three words he imitates the sound of galloping horses. (Kephalas katathente petesthen)

After the mares, the Trojan stallions of Diomedes came out not far behind, in fact very close. For the two horses seemed to be about to mount the chariot in front. Eumelus’ back and broad shoulders were warmed by their breath. They held their heads over him as they flew along. 

Iliad 23.377

 τὰς δὲ μετ᾽ ἐξέφερον Διομήδεος ἄρσενες ἵπποι
Τρώϊοι, οὐδέ τι πολλὸν ἄνευθ᾽ ἔσαν, ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ ἐγγύς:
αἰεὶ γὰρ δίφρου ἐπιβησομένοισιν ἐΐκτην,
380πνοιῇ δ᾽ Εὐμήλοιο μετάφρενον εὐρέε τ᾽ ὤμω
θέρμετ᾽: ἐπ᾽ αὐτῷ γὰρ κεφαλὰς καταθέντε πετέσθην.

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Scribd

There are now a large number of Internet resources for those trying to read Ancient Greek. Number one has to be Perseus which I discussed in another post . Another facility that I have found really useful is Scribd. This is a site that contains thousands of books and documents that you can download freely. Of course the books have to be out of copyright bit it includes a large number of the Loeb texts. I use the Scribd application on my IPad and I found the texts perfectly readable.

To my surprise I also found The commentary on the Iliad edited by Kirk. As this is only twenty to twenty five years old I was surprised to find it there. To buy the complete set would cost new $300, well beyond my book buying budget. I have been reading the iliad painstakingly for several months now using a version of Walter Leaf’s commentary first published in 1898. This is in itself excellent but archaeology and scholarship have thrown up so much since then. Even Kirks commentary must now be a bit dated but a doubt whether there has been as detailed a one since then. Each set of four books has a different commentator so there are differences in style and emphasis. I particularly like Richard Janko’s commentary on books 17 to 20. If I have one complaint it is that these commentaries are too detailed and to follow them completely when reading the Iliad would so interrupt your flow when reading that you would lose all enjoyment. 

With any luck I will stumble across other treasures in Scribd.
At any rate with all these books on line, it is easy to build up a virtual collection of all the best books whether you are educated not. 

καὶ μὴν ἐναντίον ἐστὶν οὗ ἐθέλεις ὃ νῦν ποιεῖς. οἴει μὲν γὰρ ἐνπαιδείᾳ καὶ αὐτὸς εἶναί τις δόξειν σπουδῇ συνωνούμενος τὰκάλλιστα τῶν βιβλίων:

You are doing the opposite of what you want to do. Do you think that you are going get a reputation for being educated by eagerly collecting the best books.

Lucian to the uneducated Man who buys many books.

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Lions in Homer

We are told that the Homer used similes so that the listener could relate the experiences in his epic to everyday experiencesof their own. If this is so, you wouldn’t have been able to throw a stone in the time of Homer without hitting a lion. The lion is the most common feature of a simile and you have have thought that the Homeric Greece was chockablock with these animals.

Well maybe not. I have had some difficulty in finding out when lions went extinct in Greece and Turkey. The best I have found is this from Richard Janko in his commentary in the Iliad.

Book 15 586—8 Thi s simile resembles the scene on Akhilleus’ shield where lions 
raid a herd of cattle defended by drovers and dogs (18.579fr.); this reflects 
the realities of life in Ionia. As if to authenticate the Nemean lion, lion-bones 
are known from Mycenaean Tiryns and Keos; lions roamed Macedonia 
throughout antiquity and Turkey until the sixteenth century A.D. (Hdt . 
7.125?; B. Hel ly, REA 70 (1968) 275-82; P. War reo, J HS 109 (1979) 1230.; 
J. Boessneck and A. von den Driesch, Archäologischer Anzeiger 1981, 257?). 

Lions were probably extinct round Athens and Attica long before this. I am sure that Plato somewhere mentions that one advantage that Athens has is that it is free from dangerous wild animals.

This is from Iliad 18.579. Not actually a simile but a description of a scene on Achilles’ shield.

Two fierce lions in the front of the cattle were holding down a bellowing bull and he was being dragged off with loud moans. The dogs and young men were going after him. But the lions had broken the hide of the great bull and were feasting on its innards and dark blood. The herdsmen pursued in vain urging on their dogs which were turning away from the lions and not biting  but standing close were howling and keeping out of their way.

σμερδαλέω δὲ λέοντε δύ’ ἐν πρώτῃσι βόεσσι

ταῦρον ἐρύγμηλον ἐχέτην: ὃ δὲ μακρὰ μεμυκὼς 580

ἕλκετο: τὸν δὲ κύνες μετεκίαθον ἠδ’ αἰζηοί.

τὼ μὲν ἀναρρήξαντε βοὸς μεγάλοιο βοείην

ἔγκατα καὶ μέλαν αἷμα λαφύσσετον: οἳ δὲ νομῆες

αὔτως ἐνδίεσαν ταχέας κύνας ὀτρύνοντες.

οἳ δ’ ἤτοι δακέειν μὲν ἀπετρωπῶντο λεόντων, 585

ἱστάμενοι δὲ μάλ’ ἐγγὺς ὑλάκτεον ἔκ τ’ ἀλέοντο.

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An ox sanctuary

If you go round Greece today, you may see donkey sanctuaries. Until recently donkeys were extensively used but were often ill treated at least to English sensibilities and so often the sanctuaries were set up by English people. Well even in Ancient Greece, farmers had some respect for their working animals if this poem by Adaeus is anything to go by. It seems that this feeling was not only found in Ancient Greece but in ancient Egypt and India the labourer was forbidden to slaughter his ox when his working days were done and this act was punishable by death in Phyrgia.

When his working ox was worn down by the furrow and old age, Alcon did not take him to the bloody cleaver, showing proper respect for his labours, but he is enjoying himself somewhere in a deep meadow bellowing free from the plough.

adaeus

αὔλακι καὶ γήρᾳ τετρυμένον ἐργατίνην βοῦν
Ἄλκων οὐ φονίην ἤγαγε πρὸς κοπίδα,
αἰδεσθεὶς ἔργων ὁ δέ που βαθέῃ ἐνὶ ποίῃ
μυκηθμοῖς ἀρότρου τέρπετ᾽ ἐλευθερίῃ.

Greek Anthology 6.228

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Lions and lionesses

In this passage from the Iliad, Homer compares the two warriors called Ajax to two lions snatching a goat from under some dogs, presumably after a hunt. Richard Janko, a Homeric scholar, says that this is unrealistic because lions do not cooperate in hunting (citing Zenodotus). Yet surely lionesses hunt in packs and because the dual is used which is not gender specific they could be lions or lionesses. And anyway even if Homer had used the masculine, the Greeks were on occasion fairly free with genders of animals and sometimes designated all animals in a particular species as either male or female; for example all bears are female.

Stichios and godly Menestheus, the commanders of the Athenians, carried Amphimachus to the Achaean army while the two Ajaxes, mad with their furious strength carried off Imbrios like two lions who have snatched a goat from under the saw-toothed dogs and carry it through the thick undergrowth holding it high above the ground in their  jaws. So did the two warriors Ajaxes hold him high and strip off his armour.

Ἀμφίμαχον μὲν ἄρα Στιχίος δῖός τε Μενεσθεὺς
ἀρχοὶ Ἀθηναίων κόμισαν μετὰ λαὸν Ἀχαιῶν:
Ἴμβριον αὖτ᾽ Αἴαντε μεμαότε θούριδος ἀλκῆς
ὥς τε δύ᾽ αἶγα λέοντε κυνῶν ὕπο καρχαροδόντων
ἁρπάξαντε φέρητον ἀνὰ ῥωπήϊα πυκνὰ
200ὑψοῦ ὑπὲρ γαίης μετὰ γαμφηλῇσιν ἔχοντε,
ὥς ῥα τὸν ὑψοῦ ἔχοντε δύω Αἴαντε κορυστὰ
τεύχεα συλήτην: κεφαλὴν δ᾽ ἁπαλῆς ἀπὸ δειρῆς

Iliad 13.195

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Which book of the Iliad to start on.

When you study Greek at school as opposed to university, you never read works in their entirety but a chapter here or there. For example one book of the Iliad, one book of the Odyssey, a book of Thucydides etc. This is the way it has to be. The first book I had to read of the Iliad was book 24 – the last book. This is where Priam makes a dangerous journey into the Greek camp to ransom his son Hector. Now this is a fine book but for a schoolboy I think there are better books for your first introduction to Homer. A lot of the power of the last book comes from the release of tension after the excitement of the pervious books. If I had to choose a book, it would be book 16 where Patroclus persuades Achilles to let him go out and fight. This book is full of dynamism and battle scenes which would appeal to a young person. And it is very exciting. An alternative could be Book 23 where the funeral games for Patroclus are held. For example this excerpt from the chariot race where Antilochus, determined to overtake Menelaus puts both their lives at risk.

So he spoke and the horses fearing the command of their master ran faster for a short time and then right away Antilochus saw a a narrow place in the hollow road. There was a break in the road where the winter rain had gathered and broken away part of the road and the whole place was hollowed out. There Menealaus was driving his chariot preventing anyone from riding alongside him. But Antilochus turned his single-hooves horses aside and drove then outside the track, and carried on his pursuit while a little to one side. The son of Atreus (Menelaus) got alarmed and shouted out to Antilochus.

“Antilochus, you are driving recklessly; restrain your horses. You are driving too widely. Careful you don’t destroy us both with a collision.”

ὣς ἔφαθ᾽, οἳ δὲ ἄνακτος ὑποδείσαντες ὁμοκλὴν
μᾶλλον ἐπιδραμέτην ὀλίγον χρόνον: αἶψα δ᾽ ἔπειτα
στεῖνος ὁδοῦ κοίλης ἴδεν Ἀντίλοχος μενεχάρμης.
ῥωχμὸς ἔην γαίης, ᾗ χειμέριον ἀλὲν ὕδωρ
ἐξέρρηξεν ὁδοῖο, βάθυνε δὲ χῶρον ἅπαντα:
τῇ ῥ᾽ εἶχεν Μενέλαος ἁματροχιὰς ἀλεείνων.
Ἀντίλοχος δὲ παρατρέψας ἔχε μώνυχας ἵππους
ἐκτὸς ὁδοῦ, ὀλίγον δὲ παρακλίνας ἐδίωκεν.
Ἀτρεΐδης δ᾽ ἔδεισε καὶ Ἀντιλόχῳ ἐγεγώνει:
‘Ἀντίλοχ᾽ ἀφραδέως ἱππάζεαι, ἀλλ᾽ ἄνεχ᾽ ἵππους:
στεινωπὸς γὰρ ὁδός, τάχα δ᾽ εὐρυτέρη παρελάσσαι:
μή πως ἀμφοτέρους δηλήσεαι ἅρματι κύρσας.

Iliad 23.417

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Sylvester and Tweetie Pie

From the Greek Anthology 7.205 Agathias Scholasticus
image
Οἰκογενὴς αἴλουρος ἐμὴν πέρδικα φαγοῦσα ζώειν ἡμετέροις ἔλπεται ἐν μεγάροις·οὔ σε, φίλε πέρδιξ, φθιμένην ἀγέραστον ἐάσω, ἀλλ’ ἐπὶ σοὶ κτείνω τὴν σέθεν ἀντιβίην.ψυχὴ γὰρ σέο μᾶλλον ὀρίνεται, εἰσόκε ῥέξω ὅσσ’ ἐπ’ Ἀχιλλῆος Πύρρος ἔτευξε τάφωι.

The house cat who has eaten my partridge expects to live in our house. I will not allow you, dear partridge, to be unhonoured in death but I will kill your murderer over  your body. For your soul will be more troubled until I make the sacrifice that Pyrrhus made over the tomb of Achilles.

(Supposedly Philoxena was sacrificed on Achilles’ tomb)
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