On Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad, Book V

Index to this series | Text of Chapman’s Homer’s Iliad

Book V of the Iliad is long and rich, with lots of characters like War and Peace, and stories within stories. The main story is of Tydeus’s son Diomedes, who with Pallas’s help is able to wound both Venus and Mars—I follow Chapman in using the Roman names.

  • Mars agrees with Minerva not to interfere with the war, but she immediately breaks the agreement.

  • A skilled hunter is successfully hunted down.

  • An oracle is mentioned that the Trojans should not go to sea; the master builder of Paris’s ships is slain.

  • A man who can read the future in dreams is bereft of the sons he let go to war.

  • An old man loses his only sons, the offspring of his old age.

  • Pandarus, who broke the truce and shot Menelaus, had left his horses in Lycia, because he didn’t think they would eat well in Troy.

  • The story is mentioned twice of the horses of Aeneas, offspring of the horses of Jove.

  • Pandarus thinks the horses of Aeneas will respond better to Aeneas’s command than Pandarus’s.

  • Venus is not the first deity to have been injured by a mortal, and her mother Dione advises patience.

  • “He that fights with heaven hath never long to live”—or perhaps to have a faithful wife.

  • Dione can cure a wound without balm.

  • “The race of gods is far above men creeping here below.”

  • Sarpedon discusses justice and sets an example of it.

  • “Strength is but strength of will.”

  • To have self-confidence may be good, but not to tempt fate.

  • Pallas has a theory of just war.

At the beginning of the book, Pallas breathes on Diomedes, so that he shines “like rich Autumnus golden lampe” (line 6). This lamp is “Sirius, the star whose rising marked the beginning of that season”—namely ὀπώρα or late summer, according to the Liddell–Scott lexicon, which refers to the passage of Homer under the featured adjectival form, ὀπωρ-ινός , ή, όν.

Diomedes’s first targets are the sons of Dares, a priest of Mulciber (namely Hephaestus or, as the Romans, Chapman, and now I have it, Vulcan). The spear of Ideus hits the left shoulder of Diomedes, but does no harm, while Diomedes deals Ideus a fatal blow. Vulcan (called “the God, great president of fire” in line 23) helps Ideus’s brother Phegeus to flee.

The Trojans are amazed. Pallas suggests to their divine partisan Mars that the two of them leave the fighting to humans, so that Jove can decide the outcome, as he would insist on doing anyway (lines 34–7):

Now shall we ceasse to shew our breasts, as passionate as men,
And leaue the mixture of our hands? resigning Ioue his right
(As rector of the Gods) to giue, the glorie of the fight,
Where he affecteth? lest he force, what we should freely yeeld?

Mars withdraws without comment, perhaps because (I suggest), as the prototypical bullyboy, he is dumb as an ox. The Trojans withdraw with him, and of the Greeks, “euerie Leader slue a man” (line 41):

  1. Agamemnon runs Odius through with a lance at the back as he flees.

  2. Idomeneus strikes Phaestus son of Borus through the shoulder, and “the spoile his souldiers tooke” (line 52).

  3. Though taught hunting by Diana herself, Scamandrius son of Strophius cannot escape being the prey of Menelaus, who hits him in the back.

  4. Phereclus son of Harmonides was a man (lines 64–6),

    whom she that nere was wife,
    Yet Goddesse of good housewiues, held, in excellent respect,
    For knowing all the wittie things, that grace an Architect.

    Though Phereclus is a Trojan, the goddess who admires him is Minerva. Phereclus “built all Alexander’s ships” (line 70), unaware of certain oracles, namely (lines 72–3),

    The Oracles, aduising Troy (for feare of ouerthrow)
    To meddle with no sea affaire, but liue by tilling land.

    His right hip is struck by the head of the lance of Meriones, which runs “through the region / About the bladder” (lines 75–6).

  5. Pedaeus takes the lance of Pylides through his teeth.

  6. Eurypilus son of Euaemon slays Hypsenor, son of Dolopion and “consecrate Scamander’s Priest” (line 87).

Now Book V becomes the Book of Diomedes, but with a strange comment (lines 94–6):

Thus fought these, but distinguisht well; Tydides so implies
His furie, that you could not know, whose side had interest
In his free labours, Greece or Troy …

Diomedes comes on like a torrent. It is he himself who is first struck, in the shoulder, by Pandarus, who thinks the end of his victim is nigh, “if Ioues faire Sonne, did worthily constraine / My foot from Lycia” (lines 110–1).

Diomedes calls Sthenelus to pull the arrow from his shoulder, which then bleeds all over his mail shirt. Diomedes prays to, “of Ioue Aegiochus, thou most vnconquerd maid” (line 118), that he may kill the braggart Pandarus.

In what would seem to be a violation of her agreement with Mars, Pallas responds by healing Diomedes and even giving him the power of distinguishing gods from men. He should avoid all other deities, but attack the goddess who caused the war in the first place.

Diomedes returns to battle with thrice his normal vigor, like a lion only strengthened after being struck by a shepherd: the shepherd hides himself, leaving his flocks to be taken.

  1. Diomedes kills Hypenor and Astynous.

  2. Eurydamas could read the future in dreams, but could not foretell the death of his sons Abas and Polyeidus at the hands of Diomedes. I do not know whether to take this as tacit recognition of the futility of fortune-telling.

  3. Diomedes kills Xanthus and Thoon, the only sons of Phaenops, who sired them only as an old man; he will have no more issue.

  4. Like a lion again, Diomedes kills, or at least throws from their chariot, Echemmon and Chromius, and takes their horses and arms.

Apparently unaware that he has already tried, Aeneas now calls on Pandarus, as the supreme archer, to kill the man who would seem to have the support of a god; this god must be “Incenst for want of sacrifice” (line 183).

Pandarus recognizes that the man is Diomedes and that he must indeed be the beneficiary of divine aid, perhaps because Pandarus has foolishly, even impiously, left his horses back in Lycia, in the court of his father Lycaon, fearing that, in a city under seige, the horses would find little fodder. If he can ever go home again, he will sacrifice his bow, though he may find this hard to do (212–9):

In an vnhappie starre,
I therefore from my Armorie, haue drawne those tooles of warre:
That day, when for great Hectors sake, to amiable Troy
I came to leade the Troian bands. But if I euer ioy
(In safe returne) my Countries sight; my wiues, my lofty towres;
Let any stranger take this head, if to the firie powres,
This bow, these shafts, in peeces burst (by these hands) be not throwne;
Idle companions that they are, to me and my renowne.

Aeneas tells Pandarus just to attend to the task at hand. He should find out how well the Trojan horses can either pursue or flee. Aeneas does not mention that his horses are the offspring of Jovian horses. Pandarus can take the reins, or Aeneas will.

Aeneas should take the reins, says Pandarus, since the horses will respond better to the master they know.

Sthenelus sees them coming and suggests that Diomedes flee. Diomedes is angry at the suggestion, which belies the boast of Sthenelus to Agamemnon in the previous book. If Athena should grant Diomedes the lives of Aeneas and Pandarus, Sthenelus must take Aeneas’s horses (263–72):

For, these are bred of those braue beasts, which for the louely Boy,
That waits now on the cup of Ioue, Ioue, that farre-seeing God,
Gaue Tros the king in recompence: the best that euer trod
The sounding Center, vnderneath, the Morning and the Sunne.
Anchises stole the breed of them; for where their Sires did runne,
He closely put his Mares to them, and neuer made it knowne
To him that heird them, who was then, the king Laomedon.
Sixe horses had he of that race, of which himselfe kept foure,
And gaue the other two his sonne; and these are they that scoure
The field so brauely towards vs, expert in charge and flight.

The cuirass of Diomedes is struck by the arrow of Pandarus, who boasts again that he has slain his man. Au contraire, says Diomedes, and Minerva guides his lance through Pandarus’s eye; the point exits through the jaw. Aeneas tries to protect Pandarus’s body with shield and threats; Diomedes strikes him in the hip with a stone. The blow were fatal, stepped not in Aeneas’s mother Venus, to spirit her son away.

Sthenelus takes the horses of Aeneas and gives them (lines 311–3),

To his belou’d Deiphylus, who was his inward friend,
And (of his equals) one to whom, he had most honor showne,
That he might see them safe at fleete …

Thus Sthenelus is somehow paired with both Diomedes and Deiphylus.

Diomedes can see that the goddess who rescued Aeneas is not a fighting goddess like Minerva or Bellona (Ἐνυώ, Enyo). He runs his lance through Venus’s hand. She can no longer carry her son, but Apollo takes him. Diomedes taunts her. Iris takes her to her brother Mars, whom she asks to take her to heaven with his own horse, and he agrees. Her mother Dione asks what the matter is, and when Venus tells her (lines 364–7),

She answerd, Daughter, thinke not much, though much it grieue thee: use
The patience, whereof many Gods, examples may produce,
In many bitter ils receiu’d; as well that men sustaine
By their inflictions; as by men, repaid to them againe.

Dione gives examples:

  1. Ephialtes and Otus, sons of Aloeus, chained Mars in a tower for thirteen months, until his stepmother Ereboea (Ἠερίβοια) saw this and told Mercury, who freed Mars, though he remained sorely weakened.

  2. Hercules struck Juno through the right breast with a three-pointed arrow.

  3. Hercules struck also Pluto, through the shoulder, and he would have effectively died (though being deathless), had he not been given a balm by Paeon.

Hercules here is described first as Amphitryon’s son, then Jove’s; in the same way might Jesus of Nazareth be described as Joseph’s son and Jehovah’s.

Dione continues. Diomedes wounded Venus, “Not knowing he that fights with heauen, hath neuer long to liue” (line 387).

Addressing Diomedes, Dione suggests that his wife will cuckold him (lines 391–7):

Take heed a stronger meet thee not, and that a womans powre
Containes not that superiour strength; and lest that woman be
Adrastus daughter, and thy wife, the wise Aegiale,
When (from this houre not farre) she wakes, euen sighing with desire
To kindle our reuenge on thee, with her enamouring fire,
In choosing her some fresh young friend, and so drowne all thy fame,
Wonne here in warre, in her Court-peace, and in an opener shame.

Only now does Dione tend the wound of her daughter. She cleans it, but does not use balm, and still the pain ends, the wound cured.

As, at the beginning of the last book, Jove joked about how the women of his court were at war, so now Athena (conspiring with Juno) suggests to Jove that perhaps Venus scratched her hand on the brooch of some new Greek women whom she wanted to give to a Trojan. Jove just smiles and tells Venus to mind her own business (lines 416–7) :

She should be making mariages, embracings, kisses, charmes;
Sterne Mars and Pallas had the charge, of those affaires in armes.

Meanwhile, on the battlefield, Diomedes thrice attacks Aeneas, though knowing Apollo protects him. The fourth time (lines 425–7),

The far-off-working Deitie, exceeding wrathfull grew,
And askt him: What? Not yeeld to Gods? thy equals learne to know:
The race of Gods is farre aboue, men creeping here below.

The only answer of Diomedes is to withdraw. Apollo spirits away Aeneas to “the holy place / Of Pergamus” (lines 430–1) and leaves him in the temple, where Apollo’s mother Latona and “the dart-pleased Queene” (line 434) cure and strengthen him. Pergamus here is supposed to be a place within Troy, not the Aeolian city of Pergamum.

In Aeneas’s stead on the battlefield, Apollo places an image (εἴδωλον) of Aeneas, which excites the warriors on both sides. Apollo ridicules Mars for this, apparently as an example of the passion that war can create in men, even to the point of attacking the gods themselves (lines 439–42):

Which error Phoebus pleasd to vrge, on Mars himselfe in scorne:
Mars, Mars, (said he) thou plague of men, smeard with the dust and blood
Of humanes, and their ruin’d wals; yet thinks thy God-head good,
To fright this Furie from the field? who next will fight with Ioue.

Diomedes has already attacked Mars’s own “Love” (line 443), and then Apollo, who now withdraws to Pergamus himself, while Mars proceeds to rally the Trojans, taking the form of Acamas.

Sarpedon taunts Hector, who has apparently boasted that the men of Troy alone could defend Troy without the help of Lycians. Sarpedon can see no Trojans around, they having been scared off by Diomedes; but Sarpedon and his comrades are ready to help, as Hector once helped them in some unspecified way, back in Lycia presumably. Sarpedon is motivated by neither hope of gain nor fear of loss. Hector should be rallying the Trojans, freely encouraging their equanimity, something that Hector already has (lines 484–7):

pray their minds, to beare their far-brought toiles,
To giue them worth, with worthy fight; in victories and foiles
Still to be equall; and thy selfe (exampling them in all)
Need no reproofes nor spurs: all this, in thy free choice should fall.

Though later not so much, Hector now has a virtuous response (lines 487–90):

This stung great Hectors heart: and yet, as euery generous mind
Should silent beare a iust reproofe, and shew what good they find
In worthy counsels, by their ends, put into present deeds:
Not stomacke, nor be vainly sham’d: so Hectors spirit proceeds.

Hector joins the battle, “And all hands turn’d against the Greeks” (line 494). The feet of the Greeks and their horses raise such dust as to make them white, as if they were winnowers and the wind had shifted, blowing the chaff onto them.

Mars rallies the Trojans, though Pallas has retired from helping the Greeks. Apollo brings the real Aeneas back, and apparently his fellows can tell, though they pause to ask no questions (lines 510–1):

Yet stood not sifting, how it chanc’t: another sort of taske,
Then stirring th’idle siue of newes, did all their forces aske.

Diomedes, Ulysses, and the Ajaces are an example for the Greeks, who stand their ground as if they are clouds on a calm day; Agamemnon encourages them (lines 525–31):

Atrides yet coasts through the troupes, confirming men so stayd:
O friends (said he) hold vp your minds; strength is but strength of will;
Reuerence each others good in fight, and shame at things done ill:
Where souldiers shew an honest shame, and loue of honour liues,
That ranks men with the first in fight; death fewer liueries giues
Then life; or then where Fames neglect, makes cow-herds fight at length:
Flight neither doth the bodie grace, nor shewes the mind hath strength.

Strength is but strength of will. This is pretty much the understanding of force in my last article, on Chapter XX, “Society and Community,” of Collingwood’s New Leviathan: force in politics is moral force or mental strength.

Agamemnon kills Aeneas’s friend Deicoon Pergasides.

Aeneas kills Orsilochus and Crethon, sons of Diocleus, son of Orsilochus, son of Alphaeus, a river of Pylos. Aeneas kills them as if they were lions attacking his steers and oxen—and apparently in Homer’s day there were still lions in Asia Minor.

We shift metaphors. When Menelaus sees Orsilochus and Crethon fall like tall fir-trees (lines 557–61),

their timelesse fals he rew’d;
And to the first fight, where they lay, a vengefull force he tooke;
His armes beat backe the Sunne in flames; a dreadfull Lance he shooke:
Mars put the furie in his mind, that by Aeneas hands,
(Who was to make the slaughter good) he might haue strewd the sands.

Antilochus, son of Nestor, goes to help Menelaus attack Aeneas, who flees. They can thus rescue the bodies, and then they kill Pylaemen and his charioteer Mydon. Antilochus takes the horse.

Hector is roused by this, and runs for the Greeks, Mars and Bellona marching before him. “This sight, when great Tydides saw, his haire stood vp on end” (line 595). Like a lost traveller who encounters a raging river, Diomedes turns back, warning the Greeks, concerning Hector (lines 604–7),

Now Mars himselfe (formd like a man), is present in his rage:
And therefore, whatsoeuer cause, importunes you to wage
Warre with these Troians; neuer striue, but gently take your rod;
Lest in your bosomes, for a man, ye euer find a God.

Chapman’s rod may be road: Butler has

Keep your faces therefore towards the Trojans, but give ground backwards, for we dare not fight with gods.

Hector kills Menesthes and Anchialus. Ajax Telamon is roused to kill Amphius Selages and is able to retrieve his javelin, but not to despoil the body.

Next is an important match, between son and grandson (Chapman says nephew) of Jove. The grandson is overconfident (lines 627–34):

Tlepolemus, a tall big man, the sonne of Hercules,
A cruell destinie inspir’d, with strong desire to proue
Encounter with Sarpedons strength, the sonne of Cloudy Ioue;
Who, coming on, to that sterne end, had chosen him his foe:
Thus Ioues great Nephew, and his sonne, ’gainst one another go:
Tlepolemus (to make his end, more worth the will of Fate)
Began, as if he had her powre; and shewd the mortall state
Of too much confidence in man, with this superfluous Braue.

Tlepolemus says a son so young as Sarpedon cannot have been sired by Zeus, whose true issue was Tlepolemus’s own father Hercules, who razed Troy and took the horse that Jupiter had given Tros.

There is further trash-talk, to which Sarpedon replies in kind. Hercules had just cause to overthrow Ilion, because he had rescued King Laomedon’s daughter Hesione from a whale (and given her to Telamon, father of the strongest Greek), but Laomedon kept the magic horses, which had been offered as a reward. The mention of Hesione and Telemon seems to be Chapman’s gloss. Sarpedon continues (lines 661–4):

And therefore both thy fathers strength, and iustice might enforce
The wreake he tooke on Troy: but this, and thy cause differ farre;
Sonnes seldome heire their fathers worths; thou canst not make his warre:
What thou assum’st from him, is mine, to be on thee imposde.

Thus it would seem, for Sarpedon, it is just to destroy a city for horses offered, but not for a woman stolen.

The opponents throw their javelins at once. Tlepolemus is killed; Sarpedon, thanks to Jove, is only wounded, though nobody can pause to pull out the javelin. Ulysses is of two minds about whom to pursue (lines 676–87):

Vlysses knew the euents of both, and tooke it much to hart,
That his friends enemie should scape; and in a twofold part
His thoughts contended; if he should, pursue Sarpedons life,
Or take his friends wreake on his men. Fate did conclude this strife;
By whom twas otherwise decreed, then that Vlysses steele
Should end Sarpedon. In this doubt, Minerua tooke the wheele
From fickle Chance; and made his mind, resolue to right his friend
With that bloud he could surest draw. Then did Reuenge extend
Her full powre on the multitude; Then did he neuer misse;
Alastor, Halius, Chromius, Noemon, Pritanis,
Alcander, and a number more, he slue, and more had slaine,
If Hector had not vnderstood …

Sarpedon pleads to Hector to save his body from despoliation and let it be buried in Trojan soil. Remembering Sarpedon’s earlier criticism, Hector ignores the plea, in order to attack the Greeks. Sarpedon’s friends rescue him and place him under the Beech of Jupiter, and Pelagon draws the lance from his thigh. Sarpedon’s spirit goes out with the lance, but a cool breeze from Boreas keeps him from dying.

In quick succession, Hector kills Helenus Oenopides, Teuthras, Orestes, Oenomaus, Trechus, and Oresbius. Saturnia (namely Juno) sees this and shares her annoyance with Pallas. The preparation of Juno’s chariot is described in some detail, as is the shield that Pallas takes up, fringed with snakes and displaying the Gorgon’s head. Juno takes up the scourge, and the goddesses fly. Tended by the Hours (Ὧραι), the gates of Olympus open for them—open outward, it seems, in order to reach (lines 761–2)

The top of all the topfull heauens, where aged Saturns sonne
Sate seuerd from the other Gods …

Juno complains that Mars is killing the Greeks, and Apollo and Venus only laugh at this; Juno herself wants permission to remove Mars from the battlefield for his impiety. Jove says that Athena should do this. The goddesses then fly down to Troy. Juno hides her horse in a mist at the confluence of the Scamander and the Simois, where ambrosia grows naturally. The goddesses themselves march to the battlefield, “like a paire of timorous Doues” (line 781).

Taking the shape of Stentor, whose voice is as loud as fifty men, Juno shames the Greeks, recalling that when Achilles was fighting, the Trojans dared not venture from their city.

Athena seeks out Diomedes in particular, whose wound keeps him from battle. She recalls that, with her help, a reluctant Tydeus nonetheless joined the feast at Thebes mentioned in the previous book, and he challenged the Thebans to the contests that he won: “the rust of rest / (That would haue seisd another mind) he sufferd not” (lines 809–10). Diomedes is not worthy of such a father.

Recognizing Pallas, Diomedes makes the excuse that he was only obeying her order to attack no deity but Venus; he did wound her, but now Mars is abroad, and so Diomedes has duly told the Greeks to withdraw. Pallas replies with a rudimentary just-war theory (lines 828–34):

What then was fit is chang’d: Tis true, Mars hath iust rule in warre,
But iust warre; otherwise he raues, not fights; he’s alterd farre;
He vow’d to Iuno and my selfe, that his aide should be vsd
Against the Troians, whom it guards; and therein he abusd
His rule in armes, infring’d his word, and made his warre vniust:
He is inconstant, impious, mad: Resolue then; firmly trust
My aide of thee against his worst, or any Deitie.

Mars has just killed Periphas, strongest of the Aetolians and son of Ochisius. Mars is about to despoil the body when he sees Diomedes driving up; he does not see Pallas, who can use her helmet as a cloaking device and who keeps the lance of Mars from piercing the breast of Diomedes.

Athena also allows the lance of Diomedes to pierce the belly of Mars, who cries out with the voice of nine or ten thousand men and flies to heaven, where he complains that, while the other gods obey, Jove’s daughter does whatever she wants (lines 882–93).

Iupiter, with a contracted brow,
Thus answerd Mars: Thou many minds, inconstant changling thou;
Sit not complaining thus by me; whom most of all the Gods
(Inhabiting the starrie hill) I hate: no periods
Being set to thy contentions, brawles, fights, and pitching fields;
Iust of thy mother Iunos moods; stiffe-neckt, and neuer yeelds,
Though I correct her still, and chide; nor can forbeare offence,
Though to her sonne; this wound I know, tasts of her insolence.
But I will proue more naturall, thou shalt be cur’d, because
Thou com’st of me: but hadst thou bene, so crosse to sacred lawes,
Being borne to any other God; thou hadst bene throwne from heauen
Long since, as low as Tartarus, beneath the Giants driuen.

Jove calls Paeon to treat Mars’s wound. It heals the way milk curdles when rennet is put in. Hebe bathes and dresses Mars, who sits (line 901),

Exulting by his Sire againe, in top of all his state.

Their work being done, Juno and Pallas come back too.

6 Trackbacks

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