Tag Archives: George Chapman

Automatia

One day during the Trojan War, Apollo and Athena decide to give the combatants a break. The general conflict is to be replaced with a one-on-one. The Olympians induce Helenus to tell his brother Hector to take on whichever of the Greeks is up for it.

Only Menelaus will accept the challenge at first. His brother Agamemnon makes him withdraw. When none of the other Greeks comes forward, Nestor chides them. After a story of his former prowess, he utters the words that Chapman renders as two couplets:

O that my youth were now as fresh, and all my powers as sound;
Soone should bold Hector be impugn’d: yet you that most are crownd
With fortitude, of all our hoast; euen you, me thinkes are slow,
Not free, and set on fire with lust, t’encounter such a foe.

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Homer for the Civilian

The source of this essay is an earlier one, written as an email, and an ensuing conversation, in 2009, on the theme of what Homer may mean in one’s life, and whether an application to one’s life involves an abuse of the original text. I wrote in this blog, in July 2016, on analogies in Homer and elsewhere, in “Thinking & Feeling.” My last post considered an apparent instance of abuse of the Hebrew Bible.

At the end of the Iliad, to retrieve the body of his son Hector from its killer, King Priam of Troy visits Achilles in his tent in the evening, in the camp of the hostile Greeks. The scene may recall two political enemies from the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and Congressman Thomas O’Neill, Speaker of the House: these two were able to be on friendly terms “after 6 PM.”

Homer, Iliad, Wordworth edition
Aleksandr Andreevich Ivanov
“King Priam begging Achilles for the Return of Hector’s Body,” 1824
Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow

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