The Iliad (Collins)/Chapter 4

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As before, while the Greek line advances in perfect silence, the Trojans make their onset with loud shouts and a clamour of discordant war-cries in many tongues. Mars animates the Trojans, Minerva the Greeks; while Fear and Panic hover over the two armies, and Strife—whom the poet describes in words which are the very echo of Solomon's proverb—"The beginning of strife is as when one letteth out water"—

"With humble crest at first, anon her head,
While yet she treads the earth, affronts the skies."

The two armies close in battle, only embittered by the broken truce. The description is a good specimen of the poet's powers, and Lord Derby's translation is sufficiently close:—

"Then rose the mingled shouts and groans of men
Slaying and slain; the earth ran red with blood.
As when descending from the mountain's brow
Two wintry torrents from their copious source
Pour downwards to the narrow pass, where meet
Their mingled waters in some deep ravine,
Their weight of flood, on the far mountain's side
The shepherd hears the roar; so loud arose
The shouts and yells of those commingling hosts."[1]


Then begins one of those remarkable descriptions of a series of single combats between warriors of note on either side, in which Homer delights and excels. It must be confessed that they are somewhat wearisome to a modern reader; although, as has been well observed, the details of attack and defence, wounds and death, are varied in a fashion which shows that the artist was thoroughly master of his work; and it is even said that in the physical results assigned to each particular wound he has shown no mean knowledge of anatomy. Still, the continuous catalogue of ghastly wounds and dying agonies is uncongenial with our more refined sympathies. But it was quite in harmony with the tastes of ruder days. We find the same apparent repetition of single combats in the medieval romances—notably in Mallory's King Arthur; and they were probably not the least popular portions of the tale. Even a stronger parallel case might be found in the description of a prize-fight in the columns of sporting newspapers, not so many years ago, when each particular blow and its results, up to "Round 102," were graphically described in language quite as figurative, if not so poetic, as Homer's; and found, we must suppose, a sufficient circle of readers to whom it was not only intelligible but highly interesting. The poet who recites—as we must suppose Homer to have done—must above

everything else excite and interest his audience: his lay must be rich in incident; and to an audience who were all more or less warlike, no incidents could be so exciting as the details of battle. There is much savageness in Homer's combats; but savageness is to the taste of men whose only means of excitement is through their grosser senses, and a love of the horrible in fact or fiction is by no means extinct even in our own day.

Young Antilochus, the son of Nestor's old age, draws the first blood in the battle. He kills Echepolus.

"Beneath his horsehair-plumed helmet's peak
The sharp spear struck; deep in his forehead fixed,
It pierced the bone: then darkness veiled his eyes,
And, like a tower, amid the press he fell."

Over his dead body the combat grows furious—the Greeks endeavouring to drag him off to strip his armour, the Trojans to prevent it. The armour of a vanquished enemy was, in these combats, something like what an enemy's scalp is to the Indian "brave;" to carry it off in triumph, and hang it up in their own tents as a trophy, was the great ambition of the slayer and his friends. Ajax, too, slays his man — spearing him right through from breast to shoulder: and the tall Trojan falls like a poplar—

"Which with his biting axe the wheelwright fells."

Ulysses, roused by the death of a friend who is killed in trying to carry off this last body, rushes to the front, and poising his spear, looks round to choose his victim. The foremost of his enemies recoil; but he drives his weapon right through the temples of Demophoon, a natural son of Priam, as he sits high in his chariot. The Trojans waver; even Hector gives ground; the Greeks cheer, and some carry off the bodies, while the rest press forward. It is going hard with Troy, when Apollo, who sits watching the battle from the citadel, calls loudly to their troops to remember that "there is no Achilles in the field to-day." So the fight is renewed, Minerva cheering on the Greeks, as Apollo does the Trojans.

Diomed, the gallant son of Tydeus, now becomes the hero of the day. His exploits occupy, indeed, so large a portion of the next book of the poem, that it was known as "The Deeds of Diomed," and would form, according to one theory, a separate romance or lay of itself, exactly as some portions of the Arthurian romance have for their exclusive hero some one renowned Knight of the Round Table, as Tristram or Lancelot. Diomed fights under supernatural colours. Minerva herself not only inspires him with indomitable courage, but sheds over his whole person a halo of celestial radiance before which the bravest Trojan might well recoil—

"Forth from his helm and shield a fiery light
There flashed, like autumn's star, that brightest shines
When newly risen from his ocean bath."

Once more the prince of archers, Pandarus the Lycian, comes to the rescue of the discomfited Trojans. He bends his bow against Diomed, who is now fighting on foot, and the arrow flies true to its mark. He sees it strike deep into the shoulder, and the red blood streams out visibly over the breastplate. Elated by his success, he turns round and shouts his triumphant rallying-cry to the Trojans—"The bravest of the Greeks is wounded to the death!" But his exultation is premature. Diomed gets him back to his chariot, and calls on his faithful friend and charioteer Sthenelus to draw the arrow from the wound. The blood wells out fast, as the barb is withdrawn; but the hero puts up a brief prayer to his guardian goddess for strength yet to avenge him of his adversary, whose exulting boast he has just heard. Minerva hears. By some rapid celestial pharmacy she heals the wound at once, and gives him fresh strength and vigour, adding these words of encouragement and warning:—

"Go fearless onward, Diomed, to meet
The Trojan hosts; for I within thy breast
Thy father's dauntless courage have infused,
Such as of old in Tydeus' bosom dwelt,
Bold horseman, buckler-clad; and from thine eyes
The film that dimmed them I have purged away,[2]
That thou mayest well 'twixt gods and men discern.
If then some god make trial of thy force,
With other of the Immortals fight thou not;
But should Jove's daughter Venus dare the fray,
Thou need'st not shun at her to cast thy spear." (D)

With redoubled vigour and fury the hero returns to the battle; and again the Trojans' names, to each of which the poet contrives to give some touch of individual character, swell the list of his victims. Æneas marks his terrible career, and goes to seek for Pandarus. He points out to him the movements of the Greek champion, and bids him try upon his person the far-famed skill that had so nearly turned the fate of war in the case of Menelaus. Pandarus tells him of his late unsuccessful attempt, and declares his full belief that some glamour of more than mortal power has made Diomed invulnerable to human weapons. He bitterly regrets, as he tells Æneas, that he did not follow the counsels of his father Lycaon, and bring with him to the campaign, like other chiefs of his rank, some of those noble steeds of whom eleven pair stand always in his father's stalls, "champing the white barley and the spelt." He had feared, in truth, that they might lack provender in the straits of the siege:—

"Woe worth the day, when from the glittering wall,
Hector to serve, I took my shafts and bow,
And to fair Ilion, from my father's hall,
Captain of men, did with my Lycians go!
If ever I return, if ever I know
My country, my dear wife, my home again,
Let me fall headless to an enemy's blow,
Save the red blaze of fire these arms contain !" (W.)

Æneas bids him mount with him into his chariot, and together they will encounter this redoubtable Greek. Pandarus takes the spear and shield, while Æneas guides the horses. Diomed is still fighting on foot, when Sthenelus, who attends him with the chariot, sees the two hostile chiefs bearing down upon him. He begs his comrade to remount, and avoid the encounter with two such adversaries. Diomed indignantly refuses. He will slay both, with the help of Heaven; and he charges Sthenelus, if such should be the happy result, to leave his own horses and chariot, securing the reins carefully to the chariot-front, and make prize of the far-famed steeds of Æneas—they are descended from the immortal breed bestowed of old by Jupiter upon King Tros. So, on foot still, he awaits their onset. Pandarus stands high in the chariot with poised weapon, and hails his enemy as he comes within hurling distance:—

"Prince, thou art met! though late in vain assailed,
The spear may enter where the arrow failed."

It does enter, and piercing through the tough ox-hide of the shield, stands fixed in the breastplate. Again, with premature triumph, he shouts exultingly to Diomed that at last he has got his death-wound. But the Greek quietly tells him that he has missed—which assuredly he himself is not going to do. He hurls his spear in turn with fatal aim: and the poet tells us with ghastly detail how it entered beneath the eyeball, and passed down through the "white teeth" and tongue—

"Till the bright point looked out beneath the chin"—

and Pandarus the Lycian closes his career, free at least from the baseness which medieval romances have attached to his name.

Æneas, in obedience to the laws of heroic chivalry, at once leaps down from the chariot to defend against all comers the body of his fallen comrade.

"And like a lion fearless in his strength
Around the corpse he stalked this way and that,
His spear and buckler round about him held,
To all who dared approach him threat'ning death."

Diomed in this case avails himself of a mode of attack not uncommon with Homer's heroes. He seizes a huge stone—which not two men of this degenerate age (says Homer, with a poet's cynicism for the present) could have lifted—and hurls it at the Trojan prince. It strikes him on the hip, crushes the joint, and brings him to his knees. But that his goddess-mother Venus comes to his rescue, the world had heard the last of Æneas, and Virgil must have sought another hero for his great poem.

"About her much-loved son her arms she throws—
Her arms, whose whiteness match the falling snows;
Screened from the foe behind her shining veil,
The swords wave harmless and the javelins fail." (P.)

Sthenelus, for his part, remembers the orders of his friend and chief, and drives off at once to the Greek camp with the much-coveted horses of Æneas. Diomed rushes in pursuit of Venus—whom he knows, by his new gift of clear vision—as she carries off her son through the ranks of the Trojans. She, at least, of all the divinities of Olympus, had no business, thought the Greek, in the mêlée of battle. Besides, he had received from Minerva special permission to attack her. Most ungallantly, to our notions, he does so. The scene is such a curious one, that it is well to give Lord Derby's version of it:—

"Her, searching through the crowd, at length he found,

And springing forward, with his pointed spear
A wound inflicted on her tender hand.
Piercing th' ambrosial veil, the Graces' work,
The sharp spear grazed her palm below the wrist.
Forth from the wound th' immortal current flowed,
Pure ichor, life-stream of the blessed Gods;
They eat no bread, they drink no ruddy wine,
And bloodless thence and deathless they become.
The goddess shrieked aloud, and dropped her son;
But in his arms Apollo bore him off
In a thick cloud enveloped, lest some Greek
Might pierce his breast, and rob him of his life.
Loud shouted brave Tydides, as she fled:
'Daughter of Jove, from battle-fields retire;
Enough for thee weak women to delude;
If war thou seek'st, the lesson thou shalt learn
Shall cause thee shudder but to hear it named.'
Thus he; but ill at ease, and sorely pained,
The Goddess fled: her, Iris, swift as wind,
Caught up, and from the tumult bore away,

Weeping with pain, her fair skin soiled with blood."

It is the original of the grand passage in the 'Paradise Lost,' in which the English poet has adopted almost literally the Homeric idea of suffering inflicted on an immortal essence, while carefully avoiding the ludicrous element in the scene. In the "battle of the Angels, Michael cleaves Satan down the right side:—

"The griding sword with discontinuous wound
Passed through him; but th' ethereal substance closed,
Not long divisible; and from the gash
A stream of nectar'ous humour issuing flowed,
Sanguine, such as celestial spirits may bleed."
—Par. Lost, vi. 329.

In sore plight the goddess mounts to Olympus, and there, throwing herself into the arms of her mother Dione, bewails the wrong she has suffered at the hands of a presumptuous mortal. Dione comforts her as best she may, reminding her how in times past other of the Olympian deities have had to endure woes from men: Mars, when the giants Otus and Ephialtes bound him for thirteen months in brazen fetters; Juno herself, the queen of Heaven, and Pluto, the king of the Shades, had been wounded by the daring Hercules. She foretells, however, an untimely death for the presumptuous hero who has raised his hand against a goddess:—

"Fool and blind!
Unknowing he how short his term of life,
Who fights against the gods! for him no child
Upon his knees shall lisp a father's name,
Safe from the war and battle-field returned.
Brave as he is, let Diomed beware
He meet not with a mightier than himself:
Then fair Ægiale, Adrastus' child,
The noble wife of valiant Diomed,
Shall long, with lamentations loud, disturb
The slumbers of her house, and vainly mourn

Her youthful lord, the bravest of the Greeks."

But Dione is no prophet. Diomed returned home (if the later legends are to be believed) to find that his wife Ægiale had been anything but inconsolable during his absence.

Venus' wound is healed, and her tears are soon dried. But Minerva—whose province in the celestial government seems to be not only wisdom but satire—cannot resist a jest upon the unfortunate plight of the Queen of Love. She points her out to Jupiter, and suggests as a probable explanation of the wound, that she has been trying to lead astray some other fair Greek, like Helen,—

"And as her hand the gentle dame caressed,
A golden clasp has scratched her slender arm."

Jupiter smiles, and calling his pouting daughter-goddess to his side, recommends her in future to leave to Mars and Minerva the dangers of the battle-field, and confine her own prowess to campaigns in which she is likely to be more victorious.

Diomed is still rushing in pursuit of Æneas. He knows that Apollo is shielding him; but not even this knowledge checks the impetuous Greek.

"Thrice was his onset made, with murd'rous aim,
And thrice Apollo struck his glittering shield;
But when with godlike force he sought to make
His fourth attempt, the Far-destroyer spake
In terms of awful menace; 'Be advised,
Tydides, and retire; nor as a god
Thyself esteem, since not alike the race
Of gods immortal and of earth-born men.'" (D.)

Diomed accepts the warning, and Æneas is carried off to the temple of Apollo in the citadel, where Latona and Diana tend and heal him. Apollo meanwhile replaces him in the battle by a phantom likeness, round which Greeks and Trojans continue the fight. Then he calls his brother deity the War-god to the rescue of the hard-prest Trojans, and entreats him to scare from the field this irreverent and outrageous champion, who, he verily believes, would lift his spear against Olympian Jove himself. In the likeness of a Thracian chief, Mars calls Hector to the rescue; and the Trojan prince leaps from his chariot, and, crying his battle-cry, turns the tide of war. Æneas is restored, sound and well, to his place in the mêlée—somewhat indeed to the astonishment of his friends, who had seen him lying so long grievously wounded; but, as the poet pithily remarks, little time had they to ask him questions. The two Ajaxes, Ulysses, Menelaus, and Agamemnon himself, "king of men," come to the forefront of the Greek battle: and the young Antilochus, son of the venerable Nestor, notably wins his spurs. But the Trojans have supernatural aid: and Diomed, of the purged vision, cries to his friends to beware, for that he sees the War-god in their front brandishing his huge spear. The Greek line warily gives ground before this immortal adversary. The Queen of Heaven can no longer endure to be a mere spectatress of the peril of her favourites. She obtains permission from Jupiter to send Minerva against Mars: and the two goddesses, seated in Juno's chariot of state, glide down from Olympus—

"Midway between the earth and starry heaven"—

and alight upon the plain of Troy. There Juno, taking human shape, taunts the Greek troops with cowardice—


"In form of Stentor of the brazen voice,
Whose shout was as the shout of fifty men"—

and whose name has made a familiar place for itself in our English vocabulary.

"Shame on ye, Greeks, base cowards! brave alone
In outward semblance: while Achilles yet
Went forth to battle, from the Dardan gates
The Trojans never ventured to advance."

Minerva seeks out Diomed, whom she finds leaning on his chariot, resting awhile from the fight, and bathing the wound made by the arrow of Pandarus. She taunts him with his inferiority to his great father Tydeus, who was, she reminds him, "small in stature, but every inch a soldier." Diomed excuses himself by reference to her own charge to him—to fight with none of the immortals save Venus only. But now the goddess withdraws the prohibition, and herself—putting on the "helmet of darkness," to hide herself from Mars—takes her place beside him in the chariot, instead of Sthenelus, his henchman and charioteer; and the chariot-axle groans beneath the more than mortal load. They drive in full career against the War-god: in vain he hurls his spear against Diomed, for the hand of the goddess turns it safely aside. The mortal champion is more successful: his spear strikes Mars in the flank, piercing the flesh, and drawing from him, as from Venus, the heavenly "ichor." And the wounded god cries out with a shout like that of ten thousand men, so that both hosts listen to the sound with awe and trembling. He too, like Venus, flies to Olympus, and there makes piteous complaint of the impious deeds which, at the instigation of Minerva, this headstrong mortal is permitted to do. His father Jupiter rates him soundly, as the outlaw of the Olympian family, inheriting his mother Juno's headstrong temper. However, he bids Pæon, the physician of the immortals, heal the wound, and Hebe prepares him a bath. Juno and Minerva have done their work, having driven Mars from the field, and they too quit the plains of Troy, and leave the mortal heroes to themselves.

While Diomed still pursues his career of slaughter, Menelaus gives token of that easy and pliant disposition which half explains his behaviour to Helen. He has at his mercy a Trojan who has been thrown from his chariot, and begs his life. The fair-haired king is about to spare him,—as none in the whole story of the fight is spared,—when his brother Agamemnon comes up, and after chiding him for such soft-heartedness, pins the wretched suppliant to the ground with his ashen spear.

So the fight goes on through the sixth book; which is, however, chiefly remarkable for two of the most striking episodes in the poem. The first is the meeting of Diomed with the young Lycian captain, Glaucus. Encountering him in the field, and struck by his bold bearing, he asks his name and race. Glaucus replies with that pathetic simile which, found under many forms in many poets, has its earliest embodiment in the verse of the Hebrew Psalmist and the Greek bard. "The days of man are but as grass."

"Brave son of Tydeus, wherefore set thy mind

My race to know? the generations are
As of the leaves, so also of mankind.
As the leaves fall, now withering in the wind,
And others are put forth, and spring descends,
Such on the earth the race of men we find;
Each in his order a set time attends;

One generation rises and another ends." (W.)

The young chieftain goes on, nevertheless, to announce his birth and lineage. He is the grandson of the noble Bellerophon—the rider of the wondrous horse Pegasus and the slayer of the monster Chimæra—all of whose exploits he narrates at length, with some disregard to probabilities, in the full roar of the battle round him. It turns out that he and Diomed are bound together by a tie which all of Greek blood scrupulously respected—the rights of hospitality exercised towards each other by some of their ancestors. Such obligations descended from father to son, and served from time to time to mitigate the fierce and vindictive spirit of an age when every man's hand was in some sort against another. The grandfather of Diomed had been Bellerophon's guest and friend. So the Greek places his spear in the ground, and vows that he will not raise his arm against Glaucus. There are enough besides of the Trojan allies for him to slay, and Glaucus may find Greeks enough on whom to flesh his valour; but for themselves, the old hereditary bond shall hold good, and in token of amity they will change armour. A good exchange, indeed, for Diomed; for whereas his own is but of the ordinary brass or bronze, the young Lycian's panoply is richly inlaid with gold—"a hundred oxen's worth for the worth of nine." The Greek words have passed into a proverb.

The Trojans are still hard prest, and by the advice of his brother Helenus, who has the gift of soothsaying, and is as it were the domestic priest of the royal household, Hector hastens to the city, and directs his mother Hecuba to go with her matrons in solemn procession to the temple of Pallas, and beseech the goddess to withdraw the terrible Diomed from the field. In the palace, to his indignation, he finds Paris dallying with Helen, and polishing his armour instead of joining the fight. Hector upbraids him sharply: and Helen, in a speech full of self-abasement, laments the unworthiness of her paramour. Hector speaks no word of reproach to her, though he gently declines her invitation to rest himself also a while from the battle. Paris promises to follow him at once to the field; and Hector moves on to his own wife's apartments, to see her and his child once more before he goes back to the combat which he has a half-foreboding will end fatally for himself, whatever be the fortunes of Troy.

And now we are introduced to the second female character in the poem, standing in the strongest possible contrast with that of Helen, but of no less admirable conception. It is remarkable how entirely Homer succeeds in interesting us in his women, without having recourse to what might seem to us the very natural expedient of dwelling on their personal charms; especially when it is taken into account that, in his simple narrative, he has not the resources of the modern novelist, who can make even the plainest heroine attractive by painting her mental perfections, or setting before us the charms of her conversation. It has been said that he rather assumes than describes the beauty of Helen: in the case of Andromache, it has been remarked that he never once applies to her any epithet implying personal attractions, though all his translators, Lord Derby included, have been tempted to do so. It is as the wife and mother that Andromache charms us. We readily assume that she is comely, graceful—all that a woman should be; but it is simple grace of domestic character which forms the attraction of the Trojan princess.

Hector does not find her, as he expects, in the palace. She had heard how the fortunes of the day seemed turning against the Trojans; and she had hurried, "like one distraught," to the tower of the citadel, to see with her own eyes how the fight was going. He meets her at the Scæan gates, with the nurse and the child, "whom Hector called Scamandrius, from the river, but the citizens Astyanax"—"defender of the city." The father looks silently on his boy, and smiles; Andromache in tears clings to her husband, and makes a pathetic appeal to him not to be too prodigal of a life which is so dear to his wife and child. Her fate has been already that of many women of her day. Her father and seven tall brethren have been slain by the fierce Achilles, when ravaging the country round Troy he destroyed their native city of Cilician Thebes: her mother too is dead, and she is left alone. She adds the touching loving confession, which Pope's version has made popular enough even to unclassical ears—

"But while my Hector still survives, I see
My father, mother, brethren, all in thee."

Hector soothes her, but it is with a mournful foreboding of evil to come. He values too much his own honour and fair fame to shrink from the battle:—

"I should blush
To face the men and long-robed dames of Troy,
If like a coward I could shun the fight;
Nor could my soul the lessons of my youth
So far forget, whose boast it still has been
In the fore-front of battle to be found,
Charged with my father's glory and mine own.
Yet in my inmost soul too well I know
The day must come when this our sacred Troy,
And Priam's race, and Priam's royal self,

Shall in one common ruin be o'erthrown. " (D.)

But that which wrings his heart most of all is the vision before his eyes of his beloved wife dragged into slavery. Pope's version of the rest of the passage is so good of its kind, and has so naturalised the scene to our English conceptions, that no closer version will ever supersede it.

""Thus having spoke, th' illustrious chief of Troy
Stretched his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy;
The babe clung' crying to his nurse's breast,
Scared at the dazzling helm and nodding crest.
With secret pleasure each fond parent smiled,
And Hector hasted to relieve his child,
The glitt'ring terrors from his brows unbound,
And placed the beaming helmet on the ground.
Then kissed the child, and lifting high in air,
Thus to the Gods preferred a father's prayer:
O thou! whose glory fills th' ethereal throne,
And all ye deathless powers! protect my son!
Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown,
Against his country's' foes the war to wage,
And rise the Hector of the future age!
So when triumphant from successful toils,
Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,
Whole hosts may hail him with deserved acclaim,
And say—This chief transcends his father's fame:
While pleased amidst the general shouts of Troy,
His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.'
He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms,
Restored the pleasing burthen to her arms;
Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
Hushed to repose, and with a smile surveyed.
The troubled pleasure soon chastised by fear,
She mingled with the smile a tender tear.
The softened chief with kind compassion viewed,
And dried the falling drops, and thus pursued."

The "charms," be it said, are entirely Pope's idea, and do not harmonise with the simplicity of the true Homeric picture. The husband was not thinking of his wife's beauty. He "caresses her with his hand," and tries to cheer her with the thought that no hero dies until his work is done.

"For, till my day of destiny is come,
No man may take my life; and when it comes,
Nor brave nor coward can escape that day.
But go thou home, and ply thy household cares,
The loom and distaff, and appoint thy maids
Their several tasks; and leave to men of Troy,
And chief of all to me, the toils of war." (D.)

The tender yet half-contemptuous tone in which the iron soldier relegates the woman to her own inferior cares, is true to the spirit of every age in which war is the main business of man's life. Something in the same tone is the charming scene between Hotspur and his lady in Shakspeare's 'Henry IV.'

"Hotspur. Away, you trifler!— Love? I love thee not,—
    I care not for thee, Kate; this is no world
    To play with mammets and to tilt with lips:
    We must have bloody noses and crack't crowns,
    And pass them current too.—God's me, my horse!—
    What say'st thou, Kate? What wouldst thou have with me?
Lady Percy. Do you not love me? Do you not indeed?
    Well,—do not, then; for since you love me not,
    I will not love myself.—Do you not love me?
    Nay, tell me if you speak in jest, or no.
Hotspur. Come, wilt thou see me ride?
    And when I am o' horseback, I will swear
    I love thee infinitely. But hark you, Kate:
    I must not have you henceforth question me
    Whither I go, nor reason whereabout;
    Whither I must, I must; and, to conclude,
    This evening must I leave you, gentle Kate.
    I know you wise; but yet, no further wise
    Than Harry Percy's wife: constant you are—
    But yet a woman: and for secrecy,
    No lady closer: for I well believe
    Thou wilt not utter that thou dost not know."

Hector and his wife part; lie to the fight, accompanied now by Paris, girt for the battle in glittering armour, the show knight of the Trojans: Andromache back to the palace, casting many a lingering glance behind at the gallant husband she is fated never again to see alive. The Roman ladies of the last days of the Republic were not much given to sentiment; but we do not wonder that Brutus's wife, Portia, knowing well the Homeric story, was moved to tears in looking at a picture of this parting scene.


  1. There is a parallel, probably quite unconscious and therefore a higher testimony to the truth of Homer's simile, in Kinglake's vivid description of the charge of Scarlett's brigade on the Russian cavalry at Balaclava: "As heard on the edge of the Chersonese, a mile and a half towards the west, the collected roar which arose from this thicket of intermixed combatants had the unity of sound which belongs to the moan of a distant sea."—Kinglake's Crimea, iv. 174.
  2. The idea is borrowed by Milton in a well-known passage;—

    "To nobler "sights
    Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed
    Which that false fruit, which promised clearer sight,
    Had bred; then purged with euphrasy and rue
    The visual nerve, for he had much to see."
    —Par. Lost, xi. 411.