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On this page: Achilles (continued)

ACHILLES.

and foreseeing his fall in such a war, con­ducts the boy of nine to the island of Scyros, where in female dress he grows up among the daughters of king Lycomedes, and by one of them, Deldameia, begets Neoptole-mus (q.v.). But Calehas betrays his where­abouts, and Odysseus, in concert with Dio-medes, unmasks the young hero. Dis­guised as a merchant, he spreads out female ornaments before the maidens, as well as a shield and spear; suddenly a trumpet sounds the call to battle, the maidens flee, but Achilles clutches at the arms, and de­clares himself eager to fight. At the first landing of the Greeks, on the Asian coast, he wounds Telephus (q.v.) ', at their second, on the Trojan shore, Cycnus (q.v.). Before Troy, Homer makes him the chief of Greek heroes, whom the favour of Hera and Athena and his own merit have placed above friend and foe. He is graced with all the attri­butes of a hero : in birth, beauty, swiftness, strength, and valour, lie has not his peer; none can resist him, the very sight of him strikes terror into the foe. His anger may be furious, his grief immoderate; but his nature is at bottom kind, affectionate, and generous, even to his enemies. Touching is his love for his parents, especially his mother, and his devotion to his friends. In the first nine years of the war he leads the Greeks on their many plundering excursions around Troy, and destroys eleven inland and twelve seacoast towns. The events of the tenth year, brought on by the deep grudge he bears Agamemnon for taking away Brise'is (daughter of Brises), form the subject of Homer's Iliad. When he and his men withdraw from the fight, the Tro­jans press on irresistibly ; they have taken the camp of the Greeks, and are setting their ships on fire. In this extremity he lends Patroclus the arms his father (see peleus) had given him, and lets him lead the Myrmidons to battle. Patroclus drives the Trojans back, but falls by Hector's hand, and the arms are lost, though the corpse is recovered. Grief for his friend and thirst for vengeance at last overcome his grudge against Agamemnon. Furnished by Hephaestus, at the request of Thetis, with splendid new arms, including the shield of wondrous workmanship, he goes out against Hector, well knowing that he himself must fall soon after him. He makes frightful havoc among the enemy, till at last Hector is the only one that dares await him without the walls, and even he turns in terror at the sight of him. After

chasing him three times round the city, Achilles overtakes him, pierces him with his lance, trails his body behind his chariot to the camp, and there casts it for a prey to the birds and dogs. Then with the utmost pomp he lays the loved friend of his 3routh in the same grave-mound that is to hold his own ashes, and founds funeral games in his honour. The next night Priam comes secretly to his tent, and offers rich gifts to ransom Hector's body ; but Achilles, whom the broken-down" old king reminds of his own father, gives it up without ransom, and grants eleven days' truce for the burying. After many valiant deeds (see trojan war), he is overtaken by the fate which he had himself chosen; for the choice had been given him between an early death with un­dying fame and a long but inglorious life. Near the Scaean Gate he is struck by the shaft of Paris, guided by Apollo. Accord­ing to a later legend he was wounded in the one vulnerable heel, and in the temple of Thymbrffian Apollo, whither he had gone unarmed to be wedded to Priam's daughter Polyxena (g.i'.}. Greeks and Trojans fight furiously all day about his body, till Zeus sends down a storm to end the fight. Seven­teen days and nights the Greeks, with Thetis and the sea-goddesses and Muses, bewail the dead; then amid numerous sacri­fices the body is burnt. Next morning the ashes, with those of Patroclus and of Nestor's son, Antilochus, whom Achilles had loved in the next degree, are placed in a golden pitcher, the work of Hephaestus, and gift of Dionysus, and deposited in the famed tumulus that crowns the promontory of Sigeum. The soul of Homer's Achilles dwells, like other souls, in the lower world, and is there seen by Odysseus together with the souls of his two friends. According to later poets Thetis snatched her son's body out of the burning pyre and carried it to the island of Leuke at the mouth of the Danube, where the transfigured hero lives on, sovereign of the Pontus and husband of Iphigeneia. Others place him in Elysium, with Medea or Helena to wife. Besides Leuce, where the mariners of Pontus and Greek colonists honoured him with offerings and games, he had many other places of wor­ship ; the most venerable, however, was his tomb on the Hellespont, where he appeared to Homer in the full blaze of his armour, and struck the poet blind. In works of art Achilles was represented as similar to Ares, with magnificent physique, and hair bristling up like a mane. One of his most famous

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