Yep, it’s Words Crush Wednesday, and we’re still in Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation. Last week, Hector had just finished chewing Paris out for turning tail and running at the first sight of Menelaos.
“That is true enough, Hector, that is true enough. Your heart is always hard as steel. Like a shipwright’s axe, when he slices off a spar from a tree with all the strength of a man! A hard heart indeed! Don’t taunt me with Aphrodite’s adorable gifts. You can’t throw away a god’s gifts, offered unasked, which none could win by wishing.
“Very well now, if you want me to fight, make both armies sit down on the ground, and put me between them with Menelaos to fight for Helen and all her wealth. Whichever proves the better man, let him take both wealth and woman home with him. Then let both sides swear friendship and peace: you to stay in Troy, they to go back to Argos, where there are plenty of fine women!”
Normally, I’d Anglicize Alexandros into Alexander, but I wanted to stick to Rouse’s transliterations. I need to check some other translations, and see what they say where this one says “hard as steel” on account of steel is just an eensy weensy anachronism. (Unlike an eensy weensy arachnid. No, wait, that should be “itsy bitsy,” shouldn’t it?) Anyway, when Alexander says “Argos” he really means “Greece”: the Homeric texts use “Achaians”, “Danaans” and “Argives” interchangeably to refer to the Greek forces at Troy. (Technically, they’re not so much “interchangeable” as they are required to fit the insanely demanding metric form.) So in this case, he used Argos rather than Achaia or…actually, there isn’t a place name to fit “Danaan” and I don’t think Hellas is ever used to refer to Greece as a whole in the Homeric texts. (Certainly its ethnic descriptor, Hellene, is only applied to a few groups in the Catalog of Ships, so it seems unlikely that Hellas would be used any more widely.)
Anyway, next week I’ll skip over the formalities and the oaths, and Helen on the wall (though I might come back to that later), and finally get to the meat of the duel…if it can really be called that. LOL!
Ugh. It’s already Wednesday, but I’ve only barely written the first draft of the paper due tomorrow…and I’m not sure I can bring myself to care enough to revise it tonight. Plus I haven’t even started on tomorrow’s myth. (Admittedly, that’s not actually important. But it’s something I actually want to do, unlike that paper. Besides, I’ve kind of been looking forward to trying to tackle Ixion.) For that matter, I haven’t even gone back to my books to check if I screwed up last week’s myth.