Words Crush Wenesday: The Homeric Version

Published March 25, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, today’s Words Crush Wednesday quote is going to be a super-long one!  Because I’ve decided to do the Blogging A-to-Z Challenge (see link on side-bar) so starting next week, my quotes are going to have to be tied to the letter of the alphabet assigned to that particular Wednesday.  Most of them will still be from the Iliad, though.  (Unless I find a really great quote about Memnon in the book of Epic Fragments, since M falls on a Wednesday…)

Anyway, today I’ll be quoting the entire rest of the fight between Menelaos and Paris!  So get ready!  Last week, Paris had thrown his spear at Menelaos, and it had been harmlessly deflected by Menelaos’ shield.  Now for the rest of the fight, from Book III of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation…

Menelaos had the second shot, and before he cast he made his prayer to Father Zeus:

“O Lord Zeus, grant vengeance upon Alexandros, who has wronged me unprovoked!  Bring him low by my hand, that many a man may shudder in long generations to come, at the thought of wronging a friend who shows him hospitality!”

He balanced the spear, and cast it, and struck the shield of Alexandros.  Right through the shield ran the stout spear, tore right through his corselet, and cut through the tunic along his side; but he swerved away from his death.  Then Atreides drew his sword, and stretching over struck the horn of the helmet; but the blade broke upon it in three or four splinters and fell from his hand.  Atreides groaned, and looked up to heaven crying:

“O Father Zeus, such an unkind god as you there never was!  You do spoil everything!  I did think I had paid out that scoundrel, and here is my sword broken in my hand, and my spear missed and never touched him!”

He made one leap and caught hold of the horsehair plume, turned and dragged Alexandros towards his own ranks; the helmet-strap choked him, pulled tight under his chen.  And Menelaos almost got him–a glorious victory it would have been!  But Aphrodite saw it and broke the strap, so all he got was the empty helmet.  He threw it over with a swing to his friends, and leapt back to kill his enemy with the spear; but Aphrodite carried him off in a thick mist, as a god can easily do, and put him down in Helen’s sweet-scented chamber.

Whew.  It takes something out of a girl, copying that much text out of a book.  It’s much harder than just typing out of your mind.  Anyway, for those who don’t know, Atreides is a patronymic meaning “son of Atreus.”  It’s often used to describe both Menelaos and Agamemnon, for times when their names don’t fit the meter.

I gotta say, I wonder what kind of horn that was on Alexander’s helmet that it was stronger than a bronze sword.  Must’ve been cut off some mythical beast or something.  (Perhaps a Hittite one, so that the divine justice of the Greek gods had no power over it?  Uh, yeah, okay, I’m way over-thinking this…but Troy was a Hittite vassal state!  Not that the classical Greeks had any idea that the Hittites had ever existed, mind you…)

If you want to know what happens next, well, while Menelaos is ranting and railing and demanding the return of his wife, as agreed and as the sworn oaths promised, Aphrodite decides it’s time for Helen and Alexander to have some time alone.  My first quote in this weekly event was Helen’s reaction to that idea.

wcw

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