Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published July 8, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Today’s Words Crush Wednesday has been chosen due to the fact that it will not freakin’ stop raining here.  I don’t remember the last time I opened the weather app on my iPad and didn’t get a “river flood warning” message.

From Book XXI of the Iliad, W. H. D. Rouse translation:

Then Achilles was after the Trojans like a fury.  He leapt from the bank into the water.  At once the River was on him in a wild flood, surging and tumbling the heap of corpses about and pushing them up on the dry land and bellowing like a bull; but those who were still alive he kept safe and hid them in his deep eddies.  The waters rose in tumultuous billows all round Achilles, beat on his shield and pushed him so that he could not stand on his feet.  He caught hold of a tall elm tree; but the tree tore away its roots and fell from the bank, fell right across the river and dammed the flood with its branches so that Achilles scrambled out of the water and went off as fast as he could across the plain, frightened.  The River would not stop, but rolled after him, a great black surface; he still hoped to get in the way of Achilles and save the Trojans  But Achilles kept a spearthrow ahead, darting like a black hunter-eagle, the strongest and swiftest of birds that fly.  His armour brattled and clattered–the River came thundering on behind–he just managed to keep away, and ran!  As a gardener brings water from a dark burn to his plants and gardens, and shovels out the dams from the channel, leading the water, as it tumbles all the pebbles about in the bed and runs quickly on down the slope, almost catching its leader, so the River rolled on after Achilles and caught him at every step, fleet-footed though he was.  But gods are stronger than men.  And if he ever stopt those quick feet, and showed front to see whether all the gods of the broad heavens were hunting him, a great wave would rise and beat over his shoulders.  He would lift up his feet high to get clear, quite distracted; the River tired out his legs with its violent rush, eating the ground from under his feet.

Really, I should have quoted some of the build-up to the flood, too; it’s best to have the stuff that made the river so angry, too, but…well, mostly I just wanted the flood itself, on account of the local weather.

Though I do love the transformation from “arrogantly mouthing off Achilles” to “running like a scared rabbit Achilles.”  Because, you know, hypocrisy.

Maybe I’ll quote more of the sequence next week.  The whole battle in the river’s pretty awesome.  Though there’s also some pretty gruesome bits.  Y’know, with fish nibbling on corpses and such.  Yecch.


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