Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published August 12, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

So, this week for Words Crush Wednesday, I’m going to focus on a part of the Iliad where Patroclos is alive.  Because he’s my favorite character, dangit!

So, from Book XI of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation (I know, I always use that one, in large part because it’s the one conveniently on hand, also because it’s prose, so I don’t have to preserve line breaks):

Meanwhile Nestor’s horses were sweating and steaming, as they brought in Nestor and Machaon to the camp.  Achillês was standing on the poop of his great ship, and watching the lamentable rout.  He saw the chariot come, and noticed who it was, and shouted from the ship for Patroclos.  In their hut, Patroclos heard the call and came out–a splendid figure, but for him this was the beginning of evil things.  Patroclos said:

“Why do you call me, Achillês?  what do you want with me?”

Achillês said:

“Menoitiadês, friend of my heart!  Now I think I shall have the Achaians at my knees!  Dire necessity is upon them now.  Make haste, my dear Patroclos, go and ask Nestor who is this wounded man he is bringing out of the battle.  His back looks just like Machaon Asclepiadês, but I could not see the man’s face.  The horses were going too fast.”

Patroclos at once went off at a run into the camp.

And I’ll quote some of what happened when he got there next week.  (Just some, of course, because Nestor does tend to talk a lot.  I mean, they all do, but Nestor especially.  Well, he is an old man.)

So, a few comments.  Menoitiadês, of course, is the patronymic meaning “son of Menoitios,” and Asclepiadês is the patronymic “son of Asclepios.”  And for Machaon–or his brother Podaleirios–to be wounded in battle was a very bad thing for the Achaians, since the sons of Asclepios were their healers.  (Which leads to the question of why on earth they were fighting in the first place, instead of staying safely in the camp, but apparently that had not occurred to them.)  Anyway, presumably he recognized the decorative device on Machaon’s shield (Late Bronze Age shields, being nearly as large as the men who carried them, were kept on the back when not in use), but without seeing his face couldn’t be sure that it wasn’t someone else carrying a similar shield.

Notice how freakin’ pleased Achilles is that his friends and allies are being slaughtered.  Sheesh, what a jerk!


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