Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Currently reading

Mike Young: What are you reading?
Me: The Iliad. I LOVE IT.
Mike Young: Yeah...I'm waiting for his next one.

Not only do I love Fagles' exquisite and delicious translation of this, "the world's greatest war story," but I love Homer's women. Homer knew what was up. It's not enough to put some dudes in armor and send them in boats to spear each other to death. What humanizes the warriors are the women who are waiting for them at home: the wives, the daughters, the sisters. Here's a great speech by Briseis, wife of one of Achilles' victims, who he gets to keep as part of the spoils of war, crying over the body of Patroclus:

...dearest joy of my heart, my harrowed, broken heart!
I left you alive that day I left these shelters,
now I come back to find you fallen, captain of armies!
So grief gives way to grief, my life one endless sorrow!
The husband to whom my father and noble mother gave me,
I saw him torn by the sharp bronze before our city,
and my three brothers—a single mother bore us:
my brothers, how I loved you!—
you all went down to death on the same day...
But you, Patroclus, you would not let me weep,
now when the swift Achilles cut my husband down,
not when he plundered the lordly Mynes' city—
not even weep! No, again and again you vowed
you'd make me godlike Achilles' lawful, wedded wife,
you would sail me west in your warships, home to Phthia
and there with the Myrmidons hold my marriage feast.
So now I mourn your death—I will never stop—
you were always kind.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

Fagles > Fitzgerald, for sure.