Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub
[graphic]

HECTOR'S FAREWELL TO ANDROMACHE AND ASTYANAX. Thorwaldsen.

hear me through, but slay me while I spoke.” While he thus ruminated, Achilles approached, terrible as Mars, his armor flashing lightning as he moved. At that sight Hector's heart failed him and he fled. Achilles swiftly pursued. They ran, still keeping near the walls, till they had thrice encircled the city. As often as Hector approached the walls Achilles intercepted him and forced him to keep out in a wider circle. But Apollo sustained Hector's strength and would not let him sink in weariness. Then Pallas assuming the form of Deiphobus, Hector's bravest brother, appeared suddenly at his side. Hector saw him with delight, and thus strengthened, stopped his flight and, turning to meet Achilles, threw his spear. It struck the shield of Achilles and bounded back. He turned to receive another from the hand of Deiphobus, but Deiphobus was gone. Then Hector understood his doom and said, “ Alas! it is plain this is my hour to die! I thought Deiphobus at hand, but Pallas deceived me, and he is still in Troy. But I will not fall inglorious.” So saying he drew his falchion from his side and rushed at once to combat. Achilles secure behind his shield waited the approach of Hector. When he came within reach of his spear, Achilles choosing with his eye a vulnerable part where the armor leaves the neck uncovered, aimed his spear at that part, and Hector fell, death-wounded. Feebly he said, “Spare my body! Let my parents ransom it, and let me receive funeral rites from the sons and daughters of Troy." To which Achilles replied, “ Dog, name not ransom nor pity to me, on whom you have brought such dire distress. No! trust me, nought shall save thy carcass from the dogs. Though twenty , ransoms and thy weight in gold were offered, I should refuse it all.”

Achilles drags the Body of Hector. — So saying the son of Peleus stripped the body of its armor, and, fastening cords to the feet, tied them behind his chariot, leaving the body to trail along the ground. Then mounting the chariot he lashed the steeds and so dragged the body to and fro before the city. No words can tell the grief of Priam and Hecuba at this sight. His people could scarce restrain the aged king from rushing forth. He threw himself in

the dust and besought them each by name to let him pass. Hecuba's distress was not less violent. The citizens stood round them weeping. The sound of the mourning reached the ears of Andromache, the wife of Hector, as she sat among her maidens at work; and anticipating evil she went forth to the wall. When she saw the horror there presented, she would have thrown herself headlong from the wall, but fainted and fell into the arms of her maidens. Recovering, she bewailed her fate, picturing to herself her country ruined, herself a captive, and her son, the youthful Astyanax, dependent for his bread on the charity of strangers.

After Achilles and the Greeks had thus taken their revenge on the slayer of Patroclus they busied themselves in paying due funeral rites to their friend. A pile was erected, and the body burned with due solemnity. Then ensued games of strength and skill, chariot races, wrestling, boxing, and archery. Later, the chiefs sat down to the funeral banquet, and finally retired to rest. But Achilles partook neither of the feast nor of sleep. The recollection of his lost friend kept him awake, — the memory of their companionship in toil and dangers, in battle or on the perilous deep. Before the earliest dawn he left his tent, and joining to his chariot his swift steeds, he fastened Hector's body to be dragged behind. Twice he dragged him round the tomb of Patroclus, leaving him at length stretched in the dust. But Apollo would not permit the body to be torn or disfigured with all this abuse ; he preserved it free from taint or defilement.

While Achilles indulged his wrath in thus disgracing Hector, Jupiter in pity summoned Thetis to his presence. Bidding her prevail on Achilles to restore the body of Hector to the Trojans, he sent Iris to encourage Priam to beg of Achilles the body of his son. Iris delivered her message, and Priam prepared to obey. He opened his treasuries and took out rich garments and cloths, with ten talents in gold and two splendid tripods and a golden cup of matchless workmanship. Then he called to his sons and bade them draw forth his litter and place in it the various articles designed for a ransom to Achilles. When all was ready,

the old king with a single companion as aged as himself, the herald Idæus, drove forth from the gates, parting there with Hecuba his queen, and all his friends, who lamented him as going to certain death. * Priam in the Tent of Achilles. – But Jupiter, beholding with compassion the venerable king, sent Mercury to be his guide and protector. Assuming the form of a young warrior, Mercury presented himself to the aged couple; and, when at the sight of him they hesitated whether to fly or yield, approaching he grasped Priam's hand, and offered to be their guide to Achilles' tent. Priam gladly accepted his service, and Mercury, mounting the

carriage, assumed the reins and conveyed them to the camp. Then having cast the guards into a heavy sleep, he introduced Priam into the tent where Achilles sat, attended by two of his warriors. The aged king threw himself at the feet of Achilles and kissed those terrible hands which had destroyed so many of his sons. “Think, O Achilles," he said, “ of thine own father, full of days like me, and trembling on the gloomy verge of life. Even now, mayhap, some neighbor chief oppresses him and there is none at hand to succor him in his distress. Yet, knowing that Achilles lives, he doubtless still rejoices, hoping that one day he shall see thy face again. But me no comfort cheers, whose bravest sons, so late the flower of Ilium, all have fallen, Yet one I had, one more than all the rest the strength of my age,

« НазадПродовжити »