ἔνθα διαγνῶναι χαλεπῶς ἦν ἄνδρα ἕκαστον

The truce and burial of the dead in Iliad 8.420.  The scene generally is touching but all the more so for the specific detail that ‘Priam did not allow his people to weep’ – which I can’t help but contrastingly connect with the lengthy lament for Hector at the end of the work.  There’s also the unifying parallelism of the final six lines here.

And Helios just now was striking the fields
climbing heaven from the soft-gliding, deep-flowing ocean.
And [the armies] met one another.
There it was difficult to distinguish each man,
but washing off the blooded gore with water
and shedding warm tears they lifted them onto carts.
But great Priam did not allow his people to weep. They in silence
heaped the corpses on pyres, grieving in their hearts,
and after they had burned them they went to holy Ilium.
So likewise on the other side the well-greaved Achaeans
heaped the corpses on pyres, grieving in their hearts,
and after they had burned them they went to their hollow ships.

Ἠέλιος μὲν ἔπειτα νέον προσέβαλλεν ἀρούρας
ἐξ ἀκαλαρρείταο βαθυρρόου Ὠκεανοῖο
οὐρανὸν εἰσανιών: οἳ δ᾽ ἤντεον ἀλλήλοισιν.
ἔνθα διαγνῶναι χαλεπῶς ἦν ἄνδρα ἕκαστον:
ἀλλ᾽ ὕδατι νίζοντες ἄπο βρότον αἱματόεντα
δάκρυα θερμὰ χέοντες ἀμαξάων ἐπάειραν.
οὐδ᾽ εἴα κλαίειν Πρίαμος μέγας: οἳ δὲ σιωπῇ
νεκροὺς πυρκαϊῆς ἐπινήνεον ἀχνύμενοι κῆρ,
ἐν δὲ πυρὶ πρήσαντες ἔβαν προτὶ Ἴλιον ἱρήν.
ὣς δ᾽ αὔτως ἑτέρωθεν ἐϋκνήμιδες Ἀχαιοὶ
νεκροὺς πυρκαϊῆς ἐπινήνεον ἀχνύμενοι κῆρ,
ἐν δὲ πυρὶ πρήσαντες ἔβαν κοίλας ἐπὶ νῆας.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s