Key to Reading Unit 25

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Unit Key 24

Unit 25

1. Glaucus, why are we two especially honoured with a seat of honour, [choice] meats and full wine-cups in Lycia, and all men look upon us as if we were gods, and we possess a great piece of land beside the banks of Xanthus, good land [consisting] of orchard and wheat-bearing land? Therefore we should now take our stand in the front ranks of the Lycians and take part in blazing battle, so that a man of the close-armoured Lycians may speak thus: 'They [are] not inglorious [who] hold sway in Lycia, [these] kings of ours, and [who] consume (lit. eat) fat sheep and choice honey-sweet wine. But [they have] fine strength, since they fight in the front ranks of the Lycians.' My good friend, if we were to escape this conflict and were always going to exist ageless and immortal, neither would I myself fight in the front ranks nor would I urge you into war that brings men glory. But now, seeing that in any case the fates of death, which no mortal man can escape or avoid, stand near us in their thousands, let us go, [to see] whether we shall bestow glory to someone else or another to us. (Iliad 12.310-328)

2. Achilles like to the gods, remember your father, of [the same] age as I am, at the painful threshold of old age; those who dwell round [him] harass him, and there is no-one to keep off harm and destruction. Yet assuredly he rejoices in his heart when he hears that you are alive, and all his days he hopes that he will see again his dear son come back from Troy. But I am all-hapless, since I produced the noblest sons in broad Troy, but I say that not one of them is left. Fifty were my [sons], when the sons of the Achaeans came; nineteen were mine from a single womb, the others women bore me in my hall. Violent Ares broke up the knees of most of them; but the one who was left to me and protected the city and the citizens (lit. them), you killed him lately defending his country, Hector; for his sake I come now to the ships of the Achaeans to ransom him from you, and I bring gifts beyond number. So respect the gods, Achilles, and pity me (lit. [the suppliant] himself), remembering your father; I am still more pitiable, and I have endured what no other mortal man on earth [has endured], [viz] to stretch my hand to the mouth of the man who killed my son. (Iliad 24.486-506)

3. Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, thus do you now wish to go home forthwith to your beloved native land? Fare you well, nevertheless. For if you were to know in your mind of how many woes it is fated for you to have full measure, before reaching your native land, you would stay here with me and look after this house and be immortal, though desiring to see your wife, for whom you long every day. For indeed I claim that I am not inferior to her, either in body or in figure, since it is in no way fitting for mortal women to compete with goddesses in body and appearance.' Odysseus of the many counsels [in] answering her replied: 'Lady goddess, do not be angry at this (i.e. how I feel about my wife and home); I myself know all this, that wise Penelope is of less account than you in form and height to look upon face to face. For she is mortal, whereas you are immortal and ageless. But even so I wish and hope all my days to go home and see the day of my home-coming. But if one of the gods smites me on the wine-dark sea, I shall endure, with my woe-bearing heart in my breast. For already I have suffered very much and laboured much on the sea (lit. waves) and in war; let this [suffering] too be [added] to those [sufferings] after.' (Odyssey 5.203-224)

4. Truly, she remains with steadfast heart in your halls; and ever sorrowfully do her nights and days pass away, as she weeps. Not yet does anyone hold your fair possessions, but undisturbed Telemachus administers your allotted lands and he feasts at equal banquets (i.e. gets his equal share), as (lit. which) is fitting for a law-giving man to share; for all men invite [him]. But your father remains there in the country, and comes not down to the city; nor has he bedding [to serve as] a bed or (lit. and) cloaks or shining coverlets, but in the winter he sleeps in the house where the slaves sleep, in the dust by the fire, and is clothed on his body with poor clothing. But when summer comes and fruitful autumn, anywhere on the knoll of his vine-bearing plot is thrown his bed of fallen leaves on the ground. There he lies grieving, and fosters great sorrow in his heart, longing for your return; and heavy old age has come upon him. And so [it was that] I too perished and met my fate; neither did the keen-sighted Shooter of Arrows (Artemis) assail me in my halls with her gentle shafts and kill me, nor did any disease come upon me, such as (lit. which) especially takes (historic pres.) the spirit from the limbs with loathsome wasting. No, [it was] longing for you and [for] your counsels, glorious Odysseus, and [for] your gentleness [which] took away my honey-sweet life. (Odyssey 11.181-203)

5. Come, may Apollo be favourable and Artemis too (lit. along with Artemis), and farewell all you [maidens]. Remember me in after time, whenever any one of men who dwell upon the earth comes here, a much-suffering stranger, and asks, ' Girls, who in your eyes (lit. to/for you) is the sweetest of singers who comes here, and in whom do you most delight?' Answer right well, all of you. concerning me (lit. us): '[He is] a blind man, and he dwells in rugged Chios, and all his songs are supreme evermore (lit. hereafter).' And I (lit. we) shall carry your fame as far as I roam over the earth to the well-situated cities of men; and they will be persuaded, since [this] is indeed true. And I will not cease praising far-shooting Apollo, the lord of the silver bow, whom fair-tressed Leto bore. (Hymn to Delian Apollo 165-178)

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(c) Gavin Betts, Alan Henry 2001