“… and the dark came swirling down across his eyes.”

Book 4:

Agamemnon: “Menalaus, my brother, the Trojans have killed you! The Trojans will pay!”
Menalaus: “Chill, it’s not a mortal wound. Seriously.”
Agamemnon: “The Trojans will still pay!”

The truce falls apart. Men die. We begin to wonder why Agamemnon, whose wife the Trojans did not abduct, seems so much more bent on killing them all (all! all!) than Menalaus, whose wife the Trojans did abduct.

Speaking of Menalaus’ ex, no sign of Paris this book. Once can only assume he’s still rolling around with Helen.

But never mind that. The thing that’s genuinely wonderful is the use of language and metaphor, which very much comes through in this translation, and which makes those battle scenes more compelling than they ought to be.

Screams of men and cries of triumph breaking in one breath,
fighters killing, fighters killed, and the ground streamed blood.
Wildly as two winter torrents raging down the mountains,
swirling into a valley, hurl their great waters together,
flash floods from the wellsprings plunging down in a forge
and miles away in the hills a shepherd hear’s the thunder–
so from the grinding armies broke the cries and crash of war.

There’s another extended passage, in this book or maybe the next, that compared the churn and dust of the battle to the threshing of grain.

And there are shorter evocative passages. Including, as men die, the repeated phrase, “the dark came swirling down across his eyes.” (shivers)

As lnhammer says, the things Homer does well, he does very well indeed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *