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med, who was clearly getting the advantage, receives the chief portion of the divided prize. In the quoit-throwing Ajax is beaten easily; and critics have remarked that in no single contest does the poet allow him, though a favourite with the army, to be successfuL Those who insist upon the allegorical view of the poem, tell us that the lesson is, that brute force is of little avail without counsel. The archers' prizes are next contended for, and we have the original of the story which has been borrowed, with some modifications, by many imitators from Virgil's time downwards, and figures in the history of the English 'Clym of the Clough,' and Tell of Switzerland. Teucer, reputed the most skilful bowman in the whole host, only shoots near enough to cut the cord which ties the dove to the mast, while Meriones follows the bird with his aim as she soars far into the air, and brings her down, pierced through and through, with his arrow. But Meriones had vowed an offering to Apollo "of the silver bow," which Teucer, in the pride of his heart, had neglected. The games are closed with hurling the spear, when the king Agamemnon himself, desirous to pay all honour to his great rival's grief, steps into the arena as a competitor. With no less grace and dignity Achilles accepts the compliment, but forbids the contest. "0 son of Atreus, we know thou dost far surpass us all"—and he hands the prize for his acceptance.
The anger against Agamemnon is past: but not so the savage wrath against Hector. Combined with his passionate grief for Patroclus, it amounts to madness. Morning after morning he rises from the restless couch where he has lain thinking of his friend, and lashing the dead corpse afresh to his chariot, drags it furiously thrice round the mound that covers Patroclus' ashes. Twelve days has the hody now lain unburied; but Venus and Apollo preserve it from decay. Venus sheds over it ambrosial roseate unguents, and Apollo covers it with a dark cool cloud. In less mythological language, the loathliness of death may not mar its beauty, nor the sunbeams breed in it corruption. Even the Olympians are seized with horror and pity. In spite of the remonstrances of his still implacable queen, Jupiter instructs Thetis to visit her son. and soften his cruel obduracy. At the same time he sends Iris to Priam, and persuades him to implore Achilles in person to restore the body of his son. Accompanied by a single herald, and bearing a rich ransom, the aged king passes the Greek lines by night (for Mercury himself becomes his guide, disguised in the form of a Greek straggler, and casts a deep sleep upon the sentinels). He reaches the tent of Achilles, who has just ended his evening meal, throws himself at his feet, and kisses "the dreadful murderous hands by which so many of his sons have fallen," in an agony of supplication. He adjures the conqueror, by the thought of his own aged father Peleus—now looking and longing for his return—to have some pity on a bereaved old man, whose son can never return to him alive; and at least to give him back the body.
"And Tor thy father's sake look pitying down
With the impulsive suddenness which is a part of his character, Achilles gives way at once—prepared, indeed, to yield, by his mother's remonstrances. He gives orders to have the body clothed in costly raiment, and washed and anointed by the handmaidens; nay, even lifts his dead enemy with his own hands, and lays him on a couch. Yet he will not let Priam as yet look upon the corpse, lest at the sight of his grief his own passion should break out afresh. The father spends the night in the tent of his son's slayer, and there he closes his eyes in sleep for the first time since the day of Hector's death. In the morning he returns to Troy with his mournful burden, and the funeral rites of Hector close the poem. The boon which Achilles has granted he makes complete by the spontaneous offer of twelve days' truce, that so Troy may bury her dead hero with his rightful honours. The wailings of Priam and Hecuba, though naturally expressed, are but commonplace compared with the last tribute of the remorseful Helen :—
"Hector, of all my brethren dearest thou I
i CHAPTER XI.
The character of Hector has been very differently estimated. Modern writers upon Homer generally assume that the ancient bard had, as it were, a mental picture of all his great heroes before him, of their inner as well as of their outer man, and worked from this in the various acts and speeches which he has assigned to each. Probably nothing could be further from the truth. If the poet could be questioned as to his immortal work, and required to give a detailed character of each of his chief personages, such as his modem admirers present us with, he would most likely confess that such character as his heroes possess was built up by degrees, as occasion called for them to act and speak, and that his own portraits (where they were not derived from the current traditions) rested but little upon any preconceived ideal. It is very difficult to estimate character at all in a work of fiction in which the principles of conduct are in many respects so different from those of our own age. How far even the ablest critics have succeeded in the attempt in the case of Hector may be judged from this; that whereas Colonel Mure speaks of " a turn for vainglorious boasting" as his characteristic defect,* Mr Froude remarks that' "while Achilles is all pride, Hector is all modesty." t Both criticisms are from writers of competent taste and judgment; but both cannot possibly be true. There can be no doubt that Hector makes a considerable number of vaunting speeches in the course of the poem—vaunts which he does not always carry out; but in this respect he differs rather in degree than in principle from most of the other warriors, Greek as well as Trojan; and if the boasts of Achilles are always made good, while Hector's often come to nothing, that follows almost necessarily from the fact that Achilles is the hero of the tale. A boastful tongue and a merciless spirit are attributes of the heroic character in Homer: his heroes bear a singular resemblance in these two points to the "braves " of the American Indians; while they are utterly unlike them in their sensitiveness to physical pain, their undisguised horror of death, and their proneness to give loud expression to both feelings. "Without attempting to sketch a full-length portrait, which probably Homer himself would not recognise, it may be said that Hector interests us chiefly because he is far more human than Achilles, in his weakness as well as in his strength; his honest love for his wife and child, his pitying condonation of Helen, his half-contemptuous kindness to his weak brother Paris, his hearty and unselfish devotion to his country. Achilles is the "hero," indeed, in the classical sense—i.e., he is the demi-god, superior to many of the mortal weaknesses which are palpable enough in the character of his antagonist: as little