Tuesday, October 21, 2014


Cowardice and Bravery

Homer, Iliad 13.275-291 (Idomeneus to Meriones; tr. Samuel Butler):
I know you for a brave man: you need not tell me. If the best men at the ships were being chosen to go on an ambush — and there is nothing like this for showing what a man is made of; it comes out then who is cowardly and who brave; the coward will change colour at every touch and turn; [280] he is full of fears, and keeps shifting his weight first on one knee and then on the other; his heart beats fast as he thinks of death, and one can hear the chattering of his teeth; whereas the brave man will not change colour nor be [285] frightened on finding himself in ambush, but is all the time longing to go into action — if the best men were being chosen for such a service, no one could make light of your courage nor feats of arms. If you were struck by a dart or smitten in close combat, it would not be from behind, in your neck nor back, [290] but the weapon would hit you in the chest or belly as you were pressing forward to a place in the front ranks.

οἶδ᾽ ἀρετὴν οἷός ἐσσι· τί σε χρὴ ταῦτα λέγεσθαι;        275
εἰ γὰρ νῦν παρὰ νηυσὶ λεγοίμεθα πάντες ἄριστοι
ἐς λόχον, ἔνθα μάλιστ᾽ ἀρετὴ διαείδεται ἀνδρῶν,
ἔνθ᾽ ὅ τε δειλὸς ἀνὴρ ὅς τ᾽ ἄλκιμος ἐξεφαάνθη·
τοῦ μὲν γάρ τε κακοῦ τρέπεται χρὼς ἄλλυδις ἄλλῃ,
οὐδέ οἱ ἀτρέμας ἧσθαι ἐρητύετ᾽ ἐν φρεσὶ θυμός,        280
ἀλλὰ μετοκλάζει καὶ ἐπ᾽ ἀμφοτέρους πόδας ἵζει,
ἐν δέ τέ οἱ κραδίη μεγάλα στέρνοισι πατάσσει
κῆρας ὀϊομένῳ, πάταγος δέ τε γίγνετ᾽ ὀδόντων·
τοῦ δ᾽ ἀγαθοῦ οὔτ᾽ ἂρ τρέπεται χρὼς οὔτέ τι λίην
ταρβεῖ, ἐπειδὰν πρῶτον ἐσίζηται λόχον ἀνδρῶν,        285
ἀρᾶται δὲ τάχιστα μιγήμεναι ἐν δαῒ λυγρῇ·
οὐδέ κεν ἔνθα τεόν γε μένος καὶ χεῖρας ὄνοιτο.
εἴ περ γάρ κε βλεῖο πονεύμενος ἠὲ τυπείης
οὐκ ἂν ἐν αὐχέν᾽ ὄπισθε πέσοι βέλος οὐδ᾽ ἐνὶ νώτῳ,
ἀλλά κεν ἢ στέρνων ἢ νηδύος ἀντιάσειε        290
πρόσσω ἱεμένοιο μετὰ προμάχων ὀαριστύν.
Related posts:

<< Home
Newer›  ‹Older

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?