Thursday, September 10, 2015
A Tree Simile
As a tree can be felled, either by a woodcutter or by a stroke of lightning, so can a warrior. Simoeisios, struck down by Ajax, falls like a poplar cut down by a joiner (Il. 4.482–7, cf. 13.178, 389). Indra struck down Vṛtra 'as an axe (does) the woods' (RV 10.89.7, cf. 1.32.5). Rāma, on hearing of his father's death, falls down in a swoon like a tree in the forest cut down by the axe (Rm. 2.95.9). Then again, Indra felled Vṛtra like a tree struck by a thunderbolt (RV 2.14.2, cf. 6.33.3; MBh. 2.42.21; 3.271.17), while Hector, laid out by a stone from Ajax’s hand, falls like an oak under Zeus' thunderbolt (Il. 14.414).141"Durante (1976)" is Marcello Durante, Sulla preistoria della tradizione poetica greca, vol. 2 (Rome, 1976).
141 Cf. Durante (1976), 121. The tree simile could also be used of others besides warriors struck down by a god. In the preface to the Hittite story of Appu (§1; Hoffner (1998), 83) a deity is said to 'chop down evil men like trees'. In a hymn to Agni he is asked to 'bring the wicked one down as with the blade, O unageing king, like a tree of the forest with the cutting edge' (RV 6.8.5).
Related post: Some Homeric Similes.