06.03.02 – Wednesday
The professor wept today in Latin class; over the death of Priam. I must admit, for once it is poetry. Here. Priam has just lobbed a spear at Pyrrhus, but it caught on the boss of the shield and dangles there, useless:
Cui Pyrrhus: ‘Referes ergo haec et nuntius ibis
Pelidae genitori; illi mea tristia facta
degeneremque Neoptolemum narrare memento.
Nunc morere.’ Hoc dicens altaria ad ipsa trementem
traxit et in multo lapsantem sanguine nati,1
implicuitque comam laeva, dextraque coruscum
extulit, ac lateri capulo tenus abdidit ensem.
Haec finis Priami fatorum; hic exitus illum
sorte tulit, Troiam incensam et prolapsa videntem
Pergama, tot quondam populis terrisque superbum
regnatorem Asiae. Iacet ingens litore truncus,
avolsumque umeris caput, et sine nomine corpus. (547-58)
Then Pyrrhus thus: ‘Go thou from me to fate,
And to my father my foul deeds relate.
Now die!’ With that he dragg’d the trembling sire,
Slidd’ring thro’ clotter’d blood and holy mire,
(The mingled paste his murder’d son had made,)
Haul’d from beneath the violated shade,
And on the sacred pile the royal victim laid.
His right hand held his bloody falchion bare,
His left he twisted in his hoary hair;
Then, with a speeding thrust, his heart he found:
The lukewarm blood came rushing thro’ the wound,
And sanguine streams distain’d the sacred ground.
Thus Priam fell, and shar’d one common fate
With Troy in ashes, and his ruin’d state:
He, who the scepter of all Asia sway’d,
Whom monarchs like domestic slaves obey’d.
On the bleak shore now lies th’ abandon’d king,
A headless carcass, and a nameless thing.
Dryden overdoes it just a bit; still, I think one gets the picture. Indeed, here, in fragments, one can see Pyrrhus attacking Priam with the corpse of Astyanax.
- This line, in particular, seemed to be particularly moving to all involved. [↩]