previous next
It is manifest then, by what hath been said now and what hath been mentioned before, that the death we call untimely is capable of consolation; and the saying is true, that ‘Troilus wept less than Priam,’ 1 perishing as he did in his youth, while his father's kingdom flourished and his riches abounded, which Priam afterwards laments as most deplorably lost. For observe what he saith to his son Hector, when he entreats him to decline the battle he was going to fight against Achilles:—
Yet shun Achilles! enter yet the wall;
And spare thyself, thy father, spare us all!
Save thy clear life; or, if a soul so brave
Neglect that thought, thy dearer glory save.
Pity, while yet I live, these silver hairs;
While yet thy father feels the woes he bears,
Yet curst with sense! a wretch whom in his rage
All trembling on the verge of helpless age
Great Jove has placed, sad spectacle of pain!
The bitter dregs of Fortune's cup to drain:
To fill with scenes of death his closing eyes,
And number all his days by miseries!
My heroes slain, my bridal bed o'erturn'd,
My daughters ravish'd, and my city burn'd,
My bleeding infants dash'd against the floor;
These I have yet to see, perhaps yet more!
Perhaps even I, reserved by angry Fate,
The last sad relic of my ruin'd state,
(Dire pomp of sovereign wretchedness!) must fall,
[p. 324] And stain the pavement of my regal hall;
Where famish'd dogs, late guardians of my door,
Shall lick their mangled master's spatter'd gore.
But when the Fates, in fulness of their rage,
Spurn the hoar head of unresisting age,
In dust the reverend lineaments deform,
And pour to dogs the life-blood scarcely warm:
This, this is misery! the last, the worst,
That man can feel,—man, fated to be cursed!
He said, and acting what no words can say,
Rent from his head the silver locks away.
With him the mournful mother bears a part;
Yet all her sorrows turn not Hector's heart.

Having then so many examples of this kind before thine eyes, thou oughtest to make thyself sensible that not a few have been saved by death from those calamities they would certainly have fallen into had they lived longer. Contenting myself with those I have related already, I will omit the rest, that I may not seem tedious; and these are sufficient to show that we ought not to abandon ourselves to violent sorrow, beyond temper and the bounds of nature.

1 Μεῖον Τρωίλος ἐδάκρυσεν Πρίαμος is a saying of Callimachus, as we learn from Cicero, Tusc. I. 39: Quanquam non male ait Callimachus, multo saepius lacrimasse Priamum quam Troilum.

2 Il. XXII. 56

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

load focus English (Frank Cole Babbitt, 1928)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: