The Iliad by Homer

The Iliad by Homer is in Greek Books.

Greek Books, The Iliad by Homer Book 23

"O Antilochus, assuredly indeed both Jove and Neptune have loved thee, although being young, and have taught thee all kinds of equestrian exercise; wherefore there is no great need to instruct thee. For thou knowest how to turn the goals with safety; but thy horses are very slow to run, wherefore I think that disasters may happen. Their horses, indeed, are more fleet, but they themselves know not how to manoeuvre better than thou thyself. But come now, beloved one, contrive every manner of contrivance in thy mind, lest the prizes by any chance escape thee. By skill is the wood-cutter much better than by strength; and, again, by skill the pilot directs upon the dark sea the swift ship, tossed about by the winds; and by skill charioteer excels charioteer. One man who is confident in his steeds and chariot, turns imprudently hither and thither over much [ground], and his steeds wander through the course, nor does he rein them in. But he, on the contrary, who is acquainted with stratagem [though] driving inferior steeds, always looking at the goal, turns it close, nor does it escape him in what manner he may first turn [the course]746 with his leathern reins; but he holds on steadily, and watches the one who is before him. But I will show thee the goal, easily distinguished, nor shall it escape thy notice. A piece of dry wood, as much as a cubit, stands over the ground, either of oak or of larch, which is not rotted by rain; and two white stones are placed on either side, in the narrow part of the way;747 but the racecourse around is level: either it is the monument748 of some man long since dead, or perhaps it has been a goal in the time of former men, and now swift-footed noble Achilles has appointed it the goal. Approaching this very closely, drive thy chariot and horses near; but incline thyself gently towards the left of them (the steeds), in the well-joined chariot-seat; and, cheering on the right-hand horse, apply the whip, and give him the rein with thy hands. Let thy left-hand horse, however, be moved close to the goal, so that the nave of the well-made wheel may appear to touch, the top [of the post]; but avoid to touch upon the stone, lest thou both wound thy horses, and break thy chariot in pieces, and be a joy to the others, and a disgrace to thyself. But, my beloved son, mind to be on thy guard; for if at the goal thou couldst pass by in the course, there will not be one who could overtake thee in pursuit, nor pass thee by; not if behind he drives noble Arion, the swift steed of Adrastus749, which was from a god in race; or those of Laomedon, which, excellent, have here been reared."

Note 746. Or "pull with his leathern reins."—Oxf. Transl. "τανύσῃ, viz. δρόμον σὺν ἱμᾶσιν. Thus τάθη δρόμος, ver. 375. The same ellipsis occurs in the following verse, in the case of ἔχει, which, however, admits also of the construction ἔχει ἑαυτόν, one usual in the latter language."—Kennedy.

Note 747. "The old interpreter explained ἐν ξυνοχῇσιν ὁδοῦ, and I think correctly, of a wide track in the open plain becoming somewhat narrower at the point where the old monument stood; but ἀμφίς they took in the opposite sense of χωρίς, or still more forced. Heyne, however, understood it quite correctly of the wide plain around, which was so suited to a chariot-race, and within which, in the distance, stood also the mark chosen by Achilles, ver. 359. Others see in this passage the course winding round the monument; but then it must have been an old course regularly drawn out for the purpose; whereas this monument was selected by Achilles for the goal or mark quite arbitrarily, and by his own choice; and Nestor, ver. 332, only conjectures that it might have formerly served for a goal."—Buttm. Lexil. p. 95.

Note 748. Such monumental stones were frequently placed in public places. Cf. Theocrit. vi. 10; Virg. Eel. ix. 55; Dicæarchus in Athen. xiii. p. 594.

Note 749. According to many authors, this horse was produced from the earth by a stroke of Neptune's trident. See Serv. on Virg. Georg. i. 12; Pausan. viii. p. 650; Apollodor. iii. 6, 8; and Bernart. on Stat. Theb. iv. 43.