Om at læse Homer

“Jeg haver udi en af mine Epistle tilkiendegivet Aarsagen, hvi jeg så ofte læser Homerum, nemlig: 1.) Efterdi intet Skrift tiener mere til at erhverve Kundskab udi det Græske Sprog. Og, naar man vil hertil sige: Hvortil kand det nytte mig, at vide saa meget Græsk? Da svarer jeg dertil, at ingen vel kand passere for en lærd Mand uden det Græske Sprogs Kundskab, Thi det er af Græske Bøger vi see Kilderne til Philosophie og de fleeste Videnskaber og utallig Ord; ja fast alle Kunst-Gloser, som vi dagligen bruge, have deres Oprindelse af det Græske Sprog. Den anden Aarsag, som jeg haver tilkiendegivet, hvi jeg læser Homerum, er denne, at man deraf lærer og seer den ældgamle Verdens Skikke og Moder,”

og

“… og, naar man derhos eftertænker, at samme Poëts Skrifter er de reeneste Kilder, hvoraf det Græske Sprog flyder, saa maa man holde for, at Tiden anvendes ikke så ilde paa saadanne Bøgers Læsning, som foregives af nogle, helst af dem, som meene, at det Græske Sprog ikke er meget fornødent at læres paa de høje Skoler, og at man haver nok udi det Latinske.”

– Holberg: Ep. CDXXXI

Bodycount X

Skæbnen gør sit indtog. Iliadens femte bog.

Eurypylus dræber Hypsenor (14)

Then died Hypsenor, generous and divine,
Sprung from the brave Dolopion’s mighty line,
Who near adored Scamander made abode,
Priest of the stream, and honoured as a god.
On him, amidst the flying numbers found,
Eurypylus inflicts a deadly wound;
On his broad shoulders fell the forceful brand,
Thence glancing downwards, lopp’d his holy hand,
Which stain’d with sacred blood the blushing sand.
Down sunk the priest: the purple hand of death
Closed his dim eye, and fate suppress’d his breath.

Bodycount IX

Pedaeus får sig en ekstra tunge. Fra Iliadens femte bog.

Meges dræber Pedaeus (13)

From Meges’ force the swift Pedaeus fled,
Antenor’s offspring from a foreign bed,
Whose generous spouse, Theanor, heavenly fair,
Nursed the young stranger with a mother’s care.
How vain those cares! when Meges in the rear
Full in his nape infix’d the fatal spear;
Swift through his crackling jaws the weapon glides,
And the cold tongue and grinning teeth divides.

Bodycount VIII

Æstetisk død fra Iliaden, femte bog: her en malende beskrivelse af hvordan Phereclus’ spyd passerer gennem Merions hofte, midt mellem knogle og blæren.

Meriones dræber Phereclus (12)

Next artful Phereclus untimely fell;
Bold Merion sent him to the realms of hell.
Thy father’s skill, O Phereclus! was thine,
The graceful fabric and the fair design;
For loved by Pallas, Pallas did impart
To him the shipwright’s and the builder’s art.
Beneath his hand the fleet of Paris rose,
The fatal cause of all his country’s woes;
But he, the mystic will of heaven unknown,
Nor saw his country’s peril, nor his own.
The hapless artist, while confused he fled,
The spear of Merion mingled with the dead.
Through his right hip, with forceful fury cast,
Between the bladder and the bone it pass’d;
Prone on his knees he falls with fruitless cries,
And death in lasting slumber seals his eyes.

Bodycount VII

Vi fortsætter vores tur gennem Iliaden, her femte bog, hvor der er masser af æstetisk tilfredsstillende død og ødelæggelse.

Menelaus dræber Scamandrius (11)

Then died Scamandrius, expert in the chase,
In woods and wilds to wound the savage race;
Diana taught him all her sylvan arts,
To bend the bow, and aim unerring darts:
But vainly here Diana’s arts he tries,
The fatal lance arrests him as he flies;
From Menelaus’ arm the weapon sent,
Through his broad back and heaving bosom went:
Down sinks the warrior with a thundering sound,
His brazen armour rings against the ground.

Bodycount VI

Videre gennem starten af Iliadens femte bog, hvor de tapre krigere falder som fluer.

Idomeneus dræber Phaestus (10)

Thy fate was next, O Phaestus! doom’d to feel
The great Idomeneus’ protended steel;
Whom Borus sent (his son and only joy)
From fruitful Tarne to the fields of Troy.
The Cretan javelin reach’d him from afar,
And pierced his shoulder as he mounts his car;
Back from the car he tumbles to the ground,
And everlasting shades his eyes surround.

Bodycount V

Videre gennem starten af Iliadens femte bog, hvor de tapre krigere falder som fluer.

Agamemnon dræber Odius (9)

Meantime, the Greeks the Trojan race pursue,
And some bold chieftain every leader slew:
First Odius falls, and bites the bloody sand,
His death ennobled by Atrides’ hand:
As he to flight his wheeling car address’d,
The speedy javelin drove from back to breast.
In dust the mighty Halizonian lay,
His arms resound, the spirit wings its way.

De første fire bodycount er her.

Bodycount IV – Death’s Eternal Shade

Et enkelt drab fra starten af Iliadens femte bog hvor de falder tæt på slagmarken.

Diomedes dræber Phegeus (8)

The sons of Dares first the combat sought,
A wealthy priest, but rich without a fault;
In Vulcan’s fane the father’s days were led,
The sons to toils of glorious battle bred;
These singled from their troops the fight maintain,
These, from their steeds, Tydides on the plain.
Fierce for renown the brother-chiefs draw near,
And first bold Phegeus cast his sounding spear,
Which o’er the warrior’s shoulder took its course,
And spent in empty air its erring force.
Not so, Tydides, flew thy lance in vain,
But pierced his breast, and stretch’d him on the plain.
Seized with unusual fear, Idaeus fled,
Left the rich chariot, and his brother dead.
And had not Vulcan lent celestial aid,
He too had sunk to death’s eternal shade;
But in a smoky cloud the god of fire
Preserved the son, in pity to the sire.
The steeds and chariot, to the navy led,
Increased the spoils of gallant Diomed.

Pope. Og Wilster:

Der var en Mand i det Troiske Folk, hvem Dares man kaldte,
Hædret og rig, Hephaistos’s Præst, to Sønner han havde,
Dygtige begge til alskens Kamp, Idaios og Phegeus.
Skilte fra Hæren de stormede frem Diomedes imøde,
Begge tilvogns, men Tydeiden til Fods skred rask over Sletten.
Da de nu farende frem under Øine hverandre var komne,
Først da slyngede Phegeus af Haand sin mægtige Spydstang,
Kobberets Od foer Tydeus’s Søn hen over den venstre
Skulder, og ramte ham ei, men flux med sit Spyd Diomedes
Hæved sig nu, og forgjeves ei fløi ham Stangen af Haanden,
Midt mellem Vorterne traf han hans Bryst, og slog ham af Vognen.
Ned af den prægtige Karm da sprang Idaios og flygted,
Ikke han dristed at træde til Værn for sin fældede Broder;
Selv dog ligesaa lidt havde Døden den sorte han undflyet,
Frelst af Hephaistos han blev, som i Mulm ham hylled og redded,
At den bedagede Fader ei reent af Sorg skulde bøies.
Gangerne flux bortdrev hiin Søn af den modige Tydeus,
Og til de bugede Skibe han lod sine Svende dem føre.

Bodycount III – Copious Slaughter

Fortsætter vores rejse gennem Iliaden anskuet som antik døds-æstetik.

Peiros dræber Dioreus (6)

Apollo thus from Ilion’s lofty towers,
Array’d in terrors, roused the Trojan powers:
While war’s fierce goddess fires the Grecian foe,
And shouts and thunders in the fields below.
Then great Diores fell, by doom divine,
In vain his valour and illustrious line.
A broken rock the force of Pyrus threw,
Who from cold AEnus led the Thracian crew,
Full on his ankle dropp’d the ponderous stone,
Burst the strong nerves, and crash’d the solid bone.
Supine he tumbles on the crimson sands,
Before his helpless friends, and native bands,
And spreads for aid his unavailing hands.
The foe rush’d furious as he pants for breath,
And through his navel drove the pointed death:
His gushing entrails smoked upon the ground,
And the warm life came issuing from the wound.

Således Pope. Her Wilster:

517     Skjebnen nu hilded dernæst den Amarynkide Dioreus;
518 Ramt i Anklen han blev i det høire Been af en Kampsteen
519 Kantet og hvas; ham traf hiin Drot for de Thrakiske Kæmper
520 Peiros, Imbrasos’ Søn, som did var kommen fra Ainos.
521 Begge hans Sener saavel som Knoglerne splintred den ublue
522 Steen aldeles i Qvag, saa ned i Støvet han baglænds
523 Segned, og Hænderne strakte han ud mod Brødrenes Skare,
524 Aandende mat, men flux løb Peiros, som havde ham qvæstet,
525 Hen, og stak ham ved Navlen med Spyd, saa alle hans Tarme
526 Vælded af Livet ham ud, og Mulm omhylled hans Øine.

og Due:

I en fart var Peiros, der havde ramt ham, fremme og stak ham sin lanse i navlen så alle hans tarme væltede ud over jorden. Og sort blev det da for hans øjne.

Jeg sidder tit med en fornemmelse af at Due inderst inde hellere ville have lavet en prosa-gendigtning, da det ofte kun er fyldord og en omvendt ordstilling (og sort blev det da) som adskiller ham fra det.

Thoas dræber Peiros (7)

His lance bold Thoas at the conqueror sent,
Deep in his breast above the pap it went,
Amid the lungs was fix’d the winged wood,
And quivering in his heaving bosom stood:
Till from the dying chief, approaching near,
The AEtolian warrior tugg’d his weighty spear:
Then sudden waved his flaming falchion round,
And gash’d his belly with a ghastly wound;
The corpse now breathless on the bloody plain,
To spoil his arms the victor strove in vain;
The Thracian bands against the victor press’d,
A grove of lances glitter’d at his breast.
Stern Thoas, glaring with revengeful eyes,
In sullen fury slowly quits the prize.

Pope. Wilster:

527     Just som han styrtede frem, Aitoleren Thoas i Brystet
528 Drev ham sit Spyd over Vorten, saa Kobberet sad ham i Lungen;
529 Hen treen Thoas paastand til den Faldne, sin vældige Landse
530 Drog han af Brystet ham ud, og trak sit hvæssede Slagsværd,
531 Gav ham midt over Bugen et Hug, og berøved ham Livet.
532 Rustningen tog han dog ei, thi med vældige Landser ihænde
533 Stod Stalbrødrene trindt, stridhaarede Thrakiske Kæmper,
534 Og ihvor stolt og høi han saa var, og kraftig tillige,
535 Drev de dog Helten tilbage, og skrapt blev han tumlet paa Flugten.
536 Saaledes straktes i Støv to Høvdinger tæt ved hinanden,
537 Her laae Thrakernes Drot, de malmbeklædte Epeiers
538 Hist, og trindt dem segned en Flok af de menige Kæmper.

Due:

Drabsmanden ilede bort, men blev ramt af Aitoleren Thoas
lanse i brystet ved vorten så bronzen sad ham i lungen;
Thoas gik tæt på den faldne og haled sin dygtige lanse
ud af hans bryst og trak så sit hvæssede sværd af dets skede,
plantede det midt i hans bug og betog ham livet. Hans rustning
fik han dog ikke; hans svende, de hårtopbærende Thraker
stilled sig rundt om liget med lange lanser i hånden,
og var han aldrig så høj og så drøj og så dygtig tillige,
drev de ham væk, og hårdt blev han trængt da de jog ham tilbage.

Gentagelsen i sidste linie: “drev de ham væk, og hårdt blev han trængt da de jog ham tilbage” lyder næsten infantilt i mine øre, sammenlignet med Wilsters “Drev de dog Helten tilbage, og skrapt blev han tumlet paa Flugten“.

Pope opsummerer smukt og leverer overskriften til dette indlæg:

Thus fell two heroes; one the pride of Thrace,
And one the leader of the Epeian race;
Death’s sable shade at once o’ercast their eyes,
In dust the vanquish’d and the victor lies.
With copious slaughter all the fields are red,
And heap’d with growing mountains of the dead.

Bodycount II – The Shades of Hell

Videre med turen gennem Iliaden betragtet som et litterært bodycount fortrinsvis i Popes fantastiske gendigtning.

Ajax dræber Simoïsius (3)

In blooming youth fair Simoisius fell,
Sent by great Ajax to the shades of hell;
Fair Simoisius, whom his mother bore
Amid the flocks on silver Simois’ shore:
The nymph descending from the hills of Ide,
To seek her parents on his flowery side,
Brought forth the babe, their common care and joy,
And thence from Simois named the lovely boy.
Short was his date! by dreadful Ajax slain,
He falls, and renders all their cares in vain!
So falls a poplar, that in watery ground
Raised high the head, with stately branches crown’d,
(Fell’d by some artist with his shining steel,
To shape the circle of the bending wheel,)
Cut down it lies, tall, smooth, and largely spread,
With all its beauteous honours on its head
There, left a subject to the wind and rain,
And scorch’d by suns, it withers on the plain
Thus pierced by Ajax, Simoisius lies
Stretch’d on the shore, and thus neglected dies.

Antiphus dræber Leucus (4)

At Ajax, Antiphus his javelin threw;
The pointed lance with erring fury flew,
And Leucus, loved by wise Ulysses, slew.
He drops the corpse of Simoisius slain,
And sinks a breathless carcase on the plain.

Odysseus dræber Democoon (5)

This saw Ulysses, and with grief enraged,
Strode where the foremost of the foes engaged;
Arm’d with his spear, he meditates the wound,
In act to throw; but cautious look’d around,
Struck at his sight the Trojans backward drew,
And trembling heard the javelin as it flew.
A chief stood nigh, who from Abydos came,
Old Priam’s son, Democoon was his name.
The weapon entered close above his ear,
Cold through his temples glides the whizzing spear; (*)
With piercing shrieks the youth resigns his breath,
His eye-balls darken with the shades of death;
Ponderous he falls; his clanging arms resound,
And his broad buckler rings against the ground.

Seized with affright the boldest foes appear;
E’en godlike Hector seems himself to fear;
Slow he gave way, the rest tumultuous fled;
The Greeks with shouts press on, and spoil the dead:
But Phoebus now from Ilion’s towering height
Shines forth reveal’d, and animates the fight.
“Trojans, be bold, and force with force oppose;
Your foaming steeds urge headlong on the foes!
Nor are their bodies rocks, nor ribb’d with steel;
Your weapons enter, and your strokes they feel.
Have ye forgot what seem’d your dread before?
The great, the fierce Achilles fights no more.”

(*) Popes oversættelse er forsynet med meget pædagogiske noter af Rev. Theodore Alois Buckley, M.A., F.S.A og på dette sted har ham med følgende kommentar: I may, once for all, remark that Homer is most anatomically correct as to the parts of the body in which a wound would be immediately mortal. Og det er jo mægtigt rart at vide, men spørgsmålet er måske nok om man med denne smukke død: The weapon entered close above his ear, // Cold through his temples glides the whizzing spear;  // With piercing shrieks the youth resigns his breath, // His eye-balls darken with the shades of death; ville have anatomisk korrekt tid og overskud til at udgyde særligt mange piercing shrieks. Man kan have sin tvivl.