In Focus: Iliad 23, lines 326–343


|326 I [= Nestor] will tell you [= Antilokhos] a sign [sēma], a very clear one, which will not get lost in your thinking. |327 Standing over there is a stump of deadwood, a good reach above ground level. |328 It had been either an oak or a pine. And it hasn’t rotted away from the rains. |329 There are two white rocks propped against either side of it. |330 There it is, standing at a point where two roadways meet, and it has a smooth track on both sides of it for driving a chariot. |331 It is either the tomb [sēma] of some mortal who died a long time ago |332 or was a turning point [nussa] in the times of earlier men. |333 Now swift-footed radiant Achilles has set it up as a turning point [terma plural]. |334 Get as close to it as you can when you drive your chariot horses toward it, |335 and keep leaning toward one side as you stand on the platform of your well-built chariot, |336 leaning to the left as you drive your horses. Your right-side horse |337 you must goad, calling out to it, and give that horse some slack as you hold its reins, |338 while you make your left-side horse get as close as possible [to the turning point], |339 so that the hub will seem to be almost grazing the post |340 —the hub of your well-made chariot wheel. But be careful not to touch the stone [of the turning point], |341 or else you will get your horses hurt badly and break your chariot in pieces. |342 That would make other people happy, but for you it would be a shame, |343 yes it would. So, near and dear [philos] as you are to me, you must be sound in your thinking and be careful.

(trans. Gregory Nagy, Hour 7 Text A, The Ancient Greek Hero in 24 Hours).

|326 σῆμα δέ τοι ἐρέω μάλ’ ἀριφραδές, οὐδέ σε λήσει. |327 ἕστηκε ξύλον αὖον ὅσον τ’ ὄργυι’ ὑπὲρ αἴης |328 ἢ δρυὸς ἢ πεύκης· τὸ μὲν οὐ καταπύθεται ὄμβρῳ, |329 λᾶε δὲ τοῦ ἑκάτερθεν ἐρηρέδαται δύο λευκὼ |330 ἐν ξυνοχῇσιν ὁδοῦ, λεῖος δ’ ἱππόδρομος ἀμφὶς |331 ἤ τευ σῆμα βροτοῖο πάλαι κατατεθνηῶτος, |332 ἢ τό γε νύσσα τέτυκτο ἐπὶ προτέρων ἀνθρώπων, |333 καὶ νῦν τέρματ’ ἔθηκε ποδάρκης δῖος Ἀχιλλεύς. |334 τῷ σὺ μάλ’ ἐγχρίμψας ἐλάαν σχεδὸν ἅρμα καὶ ἵππους, |335 αὐτὸς δὲ κλινθῆναι ἐϋπλέκτῳ ἐνὶ δίφρῳ |336 ἦκ’ ἐπ’ ἀριστερὰ τοῖιν· ἀτὰρ τὸν δεξιὸν ἵππον |337 κένσαι ὁμοκλήσας, εἶξαί τέ οἱ ἡνία χερσίν. |338 ἐν νύσσῃ δέ τοι ἵππος ἀριστερὸς ἐγχριμφθήτω. |339 ὡς ἄν τοι πλήμνη γε δοάσσεται ἄκρον ἱκέσθαι |340 κύκλου ποιητοῖο· λίθου δ’ ἀλέασθαι ἐπαυρεῖν, |341 μή πως ἵππους τε τρώσῃς κατά θ’ ἅρματα ἄξῃς· |342 χάρμα δὲ τοῖς ἄλλοισιν, ἐλεγχείη δὲ σοὶ αὐτῷ |343 ἔσσεται· ἀλλὰ φίλος φρονέων πεφυλαγμένος εἶναι.

Iliad 23.326–343

If members have any comments, questions, or observations on the passage, you can post in the Forums.