Reference > Anthologies > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library > Verse

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Hector’s Funeral Rites
By Homer (fl. 850 B.C.)
Close of the Iliad—xxiv. 777–804: Translation of George Chapman

THESE words made even the commons mourn, to whom the king said:—“Friends,
Now fetch wood for our funeral fire, nor fear the foe intends
Ambush, or any violence: Achilles gave his word,
At my dismission, that twelve days he would keep sheathed his sword,
And all men’s else.” Thus oxen, mules, in chariots straight they put,        5
Went forth, and an unmeasured pile of sylvan matter cut,
Nine days employed in carriage, but when the tenth morn shined
On wretched mortals, then they brought the fit-to-be-divined
Forth to be burned. Troy swum in tears. Upon the pile’s most height
They laid the person, and gave fire. All day it burned, all night.        10
But when the eleventh morn let on earth her rosy fingers shine,
The people flocked about the pile, and first with blackish wine
Quenched all the flames. His brothers then, and friends, the snowy bones
Gathered into an urn of gold, still pouring on their moans.
Then wrapt they in soft purple veils the rich urn, digged a pit,        15
Graved it, rammed up the grave with stones, and quickly built to it
A sepulchre. But while that work and all the funeral rites
Were in performance, guards were held at all parts, days and nights,
For fear of false surprise before they had imposed the crown
To these solemnities. The tomb advanced once, all the town        20
In Jove-nursed Priam’s court partook a passing sumptuous feast:
And so horse-taming Hector’s rites gave up his soul to rest.

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