Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Homer. Show all posts

Thursday, 18 June 2009

The Iliad, Homer

I am so sorry about my absence. My one typing hand is very tired indeed.

Lately I have been listening to The Iliad on audiobook on the way to work (easier than trying to hold on to the subway pole and a book with the same hand). I've never been much of an audiobook fan--we all best receive information in different ways, I think, and I don't retain things I've heard as well as those I've read--but I thought it might be interesting to listen to something that began as an oral tradition.

There isn't much to say about this excerpt; certainly throughout The Iliad there are plenty of descriptions of sacrifice and feast, some less appetizing than others (such as one evidently involving wine mulled with goat cheese). But I was hungry on my way home yesterday, and this sounded good.

The Greeks are being trounced by the Trojans, partly because Achilles is sulking in his tent, refusing to fight. An envoy, led by Odysseus, arrives at Achilles's camp to beg him to rejoin the battle.

A "chine" is a cut of meat. The translation is Robert Fagles's.

So Prince Achilles hailed and led them in,
sat them down on settles with purple carpets
and quickly told Patroclus standing by, "Come,
a bigger winebowl, son of Menoetius, set it here.
Mix stronger wine. A cup for the hands of each guest--
here beneath my roof are the men I love most."

He paused. Patroclus obeyed his great friend,
who put down a heavy chopping block in the firelight
and across it laid a sheep's chine, a fat goat's
and the long back cut of a full-grown pig,
marbled with lard. Automedon held the meats
while lordly Achilles carved them into quarters,
cut them well into pieces, pierced them with spits
and Patroclus raked the hearth, a man like a god
making the fire blaze. Once it had burned down
and the flames died away, he scattered the coals
and stretching the spitted meats across the embers,
raised them onto supports and sprinkled clean pure salt.
As soon as the roasts were done and spread on platters,
Patroclus brought the bread, set it out on the board
in ample wicker baskets. Achilles served the meat.