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son." But he himself stays behind, remembering perhaps the first day of the wrath when his conciliating intervention was of no avail. He will let Ulysses and Phoenix and Ajax make a second attempt, being Achilles' best loved friends. Addressing him in the above order upon the crucial issue of the war, persuasion is their single object. Every other form of discourse is subservient to their direct appeal to motives which lie nearest the will of the stubborn chieftain. First "the man of many devices" tries one and another of them. Greek fear of Trojans close at hand, led by raging Hector who can be turned back by Achilles alone, should appeal to his patriotism and his pride; his future happiness will be destroyed by remorse; his filial sentiment is to be aroused by recalling a father's words; his cupidity by Agamemnon's promised gifts; pity for all other Greeks excited; honor even as to a God will be paid; his revenge gratified in a triumph over Hector. Ulysses the many-sided had approached his friend on every side, to be rebuffed in the end, and told to take back an "Him as the gates of
answer whose frank opening was: hell my soul abhors, whose outward words his inmost thoughts conceal." Then the aged Phoenix, trusting to a foster-father's place near the hero's heart, reminds him of boyhood days; that renowned men and gods have been mollified; that he who had swayed others' hearts should himself be moved; by best loved friends; for honor's sake; and "by love for me, thy reverend sire." It is the climax of persuasive affection, and the invitation to stay and postpone decision till morning shows that Achilles' heart had been touched.
Blunt Ajax, in the failure which he sees to be imminent, blurts out his opinion of such obduracy, emphasizes the importance of an ambassage from all the host, reminds him once more of the gifts, and of the envoy's friendship. Achilles assures Ajax that his message is full of truth, but
is also in vain. Persuasion failed, but the power and value and variety of its elements are enhanced by the difficulty of the undertaking. By these best qualities the greatness of the wrong and the bitterness of the wrath were to be measured and emphasized. And if such persuasiveness failed, of what avail would have been description, exposition, or argumentation? The a fortiori is attempted once or twice, but Achilles little recks of what men or gods have done. Just one element was wanting to crown this great oratorical episode with success, that is the ethical,— the moral power of justice done. When that was accomplished by the king's admission of the wrong he had committed, persuasion was easy; but the full power of Homeric oratory had been put forth and the glory of it established for all generations. It could not have been so great if the despair of success had been less than it was when the embassy returned.
There are other features besides directness of address and persuasiveness of appeal in the deliberative oratory of Homer. Picturesque description of fatherland and the scenes of childhood; reminiscent narration stirring ancestral pride; adventures recounted, stimulating valor and exciting emulation,—all working mightily on the hearts of an emotional race whose unspeculative minds would have wandered from the close-linked subtleties of a later logic. A primitive ad hominem in its varied forms, from man to man, was what they employed freely and took without resentment. If they could not reply in kind they yielded with grace. And about all their interchange of views there was a largeness of comprehension and a natural dignity which belongs to an early civilization having immense possibilities in succeeding centuries.
From this necessarily brief enumeration of general characteristics it is time to turn to individual traits in the speeches which constitute the larger part of Homeric elo
quence. As in the conduct of the War and the Wandering they belong to a few chieftains of strong personality,—. the majority of whom the Poet, with a natural patriotism, ranges on the Grecian side. Of these Achilles holds the primacy in words as in deeds. This is illustrated in the Contention of the first Iliad, the Rejection in the ninth, and the Reconciliation in the nineteenth. In these three progressive acts, bordering upon the tragic, the movement in its beginning, continuation, and conclusion is principally maintained by the masterly oratory of the son of Peleus rather than by his deeds, since. he remained inactive all this time in his tent and by his black ships.
To appreciate his utterances a just view must be taken. of the offense he resented, and this according to the judicial and ethical standards of an age long previous to the publication of a gospel of good for evil. In that time the sense of injustice done was in no danger of being dulled by confounding it with the later duty of forgiveness. Reparation, or else retribution, followed wrong as a shadow, and atonement was not remitted in overlooking crime or explaining it away. It was the time when men were learning the antipodal position of right and wrong—a lesson which may be forgotten amidst maudlin philanthropies and sheltering casuistries. Achilles' wrath was not, therefore, a petulant sulking, but a just and righteous indignation at his ignominious and infamous disgrace by the commander-in-chief before the contending armies, and without the remonstrance of his brother officers, Nestor alone excepted. He knew his natural superiority to the son of Atreus, and that there was no divine right of kings to rob. Accordingly a godlike sense of outrage becomes the inspiration of his speech, since Heaven forbade him to draw his sword, but allowed him to arraign the king with bitter words. Invective was the natural form they took; reproach, accusation, reproof, censure, and scorn, such as has
been matched since only in the high places of eloquence. . "Cowardly, plundering despot of slaves, the time shall come when, bereft of troops, impotent and despairing thy soul shall mourn this dishonor cast on me thy bravest warrior. Take this best prize of mine, but touch no other lest thy life blood reek upon my spear." Such are the crests on the torrent of indignation which rolls on with steadied impetuosity, without overflow or dissipating shallows. There is no frothy incoherence in his princely anger. His speech and his vengeance have deep reserves of power in things unsaid and undone. Like his half-sheathed sword, his speech and wrath are half restrained. They do not shatter themselves with insensate fury, but keep their strength till the wrong is righted.
In the Rejection, another aspect of Achilles' speech is displayed. Fifteen days have elapsed since the king's offense when the Embassy is sent to deliver its carefully chosen words. The protagonist's reply shows that his wrath is past its first outburst, but is still flowing with full banks. The method in his madness is shown by the frankness of his words in declaring his hatred of duplicity and hypocrisy. With fine irony he mentions the uselessness of toil in battle for a king who keeps its best spoils for himself, and asks if no mortals love their wives save Atreus' sons alone. "Then let them alone, and without Achilles devise how best to save themselves." With mocking scorn he points to the lofty wall, the deep trench and palisade which Agamemnon has built to be, instead of himself, a defense against Hector and the Trojans, and in a climax of contempt he returns his answer: "He hath deceived and wronged me. Of him enough; I pass him by whom Jove hath robbed of sense. His gifts I loathe and spurn. Go bid the chiefs of Greece some better counsel to devise to save their ships and men." The dignity and majesty of his words and bearing are another testimony to
Achilles' preeminence among the Argive princes. He was as great in speech as in action.
Three days later, great grief for the loss of his dearest friend has overwhelmed the hatred for his foe, and to avenge Patroclus' death he dismisses resentment for wrongs received. Noble in his indignation, he is nobler still in abjuration. Before the chieftains assembled at his call, Agamemnon among the rest, he attains the third and highest plane of eloquence in saying, "What hath been the gain to thee or me in heart-consuming strife? Great is the gain to Troy; but the Greeks will long retain the memory of our feud. Yet pass we that and let us school our angry spirits down. My wrath I here abjure." The height of graceful speech he reaches when he indorses Agamemnon's weak apology for wrongdoing in attributing it to adverse facts: "O Father Jove, how dost thou lead astray our human judgments! Atreus' son had ne'er filled my bosom with wrath, but that thy will had predestined many a valiant Greek to die."
The loftiest reach of Achilles' eloquence is in the elegy over Patroclus slain. "Ne'er again shall I such sorrow know, not though I hear of my father's death, nor of my godlike son's. My hope had been that here in Troy I was doomed to die alone, and that thou, returned home in safety, should be to Neoptolemus in place of me his father." Nothing in the literature of the elegy outside Homeric poems approaches the pathos of this lament, unless it be that of David over the two who were slain on the mountains of Gilboa, and the echo of it in Ambrose's eulogy upon Gratian and Valentinian. In the Iliad itself this lamentation is to be reckoned with the dirges of the twenty-second and twenty-fourth books.
It is often observed that Homer has employed every resource of his art to make Achilles' preëminence emphatic. Prowess in arms would of necessity be insisted upon, but