Aias Oileiades and Nauplios’ Revenge (page 697 upper)

Chapter 17, The Return from Troy

Previous Page   Table of Contents   Next Page

Lykophron, Alexandra 1217

For not quietly shall the fisherman voyage, rowing his two-oared boat.  Greek Text

Lykophron, Alexandra 373-407

O Opheltes and Zarax, who keepest the secret places of the rocks, and yet cliffs, the Trychantes, and rugged Nedon, and all ye pits of Dirphossus1 and Diacria, and thou haunt of Phorcys! what groaning shall ye hear of corpses cast up with decks broken in twain, and what tumult of the surge that may not be escaped, when the foaming water drags men backward in its swirling tides! And how many tunnies with the sutures of their heads split upon the frying-pan! of whom the down-rushing thunderbolt in the darkness shall eat as they perish: when the destroyer shall lead them, their heads yet arching from the debauch, and light a torch to guide their feet in the darkness, sitting at his unsleeping art. [387] And one, like a diving kingfisher, the wave shall carry through the narrow strait, a naked glutton-fish swept between the double reefs. And on the Gyrae rocks drying his feathers dripping from the sea, he shall drain a second draught of the brine, hurled from the banks by the three-taloned spear, wherewith this dread punisher, that once was a thrall, shall smite him and compel him to run his race among the whales, blustering, like a cuckoo, his wild words of abuse. And his chilly dolphin’s dead body cast upon the shore the rays of Seirius shall wither. And, rotten mummy-fish, among moss and seaweed Nesaia’s sister shall hide him for pity, she that was the helper of the most mighty Quoit, the Lord of Cynaetha. And his tomb beside the Quail that was turned to stone shall trembling watch the surge of the Aegean sea. And bitter in Hades he shall abuse with evil taunts the goddess of Castnion and Melina, who shall entrap him in the unescapable meshes of desire, in a love that is no love but springing for him the bitter death-drawing snare of the Erinyes.  Greek Text

A Scholia at Homer, Iliad 13.66 – Scholia Graeca in Homeri Iliadem 2, p. 6, ed. W. Dindorf and E. Maass. Oxford 1875.

Greek Text

Vergil, Aeneid 1.39-45

Could angry Pallas, with revengeful spleen,
The Grecian navy burn, and drown the men?
She, for the fault of one offending foe,
The bolts of Jove himself presum’d to throw:
With whirlwinds from beneath she toss’d the ship,
And bare expos’d the bosom of the deep;
Then, as an eagle gripes the trembling game,
The wretch, yet hissing with her father’s flame,
She strongly seiz’d, and with a burning wound
Transfix’d, and naked, on a rock she bound.  Latin Text

Seneca, Agamemnon 470-578

when suddenly the moon is hid, the stars sink out of sight, skyward the sea is lifted, the heavens are gone. ‘Tis doubly night; dense fog o’erwhelms the dark and, all light withdrawn, confuses sea and sky. From all sides at once the winds fall on and ravage the sea, from its lowest depths upturned, West wind with East wind striving, South with North. Each wields his own weapons, with deadly assault stirring up the deep, while a whirlwind churns the waves. Strymonian Aquilo sends the deep snow whirling, and Libyan Auster stirs up the sands of Syrtes; nor stand the strife with Auster: Notus, heavey with clouds, blows up, swells waves with rain, while Eurus attacks the dawn, shaking Nabataean realms, and eastern gulfs. What wrought fierce Corus, thrusting forth his head from ocean? The whole sky he tears from its foundations, and you might think the very gods falling from the shattered heavens, and black chaos enveloping the world. Flood strives with wind and wind backward rolls the flood. The sea contains not itself, and rain and waves mingle their waters. Then even this comfort fails their dreadful plight, to see at least and know the disaster by which they perish. Darkness weighs on their eyes, and ‘tis the infernal night of awful Styx. Yet fires burst forth, and from the riven clouds gleams the dire lightning flash, and to the poor sailors great is the sweetness of that fearful gleam; even for such light they pray.

[497] The fleet itself helps on its own destruction, prow crashing on prow and side on side. One ship the yawning deep sucks into the abyss, engulfs and spews forth again, restored to the sea above; one sinks of its own weight, another turns its wrecked side to the waves, and one the tenth wave o’erwhelms. Here, battered and stripped of all its ornament, one floats, with neither sails nor oars nor straight mast bearing the high sailyards, a broken hulk, drifting wide on the Icarian sea. Reason, experience, are of no avail; skill yields to dire calamity. Horror holds their limbs; the sailors all stand stupefied, their tasks abandoned; oars drop from hands. To prayer abject fear drives the wretches, and Trojans and Greeks beg the same things of the gods. What can near doom accomplish? Pyrrhus envies his father, Ulysses Ajax, the younger Atrides Hector, Agamemnon Priam; whoever at Troy lies slain is hailed as blessed, who by deeds of arms earned death, whom glory guards, whom the land he conquered buries. “Do se and wave bear those who have dared naught noble and shall a coward’s doom o’erwhelm brave men? Must death be squandered? Whoe’er of heaven’s gods thou art, not yet with our sore troubles sated, let thy divinity be at last appeased; o’er our calamities e’en Troy would weep. But if thy hate is stubborn, and ‘tis thy pleasure to send the Greek race to doom, why wouldst have those perish along with us, for whose sake we perish? Allay the raging sea: this fleet bears Greeks but it bears Trojans too.” They can no more; the sea usurps their words.

[528] But lo! disaster on disaster! Pallas, armed with the bolt of angry Jove, threatening essays whate’er she may, not with spear, not with aegis, not with Gorgon’s rage, but with her father’s lightning, and throughout the sky new tempests blow. Ajax alone, undaunted by disaster, keeps up the struggle. Him, shortening sail with straining halyard, the hurtling lightning grazed. Another bolt is levelled; this, with all her might, Pallas launched true, with hand back drawn, in imitation of her father. Through Ajax it passed, and through his ship, and part of the ship with it, and Ajax it bore away. Then he, nothing moved, like some high crag, rises flame-scorched from the briny deep, cleaves the raging sea, with his breast bursts through the floods and, holding to his wrecked vessel with his hand, drags flames along, shines brightly midst the darkness of the sea and illumines the waves. At last, gaining a rock, in mad rage he thunders: “’Tis sweet to have conquered all things, flood and flame, to have vanquished sky, Pallas, thunderbolt and sea. If led not in terror of the god of war; both Hector at once and Mars did I with my sole arm withstand; nor did together with their Phrygians, I conquered; – and shall I shrink from thee? Another’s weapon with weakling hand thou hurlest. What, if he himself should hurl –? When in his madness he would be daring more, father Neptune, pushing with his trident, o’erwhelmed the rock, thrusting forth his head from his waves’ depths, and broke off the drag. This in his fall Ajax bears down with him, and now he lies, by earth and fire and billows overcome.

[557] But us shipwrecked mariners, another, worse ruin challenges. There is a shallow water, a deceitful shoal full of rough boulders, where treacherous Caphereus hides his rocky base beneath whirling eddies; the sea boils upon the rocks, and ever the flood seethes with its ebb and flow. A precipitous headland o’erhangs, which on either hand looks out upon both stretches of the sea. Hence thou mayst descry thine own Pelopian shores, and Isthmus which, backward curving with its narrow soil, forbids the Ionian sea to join with Phrixus’ waves; hence also Lemnos, infamous for crime, and Calchedon, and Aulis which long delayed the fleet. Seizing this summit, the father of Palamedes with accursed hand raised from the high top a beacon-light and with treacherous torch lured the fleet upon the reefs. There hang the ships caught on jagged rocks; some are broken to pieces in the shallow water; the prow of one vessel is carried away, while a part sticks fast upon the rock; one ship crashes with another as it draws back, both wrecked and wrecking. Now ships fear land and choose the seas. Towards dawn the storm’s rage is spent; now that atonement has been made for Ilium, Phoebus returns and sad day reveals the havoc of the night.  Latin Text

Apollodoros, Epitome 6.6

And Athena threw a thunderbolt at the ship of Ajax; and when the ship went to pieces he made his way safe to a rock, and declared that he was saved in spite of the intention of Athena. But Poseidon smote the rock with his trident and split it, and Ajax fell into the sea and perished; and his body, being washed up, was buried by Thetis in Myconos.  Greek Text

Hyginus, Fabulae 116

NAUPLIUS: When the Danaan were returning home after the capture of Troy and the division of spoils, the anger o the gods caused their shipwreck on the Cepharean Rocks. They sent a storm and contrary winds because the Greeks had despoiled the shrines of the gods and Locrian Ajax had dragged Cassandra  from the statue of Pallas. In this storm Locrian Ajax was struck with a  thunderbolt by Minerva. The waves dashed him against the rocks, and from this they are called the Rocks of Ajax. When the others at night were imploring the aid of the gods, Nauplius heard, and though the time had come for avenging the wrong to his Palamedes. And so, as if he were bringing aid to them, he brought a burning torch to that place where the rocks were sharp and the coast most dangerous. Believing that this was done out of mercy they steered their ships there. As a result many ships were wrecked, and many of the troops and their leaders perished in the storm, their limbs and entrails dashed on the rocks. Those who could swim to shore were killed by Nauplius.  Latin Text

Quintus Smyrnaeus, Fall of Troy 14.449-589

[488] Then down before the aweless Maid he cast swift lightning, thunder, and deadly thunderbolt; and her heart leapt, and gladdened was her soul. She donned the stormy Aegis flashing far, adamantine, massy, a marvel to the Gods, whereon was wrought Medusa’s ghastly head, fearful: strong serpents breathing forth the blast of ravening fire were on the face thereof. Crashed on the Queen’s breast all the Aegis-links, as after lightning crashes the firmament. Then grasped she her father’s weapons, which no God save Zeus can lift, and wide Olympus shook. Then swept she clouds and mist together on high; night over earth was poured, haze o’er the sea. Zeus watched, and was right glad as broad heaven’s floor rocked ‘neath the Goddess’s feet, and crashed the sky, as though invincible Zeus rushed forth to war.
Then sped she Iris unto Acolus, from heaven far-flying over misty seas, to bid him send forth all his buffering winds o’er iron-bound Caphereus’ cliffs to sweep ceaselessly, and with ruin of madding blasts to upheave the sea. And Iris heard, and swift she darted, through cloud-billows plunging down — thou hadst said: “Lo, in the sky dark water and fire!” And to Aeolia came she, isle of caves, of echoing dungeons of mad-raging winds with rugged ribs of mountain overarched, whereby the mansion stands of Aeolus Hippotas’ son. Him found she therewithin with wife and twelve sons; and she told to him Athena’s purpose toward the homeward-bound Achaeans. He denied her not, but passed forth of his halls, and in resistless hands upswung his trident, smiting the mountain-side within whose chasm-cell the wild winds dwelt tempestuously shrieking. Ever pealed weird roarings of their voices round its vaults. Cleft by his might was the hill-side; forth they poured. He bade them on their wings bear blackest storm to upheave the sea, and shroud Caphereus’ heights.

[529] Swiftly upsprang they, ere their king’s command was fully spoken. Mightily moaned the sea as they rushed o’er it; waves like mountain-cliffs from all sides were uprolled. The Achaeans’ hearts were terror-palsied, as the uptowering surge now swung the ships up high through palling mist, now hurled them rolled as down a precipice to dark abysses. Up through yawning deeps some power resistless belched the boiling sand from the sea’s floor. Tossed in despair, fear-dazed, men could not grasp the oar, nor reef the sail about the yard-arm, howsoever fain, ere the winds rent it, could not with the sheets trim the torn canvas, buffeted so were they by ruining blasts. The helmsman had no power to guide the rudder with his practised hands, for those ill winds hurled all confusedly. No hope of life was left them: blackest night, fury of tempest, wrath of deathless Gods, raged round them. Still Poseidon heaved and swung the merciless sea, to work the heart’s desire of his brother’s glorious child; and she on high stormed with her lightnings, ruthless in her rage. Thundered from heaven Zeus, in purpose fixed to glorify his daughter. All the isles and mainlands round were lashed by leaping seas nigh to Euboea, where the Power divine scourged most with unrelenting stroke on stroke the Argives. Groan and shriek of perishing men rang through the ships; started great beams and snapped with ominous sound, for ever ship on ship with shivering timbers crashed. With hopeless toil men strained with oars to thrust back hulls that reeled down on their own, but with the shattered planks were hurled into the abyss, to perish there by pitiless doom; for beams of foundering ships from this, from that side battered out their lives, and crushed were all their bodies wretchedly. Some in the ships fell down, and like dead men lay there; some, in the grip of destiny, clinging to oars smooth-shaven, tried to swim; some upon planks were tossing. Roared the surge from fathomless depths: it seemed as though sea, sky, and land were blended all confusedly.

[573] Still from Olympus thundering Atrytone wielded her Father’s power unshamed, and still the welkin shrieked around. Her ruin of wrath now upon Aias hurled she: on his ship dashed she a thunderbolt, and shivered it wide in a moment into fragments small, while earth and air yelled o’er the wreck, and whirled and plunged and fell the whole sea down thereon. They in the ship were all together flung forth: all about them swept the giant waves, round them leapt lightnings flaming through the dark. Choked with the strangling surf of hissing brine, gasping out life, they drifted o’er the sea.

[586] But even in death those captive maids rejoiced, as some ill-starred ones, clasping to their breasts their babes, sank in the sea; some flung their arms round Danaans’ horror-stricken heads, and dragged these down with them, so rendering to their foes requital for foul outrage down to them. And from on high the haughty Trito-born looked down on all this, and her heart was glad.

[594] But Aias floated now on a galley’s plank, now through the brine with strong hands oared his path, like some old Titan in his tireless might. Cleft was the salt sea-surge by the sinewy hands of that undaunted man: the Gods beheld and marvelled at his courage and his strength. But now the billows swung him up on high through misty air, as though to a mountain’s peak, now whelmed him down, as they would bury him in ravening whirlpits: yet his stubborn hands toiled on unwearied. Aye to right and left flashed lightnings down, and quenched them in the sea; for not yet was the Child of Thunderer Zeus purposed to smite him dead, despite her wrath, ere he had drained the cup of travail and pain down to the dregs; so in the deep long time affliction wore him down, tormented sore on every side. Grim Fates stood round the man unnumbered; yet despair still kindled strength. he cried: “Though all the Olympians banded come in wrath, and rouse against me all the sea, I will escape them!” But no whit did he elude the Gods’ wrath; for the Shaker of Earth in fierceness of his indignation marked where his hands clung to the Gyraean Rock, and in stern anger with an earthquake shook both sea and land. Around on all sides crashed Caphereus’ cliffs: beneath the Sea-king’s wrath the surf-tormented beaches shrieked and roared. The broad crag rifted reeled into the sea, the rock whereto his desperate hands had clung; yet did he writhe up round its jutting spurs, while flayed his hands were, and from ‘neath his nails the blood ran. Wrestling with him roared the waves, and the foam whitened all his hair and beard.

[629] Yet had he ‘scaped perchance his evil doom, had not Poseidon, wroth with his hardihood, cleaving the earth, hurled down the chasm the rock, as in the old time Pallas heaved on high Sicily, and on huge Enceladus dashed down the isle, which burns with the burning yet of that immortal giant, as he breathes fire underground; so did the mountain-crag, hurled from on high, bury the Locrian king, pinning the strong man down, a wretch crushed flat. And so on him death’s black destruction came whom land and sea alike were leagued to slay.  Greek Text

♠ For Nauplios’ vengeance, see Early Greek Myth pp. 606-8

Apollodoros, Bibliotheke (Library) 2.1.5

Amymone had a son Nauplius by Poseidon. This Nauplius lived to a great age, and sailing the sea he used by beacon lights to lure to death such as he fell in with. It came to pass, therefore, that he himself died by that very deathGreek Text


Edited by Elena Bianchelli, Retired Senior Lecturer of Classical Languages and Culture, Univ. of Georgia, March 2023

 168 total views,  1 views today