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Alexander Pope (1688–1744). Complete Poetical Works. 1903.

Translations from Homer

The Iliad. Pope’s Concluding Note

WE have now passed through the Iliad, and seen the anger of Achilles, and the terrible effects of it, at an end: as that only was the subject of the poem, and the nature of epic poetry would not permit our author to proceed to the event of the war, it may perhaps be acceptable to the common reader to give a short account of what happened to Troy and the chief actors in this poem, after the conclusion of it.

I need not mention that Troy was taken soon after the death of Hector, by the stratagem of the wooden horse, the particulars of which are described by Virgil in the second book of the Æneis.

Achilles fell before Troy, by the hand of Paris, by the shot of an arrow in his heel, as Hector had prophesied at his death, book xxii.

The unfortunate Priam was killed by Pyrrhus, the son of Achilles.

Ajax, after the death of Achilles, had a contest with Ulysses for the armour of Vulcan, but being defeated in his aim, he slew himself through indignation.

Helen, after the death of Paris, married Deïphobus his brother, and at the taking of Troy betrayed him, in order to reconcile herself to Menelaus, her first husband, who received her again into favour.

Agamemnon at his return was barbarously murdered by Ægisthus, at the instigation of Clytæmnestra, his wife, who in his absence had dishonoured his bed with Ægisthus.

Diomed, after the fall of Troy, was expelled his own country, and scarce escaped with life from his adulterous wife Ægiale; but at last was received by Daunus in Apulia, and shared his kingdom; it is uncertain how he died.

Nestor lived in peace, with his children, in Pylos, his native country.

Ulysses also, after innumerable troubles by sea and land, at last returned in safety to Ithaca, which is the subject of Homer’s Odyssey.

I must end these notes by discharging my duty to two of my friends, which is the more an indispensable piece of justice, as the one of them is since dead. The merit of their kindness to me will appear infinitely the greater, as the task they undertook was, in its own nature, of much more labour, than either pleasure or reputation. The larger part of the extracts from Eustathius, together with several excellent observations, were sent me by Mr. Broome: and the whole Essay upon Homer was written, upon such memoirs as I had collected, by the late Dr. Parnell, Archdeacon of Clogher in Ireland. How very much that gentleman’s friendship prevailed over his genius, in detaining a writer of his spirit in the drudgery of removing the rubbish of past pedants, will soon appear to the world, when they shall see those beautiful pieces of poetry, the publication of which he left to my charge, almost with his dying breath.

For what remains, I beg to be excused from the ceremonies of taking leave at the end of my work; and from embarrassing myself, or others, with any defences or apologies about it. But instead of endeavouring to raise a vain monument to myself, of the merits or difficulties of it (which must be left to the world, to truth, and to posterity), let me leave behind me a memorial of my friendship with one of the most valuable men, as well as finest writers, of my age and country; one who has tried, and knows by his own experience how hard an undertaking it is, to do justice to Homer; and one who (I am sure) sincerely rejoices with me at the period of my labours. To him, therefore, having brought this long work to a conclusion, I desire to dedicate it; and to have the honour and satisfaction of placing together, in this manner, the names of Mr. CONGREVE, and of

March 25, 1720.