Study Notes to Thrasymachus

A new Greek course by C. W. E. Peckett and A. R. Munday and published in 1965. (Supplemented by an online resource by the late Alison Willard Barker and published in 1999.) Translation and notes by @sdi, following pain points I had in trying to work my way through this text on my own (outside of a classroom setting). (The Greek text is still under copyright, and so is not reproduced here. Please note that I am very green, and so my translation is most likely untrustworthy. Open questions are highlighted in red.)

I Α. Into Hades

(Thrasymachus¹ is a child and and he is sleeping. Lightning and thunder.)

  1. I wonder if this Thrasymachus is the same as the one from W. H. D. Rouse's A Greek Boy at Home?

Thrasymachus: (He is speaking.) I see lightning and I hear thunder.

Hermes:¹ (He is speaking.) Greetings, Thrasymachus. Are you sleeping?

  1. Hermes is the god of mediation of all kinds: language, commerce, travel, etc. Here he is acting both as mediator between gods and men, and as mediator between the living and the dead.

Thrasymachus: I hear a man's voice.

Hermes: But you do not hear a man's voice, because I am not a man

  1. ἄνθρωπος means man as distinct from beasts, gods, etc. (We will see ἀνήρ, which means man as distinct from woman, in ch. III.) It might be more accurate to translate it as "human," but then the joke wouldn't really work.

Thrasymachus: Who are you, then?

Hermes: I am the god Hermes.

Thrasymachus: Oh my! But why have you come here?

Hermes: Because I am taking you into the house of Hades

  1. Hades is the god of the dead, and his house is the underworld in which the dead await judgement.

Thrasymachus: Oh dear me! They take corpses into the house of Hades, but I am not a corpse, so don't take me into Hades!

Hermes: Put on your clothes,¹ Thrasymachus. Zeus² commands it, because he said to me, "Take Thrasymachus into Hades³ and teach the child about the dead⁴ and about the house of Hades."

  1. [...] ἔνδυε τὰ ἱμάτια. The definite article can indicate possession, see p. 255.

  2. Zeus is the king and most powerful of the gods, with dominion over the sky and virility.

  3. κόμιζε τὸν Θρασύμαχον εἰς Ἅιδου [...]. The preposition εἰς expects an object in the accusative case, but Ἅιδου is genitive. This is because the actual object of the preposition is omitted: a literal translation would be more like, "into [something] of Hades." Since both the god and his domain are called "Hades," though, the obvious translation, "into Hades," is fine.

  4. [...] δίδασκε τὸ παιδίον περὶ τῶν νεκρῶν [...]. The definite article with a plural noun can represent an entire class of things, so Zeus is referring to the dead in general, rather than any corpses in particular. See p. 256.

(He gives the child his clothes.)

Thrasymachus: Take me, then, and teach me about the dead and the house of Hades, since I'm putting on my clothes. (Then he puts on his clothes.)

(They see lightning and they hear thunder. They descend.)

I Β. Charon

Thrasymachus: (He sees a river.) Oh my, I see a sea!

Hermes: No. It is not a sea, but a river.

Thrasymachus: I see a river, then. But the river is wondrous¹ and so I see a wondrous river.

  1. δεινός means awful in its old sense: something which provokes wonder or terror. Unfortunately, English doesn't seem to have a comparable term anymore. Here, the river is obviously unbelievably immense, rather than fearsome. Going forward, I'll be translating this word in all sorts of ways.

Charon:¹ (He is rowing.) Oh up-up,² oh up-up, oh up-up.

  1. Charon is the ferryman who carries the newly dead across the river which separates the earth from the underworld.

  2. ὦ ὄποπ is not in the vocabulary: these are the (meaningless) sounds of a chant which Charon is using to keep time as he rows, something like "hey-ho! hey-ho!" in English. (The line is an easter egg, taken from Aristophenes's Frogs, l. 208.) We will see more onomatopoeia (and more easter eggs) in later chapters!

Thrasymachus: That voice¹ is terrible and gruff. I hear a voice both terrible and gruff. So who is speaking? Who is it? Teach me.

  1. [...] ἐστιν ἡ φωνή. Literally, "the voice," but obviously referring to the one just speaking. Anyway, we won't learn ἐκείνη ("that") until ch. V.

Hermes: It is Charon. Charon is speaking.

Thrasymachus: And who is Charon?

Hermes: Charon ferries the dead into Hades with his boat

  1. ὁ Χάρων τῷ πλοίῳ φέρει [...]. The dative case is not only used for indirect objects; it can also indicate the instrument by which an action is accomplished. See p. 254.

Thrasymachus and Hermes: Hey,¹ Charon! Hey, Charon! Hey, Charon!

  1. χαῖρ’, short for χαῖρε, is our first instance of elision, where a vowel may be omitted to smooth pronunciation. We will see this a lot going forward, especially with δέ.

Charon: (He is speaking with a gruff voice.) Who's there

  1. τίς δεῦρο ἥκει; Literally, "who has come here."

Hermes: Thrasymachus and I are descending into Hades, because I am teaching the child about the dead.

Charon: Go on,¹ then, but give me your obols.

  1. καταβαίνετε οὖν. Literally, "descend."

Thrasymachus: Obols, you say?

Charon: Obols, I say.

Hermes: Obols, he says, because the corpse always has an obol.

Thrasymachus: But why does the corpse always have an obol?

Hermes: Because men always give an obol to the corpse.

Charon: And the corpse always gives it to me.

Thrasymachus: But I'm not giving you an obol.

Charon: Why not

  1. ἀλλά διὰ τί οὐ παρέχεις; Literally, "but why aren't you giving?"

Thrasymachus: Because I don't have one.

Charon: Oh my, what¹ are you saying? You don't have an obol? But look at my boat, for it is rotten. The mast is rotten. The sails are rotten. I even row with rotten oars! So give me a good boat and a good mast and good oars and good sails and good...

  1. οἴμοι, τί λέγεις; The chapter vocabulary is misleading: τίς indeed means "who," but τί, being neuter, means "what." (The back-of-the-book vocabulary is correct, however.)

Hermes: Don't speak, but ferry us into Hades with your boat, because Zeus commands it.

Charon: Zeus is always commanding. Get in, then.

Hermes and Thrasymachus: (They get in.) We are getting in.

Charon: But don't you sink my boat. (Then he rows with the oars and ferries the child and the god into Hades.) Oh up-up, oh up-up, oh up... up... up...

II Α. Cerberus

A dog:¹ (He is barking.²) Woof!³ Woof! Woof!

  1. κύων τισ: [...]. Literally, "a certain dog," but this is a touch awkward in English. Note also that τισ is a new word, and not τίς ("who?") which we have seen already; you will want to pay close attention to accent marks from here on, since there are many words which are spelled the same way but have different accents (and different meanings), for example ἐν ("in") and ἕν ("one"), or ἐξ ("out of") and ἕξ ("six").

  2. λέγει. Literally, "he is speaking," but in English, dogs don't speak.

  3. βαῦ, βαῦ, βαῦ. More onomatopoeia! Literally, "Bow! Bow! Bow!" but in English, everyone knows that dogs say, "Woof!"

Thrasymachus: I hear some dog's voice. Who is the dog?

Hermes: The dog is Cerberus

  1. Cerberus is the guard dog of Hades, who keeps the dead in and the living out.

Cerberus: (He is barking again.) Woof! Woof! Woof!

Thrasymachus: But why does he¹ bark three times?

  1. In English, Thrasymachus would probably say "it," since the sex of the dog would be unknown until Hermes communicates it in the next line. (Well, in the English translation of the next line: the Greek is ambiguous.)

Hermes: Because he has three mouths and he barks with three mouths.

Thrasymachus: And why does he have three mouths?

Hermes: Because he has three necks and three heads on the three necks.

Thrasymachus: Then how many eyes does he have in the three heads?

Hermes: He has six eyes in the three heads and six ears¹ on the three heads.

  1. [...] ὦτα [...]. See οὖς.

Thrasymachus: He's some fearsome¹ dog, then. And how many bodies does he have?

  1. δεινός τις οὖν ἐστὶ κύων. This sentence gave me a lot of trouble. The dog is not "a certain fearsome thing" (e.g. a monster), since that would be the neuter δεινόν; so we're working with an indefinite adjective, which is a little unwieldy in English. Note also that "dog" doesn't have a definite article, so the subject ("he") is implied. See p. 256.

Hermes: He only has one body.

Thrasymachus: Tell me also why he's barking

  1. [...] διὰ τί λέγει τὸ βαῦ. Literally, "why he is saying, 'bow.'"

Hermes: Because he is guarding the dead.

Cerberus: Woof! Woof! Woof! The scent of men!¹ I hear some men with my ears. I see some men with my eyes. Come here, Aeacus,² for some men are running towards me from the river! Woof! Woof...

  1. ἀνθρώπων ὀσμή. "Men," here, referring to humanity as a class, since Hermes isn't human. (That is, Cerberus is saying that he smells Thrasymachus, who smells like a human.)

  2. Aeacus was a legendary king, so famed for justice that, upon dying, Zeus appointed him to judge the dead.

Hermes: Oh my, now he is only barking twice!

Thrasymachus: Of course, for I'm holding down one of his three necks!

Cerberus: Woof! Woof! The child is quite formidable. I am dying. Woof...¹

  1. It is, of course, a joke that Hades's terrifying, three-headed, pet monster is cowardly enough to be beaten by a mere child.

Thrasymachus: The dog is quite amazing, since he won't stop barking!¹

  1. ἀεὶ γὰρ λέγει τὸ βαῦ. Literally, "he is always barking;" but, from context, he's in awe of the dog's capacity to keep barking even while strangled.

Aeacus: Oh dog, how are you dying? Who is killing you? Don't cry. (He speaks with a harsh voice.) Don't you kill my dog, for he is guarding the dead!

Hermes: Greetings, Aeacus. Take the child into the house of Hades, for Zeus commands it. And farewell,¹ Thrasymachus...

  1. καὶ χαῖρ’, ὦ Θρασύμαχε... The vocabulary tells us that χαῖρε means "hello," but clearly it can also mean "goodbye."

Thrasymachus: But don't leave us, Hermes! Why are you leaving us? (He is crying.)

Hermes: Don't cry. I am leaving you because I am ascending out of the house of Hades to the earth, because other men are dying.

(Hermes ascends out of Hades to the earth, while¹ Aeacus takes the child into the house of Hades.)

  1. This is an attempt to render μέν ... δέ, showing contrast between the two parties going in different directions.

II Β. In the House of Hades

Thrasymachus: Now then, Aeacus, tell me about the dead. Who is the king of the dead? Who rules?

Aeacus: OkayI'll tell you² about the king of the dead, for Pluto³ is king. Pluto rules the land.

  1. λέγω οῦν σοι [...]. Literally, "therefore," but the context is, "since you asked, ..." In English, we'd usually convey this with simple assent.

  2. λέγω οῦν σοι [...]. Literally, "I am telling you" (present tense), which is natural enough since he immediately does so: here the present and immediate future are sort of blending together. Using the present is a little unnatural in English, though, so I've shifted tense.

  3. Homer and Hesiod call the god of the dead Hades and his wife Persephone, but by the classical period, the epithets Pluto ("the wealthy") and Kore ("the maiden") were favored, perhaps due to the influence of the Eleusinian mysteries. We are studying Attic Greek, and so it makes sense to see the names of the period.

Thrasymachus: But teach me also about the land.

Aeacus: Sure, I'll also teach you about the land, for a certain terrible river, named the Styx,¹ surrounds the land.

  1. [...] ἡ Στὺξ τὸ ὄνομα, [...]. Literally, "the Styx the name," all nominative case. I'm not certain of the most correct way to render this in English, but the idea being communicated is obvious enough.

Thrasymachus: But how is it terrible? And where is the river? And how does it surround the land?

Aeacus: It is terrible because, due to the river, nobody ascends out of Hades to the earth.

Thrasymachus: (He is crying again.) Oh dear me, alas! alas!

Aeacus: Don't cry, Thrasymachus, for you are not a corpse. But there is another river, named the Acheron;¹ and moreover others, the Cocytus, the Lethe, and the Pyriphlegethon. And in the house of Hades, Minos and I judge the dead.

  1. [...] ὁ Ἀχέρων ὀνόματι, [...]. Dative case, this time, so perhaps literally, "with the name Acheron?"

Thrasymachus: Who do you judge? Tell me again, Aeacus.

Aeacus: Okay, I'll tell you again, for we judge the dead, and we send the beautiful and good¹ into Elysium,² but the bad into Tartarus.³ So, Thrasymachus, keep an eye out for⁴ the beautiful and good⁵ in Elysium and the bad in Tartarus.

  1. καλός means outwardly good ("beautiful"), while ἀγαθός means inwardly good ("morally upright"). This is complicated by the fact that "καλοὶ κἀγαθοί" was a snob term used by the elite to refer to themselves, even as they were generally monstrous (just like today).

  2. Elysium, like the Christian heaven or the Big Rock Candy Mountains, is a rather childish notion of paradise, where there is no work, no sorrow, and many pleasures. The philosophers were as critical of it as the Christian mystics were of heaven.

  3. Tartarus is a hellish prison, said by Homer and Hesiod to be as far from earth as earth is from heaven. Once again, the philosophers were as critical of it as the Christian mystics were of hell.

  4. βλέπε οὖν, ὦ Θρασύμαχε, [...]. Literally, "look at," but obviously Thrasymachus can't until Aeacus takes him to those places in the subsequent chapters.

  5. κἀγαθοὺς, short for καὶ ἀγαθοὺς, is our first instance of krasis (κρᾶσις, "mixing"), where the ending vowel sound of one word is blended with the beginning vowel sound of the next. Like elision, it is done in order to smooth pronunciation. We will see more of it going forward, for example κἀγώ for "καὶ ἐγώ."

III. Hector

Aeacus: And now, Thrasymachus, we approach to the islands of the blessed. Do you see?

  1. [...] πρός τὰς τῶν ὀλβίων νήσους. First declension nouns are usually feminine, and second declension nouns are usually masculine or neuter, but there are exceptions, and here we see our first: note the feminine article τὰς with the usually-masculine noun ending -ους. See p. 185 for other common nouns to watch out for.

Thrasymachus: I see indeed. But who lives on¹ the islands?

  1. [...] ἐν ταῖς νήσοις; Literally, "in," but in English we usually say that people live on islands.

Aeacus: The blessed, such as Hector and Achilles.

  1. The greatest heroes of Troy and Greece, respectively, in the Iliad. Achilles killed Hector on the battlefield.

Thrasymachus: Isn't the land rich? For the sun is golden, and the earth golden, and the trees golden, and the fruit golden!

Aeacus: And moreover, in the islands, nobody plows the golden earth with a plow, and nobody goes up into¹ the trees and picks the golden fruit.

  1. [...] ἀναβαίνει ἐπὶ τὰ δένδρα [...]. Literally, "onto," but in English we usually say that people climb in trees.

Thrasymachus: You are saying such incredible things that I don't believe you. But who is approaching? Some god? For he is wearing a silver helmet.

Aeacus: Hush, boy, for Hector is approaching, a man both beautiful and good.

Hector: Hey, Aeacus, how are you?¹ What's the kid's name?

  1. πῶς ἔχεις; Literally, "how do you have," but means, "how are you?" One would typically answer with something like "καλῶς ἔχω" ("I'm well") or "κακῶς ἔχω" ("I fare poorly"), etc.

Aeacus: His name is Thrasymachus.

Hector: And what brings you this way

  1. καὶ διὰ τί δεῦρο προσχωρεῖτε; Literally, "why are you approaching hither?"

Aeacus: Zeus sent us. I am showing the boy around the islands of the blessed, and you show yourself at the same time.

  1. [...] τὰ ἐν ταῖς τῶν ὀλβίων νήσοις. Literally, "the things in the islands of the blessed," but this is a bit awkward in English.

Hector: We'll show him together, then! Ask, boy: what do you want to know?

Thrasymachus: Show me, then, what you all do in the islands of the blessed.

Hector: We do nothing but¹ feast.

  1. οὐδὲν ἄλλο ποιοῦμεν δειπνοῦμεν. Literally, "We do nother other than feast." ἤ ("or") is used to make a contrast between doing nothing and feasting; see p. 263. Be careful not to confuse οὐδέν ("nothing") with οὐδέ ("and not"), ἄλλο ("other") with ἀλλά ("but"), and ἢ ("or") with ἡ (feminine "the").

Thrasymachus: But how do you get food?¹ You don't plow?

  1. ἀλλὰ πῶς ἐστὶν ὑμῖν τὰ σῖτα; The dative can indicate who receives something given; see p. 254. Literally, perhaps, "how does food exist to you?"

Hector: Not a bit! Nobody ever¹ plows or gathers, since fruit falls from the trees onto the table.

  1. οὐδεὶς γὰρ οὐδέποτε οὔτ’ ἀροῖ οὔτε δρέπει. Literally, "Nobody never neither plows nor gathers." In English, two negatives cancel each other out; in Greek, they intensify each other.

Thrasymachus: But I don't believe you.

Aeacus: Look out! (A golden fruit falls from a nearby golden tree onto Thrasymachus's head.)

  1. καρπός τις χρυσοῦς πίπτει ἀπο δένδρου τινὸς χρυσοῦ [...]. Literally, "a certain golden apple falls from a certain golden tree..." but this is very awkward English.

Thrasymachus: Ack! Ow, ow.

Aeacus: Do you believe us now, boy?

Thrasymachus: I definitely believe you.

Hector: Live and learn! (Aeacus and Hector laugh while the boy cries.)

Thrasymachus: Don't laugh at me!

Hector: Then ask rather than cry.

Thrasymachus: Okay, show me why Hector is lame.

Hector: I'll certainly show you: it is because I have a pain in my feet. How very terrible is Achilles, since he kills men and abuses their bodies!

  1. ἄνδρας γὰρ ἀποκτείνει καὶ κακὰ ποιεῖ τοὺς νεκρούς. The chapter vocabulary is no help, but the back-of-the-book vocabulary has an entry for the verb phrase. This is a reference to the Iliad XXII, where Achilles kills Hector, runs a rope through his heels, and drags his corpse behind a chariot. Clearly such an affront wasn't enough to keep Achilles from being judged worthy of Elysium, though!

Thrasymachus: And who is the root of the problem?

Hector: A certain woman named Helen

  1. Helen was the most beautiful woman in the world. She married Menelaus, the king of Sparta, but the goddess Aphrodite stole her away and gave her to Paris, a prince of Troy, which precipitated the Trojan War. The Greeks call themselves "Hellenes," apparently in reference to her.

Aeacus: And why not? A certain woman is always the root of the problem.

A voice: I agree, but it wasn't Helen

  1. κἀγὼ πιστεύω. ἀλλ’ οὐχ ἡ ῾Ελένη. Literally, "I think so, too. But not Helen;" κἀγὼ is "καὶ ἐγώ" ("and I") and ἀλλ’ is "but" (rather than some form of ἄλλος, "other;" note the lack of stress on the first letter). But the context is not that Helen disagrees about women always being the root of the problem, but rather that she wasn't the root of this particular problem.

Thrasymachus: And what do you know about Helen?

A voice: What wouldn't I know? For I am Paris,¹ Helen's husband.

  1. Paris was a prince of Troy, younger brother of Hector, and slayer of Achilles.

Thrasymachus: Then who is the root of the problem?

Paris: A certain other woman. But you all be quiet, and I'll speak.

Thrasymachus: Indeed, tell us.

IV. The Root of the Problem

(In heaven. Food is on a table and the gods are sitting on silver chairs arond the table and feasting. But Zeus is sleeping while the gods are bickering terribly.)

Hera:¹ How white is my robe!

  1. Hera is the wife of Zeus and the goddess of social order, including rulership and marriage.

Aphrodite:¹ But mine is whiter.

  1. Aphrodite is the goddess of beauty and the mother of Eros ("Love").

Athena:¹ But mine is the whitest.

  1. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, both theoretical (e.g. philosophy, mathematics) and practical (e.g. handicrafts, battlefield tactics).

Aphrodite: But I am rich.

Athena: But I am richer than Aphrodite.

Hera: But I am the richest of the gods.

Athena: (She is getting huffy.) But I am sitting in a lofty chair!

Hera: (She is getting even huffier.) Granted, but I am in a loftier one.

Aphrodite: (She is getting the huffiest.) But I am in the loftiest!

Athena: (She is speaking arrogantly.) But I am beautiful!

Hera: (She is speaking more arrogantly.) But I am more beautiful than Athena!

Aphrodite: (She is speaking most arrogantly.) But I am the most beautiful of the gods!

(Then the gods bicker most terribly and are almost coming to blows. They wake up Zeus.¹)

  1. [...] τὸν Δία. See Ζεύς.

Zeus: Don't fight, gods! Don't shout like that! Now sit down, since you woke me up.

Aphrodite: (She laughs.) But Zeus, I'm not quarreling; rather, Hera and Athena are, for they are savage and they are always quarreling.

Athena: But we aren't quarreling, Zeus, because we love each other.

Zeus: What are you all doing, then?

Athena: Nothing but conversing reasonably.

Zeus: Then converse more reasonably and don't fight!

(Then, since Zeus commands them, the gods again converse most reasonably, while Zeus goes back to sleep.¹ But Eris,² since she is absent³ from the feast, rages; and moreover, since nobody is guarding the door, she enters and throws a golden apple⁴ into their midst. Then she cackles⁵ and runs away. Ganymede⁶ picks up the apple and reads...)

  1. [...], ὁ δὲ Ζεὺς αὖθις καθεύδει. Literally, "is sleeping again."

  2. Eris is the goddess of strife.

  3. [...], ἐπεὶ ἄπεστιν ἀπο τοῦ δείπνου, [...]. See ἄπειμι in the back-of-the-book vocabulary.

  4. [...] βάλλει μῆλόν τι χρυσοῦν [...]. Literally, "a certain golden apple," but this is awkward and unnecessary in English.

  5. ἔπειτα δὲ δεινῶς γελᾷ [...]. Literally, "laughs terribly."

  6. Ganymede was the most handsome youth in the world, abducted by Zeus to be his personal cup-bearer (and boy-toy).

Ganymede: "For the most beautiful."

The Gods: (They all simultaneously shout at the top of their lungs.) The apple is mine, for I am the most beautiful!

  1. δεινότατα δὴ βοῶσιν ἅμα. Literally, "shout very most terribly."

(Then the gods run towards each other and fight most savagely.)

Zeus: (He is raising hell.¹) Are you fighting amongst yourselves again, you degenerates?² Are you shouting again? Who started this fight?

  1. δεινότατα ποιεῖται. Literally, "he is making the greatest fuss."

  2. ἆρ’ αὖθις μάχεσθε, ὦ κάκισται; Literally, "worst ones."

Athena: (She answers fiercely.) But Aphrodite is pulling my¹ hair² out of my head!

  1. ἀλλ’ ἡ Ἀφροδίτη ἕλκει μοι τὰς τρίχας ἐκ τῆς κεφαλῆς. Dative indicating who is receiving the action. I'm told this is idiomatic in Greek; in English we generally use a possessive.

  2. [...] τὰς τρίχας [...]. See θρίξ.

Zeus: (He asks more fiercely.) But you, Hera, what do you want!? What are you doing!? Why are you holding onto Aphrodite's ear!?

  1. λαμβάνομαι is in the middle voice, so the idea is of snatching at and keeping something, rather than merely snatching at it (e.g. λαμβάνω).

Hera: (She answers most fiercely.) Because Aphrodite is grabbing the golden apple!

Zeus: Oh, this fight! Oh, these women! Who could choose the most beautiful?

  1. τίς αἱρεῖται τὴν καλλίστην; αἱρῶ means "I take," but the back-of-the-book vocabulary gives us the hint that it means "I choose" in the middle voice (e.g. "I take for myself").

Hera: But you choose, Zeus, since you are the most sensible.

Zeus: No way.

Ganymede: Paris could choose sensibly. He is the most sensible of men, for nobody is more sensible than Paris.

Aphrodite: But who is Paris? Where does he live?

Ganymede: He is a shepherd and tends the flocks in Phrygia.

Zeus: Good idea.¹ So descend, gods, out of heaven to Phrygia.

  1. καλῶς λέγεις. Literally, "you speak well."

(Then the gods descend to Phrygia. Meanwhile, in heaven, Zeus goes back to sleep.)

V. Paris and the Gods

(The same gods descend out of heaven to Phrygia, and Hermes escorts them. While they descend, they quarrel with each other.)

Hera: My dears, do you see that man? He is in the middle of those fields.

Athena: The one plowing the earth with a plow?

Aphrodite: The one picking the fruits?

Hera: No, you fools! The one that is a shepherd and is tending the flocks over there.¹ ²

  1. My copy of the text is badly printed. This should read, "[...] ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ γῇ τὰ πρόβατα νέμει."

  2. [...] ἐν ἐκείνῃ τῇ γῇ. Literally, "in that land," presumably the one she is pointing at or something.

Athena: I myself don't see him, but maybe Aphrodite does? After all, she is always looking closely at men.

Aphrodite: Don't cause trouble, my dears, and don't quarrel, for I am only¹ looking closely at the flocks.

  1. My copy of the text is badly printed. This should read, "[...] μηδ’ ἐρίζετε· μόνον γὰρ [...]."

Hermes: Oh gods, stop shouting and stop badmouthing each other, for that man is Paris and those are his flocks.

Athena: But he is a philosopher, in my opinion,¹ since he is wise and it seems that he loves wisdom.

  1. [...] ὡς ἔμοιγε δοκεῖ. See δοκῶ in the back-of-the-book vocabulary.

Hera: No, but rather he is warlike: since,¹ in my opinion, he loves battle, armor, and fighting valorously.

  1. My copy of the text is badly printed. This should read, "φιλόνεικος μὲν οὖν· φιλεῖ γὰρ [...]."

Aphrodite: You are mistaken, my dears: since¹ he loves nothing but women, just like other men.

  1. My copy of the text is badly printed. This should read, "ἁμαρτάνετε, ὦ φίλαι· οὐδὲν γὰρ [...]."

(Then the three gods and Hermes himself fourth arrive in the fields, and when they arrive there Paris is sitting near the flocks. Then he sees them, recognizes that they are gods, and falls over.¹)

  1. πίπτει οὖν πρὸς τοὺς πόδας αὐτῶν. Literally, "then he falls towards his feet," but this is very awkward English, especially since he is already sitting.

Hermes: Pick yourself up, Paris, and choose the most beautiful of these gods. Look closely at this golden apple and read these words, for the words say, "this is a gift for the most beautiful," and concerning them these three gods have been arguing.

(Then Paris himself picks himself up, and Hera whispers¹ to him.)

  1. [...] ἡ δ’ Ἥρα ἰδίᾳ λέγει αὐτῷ. Literally, "speaks privately."

Hera: Greetings, human. I have most rich gifts for you, if you give the apple to me.

Paris: I believe you, Hera, but what are the gifts?

Hera: Fortune and glory.

Athena: (She shouts fiercely.) Don't you talk privately with the shepherd, Hera! (She whispers to him, herself.) Hello, my dear. I have a most wise gift for you, if you give you give the apple to me.

Paris: I believe you, Athena, but what is your gift?

Athena: Wisdom.

Aphrodite: (She shouts more fiercely.) Don't you talk privately with the shepherd, Athena! You're worse than Hera! (She also whispers to him, herself.) Hey, my love. I have a most beautiful gift for you, if you give the apple to me.

Paris: I believe you, Aphrodite, but what is your gift?

Aphrodite: The most beautiful woman of men is my gift, for I am the most beautiful of the gods.

Hera: (She shouts most fiercely.) Don't talk privately with the shepherd, Aphrodite! You're the worst of the gods!

Aphrodite: But I am saying nothing other than concerning men

  1. ἀλλ’ οὐδὲν ἄλλο λέγω ἢ περὶ τῶν ἀνθρώπων. I am not certain what Aphrodite is getting at, here.

Hera, Athena, Aphrodite: (They shout together.) Now then, Paris, choose the most beautiful of the gods, for you are the most sensible of men.

Thrasymachus: But Aeacus, who did Paris give the apple to?

Aeacus: (He laughs.) Why don't you ask him?

VI Α. Agamemnon

Thrasymachus: Alas, alas! I see a man who doesn't have a head!

Aeacus: Of course, for the man, who you see, indeed¹ does not have a head; and his name is Agamemnon

  1. Indeed is not a translation of any particular word in the Greek, but context suggests that Aeacus is confirming Thrasymachus's statement.

  2. Agamemnon was the king of Mycenae, brother of Menelaus, commander-in-chief of the Greek armies during the Trojan war, and world-class asshole. I wonder if we've entered Tartarus?

Thrasymachus: And moreover now I see a woman who has an axe.

Aeacus: The youth¹ is not mistaken, for the woman, who you see, indeed has an axe; and her name is Clytemnestra

  1. οὐχ ἁμαρτάνει ὁ νεανίας. In the first chapter, Thrasymachus was παιδίον ("a child"); in the third, Thrasymachus was παῖς ("a boy"); now, he is νεανίας ("a youth")! I guess we'll have to wait and see what it means.
  2. Oh dear. Yup, we're definitely in Tartarus. Clytemnestra was Agamemnon's wife, Helen's sister, and an adulterous axe-murderer.

Thrasymachus: But why does Agamemnon not have a head, and Clytemnestra, an axe?

Aeacus: Hush, young man, and listen to them,¹ for they are already talking with each other.

  1. [...] ἄκουε αὐτῶν. But isn't αὐτῶν genitive?

Thrasymachus: But how can Agamemnon, who doesn't have a head, talk?

Aeacus: Oh, the foolish youth! Don't ask so many questions; just listen, for the tragedy is already happening.

VI Β. The Tragedy

A guard: (He is shouting.) Hooray! Hooray! The fire is lit, and that means the Greeks have already taken Troy! So Agamemnon, my master, is victorious and already returning from Troy, for that is what¹ the lit fire signifies. Come here, mistress² Clytemnestra! Look at the lit fire, which I already see!

  1. καὶ ταῦτ’ ἐστὶν ἅπερ σημαίνει τὸ πῦρ, ὃ λάμπει. See ὅσπερ.

  2. δεῦρ’, ὦ δέσποινα Κλυταιμνήστρα. Not in the chapter vocabulary; look in the back-of-the-book vocabulary.

Clytemnestra: (She is sitting in a silver chair, behind which she is hiding her axe.) The fire, which we see, is lit, and long is the journey from Troy. The people of Troy must be¹ weeping, for they suffer evils; and on the other hand, the Greek soldiers must be rejoicing, for they have won the war. But I can never rejoice, for I hate that husband of mine,² who is already returning from Troy; but instead I love Aegisthus, who rules the people with me while Agememnon is absent in Troy.

  1. This is an attempt to render οὖν ("therefore"): Clytemnestra is reasoning that the lit fire implies that the Trojans are miserable and the Greeks are happy, but she is miserable no matter what.

  2. μισῶ μὲν γὰρ τοῦτον τὸν ἄνδρα, [...] Literally, "this the man" (or perhaps, "this my husband"), but this is awkward in English.

(But Agamemnon is not absent. In fact, he is already present with a certain woman, whom he is taking to Mycenae in a bronze chariot. He has bronze equipment¹ and fine clothing, which shine in the middle of the chariot.)

  1. ὅπλα τε χαλκᾶ ἔχει καὶ καλὰ ἱμάτια, [...]. Not in the chapter vocabulary; look in the back-of-the-book vocabulary. Note that the entry is plural!

Agamemnon: Greetings, wife! Greetings, land of Mycenae! Greetings, Greek gods!

Clytemnestra: Who is this woman in the chariot? I don't recognize her.

Agamemnon: This is Cassandra,¹ whom I'm taking out of Troy.

  1. Cassandra was a sister of Hector and Paris and a priestess of the god Apollo. She was blessed with the gift of prophesy, but cursed to never be believed.

Cassandra: (She is speaking with a horrible voice since she is enraged and making a scene.) Otototoy popoy da!¹ Here is the scent of blood!

  1. ὀτοτοτοῖ πόποι δᾶ. A meaningless exclamation of extreme distress. (It's another easter egg, quoted from Aeschylus's Agamemnon, l. 1072.)

Clytemnestra: (She is muttering to herself.) What kind of language are you speaking? I don't understand what you're saying. So Agememnon doesn't love me, but he loves Cassandra, for whom I already have this axe ready.

Agamemnon: Young men, take off¹ my sandals and my gear and throw my fine clothes onto the ground. I am going on them, for I am victorious, and the glory which I now possess is the greatest of all.

  1. ὦ νεανίαι, λύετέ μοι τὰς κρηπῖδας καὶ τὰ ὅπλα. Not in the chapter vocabulary; look in the back-of-the-book vocabulary.

  2. ἐγὼ δ’ ἐπ’ αὐτῶν βαίνω. What? Is he standing on his clothes?

Clytemnestra: (She is muttering to herself.) My husband boasts because he is a braggart. So this braggart gazes at himselfwho goes on these fine clothes like some god

  1. ὁρᾶτ’ οὖν τοῦτον τὸν ὑβριστήν, [...] I think this is ὁρᾶται, so he is both looking and being looked at. I take this to mean he is vainly looking at himself, as if in a mirror. (Note that "this braggart" is accusative, but I've rearranged it to the subject in order to make the sentence read more naturally in English.)

  2. [...] ὃς βαίνει ἐπὶ τούτων τῶν καλῶν ἱματίων, ὥσπερ θεός τις. What? Do gods stand on their clothes?

Agamemnon: Don't talk to yourself like that, dear wife, but get me both food and a bath, in which I can wash myself.

Clytemnestra: But these are already waiting for you, dear husband, so come into the house. I say, Cassandra, you also come in.

Aeacus: Then they enter into the house, in which Clytemnestra kills Cassandra with her axe, and she cuts off Agamemnon's head in the bath with the same axe, and his head falls from his body to the ground, and that's why he doesn't have a head.

Thrasymachus: But how can Clytemnestra cut off Agamemnon's head if it's already missing

  1. [...] τὴν τοῦ Ἀγαμέμνονος κεφαλὴν ἣν οὐκ ἔχει; Literally, "the head of Agamemnon which he doesn't have?" I reworded it to make the joke more clear, since the construction is awkward in English.

Aeacus: Oh, the foolish boy!

VII. Achilles

(Thrasymachus and Achilles are talking like always, and while they are talking, they are going a long way to some other part of Hades, and, [still] talking, they arrive. Therefore, we hear them talking.)

Thrasymachus: Who is that man, Aeacus, who seems so strong?

Aeacus: He is a frightening king, from whom the other kings are always running away from.

Thrasymachus: But I never run away from anything.

Aeacus: You boast, young man, for you are a braggart! Stop being angry and follow me, for Achilles is already here.

Thrasymachus: (Despite seeming haughty, he runs away.) Oh dear me! Alas, alas!

Aeacus: (He seizes the youth.) Come back, most foolish, and don't run away.

Thrasymachus: Alas, alas! Oh dear! How frightening is this king and how shiny is his equipment! For it is silver, in my opinion.

Aeacus: Hello, Achilles! How are you?

Achilles: Hello to you too, Aeacus. I'm well: I rejoice because Agamemnon is dying, for he is a thief whom I most hate. But he is already suffering misfortune.

Aeacus: On the contrary, Agamemnon is a king, not a thief.

Achilles: But he is always stealing other people's things, and moreover other people's women, like¹ Briseis...

  1. Literally, "for." I don't think he is being interrupted by Thrasymachus so much as being wistful in his rememberance, though.

Thrasymachus: (He overhears their conversation.) What's this about Briseis

  1. ἀλλὰ τί περὶ τῆς Βρισηίδος; Literally, "but what about Briseis?" But I have modified it from context.

Achilles: Not just now, for she is already here and she cries remembering Agamemnon.

  1. ἀλλ' οὐδὲν τὸ νῦν· [...]. Literally, "but nothing now," but now has a definite article in front of it. I assume that means something like, "at this time?"

Briseis: (Arriving, she shouts.) Hello, friends! How cute is this child! Show him your equipment, with which you are always vanquishing your enemies. Do it for me,¹ Achilles.

  1. αἰτοῦμαί σε, ὦ Ἀχιλλεῦ. Literally, "I ask you," but in the middle voice; so she is asking for herself.

Achilles: For you, my lady, it is always my pleasure.¹ Young man, this is my helmet, which protects my head; these are my greaves, which protect my legs; this is my spear, battling with which I kill kings; and this is my sword, with which I cut off both the heads of kings and their legs.² And moreover with this, my bow, I kill both kings and their soldiers; and this is my shield, which defends me from enemies in battle, for it is strong and deflects my enemies' swords from my body. Isn't it beautiful? But tell me what you see on it

  1. καὶ αἰτουμένῃ σοι, ὦ δέσποινα, ἀεὶ πείθομαι. Even though this is a very simple sentence, it is very difficult to translate literally. It is something like, "and asking for yourself, mistress, I always obey for myself." The middle voice doesn't translate well and one cannot apply adjectives to pronouns. In any case, Achilles' chivalrous nature is readily understood.

  2. Yikes. Briseis got more than she bargained for.

  3. The shield of Achilles, lavishly described in the Iliad, is a very famous motif in Greek literature. It is cute that the authors of Thrasymachus worked it into the story.

Thrasymachus: Well, Achilles, I see the earth, the sky, the sea, and the sun. This shield has five parts, and in the first part, I see some old men sitting, and they are judging the people. In the second part, I see shepherds accompanying their flocks. In the same part, I see some hostile men battling with their swords by a river. Now, in the third part, some men are plowing a field with a plow, and arriving at the end of the field¹ they drink wine and dine near the road.

  1. [...] πρὸς τὸ τοῦ ἀγροῦ τέλος [...]. The endings here confuse me. Isn't "τὸ τέλος" nominative? But it must be accusative, or else "πρὸς" makes no sense. And surely the subject of the sentence is the men who are plowing and not the end of the field...

Aeacus: Do you recognize that man in the fourth part? He is a priest: he is sacrificing the bulls to the gods. Also, look at these dogs following the bulls, and some lions attacking the bulls and killing them, and the dogs are barking.

Thrasymachus: And here in the fifth part I see some maidens who are dancing. I like the shield of Achilles, and Briseis

  1. [...] καὶ τὴν Βρισηίδα. Accusative, not genitive; that is, Thrasymachus likes the shield and he likes Briseis for suggesting Achilles tell him about it.

Aeacus: But don't say that name,¹ since Achilles is violent² and he has both a sword and a bow.

  1. That is, Agamemnon's, while in the presence of Briseis.

  2. Homer begins, "Sing, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles." Achilles was famously violent and prone to flying into a rage at the least provocation.

[The remainder of Thrasymachus will be added as I work through it.]

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