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THREE EPISTLES TO G. LLOYD ON A PASSAGE FROM HOMER'S ILIAD: 3, by                 Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography
First Line: Having shewn you the passage, one cannot avoid
Last Line: That a mule is a mule, and a man is a man.
Subject(s): Translating & Interpreting

HAVING shewn you the passage, one cannot avoid
An appendix so proper, kind visitant Lloyd,
To the mules and the dogs, which a little while since
Were guards and piquets, as verse sought to evince.
Whether χυνες attended, two-footed or four,
Upon heroes and kings let the critics explore;
But ουρηας for "mules," in old Homer's intent,
I suspect that his rhapsodies never once meant.

The word is twice us'd, in the twenty third book,
In the space of five lines, where I made you to look.
I'll refresh your attention—Achilles, know then,
Had desir'd Agamemnon, the monarch of men,
To exhort them to bring, when the morning appear'd,
And prepare proper wood for a pile to be rear'd,
For the purpose of burning, as custom instill'd,
The remains of Patroclus whom Hector had kill'd.

When the morning appear'd with her rosyfied fingers,
Agamemnon obey'd, and exhorted the bringers,
The mules and the men—as translation presents—
Exhorted them all to come out of their tents.
So the men and the mules lay amongst one another,
If this be the case, in some hammocks or other;
And the men taking with them ropes, hatchets, and tools,
Were conducted, it seems, to the wood by the mules.

For "the mules went before them," the Latinists say,
Which, a man may presume, was to shew them the way;
Or since there was danger, the mules going first
Might, perhaps, be because not one of them durst;
For they all were to pass, in their present employ,
To the woods of mount Ida belonging to Troy;
And if Trojans fell on them for stealing their fire,
The men, in the rear, might sooner retire.

However, both mulish and well-booted folks
Came safe to the mountain and cut down its oaks,
And with more bulky pieces of timber cut out
They loaded such mules as were mules without doubt.
When you found in the Latin so certain a place,
Where the loading description shew'd mules in the case,
Your eyes to the left I saw rolling to seek
If the word for these "mules" was ουρηων in Greek.

And had they discover'd that really it was,
Conjecture had come to more difficult pass;
But since it was not, since ημιονων came,
What else but the meaning could vary the name?
Why should Homer, so fond (as you very well noted)
Of repeating the words which his Muse had once quoted,
Make so awkward a change, without any pretence
Of reason suggested by metre or sense?

Ημιονοι, "mules," tho' a masculine ender,
Is always in Greek of the feminine gender;
But ουξηες, you'll find, let it mean what it will,
Never is of that gender, but masculine still.
How ridiculous, then, that ουξηες, the he's,
Should become by their loading ημιονοι,
In a Latin description, would poetry pass,
That should call them mulos, and load them mulas?

Both the word, and the sense, which is really the bard's,
Shew the masculine mules to be certainly guards.
Any mules I desire any critic to name,
If Jack's in the gender, that are not the same;
One place, which I hinted at over our tea,
May be offer'd, perhaps, as a masculine plea;
But if folks were unbiass'd, they quickly would find
A mistake to be there of the very same kind.

The Trojans met Priam at one of their gates,
With the corpse of his Hector, Omega relates,
Whom they would have lamented there all the day long,
Had not Priam, addressing himself to the throng,
Made a speech,—"let me pass with the mules,"—and so on,
For mules drew the hearse which the corpse lay upon:
Now the words that he said at the entrance of Troy
Were ουρευ σι
διελθεμεν ειξα
ε μοι.

Priam said to the people still hurrying down—
"Let me pass thro' the guards"—to go into the town;
This is much better sense, by the leave of the schools,
Than for Priam to say—"Let me pass with the mules"—
For Idæus directed the mulish machine,
While horses drew that in which Priam was seen,
Who thought of no mules, but of reaching the dome,
Where they all might lament over Hector at home.

The mules had been nam'd very often before
In the very same book, times a dozen or more,
And the proper term for them had always occurr'd;
It is only this once that we meet with this word.
That it signifies "guards," it is granted, sometimes,
As I instanc'd, you know, in the Baguley rhymes;
And will critics suppose that the poet would make
Variation for mere ambiguity's sake?

That Apollo should plague, Agamemnon exhort
These irrational creatures is stupid, in short;
Where no metamorphosis, fable, or fiction,
Can defend such abuse of plain, narrative diction.
Perchance, as a doctor, you'll think me unwise
For poring on Homer with present sore eyes;
But a glance the most transient may see in his plan
That a mule is a mule, and a man is a man.

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