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Rhys, Ernest, ed. (1859–1946). The Haunters and the Haunted. 1921.

XXXVIII. Patroklos

HOMER’S Iliad (E. H. Blakeney’s translation)

THEN there came unto him the ghost of poor Patroklos, in all things like unto the very man, in stature, and fair eyes, and voice; and he was arrayed in vesture such as in life he wore. He stood above the hero’s head and challenged him:—

“Thou sleepest, Achilles, unmindful of me. Not in my lifetime wert thou neglectful, but in death. Bury me with all speed; let me pass the gates of Hades. Far off the souls, wraiths of the dead, keep me back, nor suffer me yet to join them beyond the river; forlorn I wander up and down the wide-doored house of Hades. And now give me thy hand, I entreat; for never more shall I return from Hades, when once ye have given me my meed of fire. Nay, never more shall we sit, at least in life, apart from our comrades, taking counsel together; but upon me hateful doom hath gaped—doom which was my portion even at birth. Aye and to thee thyself also, Achilles, thou peer of the gods, it is fated to perish beneath the wall of the wealthy Trojans. Another thing I will tell thee, and will straitly charge thee, if peradventure thou wilt hearken: lay not my bones apart from thine, Achilles, but side by side; for we were brought up together in thy house, when Menoitios brought me, a child, from Opöeis to thy father’s house because of woeful bloodshed on the day when I slew the son of Amphidamas, myself a child, unwittingly, but in wrath over our games. Then did Peleus, the knight, take me into his home and rear me kindly and name me thy squire. So let one urn also hide the bones of us both.”

And swift-footed Achilles answered him and said:—

“Why, dearest and best-beloved, hast thou come hither to lay upon me these thy several behests? Of a truth I will accomplish all, and bow to thy command. But stand nearer, I pray; for a little space let us cast our arms about each other, and take our fill of dire sorrow.”

With these words he stretched forth his hands to clasp him, but could not; for, like a smoke, the spirit vanished earthward with a wailing cry. Amazed, Achilles sprang up, and smote his hands together, and spake a piteous word:—

“O ye heavens! surely, even among the dead, the soul and wraith are something (yet is there no life therein at all). For all night long the soul of poor Patroklos stood beside me, crying and making lamentation, and bade me do his will; it was the perfect image of himself.”

So he spake, and in the hearts of them all roused desire for lamentation; and while they yet were mourning about the pitiful corpse appeared rosy-fingered dawn.