Iliad I: Section 5 (544-560)

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‘τὴν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα πατὴρ ἀνδρῶν τε θεῶν τε:
Ἥρη μὴ δὴ πάντας ἐμοὺς ἐπιέλπεο μύθους  545
εἰδήσειν: χαλεποί τοι ἔσοντ᾽ ἀλόχῳ περ ἐούσῃ:
ἀλλ᾽ ὃν μέν κ᾽ ἐπιεικὲς ἀκουέμεν οὔ τις ἔπειτα
οὔτε θεῶν πρότερος τὸν εἴσεται οὔτ᾽ ἀνθρώπων:
ὃν δέ κ᾽ ἐγὼν ἀπάνευθε θεῶν ἐθέλωμι νοῆσαι
μή τι σὺ ταῦτα ἕκαστα διείρεο μηδὲ μετάλλα.’  550
τὸν δ᾽ ἠμείβετ᾽ ἔπειτα βοῶπις πότνια Ἥρη:
αἰνότατε Κρονίδη ποῖον τὸν μῦθον ἔειπες;
καὶ λίην σε πάρος γ᾽ οὔτ᾽ εἴρομαι οὔτε μεταλλῶ,
ἀλλὰ μάλ᾽ εὔκηλος τὰ φράζεαι ἅσσ᾽ ἐθέλῃσθα.
νῦν δ᾽ αἰνῶς δείδοικα κατὰ φρένα μή σε παρείπῃ  555
ἀργυρόπεζα Θέτις θυγάτηρ ἁλίοιο γέροντος:
ἠερίη γὰρ σοί γε παρέζετο καὶ λάβε γούνων:
τῇ σ᾽ ὀΐω κατανεῦσαι ἐτήτυμον ὡς Ἀχιλῆα
τιμήσῃς, ὀλέσῃς δὲ πολέας ἐπὶ νηυσὶν Ἀχαιῶν.  560


Ἥρη μὴ δὴ πάντας ἐμοὺς ἐπιέλπεο μύθους εἰδήσειν – another speech with a forceful start. Zeus captures her attention with a direct address in the vocative (Ἥρη), and then instructs her not to sustain any hopes of knowing about all his designs using the μὴ + present imperative construction. Zeus uses a general rather than a specific prohibition to highlight that things will always be this way.

ὃν μέν … ὃν δέ – Zeus uses μέν and δέ to highlight the contrast between plans Hera ought and ought not to know about.

οὔτε θεῶν … οὔτ᾽ ἀνθρώπων – double expression to cover all possible life forms. Zeus is trying to emphasise that wherever it is appropriate for Hera to know about his plans, absolutely no one will get wind of them before her. Pulleyn calls this a strategy of ‘qualified conciliation’ (Pulleyn 2000:259).

μή … διείρεο μηδὲ μετάλλα – another two general prohibitions.

ποῖον τὸν μῦθον ἔειπες – Hera is incredulous that Zeus would make such an accusation, and emphasises her incredulity with this rhetorical question.

λίην – “surely, assuredly”. Hera inserts this word in an attempt to bolster the reliability of her case.

φράζεαι ἅσσ᾽ ἐθέλῃσθα – indefinite pronoun + subjunctive, forming an indefinite clause. Hera wants to highlight that Zeus was always allowed to say whatsoever he wanted.

αἰνῶς δείδοικα κατὰ φρένα – Hera claims not just to be afraid, but to be terribly afraid in her heart: she adds αἰνῶς and κατὰ φρένα to stress her fear. If this is fear for herself, it is a clever way of guilt tripping Zeus into sympathising so that he is more likely to do what she wants – another instance of moral blackmail amongst the gods. However, Hera may be feigning fear for Zeus’s cherished autonomy in the face of threats from Thetis (Pulleyn 2000:261).

ἠερίη … λάβε γούνων … κατανεῦσαι – Hera is using the same words, or other forms of the same words, as were used in the preceding narrative (497, 500 and 524/7 respectively). She appears keen to show Zeus that she knows very well what has been going on despite his best attempts to hide it from her.


The father of men and gods then answered her.
‘Hera, do not expect to know about all my designs.
They will be difficult for you, even though you are my wife.
Nonetheless, whatever it is fitting for you to hear, no one at all
shall have knowledge of it before you, either of the gods or of men.
But whatever I should wish to devise far away from the gods,
do not question me closely about any of these things, nor make any inquiry about them.’
Wide-eyed Lady Hera then responded to him.
‘Most terrible son of Cronus, what speech did you just make?
Surely I have never questioned you in the past, or made any close inquiries,
but rather you said whatever you wanted, very much free of care.
But now I am dreadfully afraid in my heart that silver-footed Thetis,
daughter of the old man of the sea, might have talked you over,
for early this morning, at any rate, she sat beside you, and grasped your knees.
I really suspect that you nodded to her in agreement that you would
honour Achilles, and destroy many of the Achaeans by the ships.’