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Nestor: The Conciliator

Ancient Greek

Nestor: The Conciliator

“Achilles Giving Nestor the Price of Wisdom”, by Raymond Monvoisin


By André Bastos Gurgel, OAB

Today’s topic is one of Homer’s favorite characters from his Iliad: Nestor, king of Pylos. He was once a brave man who participated in the quest for the Golden Fleece and also on the hunt for the Caledonian Boar. However, when the Trojan War took place, Nestor was already an elderly man and, therefore, unable to do much fighting. Nevertheless, he plays an important role as the wise man who tried to conciliate Agamemnon and Achilles.

Because Agamemnon decided to take away Achilles’ slave-girl Briseis, Achilles insulted him with bitter words and refused to fight or lead his troops alongside the other Greek forces. The wise Nestor knew that Achilles and his soldiers, the Myrmidons, were the bravest warriors among the Greek expedition, and they would suffer greatly if these men were not on the battlefield. That is when the king of Pylos asked permission to speak in the Greek assembly and delivered the following speech. The English translation is by A.T. Murray.

μήτε σὺ τόνδ᾽ ἀγαθός περ ἐὼν ἀποαίρεο κούρην,
ἀλλ᾽ ἔα ὥς οἱ πρῶτα δόσαν γέρας υἷες Ἀχαιῶν:
μήτε σὺ Πηλείδη ἔθελ᾽ ἐριζέμεναι βασιλῆϊ
ἀντιβίην, ἐπεὶ οὔ ποθ᾽ ὁμοίης ἔμμορε τιμῆς
σκηπτοῦχος βασιλεύς, ᾧ τε Ζεὺς κῦδος ἔδωκεν.
εἰ δὲ σὺ καρτερός ἐσσι θεὰ δέ σε γείνατο μήτηρ,
ἀλλ᾽ ὅ γε φέρτερός ἐστιν ἐπεὶ πλεόνεσσιν ἀνάσσει.
Ἀτρεΐδη σὺ δὲ παῦε τεὸν μένος: αὐτὰρ ἔγωγε
λίσσομ᾽ Ἀχιλλῆϊ μεθέμεν χόλον, ὃς μέγα πᾶσιν
ἕρκος Ἀχαιοῖσιν πέλεται πολέμοιο κακοῖο.

“Neither do you, mighty though you are, take away the girl, but let her be, as the sons of the Achaeans first gave her to him as a prize; nor do you, son of Peleus, be minded to strive with a king, might against might, for it is no common honour that is the portion of a sceptre-holding king, to whom Zeus gives glory. If you are a stronger fighter, and a goddess mother bore you, yet he is the mightier, since he is king over more. Son of Atreus, check your rage. Indeed, I beg you to let go your anger against Achilles, who is for all the Achaeans a mighty bulwark in evil war.”

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André Bastos Gurgel
André Bastos Gurgel, OAB (Order of Attorneys of Brazil), Academic Advisor for the Carmenta Online Latin School, is a life-long student of both modern and ancient languages. Mr. Gurgel is fluent in English, Portuguese, Latin, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian, and German and has a working knowledge of Danish, Hebrew, Ancient Greek, and Sanskrit. He has also worked as a tutor and teacher in a number of languages. Mr. Gurgel has been instrumental in expanding the Carmenta Online Latin School’s presence in a variety of social media.

Click here to read Mr. Gurgel’s full profile.



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