Friday, November 13, 2020

The armor of Achilles in Euripides' Electra

Here is the second stanza of the chorus of Euripides' Electra singing the divine delivery of Achilles' new armor:


Νηρῇδες δ᾽ Εὐβοῖδας ἄκρας λιποῦσαι
μόχθους ἀσπιστὰς ἀκμόνων
Ἡφαίστου χρυσέων ἔφερον τευχέων,
445ἀνά τε Πήλιον ἀνά τε πρυ-
μνὰς Ὄσσας ἱερᾶς νάπας
Νυμφαίας σκοπιὰς
κόρας μάτευσ᾽, † ἔνθα πατὴρ
ἱππότας τρέφεν Ἑλλάδι φῶς
450Θέτιδος εἰνάλιον γόνον
ταχύπορον πόδ᾽ Ἀτρείδαις.


The Nereids, leaving Euboea's headlands, brought from Hephaestus' anvil his shield-work of golden armor, [445] up to Pelion and the glens at the foot of holy Ossa, the Nymphs' watch-tower . . . where his father, the horseman, was training the son of Thetis as a light for Hellas, [450] sea-born, swift-footed for the sons of Atreus.


Euripides' chorus sings of Achilles being educated by Chiron atop Mt. Pelion - a richly suggestive setting. 

It was on this mountain, named after Achilles' father, Peleus, that the wedding of Peleus and Thetis took place, and Eris tossed the fateful apple into the party, generating the Trojan War.

It was also here that Otos and Ephialtes, the giant Aloadae, piled Pelion upon Ossa in their effort to conquer Olympus. Their story involves the kidnapping of Ares, the unprecedented offer of sex from Artemis, and other remarkable moments of divine trickery before the Olympians could prevail.


A fresco from Pompeii shows an earlier moment: Thetis comes to Hephaestus to gather the shield and armor for her son:

Thetis comes to Hephaestus