Imatges de pàgina

Par. Lost, ii. 954. The word sweeping,' however, if not wholly satisfactory, comes near to expressing the kind of motion signified by thoos.

Obrimos (öẞpiuos), which stands fourth in our quantitative scale, must be fully considered. Heretofore, it has hardly obtained acknowledgment as an epithet of motion. But Mr. Weymouth has established its true force with such conclusiveness and clearness, that we have only to build on his foundations.

The meanings usually given are as follows:

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Strong, mighty. Liddell and Scott.

Gravis; wuchtig; de personis, vehemens, impetuosus. Ebeling.

Starke mit sich habend, gewaltig.


Schwer, gewichtig, stark, gewaltig.

It is agreed that the word is composed of the prothetic o and the root βρι, with the ending added. It is akin to βαρύς, βρίθω, βριαρός, and also ẞpilos. The derivation, and the nature of the cognate words, show that weight, or mass of matter, is the central element of the word; as velocity is of the word thoos, its opposite. In its first intention, the word is wholly material; but it is applicable, in second intention or figure, to sentient beings, adhering to the same idea of what is not easily moved, by reason of that mass and weight, which makes it so formidable when put into motion. Velocity, then, is the secondary element in the word obrimos, mass the primary.

2. Overpowering

3. Overwhelming 4. Shattering

Of heroes, mighty; of things, ponderous,
heavy. Autenrieth, Transl.
Fortis, gravis, vehemens, stark
Kräften, stark von Anfall, schwer.


The leading characteristic of this kind of motion is the effectiveness of the impact upon its object. It recalls the fine line of Coleridge in his translation of Schiller's Wallenstein:

Shattering that it may reach, and shattering what it reaches.

Of all the English epithets that meet the main condition of expressing a motion in which weight and strength decidedly predominate over swiftness without necessarily destroying it, perhaps (1) 'violent,' like the violent sea' of Shakespeare (Macbeth, act iv. sc. 2), is the best. But there are many others, e.g. :

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which last will tolerably suit all, or nearly all, the uses of obrimos for material objects.

No frustrated blow in Homer is oßpuos. It must be a motion that prevails, that does its work: not like the Béos xú which Tσov

Trans. Philol. Soc. 1861, pp. 250 seqq.

·ëkovye Xeipós (Il. xxii. 292). Again, in the moral or immaterial sense, I should render it

1. Masterful

2. Overbearing | 3. Obstinate 1 4. Violent

The motion implied must be

1. Weighty

I 2. Continuous

3. Effectual

But it may be either actual, or proximate and potential; as we saw thoos applied to the arrow, in Od. xxii. 83, which was already, and effectually, lodged. Damm alone includes in his definition the idea of motion, of strength in connection with impact (Anfall). Herewith agrees eminently the word 'forceful."

Forceful' is used in Shakespeare only for a mental operation: follow our forceful instigation; '4 but we have in Dryden :

Against the steed he threw

His forceful spear, which, hissing as it flew,
Pierced through the yielding planks.5

Lastly, I observe that the word obrimos is never used in a good


I will now analyse the application of the word itself, and afterwards of its compounds.

It is employed in the Iliad 26 times; in the Odyssey 3; in all, 29 times.

It is applied to material objects 21 times; to persons 8 times, always in connection with purposes of war.

Of the personal uses, three are for Ares (Il. v. 845, xiii, 521, xv. 112). Here the word has no reference to his position at the moment, but only to his general character, and may be rendered masterful; or violent, without reference to the attainment of the object of violence.

It is applied once to Achilles in the speech of the horse Xanthos (xix. 408). The chieftain having reproached his horses with leaving Patroclos dead behind them, Xanthos replies with a just sense of


καὶ λίην σ' ἔτι νῦνγε σαώσομεν, ὄβριμ ̓ ̓Αχιλλεῦ.

A line which, to give its full meaning, requires a large expansion. The first two words have a sense something like what would be conveyed in Shakespeare by the word 'marry:'

You bid me make it orderly and well:
Marry and did, sir."

'We will do our duty, and more than our duty.' Then Tɩ refers to the doom that hung over the short-lived Achilles, the xúμopos.

4 Winter's Tale, ii. 1.

En. ii. 64 (En. ii. 50).


• Taming of the Shrew, iv. 3.

And vûv ye seems to say 'at any rate for this time;' or 'at least if we may do it now, before the doom is actually on you.' In thus repelling a reproach, the horse applies to Achilles, who has been unreasonable, a suggested reproach in return as acting beyond reason, as masterful, domineering, or unreasonable, perverse, obstinate. This is a case where the epithet belongs strictly to the actual position. It is nowhere else applied to Achilles.

In the remaining four cases it is given to Hector; whose intellectual standard is not so high as that of the great Protagonist; but here also it is given to him, not as in the case of Ares, who is a mere incorporation of force, but with reference to the specific situation in his forward and conquering movement, (a) in the battle before the long day, x. 200, (b) on the long day in the field, xi. 347, and at the ships, viii. 473, xiv. 44. It is the very same idea as that conveyed in the speech of Achilles, xvi. 74-78, about Hector, as then carrying all before him. We may therefore render it the overpowering or allshattering Hector : or if, in the mouth of an Achaian (xi. 347, xiv. 44), it ought to be coloured with blame, we may render it the violent or overbearing.

I take now the material, which is the primary, application of the word. The favourite use of it is for the spear. Out of the twentyone passages already named, we have the epithet joined with eyxos in no less than seventeen. In three of these the whole line is identical (iii. 357, vii. 251, xi. 435):

διὰ μὲν ἀσπίδος ἦλθε φαεινῆς ἔβριμον ἔγχος :

and it admirably describes the arrival of the spear charged with all its driving, piercing, crushing force. In three more, the substantive is Ares, metaphorically used for the weapon, which has already been named yxos in the same line (xiii. 444, xvi. 613, xvii. 529):

(οὐρίαχον πελέμιζεν) ἔγχεος· ἔνθα δ ̓ ἔπειτ' ἀφίει μένος ὄβριμος ̓́Αρης,


In these three passages, the weapon is, so to speak, breathing out or discharging the unspent residue of that force, with which it had done its deadly work. In these six cases the actual motion of the spear is described: so likewise with the spear of Æneas, xx. 259, 267; of Idomeneus, xiii. 519; of Pouludamas, xiv. 451. Ten in all.

But the movement need not be actual. It is sometimes a movement which has taken place before: as with the spear of Thoas, iv. 529; of Odusseus, xi. 456; of Meriones, xiii. 532; of Peneleōs, xiv. 498. But then it is always a motion just before; as when the spear is drawn out of a wound just inflicted. In one passage alone, out of seventeen (Il. v. 729), the spear, that ever-prevailing spear, of Achilles is described by this epithet without reference to any one movement in particular. So, on the other hand, the movement may

be one just coming, but not yet come. Idomeneus desires Meriones to fetch the spear, oßpipov eyxos (xiii. 294), for instant action, with which just after (532) he wounds Deiphobos.

That the most prominent feature of the movement indicated by obrimos is its effectiveness, is shown by the fact that, in every one of these cases, the spear named is one which does its work. For, even in the case of Æneas, it crushes through the outer coats of the Shield of Achilles, and it is only arrested by the plate of gold beneath.

In none of these descriptions is any epithet descriptive of rapidity applied to the flight of the spear. In two instances, of Hector with Ajax, and again with Achilles, he calls the spear Hector had discharged Béλos ¿ú, ' the fleet missile.' In both cases the weapon failed, and moreover was not recoverable. It would have been contrary to Homer's manner to call it obrimon: in calling the ponderous weapon Béλos xú he appears to intend, and to convey, a subtle disparagement. It had been a telum imbelle, sine ictu.

The force of obrimos, when applied to the lance or spear, will be yet more clearly understood by our taking notice that, when it is detached from any immediate connection with action, Homer puts in requisition another epithet, alkimon, instead of obrimon. Such are the cases of chiefs arming in x. 135, xiv. 12, xv. 482, where, before actual fighting, something is to intervene. It is true that Paris takes his aλμov yxos (iii. 338) for the fight with Menelaos, and discharges it immediately after taking it into his hand. But it is a forceless throw, and an utter failure (347). To such a spear, so thrown, Homer would never give the epithet of obrimos, which implies real heroic power in the spearman's arm. He never gives to Paris the qualities of true heroism or manhood.

The other four passages have reference to objects of a different class. In Il. iv. 453, rivers winter-swollen join by plunging into a deep chasm: their water as it descends is oßpiμov.

ἐς μισγάγκειαν συμβάλλετον ὄβριμον ὕδωρ.

In Od. ix. 233, Poluphemos brings home a load (ößpiμov axeos) of firewood, and immediately flings it on the ground:

ἔκτοσθεν δ ̓ ἄντροιο βαλὼν ὀρυμαγδὸν ἔθηκεν.

Then he sets against the doorway of his cave the huge stone which formed its door (240):

αὐτίκ' ἔπειτ' ἐπέθηκε θυρεὸν μέγαν ὑψόσ' ἀείρας,

This also he flung with force, for he raised it high,' an image which is in close accordance with the epithet.

In all these three cases the motion is actual; forceful or violent, and also steady or continuous. In the remaining one it is rather potential: the stone is (305) λίθος ὄβριμος, ὃν προσέθηκεν, and this

the prisoners were not able to dislodge (àπwσaolai); but the description of the actual motion is even here introduced in the two closing words dv πроoέ0ŋkɛv, with no other apparent use than to sustain the idea of motion as conveyed in oßpipos, which idea it keeps alive, so to speak, in an appropriate and adequate manner.

Thus the whole of the twenty-nine passages, in which the word is used, concur to establish its definition as expressive of

1. Weight or mass, agreeably to the root ẞpi.

2. This weight or mass combined with motion, but still predominant, so that velocity is never the paramount idea.

3. The motion is continuous, never interrupted and then renewed.

4. It is a motion that does not fail, but prevails.

5. The motion is either actual or potential; but if potential,

6. Then proximate, whether as just at an end, or as just about to begin.

Mr. Weymouth also traces the use of obrimos through the later authors, who for the most part fell so far beneath the refinement and exactitude of Homer; and who, except Eschylus, appear to have lost the true force of the word.

The compounds of obrimos likewise deserve examination.


Obrimoergos (Bpiμoɛpyós). Doing strong deeds, but always in a bad sense: doing deeds of violence or wrong. (Liddell and Scott.) This definition agrees with what has been said of oßpipos. The epithet belongs entirely to the sphere of mind or character: and as it signifies the quality of violence in action, we have here the analogue to physical movement. The nearest word to express it known to me is the Italian prepotente, which signifies a standing disposition to the unjust, unreasonable exercise of superior power: a trampler upon rights. Our best word is probably masterful' or 'oppressive.'

This compound epithet is used twice in Homer; both times in combination with other epithets which serve as guides.

In ll. xxii. 418, after the death of Hector, Priam cries he will go forth as a suppliant to Achilles the sinner (áráo laλos) and the oßpiuoɛpyós the man of violence: an estimate made in horror and exasperation.

In Il. v. 403, Dione describes Heracles as

1. oxérλios, 'dour,' hard and stubborn beyond nature (vid. in voc.).

2. ¿ẞpuоepyós, masterful, aggressive.

3. ὃς οὐκ ἔθετ ̓ αἴσυλα ῥέζων, who cared not to regulate his conduct by αἶσα.

Obrimopatrè (oßрiμожáтρη). Daughter of a mighty sire (Liddell and Scott). Quæ præpotente patre utitur' (Ebeling).

Although I cannot dispute that this is the accepted rendering, I would raise the question whether it is according to the general manner of Homer, or to the sense of the particular passages, that he should give to Athenè an epithet descriptive not of any quality of her own, but simply of a quality of her father. I submit that the word does VOL. V.-No. 25. II

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