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Fragments from a Lost Manuscript

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*Notes from the translator: These fragments were discovered in a manuscript of Lydgate's Troy Book, but are very obviously not Lydgate's work. For one thing, while the parchment is contemporaneous with the Lydgate, it is obvious that they are very painstaking copies of a much older work, written in Greek, not Latin or a later tongue. Much work is yet to be done on this material, but I thought you would be interested to see what there is. Hector is the focus of the work, but the narrative voice is somewhat different from the Iliad itself, and from other versions of the story. My own speculation, is that possibly Helen or Andromache are meant to be the lens through which one is to read the words, but too little is present in these fragments to tell.


Hector, to Helen

Wisdom is only found in truth, not wine or sport or praying to the Gods —
Was it wise to come with Paris here to Troy? Was it your will,
Or my too-fond brother's only? I would welcome you as sister, hold you dear,
Make armor of this City's walls for your defense, if defended you would be.
I cannot know the truth within your heart, only that which dwells within my own.
But I cannot, will not choose your fate; that you must do.
That is your choice, Helen: are you still of Sparta? Or are you now of Troy?


Hector, to Andromache

Andromache, my wife, beloved, and mother to my son
I’d hold you close and never be apart
But duty stern and unforgiving bids me from your side.

Achilles waits for me my love, without the walls.
He waits before the gate to work revenge upon my flesh
For Patroclus.

Would that I had known! Twas Achilles' shield and sword,
Helm and greaves and selfsame scowl.
But you have heard this, told with better art, and less.

I have fought this fight, and winning was the loss of all.
You hold my heart - that I cannot lose,
Though I fear all else shall be lost.

I will return to you, if the Gods allow.
I shall fight to live, not die, for Ilium, for honor,
And for you.


[Hector, hold hard III]

Oh Hector, hold hard!
This night the Gods do craft a weighty work
At pleasure to their whim
Now they act, lest heroes lack a fitting shroud
To shape the stuff of legend into higher form
Red dawn will come too soon

Oh Hector, hold fast!
Achilles cloaked in [Hephaestian | god-forged | all the Lamed God’s] might
Will over-match mere fame,
For though his storied armor guards thy steadfast heart
Skill and honor only, unadorned, will not suffice
‘Gainst Thetis’ son enraged

Oh Hector, hold firm!
Would that Ajax’ art had slowed thy skill
Another Hero stood to greet that match
And Achilles’ best beloved there cut down.
Thy fate comes fast.
Take up the prize, the praised deceit of arms
And leave the rest
So let Achaean living fitly mourn Achaean dead


Priam Speaks

I loved my son, O brave Achilles
Held him to my breast when he was born
I loved my son, O fleet Achilles
Since first he opened eyes upon this world
I loved my son, O fond Achilles
Babe and boy, youth and man, [hope|father and heir]
I loved my son, O [stout] Achilles
In counsel and combat, in silence and speaking, in loving and laughing
I love my son, O strong Achilles
Though you have closed his eyes and rent his heart
Desecrated his body and watered my land with his blood.

Let the arms that cradled carry him once more
Let the hands that soothed bind up his hurts
Let [the/his] women clean him in sweet and salt water,
Let the [priests] array him in purple, crown him with gold
(Let me wash his body)
(Let me say the prayers)

Let the heart that rejoiced: mourn
Let the voice that shouted: keen
Let the eyes that watched: weep
(Let me place two coins for the Boatman)
Let the beacon that marked his birth burn again as his pyre:
Carry the smoke of his virtue, the breath of his song up to heaven
Release his shade to rest in Hades halls



[Embalm the Dead with Fire]

Wash from his limbs the clinging sand,
the scabrous blood
Seal up his hurts with honeyed paste,
balm and myrrh and chypre
Anoint cold flesh with oil, fill the air
with all the scents of grief

High the pyre grows
for Hector,
son and father,
Prince of Troy

Wrap his broken form in purple-figured wool,
embroidered linen
Lay him soft on cypress, cedar, oak,
terebinth and yew
Set on closed eyes the gold and heavy coins
the boatman's fee

Stark the pyre stands
for Hector,
husband, brother,
Prince of Troy

Lay at his feet the chased and banded shield -
horse-tamer's pride
Upon his brow the mark of Priam's line
in princely diadem
And at his hand both sword and council-rod:
wise ivory, bronze might.

[Prepared] the pyre waits
for Hector,
champion, lover,
Prince of Troy

Set the sun-caught spark in fragrant wood
as shadows fall
Keen prayers unto the gods, to Hades stern,
bereft Persephone
Shout witness to the heavens of the worth and strength of him
untimely rent from Troy

Fierce the pyre burns
for Hector,
Noble hero,
Prince of Troy

Embalm the dead with fire, blazing high
consuming all
Let smoke enfold the soul and dim the stars
in sigil of our loss
Till only ash and memory remain,
grey cinder and cracked stone

Long the pyre glows
for Hector,
Prince and comrade,
Heart of Troy


[Fragment 6 - Woe for Ilium]

O woe, woe for Illium
Illium weeps for Hector fallen
Hector fallen on the sand
The sand runs red
Runs red with blood
With blood of Illium
Of Illium’s fallen son
O woe, woe for Illium



[Fragment 7]

Beneath the white-bone moon
All blood is black
All flesh is clay
Trojan and Achaean all the same


These walls shall fall

These walls shall fall
As Hector fell
These stones lie shattered all

These cisterns spill
As blood was spilled
The sand stained ruddy still

This gate shall crack
As sinews cracked
Wide open to the sack

These towers burn
As his bones burned
Stout timber ash in turn

These temples lie
As Hector lies
Eyes open to the sky



[Fragment 9]

What is this place where in I stand
— A pillar, a pyre, a stone
What is this sound that strikes my ear
— A clamor, crying, a moan
What is this sight that smites my eye
—Tears ‘neath an Archon’s crown
What is this grief that rends my heart
—The Prince [of the city/of Troy] cut down