Fragmentary Friday: Achilles Never Could Abide Delays (Euripides, 727c)

Euripides, Telephos fr. 727c (=Frag. Pap. 149)

In the larger Trojan War narrative, the Greeks arrive in Asia Minor and attack, only to discover they have attacked the Mysians led by Herakles’ son Telephos. Achilles wounds Telephos and the fleet eventually withdraws. (In some traditions, Achilles has to heal Telephos to continue with the expedition).

Achilles: Have you just now arrived from your sea-bound land
Odysseus? Where is the assembly of your companions?
Why are you waiting? You should not stay here at rest!

Odysseus: It seems time to start the expedition and these things
Are a concern to those in charge. You’ve arrived on time, son of Peleus.

Achilles: But our army is not at oar on the shore
Nor is the infantry presently drawn up!

Odysseus: Soon. It is necessary to hurry at the right time.

Achilles: You all are always lazy and postponing—
Each of you sits here making countless speeches
But nothing is every accomplished!
But I, as you see, I have come ready to act
And my army of Myrmidons too! I will sail
Not waiting on the delays of Atreus’ sons.”

᾿Αχιλλε(ύς) μῶν καὶ σὺ καινὸς ποντίας ἀπὸ χθονὸς
ἥκεις, ᾿Οδυσσεῦ; ποῦ ‘στι σύλλογος φ[ί]λων;
τί μέλλετ’; οὐ χρῆν ἥσυχον κεῖσθαι π[ό]δα.

᾿Οδ(υσσεύς) δοκεῖ στρατεύειν καὶ μέλει τοῖς ἐν τέλει
τάδ’· ἐν δέοντι δ’ ἦλθες, ὦ παῖ Πηλέως.

᾿Αχιλλ(εύς) οὐ μὴν ἐπ’ ἀκταῖς γ’ ἐστὶ κωπήρης στρατός,
οὔτ’ οὖν ὁπλίτης ἐξετάζεται παρών.

᾿Οδ(υσσεύς) ἀλλ’ αὐτίκα· σπεύδειν γὰρ ἐν καιρῶι χρεών.

᾿Αχιλλε(ύς) αἰεί ποτ’ ἐστὲ νωχελεῖς καὶ μέλλετε,
ῥήσεις θ’ ἕκαστος μυρίας καθήμενος
λέγει, τὸ δ’ ἔργον [ο]ὐ̣δαμοῦ περαίνεται.
κἀ̣[γ]ὼ μέν, ὡς ὁρᾶ[τ]ε, δρᾶν ἕτοιμος ὢν
ἥκ̣ω, στρατός τε Μ̣[υρ]μιδών, καὶ πλεύσ[ομαι
τὰ [τ]ῶν ᾿Ατρειδ̣[ῶν οὐ μένων] μελλήμ[ατα.

Greek Anthology 5.225: Be My Achilles, Baby

“I have a wound from love: from it pours not blood
But tears and a scar will never close it.
I am undone by this evil and not even Makhaon
Could heal me by applying his gentle drugs.
I am Telephos, girl—be my faithful Achilles:
Stop this longing you caused with your beauty.”

Achilles, heal my wounds! (Vase Image: Achilles Heals Patroklos)
Achilles, heal my wounds! (Vase Image: Achilles Heals Patroklos)

῞Ελκος ἔχω τὸν ἔρωτα· ῥέει δέ μοι ἕλκεος ἰχὼρ
δάκρυον, ὠτειλῆς οὔποτε τερσομένης.
εἰμὶ καὶ ἐκ κακότητος ἀμήχανος, οὐδὲ Μαχάων
ἤπιά μοι πάσσει φάρμακα δευομένῳ.
Τήλεφός εἰμι, κόρη, σὺ δὲ γίνεο πιστὸς ᾿Αχιλλεύς·
κάλλεϊ σῷ παῦσον τὸν πόθον, ὡς ἔβαλες.

A few notes to make this make sense: In the Iliad Makhaon is a healer who ministers to the wounded captains. In myth, Telephos, a son of Herakles, is wounded by Achilles’ spear and can only be healed by the man who hurt him. Achilles encounters Telephos at the beginning of the war when the Greeks mistakenly attack Mysia (believing it to be Troy!). He is later healed in exchange for leading the Greeks to Troy.

So, this odd epigram becomes a tad bit odder thanks to knowing the references. It is ascribed to a poet named Macedonius and is in book 5 of The Greek Anthology (the Erotic Epigrams).