The Iliad "Words, Sweet As Honey"
by Simone Weil

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"Words, Sweet As Honey"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

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Context: "The wrath do thou sing, O goddess, of Peleus' son, Achilles, that baneful wrath which brought countless woes . . ." So begins the Iliad with an invocation to the muse of poetry. This wrath leads nearly to the murder of the Greek general Agamemnon by the warrior Achilles, who bitterly resents his leader's suggestion that he surrender the beautiful Briseis. The goddess Athene restrains the sword of impetuous Achilles, but he swears to his king that he will no longer fight against the Trojans. The ancient and wise Nestor, who had advised three generations of Achaeans, then tries to make peace between the two:

To calm their passion with the words of age,Slow from his seat arose the Pylian sage,Experienced Nestor, in persuasion skill'd;Words, sweet as honey, from his lips distill'd: . . ."What shame, what woe is this to Greece! what joyTo Troy's proud monarch, and the friends of Troy!That adverse gods commit to stern debateThe best, the bravest, of the Grecian state. . . ."