Remember your own father, great godlike Achilles—
as old as I am, past the threshold of deadly old age!
No doubt the countrymen round about him plague him now,
with no one there to defend him, beat away disaster.
No one—but at least he hears you’re still alive
and his old heart rejoices, hopes rising, day by day,
to see his beloved son come sailing home from Troy.
With these words, spoken in the middle
But it is this one alleged hole in Priam’s comparison that truly summons Achilles’ pity and breaks down his resistance, for, unknown to Priam, Peleus is also destined never to see his son again. Achilles knows, as Priam does not, that he is fated to die at Troy and never return home to Phthia. He realizes that one day Peleus will learn that his son has died at the hands of enemies and that he will never see his body again, just as might happen to Priam if Achilles doesn’t return Hector’s corpse to him. Priam’s comparison turns out to be more true than he knows.
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