"And the Simile wonderfully illustrates this Fury proceeding from an uncommon Infusion of Courage from Heaven, in resembling it not to a constant River, but a Torrent rising from an extraordinary Burst of Rain. This Simile is one of those that draws along with it some foreign Circumstances."
— Pope, Alexander (1688-1744)
In ev'ry Quarter fierce Tydides rag'd,
Amid the Greek , amid the Trojan Train,
Rapt thro' the Ranks he thunders o'er the Plain,
Now here, now there, he darts from Place to Place,
Pours on the Rear, or lightens in their Face.
Thus from high Hills the Torrents swift and strong
Deluge whole Fields, and sweep the Trees along,
Thro' ruin'd Moles the rushing Wave resounds,
O'erwhelms the Bridge, and bursts the lofty Bounds;
The yellow Harvests of the ripen'd Year,
And flatted Vineyards, one sad Waste appear;
While Jove descends in sluicy Sheets of Rain,
And all the Labours of Mankind are vain.
Verse 116. Thus Torrents swift and strong .]
This whole Passage (says Eustathius ) is extremely beautiful. It describes the Hero carry'd by an Enthusiastick Valor into the midst of his Enemies, and so mingled with their Ranks as if himself were a Trojan. And the Simile wonderfully illustrates this Fury proceeding from an uncommon Infusion of Courage from Heaven, in resembling it not to a constant River, but a Torrent rising from an extraordinary Burst of Rain. This Simile is one of those that draws along with it some foreign Circumstances: We must not often expect from Homer those minute Resemblances in every Branch of a Comparison, which are the Pride of modern Similes. If that which one may call the main Action of it, or the principal Point of Likeness, be preserved; he affects, as to the rest, rather to present the Mind with a great Image, than to fix it down to an exact one. He is sure to make a fine Picture in the whole, without drudging on the under Parts; like those free Painters who (one would think) had only made here and there a few very significant Strokes, that give Form and Spirit to all the Piece. For the present Comparison, Virgil in the second Æneid has inserted an Imitation of it, which I cannot think equal to this, tho' Scaliger prefers Virgil 's to all our Author's Similitudes from Rivers put together.
Non sic aggeribus ruptis cum spumeus amnis
Exiit, oppositasque evicit gurgite moles ,
Fertur in arva furens cumulo, camposque per omnes
Cum stabulis armenta trahit ------
Not with so fierce a Rage, the foaming Flood
Roars, when he finds his rapid Course withstood;
Bears down the Dams with unresisted Sway,
And sweeps the Cattel and the Cotts away.
See The Iliad of Homer, Translated by Mr. Pope, 6 vols. (London: Printed by W. Bowyer, for Bernard Lintott, 1715-1720). <Link to ESTC><Link to Vol. I in ECCO-TCP><Vol. II><Vol. III><Vol. IV><Vol. V><Vol. VI>