Note: "Nestors"

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The Mortal Immortal by Mary Shelley, Edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, 'Nestors' means the elderly of the village, in reference to the Homeric hero Nestor famous for his age and wisdom. Homer describes Nestor in the first Book of The Iliad, 'The Rage of Achilles', in these terms:

Nestor rose between them [Achilles and Agamemnon],
the man of winning words, the clear speaker of Pylos...
Sweeter than honey from his tongue the voice flowed on and on.
Two generations of mortal men he had seen go down by now,
those who were born and bred with him in the old days, in Pylos' holy realm, and now he ruled the third. (I, 290-95)

Lempriere's Classical Dictionary contains the following entry for Nestor:

As king of Pylus and Messenia, [Nestor] led his subjects to the Trojan war, where he distinguished himself among the rest of the Grecian chiefs by eloquence, address, wisdom, justice, and an uncommon prudence of mind. Homer describes his character as the most perfect of all his heroes; and makes Agamemnon exclaim, that, if he had ten generals like Nestor, he should soon see the walls of Troy reduced to ashes. After the Trojan war, Nestor retired to Greece, where he enjoyed in the bosom of his family, the peace and tranquillity which were due to his wisdom, his services, and his old age. The manner and the time of his death are unknown: the ancients are all agreed that he lived three generations of men, which length of time some suppose to be 300 years, though, more probably, only 90, allowing 30 years for each generations. From that circumstance, therefore, it was usual among the Greeks and the Latins when they wished a long and happy life to their friends, to wish them to see the years of Nestor. (439).

Published @ RC

September 1997

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