Phillip Pollard May
Tilpollard or Tlepolard
(26 Jul 1805 - ca. 1839)
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Very little is known about the youngest son of John and Sarah Phillips May. Most of the information in this essay was gathered when I was preparing to write The Shoemaker's Children. Mrs. Verle Hamilton Parrish, sent me a copy of an indenture that was filed in Pike County in 1839, following the death of "Tilpollard."
Though we have very little information on the life of the last child of John and Sarah May, we do have a record of his birth on a faint handwritten scrap of paper that is included in the file for Sarah's 1845 declaration for a widow's pension. This document, which refers to the origin of the name Tlepolard, was probably written by John.
In a modern translation of Homer's The Iliad, a collection of twenty-four poems, we find the reference John made to the Greek character Tlepolard, when giving that name to his last son. A brief but heroic story of Tlepolemus (tle-po'-le-mus), is found in Homer's Book 2: The Great Gathering of Armies. The death of Tlepolemus is told in Homer's dramatic style in Book 5: Diomedes fights the Gods. Tlepolemus, a grandson of Zeus, the King of Gods, fell in mortal combat with Sarpedon, a son of Zeus.
We don't know if John had a copy of The Iliad in his possession, or if he simply recalled the names and the story of these heroic characters from Homer's classic poems of the Greek and Trojan Wars. It is most likely that John's version of the story was from a German translation, perhaps passed down from his father, Francis. This might explain the spelling of the hero from the story as Tlepolard instead of Tlepolemus. The reference to "Hercules" instead of "Heracles" as the father of Tlepolemus might cause us to believe that John didn't have a book to refresh his memory of the characters in the Greek myths.
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