Homer's Iliad online

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Pluto, the grisly god, who never spares —

Who feels no mercy, and who hears no prayers — 210

Lives dark and dreadful in deep hell's abodes.

And mortals hate him as the worst of gods.

Great though he be, it fits him to obey ;

Since more than his my years, and more my sway."

The monarch thus. The reverend Nestor then :
"Great Agamemnon ! glorious king of men !
Such are thy offers as a prince may take,
And such as fits a generous king to make.
Let chosen delegates this hour be sent
(Myself will name them) to Pelides* tent: 220

Let Phoenix lead, revered for hoary age,
Great Ajax next, and Ithacus the sage.
Yet more to sanctify the word you send,
Let Hodius and Eurybates attend.
Now pray to Jove to grant what Greece demands ;
Pray in deep silence, and with purest hands."

He said, and all approved. The heralds bring
The cleansing water from the living spring.
The youth with wine the sacred goblets crown'd,
And large libations drench'd the sands around. 230

The rite performed, the chiefs their thirst allay,
Then from the royal tent they take their way;
Wise Nestor turns on each his careful eye.
Forbids t* offend, instructs them to apply ;
Much he advised them all, Ulysses most.
To deprecate the chief, and save the host.
Through the still night they march, and hear the roar
Of murmuring billows on the sounding shore.
To Neptune, ruler of the seas profound,
Whose liquid arms the mighty globe surround, Q 40

They pour forth vows, their embassy to bless.
And calm the rage of stern iEacides.
And now, arrived where, on the sandy bay.
The Myrmidonian tents and vessels lay,
Amused at ease, the godlike man they found,
Pleased with the solemn harp's harmonious sound :

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(The well-wrought harp from conquered Thebe came,

Of polish'd silver was its costly frame :)

With this he soothes his angry soul, and sings

Th' immortal deeds of heroes and of kings. 25C

Patroclus only of the royal train.

Placed in his tent, attends the lofty strain :

Pull opposite he sat, and listen'd long,

In silence waiting till he ceased the song.

Unseen the Grecian embassy proceeds

To his high tent ; the great Ulysses leads.

Achilles, starting, as the chiefs he spied,

Leap'd from his seat, and laid the harp aside.

With like surprise arose M enoetius* son :

Pelides grasp'd their hands, and thus begun : 2CC

" Princes, all hail ! whatever brought you here,
Or strong necessity, or urgent fear:
Welcome, though Greeks ! for not as foes ye came;
To me more dear than all that bear the name."

With that, the chiefs beneath his roof he led,
And placed in seats with purple carpets spread.
Then thus : ** Patroclus, crown a larger bowl.
Mix purer wine, and open every soul.
Of all the warriors yonder host can send,
Thy friend most honours these, and these thy friend."

He said. Patroclus o*er the blazing fire, 27?

Heaps in a brazen vase three chines entire :
The brazen vase Automedon sustains.
Which flesh of porket, sheep, and goat contains :
Achilles at the genial feast presides.
The parts transfixes, and with skill divides.
Meanwhile, Patjoclus sweats the fire to raise ;
The tent is brighten'd with the rising blaze :
Then, when the languid flames at length subside.
He strews a bed of glowing embers wide, 280

Above the coals the smoking fragments turns,
And sprinkles sacred salt from lifted urns ;
With bread the glittering canisters they load,
Which roi'Md the board Menoetius' son bestowed:


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Himself, opposed t' Ulysses, full in sight.

Each portion parts, and orders every rite.

The first fat offerings, to th' immortals due.

Amidst the greedy flames Patroclus threw

Then each, indulging in the social feast,

His thirst and hunger soberly repressed. 290

That done, to Ph«nix Ajax gave the sign —

Not unperceived — Ulysses crown'd with wine

The foaming bowl, and instant thus began.

His speech addressing to the godlike man :

" Health to Achilles ! happy are thy guests !
• Not those more honour'd whom Atrides feasts :
Though generous plenty crovm thy loaded boards.
That Agamemnon's regal tent affords :
But greater cares sit heavy on our souls.
Not eased by banquets or by flowing bowls. 300

What scenes of slaughter in yon fields appear !
The dead we mourn, and for the living fear;
Greece on the brink of fate all doubtful stands,
And owns no help but firom thy saving hands :
Troy and her aid^f for ready vengeance call ; .
Their threatening tents already shade our wall :
Hear how with shouts their conquests they proclaim.
And point at every ship their vengefijl flame !
For them the father of the gods declares.
Theirs are his omens, and his thunder theirs. 310

See, full of Jove, avenging Hector rise !
See I heaven and earth the raging chief defies ;
What fury in his breast, what lightning in his eyes !
He waits but for the mom, to sink in flame
The ships, the Greeks, and all the Grecian name.
Heavens ! how my country's woes distract my mind,
Lest fate accomplish all his rage designed 1
And must we, gods I our heads inglorious lay
In Trojan dust, and this the fatal day?
Return, Achilles ! oh, return ! though late, 320

To save thy Greeks, and stop the course of fate.
If in that heart or grief or courage lies.
Rise to redeem ; ah, yet to conquer rise !


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The day may o>ine, when all our warriors slain.

That heart shaL meh, that courage rise in vain.

Regard in time, O prince divinely brave !

Those wholesome counsels which thy father gave.

When Peleus in his aged arms embraced

His parting son, these accents were his last :

'My child 1 with strength, with glory, and success 33C

Thy arms may Juno and Minerva bless !

Trust that to Heaven ; but thou, thy cares engage

To calm thy passions and subdue thy rage :

From gentler manners let thy glory grow,

And shun contention, the sure source of wo ;

That young and old may in thy praise combine,

The virtues of humanity be thine/ —

This now-despised advice thy father gave.

Ah ! check thy anger, and be truly brave.

If thou wilt yield to great Atrides* prayers, 3^10

Gifts worthy thee his royal hand prepares ;

If not But hear me, while I number o'er

The proffer'd presents, an exhaustless store :

Ten weighty talents of the purest gold,

And twice ten vases of refulgent mould ;

Seven sacred tripods, whose unsullied frame

Yet knows no office, nor has felt the flame ;

Twelve steeds, unmatched in fleetness and in force,

And still victorious in the dusty course ;

(Rich were the man whose ample stores exceed 360

The prizes purchased by their winged speed ;)

Seven lovely captives of the Lesbian line,

Skiird in each art, unmatched in form divine :

The same he chose for more than vulgar charms.

When Lesbos sunk beneath thy conquering arms :

All these, to buy thy friendship, shall be paid,

And join'd with these, the long-contested maid ;

With all her charms, Briseis he'll resign,

And solemn swear those charms were only thine ;

Untouched she stay'd, uninjured she removes, 30C

Pure from his arms, and guiltless of his loves.


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These instant shall be thme : and if the powers
Give to our arms proud Ilion's hostile towers,
Then shalt thou store, when Greece the spoil divides,
With gold and brass thy loaded navy's sides.
Besides, full twenty nymphs, of Trojan race,
With copious love shfidl crown thy warm embrace ;
Such as thyself shall choose ; who yield to none,
Or yield to Helen's heavenly charms alone.
Yet hear me farther: When our wars are\>'er, 370

If safe we land on Argos' fruitful shore.
There shalt thou live his son, his honours share.
And with Orestes' self divide his care.
Yet more : three daughters in his court are bred.
And each well worthy of a royal bed ;
Laodicd and Iphigenia fair.
And bright Chrysothemis with golden hair;
Her shalt thou wed whom most thy eyes approve,
He asks no presents, no reward for love :
Himself will give the dower ; so vast a store, 880

As never father gave a child before.
Seven ample cities shall confess thy sway;
Thee -Snop^ and Pherse thee obey,
Cardamyl^ with ample turrets crown'd.
And sacred Pedasus for vines renown'd ;
^pea fair, the pastures Hira yields.
And rich Antheia with her flowery fields :
The whole extent to Pylos' sandy plain,
Along the verdant margin of the main :
There heifers graze, and labouring oxen toil ; 390

Bold are the men, and generous is the soil :
There shalt thou reign, with power and justice crown'd,
And rule the tributary realms around.
Such are the proflers which this day we bring,
Such the repentance of a suppliant king.
But if all this, relentless, thou disdain —
If honour, and if interest plead in vain —
Yet some redress to suppliant Greece afford,
And be among her gU3rJian gods adored !

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If no regard thy sufTering country claim, 400

Hear thy own glory, and the voice of fame :

For now that chief, whose unresisted ire

Made nations tremble, and whole hosts retire,

Proud Hector, now, th* unequal fight demands,

And only triumphs to deserve thy hands."

Then thus the goddess-bom : '* Ulysses, hear
A faithful speech, that knows nor art nor fear:
What in my secret soul is understood.
My tongue shall utter, and my deeds make gooA
Let Greece then know, my purpose I detain ; 410

Nor with new treaties vex my peace in vain.
Who dares think one thing, and another tell.
My heeirt detests him as the gates of hell.
Then thus, in short, my fix'd resolves attend.
Which nor Atrides nor his Greeks can bend •
Long toils, long perils, in their cause I bore,
But now th' unfruitful glories charm no more.
Fight or not fight, a like reward we claim :
The wretch and hero find their prize the same ;
Alike regretted in the dust he lies, 420

Who yields ignobly, or who bravely dies.
Of all my dangers, all my glorious pains,
A life of labours, lo 1 what fruit remains?
As the bold bird her hapless young attends,
From danger guards them, and from want defends ;
In search of prey she wings the spacious air,
And with th' untasted food supplies her care :
For thankless Greece such hardships have I braved,
Her wives, her infants, by my labours saved ;
Long sleepless nights in heavy arms I stood, 430

And sweat laborious days in dust and blood.
I sack'd twelve ample cities on the main.
And twelve lay smoking on the Trojan plain :
Then at Atrides* haughty feet were laid
The wealth I gathered, and the spoils I made.
Your mighty monarch these in peace possessed ;
Some few my soldiers had, himself the rest.


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Some present too to every prince was paid :

And every prince enjoys the gift he made ;

I only must refund, of all his train ! — -^0

See what preeminence our merits gam !—

My spoil alone his greedy soul delights ;

My spouse alone must bless his lustful nights :

The woman, let him (as he may) enjoy ;

But what's the quarrel then of Greece and Troyf

What to these shores th' assembled nations draws \

What calls for vengeance, but a woman's cause?

Are fair endowments and a beauteous face

Beloved by none but those of Atreus' race?

The wife whom choice and passion both approve, 450

Sure every wise and worthy man will love.

Nor did my fair one less distinction claim ;

Slave as she was, my soul adored the dame.

Wrong'd in my love, all proffers I disdain ;

Deceived for once, I trust not kings again.

Ye have my answer. What remains to do.

Your king, Ulysses, may consult with you.

What needs he the defence this arm can make ?

Has he not walls no human force can shake?

Has he not fenced his guarded navy round, 460

With piles, with ramparts, and a trench profound?

And will not these, the wonders he has done.

Repel the rage of Priam's single son?

There was a time — ^'twas when for Greece I fought —

When Hector's prowess no such wonders wrought :

He kept the verge of Troy, nor dared to wait

Achilles' fury at the Scaean gate ;

He tried it once, and scarce was saved by fate.

But now those ancient enmities are o'er.

To-morrow we the favouring gods implore ; 470

Then shall you see our parting vessels crown'd.

And hear with oars the Hellespont resound.

The third day hence, shall Pthia greet our sails.

If mighty Neptune send propitious friles :

Pthia to her Achilles shall restore

The wealth he left for this detested shore ;

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Tnither the spoil of this long war shall pass,

The ruddy gold, the steel, and shining brass :

My beauteous captives thither I'll convey,

And all that rests of my unravish'd prey. 480

One only valued gift your tyrant gave,

And that resumed, the fair Lymessian slave.

Then tell him, loud, that all the Greeks may hear,

And learn to scorn the wretch they basely fear;

(For, arm'd in impudence, mankind he braves,

And meditates new cheats on all his slaves ;

Though shameless as he is, to face these eyes

Is what he dares not : if he dares, he dies ;)

Tell him, all terms, all commerce I decline.

Nor share his council nor his battle join ; 490

For once deceived, was his ; but twice, were mine

No : let the stupid prince, whom Jove deprives

Of sense and justice, run where phrensy drives ;

His gifts are hateful. Kings of such a kind

Stand but as slaves before a noble mind.

Not though he proffer'd all himself possessed.

And all his rapine could from others wrest;

Not all the golden tides of wecJth that crown

The many peopled Orchomenian town ;

Not all proud Thebes* unrivalled walls contain, 600

The world's great empress on th' Egyptian plain ;

(That spreads her conquests o'er a thousand states.

And pours her heroes through a hundred gates.

Two hundred horsemen, and two hundred cars

From each wide portal issumg to the wars ;)

Though bribes were heap'd on bribes, in number more

Than dust in fields, or sands along the shore ;

Should all these offers for my friendship call,

'Tis he that offers, and I scorn them all.

Alrides' daughter never shall be led 510

(An ill-match'd consort) to Achilles' bed ;

Like golden Venus, though she charm'd the heart.

And vied with Pallas in the works of art.

Some greater Greek let those high nuptials grac^

I hate alliance with a tyrant's race.

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If Heaven restore me to my realms with life.

The reverend Peleus shall elect my wife.

Thessalian nymphs there are, of form divine.

And kings that sue to mix their blood with mine.

Blest in kind love, my years shall glide away, 520

Content with just hereditary sway ;

.There, deaf for ever to the martial strife,

Enjoy the dear prerogative of life.

Life is not to be bought with heaps of gold ;

Not all Apollo's Pythian treasures hold.

Or Troy once held, in peace and pride of sway.

Can bribe the poor possession of a day 1

Lost herds and treasures we by arms regain,

And steeds unrival'd on the dusty plain :

But from our lips the vital spirit fled, 530

Returns no more to wake the silent dead.

My fates long since by Thetis were disclosed.

And each alternate, life or fame, proposed ;

Here if I stay, before the Trojan town.

Short is my date, but deathless my renown •

If I return, I quit immortal praise

For years on years, and long-extended days.

Convinced, though late, I find my fond mistake.

And ^am the Greeks the wiser choice to make:

To quit these shores, their native seats enjoy, 640

Nor hope the fall of heaven-defended Troy.

Jove's arm display'd, asserts her from the skies ;

Her hearts are strengthened, and her glories rise.

Go, then: to Greece report our fix'd design ;

Bid all your councils, all your armies join,

Let all your forces, all your arts conspire

To save the ships, the troops, the chiefs from fire.

One stratagem has fail'd, and others will :

Ye find Achilles is unconquer'd still.

Go then : digest my message as ye may; 55C

But here this night let reverend Phoenix stay:

His tedious toils and hoary hairs demand

A peacefiil death in Pthia's friendly land.


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But whether he remain or sail with me,
His age be sacred, and his will be free.**

The son of Peleus ceased. The chiefs around.
In silence wrapp'd, in consternation drown*d,
Attend the stem reply. Then Phoenix rose-^
Down his white beard a stream of sorrow flows —
And while the fate of sufiering Greece he moum'd, 56
With accents weak these tender words retum'd :

" Divine Achilles I wilt thou then retire,
And leave our hosts in blood, our fleets on fire?
If wrath so dreadful fill thy ruthless mind,
How sh&ill thy friend, thy Phoenix stay behind?
The royal Peleus, when from Pthia's coast
He sent thee early to th' Achaian host —
Thy youth, as then in sage debates unskilFd,
And new to perils of the direful field-
He bade me teach thee all the ways of war; 570
To shine in councils, and in camps to dare.
Never, ah ! never let me leave thy side !
No time shall part us, and no fate divide.
Not though the god, that breathed my life, restore
The bloom I boasted, and the port I bore.
When Greece of old beheld my youthful flames,
(Delighted Greece, the land of lovely dames I)
My father, faithless to my mother's arms, .
Old as he. was, adored a stranger's charms.
I tried what youth could do (at her desire) • 580
To win the damsel, and prevent my sire.
My sire with curses loads my hated head,
And cries, * Ye fiiries I barren be his bed.'
Infernal Jove, the vengeful fiends below.
And ruthless Proserpine confirmed his vow.
Despair and grief distract my labouring mind I
Gods ! what a crime my impious heart design'd i
I thought (but some kind god that thought suppress'd)
To p unge the poniard in my father's breast:
Then meditate my flight; my friends in vain 590
With prayers entreat me, and with force detain.


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Oa fat of lams, black bulls, and brawny swine,

They daily feast, with draughts of fragrant wine :

Strong guards they placed, and watch'd nine nights entire

The roofs and porches flamed with constant fire :

The tenth I forced the gates, unseen of all.

And, favoured by the night, o'erleap'd the wall.

My travels thence through spacious Greece extend ;

In Pthia's court at last my labours end. -

Your sire received me, as his son caress'd, 600

With gifts enrich'd, and with possessions blessed.

The strong Dolopians thenceforth own'd my reign.

And all the coast that runs along the main.

By love to thee his bounties I repaid.

And early wisdom to thy soul convey'd :

Great as thou art, my lessons made thee brave :

A child I took thee, but a hero gave.

Thy infant breast a like affection showM ;

Still in my arms (an ever-pleasing load)

Or at my knee, by Phoenix would*st thou stand ; 61 C

No food was grateful but from Phoenix' hand.

I pass my watchings o'er thy helpless years.

The tender labours, the compliant cares ;

The gods, I thought, reversed their hard decree,

And Phoenix felt a father's joys in thee :

Thy growing virtues justified my cares.

And promised comfort to my silver hairs.

Now be thy rage, thy fatal rage, resign'd :

A cruel heart ill suits a manly mind :

The gods — ^the only great, and only wise — 620

Are moved by offerings, vows, and sacrifice ;

Offending man their high compassion wins.

And daily prayers atone for daily sins.

Prayers are Jove's daughters, of celestial race,

Lame are their feet, and wrinkled is their face ;

With humble mien, and with dejected eyes.

Constant they follow where injustice flies ;

Injustice, swift, erect, and unconfined.

Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o'er mankind,

While Prayers, to heal her wrongs, move slow behind. 630

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Who hears these daughters of almighty Jove,

For him they mediate to the throne above :

When man rejects the humble suit they make,

The sire revenges for the daughters' sake ;

'*^nm Jove commission'd, fierce Injustice then *

Descends to punish unrelenting men.

Oh, let not headlong passion bear the sway;

These reconciling goddesses obey:

Due honours to the seed of Jove belong :

Due honours calm the fierce, and bend the strcn; 64?

Were these not paid thee by the terms we bring

Were rage still harbour'd in the haughty king,

Nor Greece, nor all her fortunes, should engage

Thy fiiend to plead against so just a rage.

But since what honour asks, the general sends,

And sends by those whom most thy heart comminds.

The best and noblest of the Grecian train.

Permit not these to sue, and sue in vain I

Let me, my son, an ancient fact unfold,

A great example drawn from times of old ;

Hear what our fathers were, and what their praise 650

Who conquered their revenge in former days.

" Where Calydon on rocky mountains stands.
Once fought the iEtolian and Curetian bands ;
To guard it those, to conquer these advance ;
And mutual deaths were dealt with mutual chance.
The silver Cynthia bade Contention rise,
In vengeance of neglected sacrifice :
On CEneus' fields she sent a monstrous boar.
That level'd harvests, and whole forests tore : 66U

This beast (when many a chief his tusks had slain)
Great Meleager stretch'd along the plain.
Then, for his spoils a new debate arose,
The neighbour nations thence commencing foes.
Strong as they were, the bold Curetes fail'd.
While Meleager's thundering arm prevail'd:
Till rage at length inflamed his lofty breast,
(For rage invades the wisest and the best.)


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Cursed by Althaea, to his wrath he yields,
And in his wife's embrace forgets the fields. 670

(She from M arpessa sprung, divinely fair,
And matchless Idas, more than man in war;
The god of day adored the mother's charms ;
Against the god the father bent his arms :
Th* afllicted pair, their sorrows to proclaim,
From Cleopatra changed this daughter's name.
And call'd Alcyone ; a name to show
The father's grief, the mourning mother's wo.)
To her the chief retired from stem debate,
But found no peace from fierce Althaea's hate : 680

Althaea's hate th' unhappy warrior drew.
Whose luckless hand his royal uncle slew :
She beat the ground, and call'd the powers beneath
On her own son to wreak her brother's death ;
Hell heard her curses from the realms profound.
And the red fiends that walk the nightly round.
In vain ^tolia her deliverer waits.
War shakes her walls, and thunders at her gates.
She sent ambassadors, a chosen band,
Priests of the gods, and elders of the land ; 690

Besought the chief to save the sinking state :
Their prayers were urgent and their profiers great;
(Full fifty acres of the richest ground,
Half pasture green, and half with vineyards crown'd.)
His suppliant father, aged (Eneus, came ;
His sisters follow'd ; ev'n the vengeful dame.
Althaea, sues : his friends before him fall :
He stands relentless, and rejects them all.
Meanwhile, the victor's shouts ascend the skies ;
The walls are scaled ; the rolling flames arise : 700

At length his wife (a form divine) appears.
With piercing cries and supplicating tears ;
She paints the horrors of a conquer'd town.
The heroes slain, the palaces o'erthrown.
The matrons ravish'd, the whole race enslaved.
The warrior heard, he vanquish'd, and he saved.

O ^

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Th' -^tolians, long disdain'd, now took their turn,

And left the chief their broken faith to mourn.

Learn hence, betimes to curb pernicious ire,

Nor stay till yonder fleets ascend in fire ; 7l0

Accept the presents ; draw thy conquering sword ;

And be among our guardian gods adored."

Thus he. The stem Achilles thus replied :
"My second father, and my reverend guide I
Thy friend, believe me, no such gifts demands,
And asks no honours from a mortal^s hands :
Jove honours me, and favours my designs ; .
His pleasure guides me, and his will confines ;
And here I stay, if such his high behest.
While life's warm spirit beats within my breast. 780

Yet hear one word, and lodge it in thy heart:
No more molest me on Atrides* part.
Is it for him these tears are taught to flow.
For him these sorrows? for my mortal foe?
A generous friendship no cold medium knows.
Bums with one love, with one resentment glows :
One should our interests and our passions be ;
My friend must hate the man that injures me.

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