Homer's Iliad online

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Thus, blind to Fate ! with supplicating breath.
Thou begg'st his arms, and in his arms thy death,
Unfortunately good I a boding sigh
Thy friend return'd ; and with it this reply:

" Patroclus ! thy Achilles knows no fears ;
Nor words from Jove, nor oracles he hears ;
Nor aught a mother's caution can suggest: 70

The tyrant's pride lies rooted in my breast.
My wrongs, my wrongs, my constant thought engage.
Those, my sole oracles, inspire my rage.
I made him tyrant: gave him power to wrong
Ev'n me : I felt it : and shall feel it long.
The maid, my black-eyed maid, he forced away,
Due to the toils of many a well-fought day ;
Due to my conquest of her father's reign ;
Due to the votes of all the Grecian train.
From me he forced her ; me, the bold and brave ; 80

Disgraced, dishonoured like the meanest slave.
But bear we this: the wrongs I grieve are past:
Tis time our fury should relent at last:
I fix'd its date ; the day I wish'd appears :
Now Hector to my ships his battle bears.
The flames my eyes, the shouts invade my ears.
Go, then, Patroclus ! court fair honour's charms
In Troy's famed fields, and in Achilles' arms :
Lead forth my martial Myrmidons to fight.
Go, save the fleets, and conquer in my right. 90

See the thin relics of their baffled band.
At the last edge of yon deserted land !
Behold all Ilion on their ships descends ;
How the^ cloud blackens, how the storm impends '
[t was not thus when, at my sight amazed,
Troy saw and trembled as this helmet blazed :

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Had u >t th' injurious king our friendship lost,

Yon anple trench had buried half her host

No canips, no bulwarks now the Trojans fear,

Those are not dreadfiil, no Achilles there 2 100

No longer flames the lance of Tydeus' son ;

No more your general calls his heroes on ;

Hector alone I hear : his dreadful breath

Commands your slaughter, or proclaims your death.

Yet now, Patroclus, issue to the plain ;

Now save the ships, the rising fires restrain,

And give the Greeks to visit Greece again.

But heed my words, and mark a friend's command.

Who trusts his fame and honours in thy hand.

And from thy deeds expects th* Achaian host 110

Shall render back the beauteous maid he lost.

Rage uncontroFd through all the hostile crew.

But touch not Hector; Hector is my due.

Though Jove in thunder should command the war,

Be just, consult my glory, and forbear.

The fleet once saved, desist from farther chase.

Nor lead to Ilion's walls the Grecian race ;

Some adverse god thy rashness may destroy;

Some god, like PhcEbus, ever kind to Troy.

Let Greece, redeemed from this destructive strait, 120

Do. her own work ; and leave the rest to fate.

Oh I would to all th* immortal powers above,

Apollo, Pallas, and almighty Jove,

That not one Trojan might be left alive.

And not a Greek of all the race survive ;

Might only we the vast destruction shun.

And only we destroy th' accursed town."

Such conference held the chiefs : while on the strand,
Great Jove with conquest crown'd the Trojan band.
Ajax no more the sounding storm sustained, 130

So thick the darts an ii m tempest rain'd :
On his tired arm the weighty buckler hung ;
His hollow helm with falling javelins rung ;
His breath in quick, short pan tings, comes and goes ;
And painful sweat from all his members flows :

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Spent and o'erpower'd, he barely breathes at most ;
Yet scarce an army stirs him from his post:
Dangers on dangers all around him grow.
And toil to toil, and wo succeeds to wo.

Say, Muses, throned above the starry frame, 140

How first the navy blazed with Trojan flame?

Stem Hector waved his sword ; and standing near
Where furious Ajax plied his ashen spear,
Full on the lance a stroke so justly sped,
That the broad faulchion loppM its brazen head :
His pointless spear the warrior shakes in vain ;
The brazen head falls sounding on the plain.
Great Ajax saw, and own'd the hand divine,
Confessing Jove, and trembling at the sign ;
Wam'd, he retreats. Then swift on all sides pour 150
The hissing brands ; thick streams the fiery shower;
O'er the high stern the curling volumes rise.
And sheets of rolling smoke involve the skies.

Divine Achilles view'd the rising flames,
And smote his thigh, and thus aloud exclaims :

''Arm, arm, Patroclus I Lo, the blaze aspires !
The glowing ocean reddens with the fires.
Arm, ere our vessels catch the spreading flame I
Arm, ere the Grecians be po more a name I
I haste to bring the troops.**^ — ^The hero said ; 160

The friend with ardour and with joy obeyed.
He cased his limbs in brass ; and first around
His manly legs with silver buckles bound
The clasping greaves ; then to his breast applies
The flaming cuirass, of a thousand dyes ;
Emblazed with studs of gold his faulchion shone
In the rich belt, as in the starry zone .
Achilles' shield his ample shoulders spread,
Achilles helmet nodded o'er his head :
Adom'd in all his terrible array, 170

He flash'd around intolerable day.
Alone, untouch'd, Pelides' javelin stands,
Not to be poised \'xi by Pelides' hands ;


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From Pelion's shady brow the plant entire,
Old Chiron rent, and shaped it for his sire ;
Whose son's great arm alone the weapon wields,
The death of heroes and the dread of fields.

Then brave Automedon (an honour'd name,
The second to his lord in love and fame,
In peace his friend, and partner of the war) 181

The winged coursers hamess'd to the car;
Xanthus and Balius, of inimortal breed.
Sprung from the wind, and like the wind in speed ;
Whom the wing'd Harpy, swift Podargd, bore.
By Zephyr pregnant on the breezy shore :
Swift Pedasus was added to their side
(Once great Action's, now Achilles' pride),
Who, Uke in strength, in swiftness, and in grace,
A mortal courser, match'd th' immortal race.
Achilles speeds from tent to tent, and warms 1 9C

His hardy Myrmidons to blood and arms.
All breathing death, around their chief they stand,
A grim, terrific, formidable band :
Grim as voracious wolves, that seek the springs,
When scalding thirst their burning bowels wrings ;
When some tall stag, fresh slaughter'd from the wood,
Has drench'd their wild insatiate throats with blood,
To the black fount they rush, a hideous throng.
With paunch distended and with lolling tongue ;
Fire fills their eye, their black jaws belch the gore, 200
And, gorged with slaughter, still they thirst for more.
Like furious rush'd the Myrmidonian crew.
Such their dread strength, and such their dreadful view.

High in the midst the great Achilles stands.
Directs their ord^.r, and the war commands.
He, loved of Jo^ e, had launch'd for Ilion's shores
Full fifty vessels, mann'd with fifty oars :
Five chosen leaders the fierce bands obey.
Himself supreme in valour as in sway.

First rnarcli'd Menestheus, of celestial birth, 21fl

Derived from thee, whr se waters wash the earth,


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Divine Spirchius ! Jove-descending flood !
A mortal mother mixing with a god.
Such was Menestheusy but miscall'd by fame
The son of Boms, that espoused the dame.

Eudorus next ; whom Polymele the gay,
Famed in the graceful dance, produced to day.
Her, sly Celenius loved, on her would gaze.
As with swift step she formed the running maze :
To her high chamber, from Diana's choir, ?20

The god pursued her, urged, and crown'd his fire.
The son confess'd his father's heavenly race,
And heir'd his mother's swiftness in the chase.
Strong Echecldus, bless'd in all those charms
That pleased a god, succeeded to her arms :
Not conscious of those loves, long hid from fame.
With gifts of price he sought and won the dame ;
Her secret offspring to her sire she bare ;
Her sire caress'd him with a parent's care.

Pisander follow'd ; matchless in his art 330

To vring the spear or aim the distant dart;
No hand so sure of all th' Emathian line.
Or, if a surer, great Patroclus ! thine.

The fourth by Phoenix' grave command was graced :
liaerces' valiant offspring led the last

Soon as Achilles with superior care
Had call'd the chiefs, and order'd all the war.
This stem remembrance to his troops he gave :

"Ye far-famed Myrmidons, ye fierce and brave !
Think with what threats you dared the Trojan throng, 24C
Think what reproach these ears endured so long.
*Stem son of Peleus,' thus ye used to say.
While restless, raging in your ships you lay,
*0h, nursed with gall, unknowing how to yield ;
Whose rage defrauds us of so famed a field.
If that dire fury must for ever burn.
What make we here? Return ; ye chiefs, return V
Such were your words. Now, warriors, grieve no more ;
Lo, there the Trojans ! bathe your swords in gore I


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This day shall give you all your soul demands ; 260

Glut all your hearts ! and weary all your hands !"

Thus while he roused the fire in every breast,
Close, and more close, the listening cohorts press'd ;
Ranks wedged in ranks ; of arms a steely ring
Still grows, and spreads, and thickens round the king
As when a circling wall the builder forms,
Of strength defensive against winds and storms,
Compacted stones the thickening work compose.
And round him wide the rising structure grows :
So helm to helm, and crest to crest they throng, 260

Shield urged on shield, and man drove man along ;
Thick, undistlnguish'd plumes, together join'd.
Float in one sea, and wave before the wind.

Far o'er the rest, in glittering pomp appear
There bold Automedon, Patroclus here ;
Brothers in arms, with equal fury fired ;
Two friends, two bodies with one soul inspired.

But mindfiil of the gods, Achilles went
To the rich coffer in his shady tent;
There lay on heaps his various garments roU'd, 270

And costly furs, and carpets stiff with gold,
(The presents of the silver-footed dame.)
From thence he took a bowl of antique frame.
Which never man had stain'd with ruddy wine.
Nor raised in offerings to the powers divine.
But Peleus* son, and Peleus' son to none
Had raised in offerings, but to Jove alone.
This tinged with sulphur, sacred first to flame,
He purged ; and wash'd it in the running stream :
Then cleansed his hands ; and fixing for a space 28(1

His eyes on heaven, his feet upon the place
Of sacrifice, the purple draught he pour'd
Forth in the midst ; and thus the god implored :

"Oh, thou. Supreme I high throned all height above!
Oh, great Pelasgic, Dodonaean Jove !
Who *midst surrounding frost and vapours chill,
Presid'st on bleak Dodona's vocal hill.


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(Whose groves, the Selli, race austere ! surround,

Their feet unwash'd, their slumbers on the ground ;

Who hear, from rustling oaks, thy dark decrees ; 290

And catch the fates, low-whisper'd in the breeze :)

Hear, as of old I Thou gav'st, at Thetis* prayer.

Glory to me, and to the Greeks despair.

Lo, to the dangers of the fighting field !

The best, the dearest of my friends, I yield :

Though still determined, to my ships confined ;

Patroclus gone, I stay but half behind.

Oh ! be his guard thy providential care,

Confirm his heart, and string his arm to war: 300

Press'd by his single force, let Hector see

His fame in arms not owing all to me.

But when the fleets are saved from foes and fire.

Let him with conquest and renown retire ;

Preserve his arms, preserve his social train.

And safe return him to these eyes again !"

Great Jove consents to half the chiefs request.
But heaven's eternal doom denies the rest:
To free the fleet was granted to his prayer:
His safe return the winds dispersed in air.
Back to his tent the stem Achilles flies, 810

And waits the combat with impatient eyes.

Meanwhile, the troops, beneath Patroclus' care.
Invade the Trojans, and commence the war.
As wasps, provoked by children in their play.
Pour from their mansions by the broad highway.
In swarms the guiltless traveller engage,
Whet all their stings, and call forth all their rage ;
All rise in arms, and with a general cry
Assert their waxen domes and buzzing progeny:
Thus from the tents the fervent legion swarms.
So loud their clamour, and so keen their arms.
Their rising rage Patroclus' breath inspires.
Who thus inflames them with heroic fires :

"Oh, warriors ! partners of Achilles* praise I
Be mhidful of your deeds in ancient days :


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Your godlike master let your acts pi iclaim,
And add new glories to his mighty name.
Think your Achilles sees you fight: be brave,
And humble the proud monarch whom you save."

Joyful they heard ; and, kindling as he spoke, 330

Flew to the fleet, involved in fire and smoke.
From shore to shore the doubling shouts resound.
The hollow ships return a deeper sound.
The war stood still, and all around them gazed,
When great Achilles' shining armour blazed :
Troy saw, and thought the dread Achilles nigh ;
At once they see, they tremble, and they fly.

Then first thy spear, divine Patroclus ! flew
Where the war raged, and where the tumult grew:
Close to the stern of that famed ship, which bore 34(
Unbless'd Protesilaus to Ilion's shore.
The great Paeonian, bold Pyraechmes, stood
(Who led his bands from Axius' winding flood) ;
His shoulder-blade receives the fatal wound :
The groaning warrior pants upon the ground.
His troops, that see their country's glory slain.
Fly diverse, scatter'd o'er the distant plain.
Patroclus' arm forbids the spreading fires.
And from the half-bum'd ship proud Troy retires :
Clear'd from the smoke the joyful navy lies ; 350

In heaps on heaps the foe tumultuous flies ;
Triumphant Greece her rescued decks ascends.
And loud acclaim the starry region rends.
So when thick clouds inwrap the mountain's head.
O'er heaven's expanse like one black ceiling spread ;
Sudden, the Thunderer, with a flashing ray,
Bursts through the darkness, and lets down the day:
The hills shine out, the rocks in prospect rise,
And streams, and vales, and forests strike the eyes :
The smiling scene wide opens to the sight, 360

And all th' unmeasured aether flames with light.

But Troy repulsed, and scatter'd o'er the plains,
Forced from the navy, yet the fight maintains ;


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Now every Greek some hostile hero siew;

But still the foremost bold Patroclus flew:

As Arielycus had turn'd him round,

Sharp in his thigh he felt the piercing wound ;

The brazen-pointed spear, with vigour thrown,

The thigh transfix'd,and broke the brittle bone :

Headlong he fell. Next, Thoas, was thy chance, 370

Thy breast, unarm'd, received the Spartan lance.

Phylides' dart (as Amphiclus drew nigh)

His blow prevented, and transpierced his thigh.

Tore all the brawn, .and rent the nerves away ;

In darkness and in death the warrior lay.

In equal arms two sons of Nestor stand.
And two bold brothers of the Lycian band :
By great Antilochus, Atymnius dies.
Pierced in the flank, lamented youth ! he lies.
Kind Maris, bleeding in his brother's wound, 380

Defends the breathless carciLse on the ground.
Furious he flies, his murderer to engage,
But godlike Thrasymed prevents his rage ;
Between his arm and shoulder aims a blow ;
His arm falls spouting on the dust below:
He sinks, vnth endless darkness cover'd o'er :
And vents his soul, efiused with gushing gore.

Slain by two brothers, thus two brothers bleed,
Sarpedon's friends, Amisodarus' seed ;
Amisodarus, who, by furies led, 30'.

The bane of men, abhorr'd Chimaera bred ;
Skiird in the dart in vain, his sons expire.
And pay the forfeit of their guilty sire.

Stopp'd in the tumult, Cleobulus lies
Beneath CSleus' arm, a livmg prize ;
A living prize not long the Trojan stood.
The thirsty faulchion drank his reeking blood :
Plunged in his throat the smoking weapon lies ;
Black death, and fate unpitying, seal his eyes.

Amid the ranks, with mutual thirst of fame, 400

Lycon the brave, and fierce Peneleus came ,


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In vain their javelins at each other flew ;

Now, met in arms, their eager swords they drew.

On the plumed crest of his Boeotian foe,

The daring Lycon aim'd a noble blow;

The sword broke short ; but his, Peneleus sped

Full on the juncture of the neck and head.

The head, divided by a stroke so just,

Hung by the skin : the body sunk to dust.

Overtaken Neamas by Merion bleeds, 410

Pierced through the shoulder as he mounts his steeds :
Back from the car he tumbles to the ground ;
His swimming eyes eternal shades surround.

Next Erymas was doom'd his fate to feel :
His open mouth received the Cretan steel :
Beneath the brain the point a passage tore,
Crash'd the thin bones, and drown'd the teeth in gore :
His mouth, his eyes, his nostrils, pour a flood ;
He sobs his soul out in the gush of blood. «

As when the flocks, neglected by the swain, 420

(Or kids, or lambs,). lie scattered o'er the plain,
A troop of wolves th' unguarded charge survey,
And rend the trembling, unresisting prey:
Thus on the foe the Greeks impetuous came ;
Troy fled, unmindful of her former fame.

But still at Hector godlike Ajax aim'd.
Still pointed at his breast his javelin flamed.
The Trojan chief, experienced in the field,
O'er his broad shoulders spread the massy shield,
Observed the storm of darts the Grecians pour, 430

And on his buckler caught the ringing shower.
He sees for Greece the scale of conquest rise.
Yet stops, and turns, and saves his loved allies.

As when the hand of Jove a tempest forms.
And rolls the cloud to blacken heaven with storms.
Dark o'er the fields th* ascending vapour flies.
And shades the sun, and blots the golden skies :
So from the ships, along the dusky plain,
Dire Flight and Terror drove the Trojan train.


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Ev'n Hector fled ; through heaps of disarray 440

The fiery coursers forced their lord away :

While far behind his Trojans fall confuted ;

Wedged in the trench, in one vast carnage bruised ;

Chariots on chariots roll ; the clashing spokes

Shock ; while the maddmg steeds break short their yokes:

In vain they labour up the steepy mound ;

Their charioteers lie foaming on the ground.

Fierce on the rear, with shouts, Patroclus flies ;

Tumultuous clamour fills the field and skies ;

Thick drifts of dust involve their rapid flight ; 450

Clouds rise on clouds, and heaven is snatchM from sight.

Th' afirighted steeds, their dying lords cast down.

Scour o'fer the fields, and stretch to reach the town.

Loud o'er the rout was heard the victor's cry,

Where the war bleeds, and where the thickest die ;

Where horse, and arms, and chariots, lie o'erthrown.

And bleeding heroes under axles groan.

No stop, no check, the steeds of Peleus knew;

From bank to bank th' immortal coursers flew.

High-bounding o'er the fosse : the whirling car 460

Smokes through the ranks, o'ertakes the flying war,

And thunders after Hector : Hector flies ;

Patroclus shakes his lance; but Fate denies.

Not with less noise, with less impetuous force.
The iide of Trojans urge their desperate course,
Than when in autumn Jove his fiiry pours.
And earth is loaden with incessant showers
(When guilty mortals break th' eternal laws.
Or judges bribed betray the righteous cause) ;
From their deep beds he bids the rivers rise, 470

And opens all the flood-gates of the skies :
Th' impetuous torrents from their hills obey,
Whole fields are drown'd, and mountains swept away;
Loud roars the deluge till it meets the main ;
And trembling man sees all his labours vain.

And now the chief (the foremost troops repel'd)
Back to the ships his destined progress held,


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Bore down half Troy in his resistless way,

And forced the routed ranks to stand the day.

Between the space where silver Simois flows, 48C

Where lay the fleets, and where the rampires rose,

Ail grim in dust and blood, Patroclus stands.

And turns the slaughter on the conquering bands.

First Pronous died beneath his fiery dart,

Which pierced below the shield his valiant heart.

Thestor was next who saw the chief appear.

And fell the victim of his coward fear ;

Shrunk up he sat, with wild and haggard eye.

Nor stood to combat, nor had force to fly:

Patroclus mark'd him as he shunn'd the war, 490

And with unmanly tremblings shook the car.

And dropp'd the flowing reins. Him, 'twixt the jaws

The javelin sticks, and from the chariot draws.

As on a rock that overhangs the main.

An angler, studious of the line and cane,

Some mighty fish draws panting to the shore ;

Not with less ease the barbed javelin bore

The gaping dastard : as the spear was shook.

He fell, and life his heartless breast forsook.

Next on Euryalus he flies ; a stone, 500

Large as a rock, was by his fury thrown :
Full on his crown the ponderous fragment fl^ew.
And burst the helm, and cleft the head in two :
Prone to the ground the breathless warrior fell.
And death involved him with the shades of hell.
Then low in dust Epaltes, Echius, lie ;
Ipheas, Evippus, Polymelus, die :
Amphoterus, and Erymas succeed ;
And last Tlepolemus and Pyres bleed.
Where'er he moves, the growing slaughters spread 510
In heaps on heaps ; a monument of dead.

When now Sarpedon his brave friends beheld
Grovelling in dust, and gasping on the field.
With this reproach his flying host he warms :
^ Oh, stain to honour I oh, disgrace to arms I


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Forsake, inglorious, the contended plain ;
This handy unaided, shall the war sustain :
The task be mine, this hero's strength to try,
Who mows whole troops, and makes an army fly."

He spake ; and, speaking, leaps from off the car : />20
Patroclus lights, and sternly wails the war.
As when two vultures on the mountain's height
Stoop with resounding pinions to the fight ;
They cuff, they tear, they raise a screaming cry ;
The desert echoes, and the rocks reply:
The warriors thus, opposed in arms, engage
With equal clamours, and with equal rage.

Jove view'd the combat ; whose event foreseen,
He thus bespoke his sister and his queen :
*' The hour draws on ; the Destinies ordain * 530

M) godlike son shall press the Phrygian plain :
Already on the verge of death he stands,
His life is owed to fierce Patroclus' hands.
What passions in a parent's breast debate !
Say, shall I snatch him from impending fate,
And send him safe to Lycia, distant far
From all the dangers and the toils of war ;
Or to his doom my bravest offspring yield,
And fatten with celestial blood the field?"

Then thus the goddess with the radiant eyes : 540

**What words are these, O sovereign of the skies?
Short is the date prescribed to mortal man.
Shall Jove, for one, extend the narrow span.
Whose bounds Were fix'd before his race began?
How many sons of gods, foredoomed to death.
Before proud Ilion must resign their breath !
Were thine exempt, debate would rise above.
And murmuring powers condemn then- partial Jove.
Give the bold chief a glorious fate in fight ;
And when th' ascending soul has wing'd her flight, 650
Let Sleep and Death convey, by thy command,
The breathless body to his native land.
His friends and people, to his future praise,
A marble tomb and pyramid shall raise,

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And lasting honours to his ashes give ;

His fame ('tis all the dead can have) shall live.**

She said. The Cloud-compeller, overcome,
Assents to fate, and ratifies the doom.
Then, touch'd with grief, the v^reeping heavens distilled
A shoMrer of blood o'er all the fatal field ; 60C

The god, his eyes averting from the plain.
Laments his son, predestined to be slain.
Far firom the Lycian shores, his happy native reign.

Now met in arms, the combatants appear ;
Each heaved the shield, and poised the lifled spear :
From strong Patroclus' hand the javelin fled,
And pass'd the groin of valiant Thrasymed ;
The nerves unbraced, no more his bulk sustain,
He falls, and, falling, bites the bloody plain.
Two sounding darts the Lycian leader threw; 570

The first aloof with erring fury flew.
The next transpierced Achilles' mortal steed,
The generous Pedasus of Theban breed ;
Fix'd in the shoulder's joint, he reel'd around,
Roll'd in the bloody dust, and paw'd the slippery ground.
His sudden fall th' entangled harness broke :
Each axle crackled, and the chariot shook :
When bold Automedon, to disengage

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