Homer's Iliad online

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And views contending gods with careless eyes.
The power of battles lifts his brazen spear,
And first assaults the radiant queen of war,

"What moves thy madness thus to disunite
Ethereal minds, and mix all heaven in fight?
What wonder this, when, in thy frantic mood, 460

Thou drov'st a mortal to insult a god !
Thy impious hand Tydides* javelin bore.
And madly bathed it in celestial gore."

He spoke; and smote the loud-resounding shield,
Which bears Jove's thunder on its dreadful field ;
The adamantine aegis of her sire,
That turns the glancing bolt and forked fire.
Then heaved the goddess in her mighty hand
A stone, the limit of the neighbouring land.
There fixM from eldest times: black, craggy, vast: 470
This at the heavenly homicide she cast.
Thundering he falls, a mass of monstrous size.
And seven broad acres covers as he lies;
The stunning stroke his stubborn nerves unbound :
Loud o'er the fields his ringing arms resound :
The scornful dame her conquest views with smiles.
And, glorying, thus tlie prostrate god reviles:

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**Ha8t thou not yet, insatiate fury! known
How far Minerva's force transcends thy own?
JunOy whom thou, rebellious, dar'st withstand, 4S0

Corrects thy folly thus by Pallas' hand ;
Thus meets thy broken faith with just disgrace.
And partial aid to Troy's perfidious race."

The goddess spoke, and turn'd her eyes away.
That beaming round diffused celestial day.
Jove's Cyprian daughter, stooping on the land,
Lent to the wounded god her tender hand :
Slowly he rises, scarcely breathes with pain,
And, propp'd on her fair arm, forsakes the plain.
This the bright empress of the heavens surveyed, 490
And, scoffing, thus to War's victorious maid: •

"Lo! what an aid on Mars's side is seen!
The Smiles' and Loves' unconquerable queen I
Mark with what insolence, in open view,
She moves: let Pallas, if she dares, pursue."

Minerva, smiling, heard: the pair o'ertook.
And slightly on her breast the wanton struck:
She, unresisting, fell, (her spirits fled;)
On earth together lay the lovers spread.

**And like these heroes be the fate of all," 500

Minerva cries, **who guard the Trojan wall!
To Grecian gods such let the Phrygians be.
So dread, so fierce, as Venus is to me ;
Then from the lowest stone shall Troy be moved." —
Thus she; and Juno with a smile approved.

Meantime, to mix in more than mortal fight.
The god of ocean dares the god of light.

**What sloth has seized us when the fields around
Ring with conflicting powers, and heaven returns th^ soimd?-
Shall, ignominious, we with shame retire, 510

No deed perform'd, to our Olympian sire?
Come, prove thy arm ! for first the war to wage,
Suits not my greatness or superior age;
Rash as thou art to prop the Trojan throne,
(Forgetful of my wrongs and of thy own,)
And guard the race of proud LaomedonI

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Hast thou forgot how, at the monarch's prayer,

We shared the lengthen'd labours of a year?

Troy's walls I raised, for such were Jove's commands,

And yon proud bulwarks grew beneath my hands. 620

Thy task it was to feed the bellowing droves

Along fair Ida's vales and pendant groves.

But when the circling seasons in their train

Brought back the grateful day that crown'd our pjiin.

With menace stem the fraudful king defied

Our latent godhead, and the prize denied :

Mad as he was, he threaten'd servile bands,

And doom'd us exiles far in barbarous lands.

Incensed, we heavenward fled with swiftest wing,

And destined vengeance on the perjured king. 530

Dost thou for this afford proud Ilion grace.

And not, like us, infest the faithless race ;

Like us, their present, future sons destroy, ^

And from its deep foundations heave their Troy?"

Apollo thus: "To combat for mankind,
111 suits the wisdom of celestial mind:
For what is man? Calamitous by birth.
They owe their life and nourishment to earth;
Like yearly leaves, that, now with beauty crown'd,
Smile on the sun; now wither on the ground. 540

To their own hands commit the frantic scene.
Nor mix immortals in a cause so mean."

Then turns his face, far beaming heavenly fires,
And from the senior power submiss retires:
Him, thus retreating, Artemis upbraids.
The quiver'd huntress of the sylvan shades:

"And is it thus the youthful Phoebus flies,
And yields to Ocean's hoary sire the prize?
How vain that martial pomp and dreadful show
Of pointed arrows and the silver bow! 550

Now boast no more in yon celestial bower.
Thy force can match the great earth-shaking power **

Silent he heard the queen of woods upbraid:
Not 80 Satumia bore the vaimting maid:


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But, furious, thus: "What iusolence has driven

Thy pride to face the Majesty of heaven?

What though, by Jove the female plague design d.

Fierce to the feeble race of woman-kind,

The wretched matron feels thy piercing dart:

Thy sex's tyrant, with a tiger's heart? 500

What though tremendous, in the woodland chase.

Thy certain arrows pierce the savage race?

How dares thy rashness on the powers divine

Employ those arms, or match thy force with mine?

Learn hence no more unequal war to wage V

She said; and seized her wrists with equal rage:
These in her left hand lock'd, her right untied
The bow, the quiver, and its plumy pride.
About her temples flies the busy bow;
Now here, now there, she winds her from the blow: 5'"C
The scattering arrows, rattling from the case.
Drop round, and idly mark the dusty place.
Swift from the field the baffled huntress flies.
And scarce restrains the torrent in her eyes:
So when the falcon wings her way above.
To the cleft cavern speeds the gentle dove,
(Not fated yet to die,) there safe retreats,
Yet still her heart against the marble beats.

To her Latona hastes with tender care.
Whom Hermes, viewing, thus declines the war: 580

"How shall I face the dame who gives delight
To him whose thunders blacken heaven with night?
Gk), matchless goddess I triumph in the skies,
And boast my conquest while I yield the prize."

He spoke, and pass'd : Latona, stooping low.
Collects the scattered shafts and fallen bow.
That, glittering on the dust, lay here and there;
Dishonoured relics of Diana's war.
Then swift pursued her to her bless'd abode.
Where, all confused, she sought the sovereign god ; 590
Weeping she grasp'd his knees: th* ambrosial vest
Shook with her sighs, and panted on her breast


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The sire »jperior smiled; and bade her show
What heavenly hand had caused his daughter's wo.
AbashM, she names his own imperial spouse:
And the pale crescent fades upon her brows.

Thus they above: while, swiftly gliding down,
Apollo enters Ilion's sacred town:
The guardian god now trembled for her wall,
And fear'd the Greeks, though Fate forbade her fall GOO
Back to Olympus from the war's alarms
Return'd the shining bands of gods in arms:
Some proud in triumph, some with rage on fire ;
And take their thrones around th* ethereal sire.

Through blood, through death, Achilles still proceeds
O'er slaughter'd heroes, and o'er rolling steeds.
As when avenging flames, with fury driven
On guilty towns, exert the wrath of Heaven:
The pale inhabitants, some fall, some fly ;
And the red vapours purple all the sky: 010

So raged Achilles: death and dire dismay.
And toils, and terrors, fill'd the dreadful day.

High on a turret hoary Priam stands.
And marks the waste of his destructive hands;
Views from his arms the Trojans' scattered flight,
And the near hero rising on the sight!
No stop, no check, no aid ! With feeble pace.
And settled sorrow on his aged face.
Fast as he could, he sighing quits the walls;
And thus, descending, on the guard he calls: 620

" You to whose care our city-gates belong.
Set wide your portals to the flying throng:
For, lo ! he comes with unresisted sway !
He comes, and desolation marks his way !
But when within the walls our troops take breath.
Lock fast the brazen bars, and shut out death."

Thus charged the reverend monarch : wide were fl;ing
The opening folds: the sounding hinges rung.
Phoebus rush'd forth the flying bands to meet;
Struck slaughter back, and cover'd the letreat «aO


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On heaps tlie Trojans crowd to gain the gate,
And gladsome see their last escape from Fate.
Thither, ^11 parch'd with thirst, a heartless train,
Hoary with dust, they beat the hollow plain;
And gasping, panting, fainting, labour on.
With heavier strides that lengthen'd^tow'rd the town.
Enraged Achilles follows with his spear.
Wild with revenge, insatiable of war.

Then had the Greeks eternal praise acquired.
And Troy inglorious to her walls retired : 6 10

But he,* the god who darts ethereal flame.
Shot down to save her, and redeem her fame.
To young Agenor force divine he gave
(Antenor*s offspring, haughty, bold, and brave);
In aid of him beside the beach he sate.
And, wrapp'd in clouds, restrain'd the hand of Fate.
When now the generous youth Achilles spies.
Thick beats his heart, the troubled motions rise;
(So, ere a storm, the waters heave and roll ;)
He stops, and questions thus his mighty soul : 650

"What! shall I fly this terror of the plain!
Like others fly, and be like others slain?
Vain hope to shun him by the self-same road
Yon line of slaughter'd Trojans lately trod !
No ! with the common heap I scorn to fall.
What if they pass'd me to the Trojan wall.
While I decline to yonder path, that leads
To Ida's forests and surrounding shades?
So may I reach concealed the cooling flood.
Prom my tired body wash the dirt and blood ; 660

As soon as night her dusky veil extends,
Return in safety to my Trojan friends.
What if— But wherefore all this vain debate?
Stand I to doubt within the reach of Fate?
Ev'n now, perhaps, ere yet I turn the wall,
The fierce Achilles sees me, and I fall:

• ApoUo.


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Such is his swiftness, 'tis in vain to fly,

And such his valour, that who stands must did.

Howe'er, 'tis better, fighting for the state.

Here, and in public view, to meet my fate. 670

Yet sure he too is mortal ! he may feel

(Like all the sons of earth) the force of steel ;

One only soul informs that dreadful frame.

And Jove's sole favour gives him all his fame."

. He said; and stood collected in his might;

And all his beating bosom claimed the fight.

So from some deep-grown wood a panther starts.

Roused from his thicket by a storm of darts :

Untaught to fear or fly, he hears the sounds

Of shouting hunters and of clamorous hounds; 680

Tho* struck, tho' wounded, scarce perceives the pain,

And the barb'd javelin stings his breast in vain:

On their whole war untamed the savage flies;

And tears his hunter, or beneath him dies:

Not less resolved, Antenor's valiant heir

Confronts Achilles, and awaits the war.

Disdainful of retreat : high-held before.

His shield, a broad circumference, he bore.

Then, graceful, as he stood in act to throw

The lifted javelin, thus bespoke the foe: 600

"How proud Achilles glories in his fame !
And hopes this day to sink the Trojan name
Beneath her ruins! Know, that hope is vain:
A thousand woes, a thousand toils remain.
Parents and children our just arms employ.
And strong and many are the sons of Troy.
Great as thou art, ev'n thou may'st stain with gore
These Phrygian fields, and press a foreign shore."

He said: with matchless force the javelin flung,
Smote on his knee; the hollow cuishes rung 700

Beneath the pointed steel : but safe from harms
He stands impassive in ethereal arms.
Then fiercely rushing on the daring foe,
His lifted arm prepares the fatal blow:
20* E B

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But, jealous of his fame, Apollo shrouds

The godlike Trojan in a veil of clouds.

Safe from pursuit, and shut from mortal view,

Dismiss'd with fame, the favour'd youth withdrew.

Meanwhile, the god, to cover their escape,

Assumes Agenor's habit, voice, and shape, 71

Flies from the furious chief in this disguise;

The furious chief still follows where he flies.

Now o'er the fields they stretch with lengthened strides.

Now urge the course where swift Scamander glides;

The god, now distant scarce a stride before,

Tempts his pursuit, and wheels about the shore;

While all the flying troops their speed employ,

And pour on heaps into the walls of Troy:

No stop, no stay; no thought to ask, or tell

Who 'scaped by flight, or who by battle fell. 780

'Twas tumult all, and violence of flight;

And sudden joy confused, and mix'd affright:

Pale Troy against Achilles shuts her gate;

And nations breathe, deliver'd from their fate.


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Ifi$ Death of Hector.

Amqvmkst. — ^The Trojans being eafe within the walls, Hector only stays 19
oppose Achilles. Priam is struck at his approach, and tries to perstiada
his son to reenter the town. Hecuba joins her entreaties, but in vain.
Hector consults within himself what measures to take ; but at the adrance
of AchiUes, his resolution fails him, and he flies : Achilles pursues him
thrice round the walls of Troy. The gods debate concerning the fate of
Hectors at length Minerva descends to the aid of Achilles. She deludes
Hector in the shape of Delphobns ; he stands the combat, and is slain.
Achilles drags the dead body at his chariot, in the sight of Priam and
Hecuba. Their lamentations, tears, and despair. Their cries reach the
ears of Andromache, who, ignorant of this, was retired into the inner pare
of the palace I she mounts up to the walls, and beholds her dead husband.
She swoons at the spectacle. Her excess of grief and lamentations.

The thirtieth day still continues. The scene lies under the WiUfl and en the
battlements of Troy.

Thus, to their bulwarks, smit with panic fear,
The herded Ilians rush like driven deer;
There safe, they wipe the briny drops away,
And drown in bowls the labour of the day.
Close to the walls, advancing o'er the fields,
Beneath one roof of well-compacted shields,
March bending on the Greeks' embodied powers.
Far-stretching in the shade of Trojan towers.
Great Hector singly staid; chain'd down by Fate,
There fix*d he stood before the Scsean gate; 10

Still his bold arms determined to employ,
The guardian still of long-defended Troy.

Apollo now to tired Achilles turns
(The power confessed in all his glory burns):

"And what," he cries, "has Peleus' son in view,
With mortal speed a godhead to pursue?
For not to thee to know the gods is given,
Unskiird to trace the latent marki* of Heaven.


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What boots thee now, that Troy forsook the plain?
Vain thy past labour, and thy present vain : 20

Safe in their walls are now her troops bestow'd,
While here thy frantic rage attacks a god."

The chief) incensed: "Too partial god of day!
To check my conquest in the middle way ;
How few in Ilion elsb had refuge found !
What gasping numbers now had bit the ground !
Thou robb'st me of a glory justly mine,
Powerful of godhead, and of fraud divine:
Mean fame, alas ! for one of heavenly strain,
To cheat a mortal who repines in vain." 80

Then to the city, terrible and strong,
With high and haughty steps he tower'd along.
So the proud courser, victor of the prize.
To the near goal with double ardour flies.
Him, as he blazing shot across the field.
The careful eyes of Priam first beheld.
Not half so dreadful rises to the sight.
Through the thick gloom of some tempestuous night,
Orion's dog, (the year when autumn weighs,)
And o'er the feebler stars exerts his rays; 40

Terrific glory ! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death.
So flamed his fiery mail. Then wept the sage;
He strikes his reverend head, flow white with age:
He lifts his wither'd arms; obtests the skies;
He calls his much-loved son with feeble cries:
The son, resolved Achilles' force to dare,
Full at the Scaean gate expects the war:
While the sad father on the rampart stands.
And thus adjures him with extended hands: 50

"All, stay not, stay not! guardless and alone;
Hector! my loved, my dearest, bravest son!
Methinks already I behold thee slain,
And stretch'd beneath that fury of the plain.
Implacable Achilles! might'st thou be
To all the gods no dearer than to me !


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The vultures wild should scatter round the shore,

And bloody dogs grow fiercer from thy gore.

How many valiant sons I late enjoyed,

Valiant in vain ! by thy cursed arm destroy'd : 60

Or, worse than slaughtered, sold in distant isles

To shameful bondage, and unworthy toils.

Two, while I speak, my eyes in vain explore.

Two, from one mother sprung, my Polydore

And loved Lycaon: now perhaps no more!

Oh ! if in yonder hostile camp they live.

What heaps of gold, what treasures would I give I

(Their grandsire's wealth, by right of birth their own.

Consigned his daughter with Lelegia*s throne;)

But if— which Heaven forbid! — already lost, 70

All pale they wander on the Stygian coast.

What sorrows then must their sad mother know!

What anguish I ! — unutterable wo !

Yet less that anguish, less to her, to me,

Less to all Troy, if not deprived of thee.

Yet shun Achilles ! enter yet the wall ;

And spare thyself, thy father — spare us all!

Save thy dear life ; or, if a soul so brave

Neglect that thought, thy dearer glory save.

Pity, while yet I live, these silver hairs ! 80

While yet thy father feels the woes he bears.

Yet cursed with sense ! a wretch, whom, in his rage

(All trembling on the verge of helpless age).

Great Jove has placed — sad spectacle of pain! —

The bitter dregs of Fortune's cup -to drain:

To rill with scenes of death his closing eyes.

And number all his days by miseries;

My heroes slain, my bridal bed o'ertum'd.

My daughters ravish'd, and my city burn'd.

My bleeding infants dash'd against the floor; 90

These I have yet to see; perhaps yet morel

Perhaps ev'n I, reserved by angry Fate,

The last sad relic of my ruin'd state,

(Dire pomp of sovereign wretchedness !) must fall*

And stain the pavement of my regal hall ;

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Where famish'd dogs, late guardians of my door.

Shall lick their mangled master's spattered gore.

Yet for my sons I thank ye, gods! 'twas well:

Well have they perish'd, for in fight they fell.

Who dies in youth and vigour, dies the best, 100

Struck through with wounds, all honest, on the breast.

But when the Fates, in fullness of their rage.

Spurn the hoar head of unresisting age,

In dust the reverend lineaments deform.

And pour to dogs the life-blood scai'cely warm:

Tliis, this is misery! the last, the worst.

That man can feel; man, fated to be cursed!"

He said ; and, acting what no words could say,
Rent from his head the silver locks away.
With him the mournful mother bears a part 110

Yet all their sorrows turn not Hector's heart :
The zone unbraced, her bosom she displayed;
And thus (fast falling the salt tears) she said:

"Have mercy on me, oh, my son! revere
The words of age! attend a parent's prayer!
If ever thee in these fond arms I press'd.
Or stiird thy infant clamours at this breast;
Ah! do not thus our helpless years forego,
But, by our walls secured, repel the foe.
Against his rage if singly thou proceed, 120

Shouldst thou — but Heaven avert it ! — shouldst thou bleed.
Nor must thy corse lie honour'd on the bier,
Nor spouse nor mother grace thee with a tear;
Far from our pious rites, those dear remains
Must feast the vultures on the naked plains."

So they, while down their cheeks the torrents roll ;
But fix'd remains the purpose of his soul:
Resolved he stands, and, with a fiery glance.
Expects the hero's terrible advance.
So, roli'd up in his den, the swelling snake 130

Beholds the traveller approach the brake;
When, fed by noxious herbs, his turgid veins
Have gather'd half the poisons of the plains;


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He burns, he stiffens with collected ire,

And his red eye-balls glare with living fire. *

Beneath a turret, on his shield reclined,

He stood, and questioned thus his mighty mind:

** Where lies my way? To enter in the wall?
Honour and shame th' ungenerous thought recall :
Shall proud Polydamas before the gate 140

Proclaim his counsels are obey'd too late,
Which, timely follow'd but the former night,
What numbers had been saved by Hector's flight?
That wise advice, rejected with disdain,
I feel my folly in my people slain.
Methinks my suffering country's voice I hear.
But most her worthless sons insult my ear;
On my rash courage charge the chance of war.
And blame those virtues which they cannot share.
No: if I e'er return, return I must 150

Glorious, my country's terror laid in dust:
Or, if I perish, let her see me fall
In field at least, and fighting for her wall.
And yet, suppose these measures I forego.
Approach unarm'd, and parley with the foe.
The warrior-shield, the helm, and lance, lay down.
And treat on terms of peace to save the town:
The wife withheld, the treasure ill-detain'd
(Cause of the war, and grievance of the land),
With honourable justice to restore; 1(0

And add half Ilion's yet remaining store,
Which Troy shall sworn produce; that injured Greece
May share our wealth, and leave our walls in peace.
But why this thought? Unarm'd if I should go.
What hope of mercy from this vengeful foe,
But woman-like to fall, and fall without a blow?
We greet not here as man conversing man.
Met at an oak, or journeying o'er a plain ;
No season now for calm, familiar talk.
Like youths and maidens in an evening walk; 170

War is our business, but to whom is given
To die or triumph, that determine Heaven !"


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Thus pondering, like a god the Greek drew nigh,
His dreadful plumage nodded from on high;
The Pelian javelin, in his better hand,
Shot trembling rays, that glittered o'er the land ;
And on his breast the beamy splendours shone,
Like Jove's own lightning, or the rising sun.
As Hector sees, unusual terrors rise.
Struck by some god, he fears, recedes, and flies; 180

He leaves the gates, he leaves the viralls behind:
Achilles follows like the winged wind.
Thus at the panting dove a falcon flies
(The swiftest racer of the liquid skies);
Just when he holds, or thinks he holds, his prey,
Obliquely wheeling through th* atrial way.
With open beak and shrilling cries he springs.
And aims his claws and shoots upon his wings:
No less fore-right the rapid chase they held.
One urged by fury, one by fear impel'd; 19C

Now circling round the walls their course maintain.
Where the high watch-tower overlooks the plain:
Now where the fig-trees spread their umbrage broad
(A wider compass), smoke along the road.
Next by Scamander's double source they bound,
Where two famed fountains burst the parted ground:
This, hot through scorching clefts is seen to rise.
With exhalations steaming to the skies;
That, the green banks in summer's heat o'erflows,
Like crystal clear, and cold as winter's snows. 20C

Each gushing fount a marble cistern fills,
Whose polish'd bed receives the falling rills:
Where Trojan dames (ere yet alarm'd by Greece)
Wash'd their fair garments in the days of peace.
By these they pass'd, one chasing, one in flight:
(The m ghty fled, pursued by stronger might.)
Swift was the course; no vulgar prize they play,
No vulgar victim must reward the day,
^Such as in races crown the speedy strife,)
The prize contended was great Hector's life. 210


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As when some hero*s funerals are decreed,
In grateful honour of the mighty dead;
Where high reward the vigorous youth inflame
(Some golden tripod, or some lovely dame);
The panting coursers swiftly turn the goal,
And with them turns the raised spectator's soul:
Thus three times round the Trojan wall they fly:
The gazing gods lean forward from the sky;
To whom, while eager on the chase they look.
The sire of mortals and immortals spoke: 820

"Unworthy sight! the man beloved of Heaven,
Behold, inglorious, round yon city driven !
My heart partakes the generous Hector's pain ;
Hector, whose zeal whole hecatombs has slain.
Whose grateful fumes the gods receive with joy
From Ida's summits and the towers of Troy:
Now see him flying ! to his fears resigned,

Online LibraryHomerHomer's Iliad → online text (page 35 of 41)