Homer's Iliad online

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And bid the forest fall (such rites are paid

To heroes slumbering in eternal shade).

Then, when his earthly part shall mount in fire,

Let the leagued squadrons to their posts retire."

He spoke; they hear him, and the word obey;
The rage of hunger and of thirst allay.
Then ease in sleep the labours of the day.
But great Pelides, stretched along the shore, 70

Where dash'd on rocks the broken billows roar.
Lies inly groaning; while on either hand
The martial Myrmidons confusedly stand.
Along the grass his languid members fall.
Tired with his chase around the Trojan wall :
Hush'd by the murmurs of the rolling deep,
At length he sinks in the soft arms of sleep.
When, lo! the shade, before his closing eyes,
Of sad Patroclus rose, or seem'd to rise;
In the same robe he living wore, he came; 80

In stature, voice, and pleasing look, the same.
The form familiar hover'd o'er his head:

**And sleeps Achilles?" thus the phantom said;
** Sleeps my Achilles, his Patroclus dead?
Living, I seem'd his dearest, tenderest care.
But now, forgot, I wander in the air.
Let my pale corse the rites of burial know.
And give me entrance in the realms below:
Till then the spirit finds no resting-place.
But here and there, th' unbodied spectres chase 90

The vagrant dead around the dark abode,
Forbid to cross th' irremeable flood.

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Now give thy hand : for to the farther shore

When once we pass, the soul leturns no more

When once the last funereal Ilames ascend,

No more shall meet Achilles and his friend;

No more our thoughts to those we loved make known.

Or quit the dearest, to converse alone.

Me fate has sever'd from the sons of earth.

The fate foredoom'd that waited from my birth: 100

Thee too it waits ; before the Trojan wall,

Ev'n great and godlike thou, art doom'd to fall.

Hear then ; and as in fate and love we join.

Ah, suffer that my bones may rest with thine !

Together have we lived ; together bred ;

One house received us, and one table fed:

That golden urn thy goddess-mother gave.

May mix our ashes in one common grave."

**And is it thou?" he answered: "to my sight
Once more retum'st thou from the realms of night? 110
Oh, more than brother! Think each office paid,
Whatever can rest a discontented shade ;
But grant one last embrace, unhappy boy!
Afford, at least, that melancholy joy.**

He said ; and with his longing arms essay'd
In vain to grasp the visionary shade ;
Like a thin smoke he sees the spirit fly,
And hears a feeble, lamentable cry.
Coniiised he wakes; amazement breaks the bands
Of golden sleep, and, starting from the sands, 120

Pensive he muses with uplifted hands:

"'Tis true, 'tis certain; man, though dead, retains
Part of himself; th* immortal mind remains:
The form subsists without the body's aid,
Aerial semblance, and an empty shade 1
This night my friend, so late In battle lost.
Stood at my side, a pensive, plaintive ghost ;
Ev'n now familiar, as in life, he came,
Alas I how different, yet how like the same P'

Thus while he spoke, each eye grew big with tears : 1 30
And now the rosy-finger'd Mom appears,


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Shows every mournful face, with tears o'erspread,
And glares on the pale visage of the dead.
But Agamemnon, as the rites demand,
With mules and wagons sends a chosen band,
To load -the timber and the pile to rear;
A charge consign'd to Merion's faithful care.
With proper instruments they take the road.
Axes to cut, and ropes to sling the load.
First march the heavy mules, securely slow, 140

O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks, they go:
Jumping, high o'er the shrubs of the rough ground,
Rattle the clattering cars, and the shock'd axles bound.
But when arrived at Ida's spreading woods,
(Fair Ida, water'd with descending floods,)
Loud sounds the axe, redoubling strokes on strokes;
On all sides round the forest hurls her oaks
Headlong. Deep-echoing groan the thickets brown :
Then rustling, crackling, crashing, thunder down.
The wood the Grecians cleave, prepared to bum; 150
And the slow mules the «ame rough road return.
The sturdy woodmen equal burdens bore
(Such charge was given them) to the sandy shore;
There, on the spot which great Achilles show'd.
They eased their shoulders, and disposed the load ;
T])ircling around the place, where times to come
Shall view Patroclus' and Achilles' tomb.
The hero bids his martial troops appear,
High on their cars, in all the pomp of war;
Each in refulgent arms his limbs attires, ] 60

All mount their chariots, combatants and squires.
The chariots first proceed, a shining train ;
Then clouds of foot, that smoke along the plain;
Next these a melancholy band appear.
Amidst, lay dead Patroclus on the bier:
O'er all the corse their scatter'd locks they throw.
Achilles next, oppress'd with mighty wo,
Supporting with his hand the hero's head,
Bends o'er th' extended body of the dead.


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Patroclus decent on th' appointed ground 170

They placed, and heap the sylvan pile around.

But great Achilles stands apart in prayer.

And from his head divides the yellow hair;

Those curling locks, which from his youth he vow'd,

And sacred grew, to Sperchius' honoured flood :

Then, sighing, to the deep his locks he cast.

And roird his eye around the watery waste:

"Sperchius! whose waves in mazy errors lost,
Delightful roll along my native coast!
To whom we vainly vow'd, at our return, 18C

These locks to fall, and hecatombs to bum;
Full fifty rams to bleed in sacrifice,
Where to the day thy silver fountains rise,
And where, in shade of consecrated bowers.
Thy altars stand, perfumed with native flowers :
So vow'd my father, but he vow'd in vain :
No more Achilles sees his native plain.
In that vain hope, these hairs no longer grow;
Patroclus bears them to the shades below."

Thus o'er Patroclus while the hero pray'd, 100

On his cold hand the sacred locks he laid.
Once more afresh the Grecian sorrows flow;
And now the sun had set upon their wo;
But to the king of men thus spoke the chief:

"Enough, Atrides! give the troops relief:
Permit the mourning legions to retire,
And let the chiefs alone attend the pjrre;
The pious care be ours the dead to bum."

He said: the people to their ships return; 200

While those deputed to inter the slain,
Heap with a rising pyramid the plain.
A hundred foot in length, a hundred wide,
The growing structure spreads on every side:
High on the top the manly corse they lay,
And well-fed sheep, and sable oxen slay:
Achilles cover'd with their fat the dead.
And the piled victims round the body spread;


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Then jars of honey, and of fragrant oil,

Suspends around, low-bending o'er the pile. 210

Four sprightly coursers, with a deadly groan,

Pour forth their lives, and on the pyre are thrown.

Of nine large dogs, domestic at his board.

Fall two, selected to attend their lord.

Then last of all, and horrible to tell.

Sad sacrifice ! twelve Trojan captives fell.

On these the rage of fire victorious preys.

Involves and joins them in one common blaze.

Smear'd with the bloody rites, he stands on high,

And calls the spirit, with a dreadful cry:

"All hail, Patroclus! let thy vengeful ghost 220

Hear and exult, on Pluto's dreary coast.
Behold, Achilles' promise fully paid,
Twelve Trojan heroes offer'd to thy shade.
But heavier fates on Hector's corse attend.
Saved from the flames for hungry dogs to rend."

So spake he, threatening! but the gods made vain
His threat, and guard inviolate the slain;
Celestial Venus hover'd o'er his head.
And roseate unguents, heavenly fi'agrance shed :
She watch'd him all the night, and all the day, 230

And drove the blood-hounds from their destined prey.
Nor sacred Phoebus less employ'd his care:
He pour'd around a veil of gather'd air.
And kept the nerves undried, the flesh entire,
Against the solar beam and Sirian fire.

Nor yet the pile, where dead Patroclus lies,
Smokes, nor as yet the sullen flames arise;
But fast beside, Achilles stood in prayer.
Invoked the gods whose spirit moves the air,
And victims promised, and libations cast, 240

To gentle Zephyr and the Boreal blast:
He caird th' aerial powers, along the skies
To breathe, and whisper to the fires to rise.
The winged Iris heard the hero's call.
And instant hastened to their airy hall,


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Where, in old Zephyr's open courts on high.

Sat all the blustering brethren of the sky.

She shone amidst them, on her painted bow;

The rocky pavement glitter'd with the show.

All from the banquet rise, and each invites 250

The various goddess to partake the rites.

"Not so,** the dame replied; "I haste to go
To sacred Ocean and the floods below:
Ev'n now our solemn hecatombs attend.
And Heaven is feasting on the world's green end,
With righteous iEthiops (uncorrupted train !)
Far on th' extremest limits of the main.
But Peleus' son entreats, with sacrifice,
The Western Spirit, and the North, to rise;
Let on Patroclus' pile your blast be driven, 260

And bear the blazing honours high to heaven."

Swift as the word, she vanished from their view;
Swift as the word, the winds tumultuous flew;
Forth burst the stormy band with thundering roar.
And heaps on heaps the clouds are toss'd before.
To the wide main then stooping from the skies.
The heaving deeps in watery mountains rise:
Troy feels the blast along her shaking walls,
Till on the pile the gather'd tempest falls.
The structure crackles in the roaring fires, 270

And all the night the plenteous flame aspires;
All night Achilles hails Patroclus' soul.
With large libations fi'om the golden bowl.
As a poor father, helpless and undone.
Mourns o'er the ashes of an only son,
Takes a sad pleasure the last bones to bum.
And pour in tears, ere yet they close the urn:
So stay'd Achilles, circling round the shore.
So watch'd the flames, till now they flame no more.
'Twas when, emerging through the shades of night, 28C
The morning planet told th' approach of light;
And fast behind, Aurora's warmer ray
O'er the broad ocean pour'd the golden day:


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Then sunk the blaze, the pile no longer burn'd,
And to their' caves the whistling winds returned;
Across the Thracian seas their course they bore;
The ruffled seas beneath their passage roar.

Then parting from the pile, he ceased to weep,
And sunk to quiet in th' embrace of sleep,
Exhausted with his grief. Meanwhile, the crowd 290
Of thronging Grecians round Achilles stood ;
The tumult waked him: from his eyes he shook
Unwilling slumber, and the chiefs bespoke:

"Ye kings and princes of th' Achaian name:
First let us quench the yet-remaining flame
With sable wine: then (as the rites direct)
The hero's bones with careful view select:
(Apart, and easy to be known, they lie,
Amidst the heap, and obvious to the eye:
The rest around the margin will be seen 800

Promiscuous, steeds and immolated men.)
These, wrapp'd in double cawls of fat, prepare;
And in the golden vase dispose with care:
There let them rest, with decent honour laid,
Till I shall follow to th' infernal shade.
Meantime, erect the tomb with pious hands,
A common structure on the humble sands;
Hereafter Greece some nobler work may raise,
And late posterity record our praise."

The Greeks obey; where yet the embers glow 810
Wide o'er the pile the sable wine they throw,
And deep subsides the ashy heap below.
Next the white bones his sad companions place.
With tears collected, in the golden vase.
The sacred relics to the tent they bore:
The um a veil of linen cover'd o'er.
That done, they bid the sepulchre aspire,
And cast the deep foundations round the pyre;
High in the midst they heap the swelling bed
Of rising earth, memorial of the dead. 820

The swarming populace tlie chief detains,
And leads amidst a wide extent of plains;

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There placed them round: then from the ships proceeds

A train of oxen, mules, and stately steeds,

Vases and tripods (for the funeral games),

Resplendent brass, and more resplendent dames.

First stood the prizes to reward the force

Of rapid racers in the dusty course;

A woman for the first, in beauty's bloom,

Skiird in the needle and the labouring loom: 33(1

And a large vase, where two bright handles rtee,

Of twenty measures its capacious size.

The second victor claims a mare unbroke.

Big with a mule, unknowing of the yoke:

The third a charger yet untouch'd by flame;

Four ample measures held the shining frame:

Two golden talents for the fourth were placed.

An ample double bowl contents the last.

These in fair order ranged upon the plain,

The hero, rising, thus address'd the train:' 840

"Behold the prizes, valiant Greeks! decreed
To the brave rulers of the racing steed;
Prizes which none beside ourself could gain,
Should our immortal coursers take the plain,
(A race unrivaled, which from Ocean's god
Peleus received, and on his son bestow'd.)
But this no time our vigour to display;
Nor suit with them the games of this sad day;
Lost is Patroclus now, that wont to deck
Their flowing manes, and sleek their glossy neck
Sad, as they shared in human grie^ they stand, 850

And trail those graceful honours on the sand;
Let others for the noble task prepare,
Who trust the courser and the flying car."

Fired at his word, the rival racers rise:
But far the first, Eumelus, hopes the prize.
Famed through Pieria for the fleetest breed.
And skill'd to manage the high-bounding steed.
With equal ardour bold Tydides swell'd.
The steeds of Tros beneath his yoke compelled, 860

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(Which late obey'd the Dardan chiefs command,

When scarce a god redeemed him from his hand.)

Then Menelaiis his Podargus brings,

And the famed courser of the king of kings:

Whom rich Echepolus (more rich than brave).

To 'scape the wars, to Agamemnon gave

(iEthe her name), at home to end his da)'s;

Base wealth preferring to eternal praise.

Next him Antilochus demands the course.

With beating heart, and cheers his Pylian horse. 370

Experienced Nestor gives his son the reins,

Directs his judgment, and his heat restrains;

Nor idly warms the hoary sire, nor hears

The prudent son with unattending ears.

"My son! though youthful ardour fire thy breast,
The gods have loved thee, and with arts have bless'd
Neptune and Jove on thee conferred the skill
Swift round the goal to turn the flying wheel.
To guide thy conduct, little precept needs;
But slow, and past their vigour, are my steeds. 880

Fear not thy rivals, though for swiftness known;
Compare those rivals' judgment and thy own:
It is not stiength, but art, obtains the prize.
And to be swift is less than to be wise.
'Tis more by art than force of numerous strokes,
The dextrous woodman shapes the stubborn oaks;
By art the pilot through the boiling deep
And howling tempest, steers the fearless ship;
And 'tis the artist wins the glorious course,
Not those who trust in chariots and in horse. 300

In vain, unskilful to the goal they strive.
And short or wide, th' ungovern'd courser drive:
While with sure skill, though with inferior steeds,
The knowing racer to his end proceeds:
Fix'd on the goal, his eye foreruns the course,
His hand unerring steers the steady horse,
And now contracts and now extends the rein,
Observing still tne loremost on the plain.


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Mark then the goal; 'tis easy to be found;'

Yon aged trunk, a cubit from the ground ; 4()0

Of some once stately oak the last remains,

Or hardy fir, unperish'd with the rains:

Enclosed with stones, conspicuous from afar;

And round a circle for the wheeling car

(Some tomb, perhaps, of old, the dead to grace;

Or then, as now, the limit of a race):

Bear close to this, and warily proceed,

A little bending to the left-hand steed.

But urge the right, and give him all the reins.

While thy strict hand his fellow's head restrains, 410

And turns him short; till, doubling as they roll,

The wheel's round naves appear to brush the goal.

Yet (not to break the car, or lame the horse,)

Clear of the stony heap direct the course:

Lest, through incaution failing, thou may'st be

A joy to others, a reproach to me.

So shalt thou pass the goal, secure of mind.

And leave unskilful swiftness far behind;

Though thy fierce rival drove the matchless steed

Which bore Adrastus, of celestial breed ; 420

Or the famed race, through all the regions known.

That whirl'd the car of proud Laomedon."

Thus (nought unsaid) the much-advising sage
Concludes; then sate, stiff with unwieldy age.
Next bold Meriones was seen to rise,
The last, but not least ardent for the prize.
They mount their seats; the lots their place dispose:
(Roird in his helmet, these Achilles throws.)
Young Nestor leads the race: Eumelus then;
And next the brother of the king of men. 430

Thy lot, Meriones, the fourth was cast;
And far the bravest, Diomed, was last.
They stand in order, an impatient train;
Pelides points the barrier on the plain.
And sends before old Phcenix to the place,
To mark the racers, and to judge the rac3.


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At once the coursers from the barrier bound;
The lifted scourges all at once resound ;
Their heart, their eyes, their voice, they send before,
And up the champaign thunder from the shore: 440

Thick, where they drive, the dusty clouds arise.
And the lost courser in the whirlwind flies;
Loose on their shoulders the long manes, reclined.
Float in their speed, and dance upon the wind:
The smoking chariots, rapid as they bound,
Now seem to touch the sky, and now the ground.
While hot for fame, and conquest all their care,
(Each o'er his flying courser hung in air,)
Erect with ardour, poised upon the rein.
They pant, they stretch, they shout along the plain.
Now the last compass fetch'd around the goal, 460

At the near prize each gathers all his soul;
Each burns with double hope, with double pain,
Tears up the shore, and thunders tow'rd the main.
First flew Eumelus on Pheretian steeds;
With those of Tros bold Diomed succeeds ;
Close on Eumelus' back they puS" the wind.
And seem just mounting on his car behind ;
Full on his neck he feels the sultry breeze.
And, hovering o'er, their stretching shadow sees. 460
Then had he lost, or left a doubtful prize:
But. angry Phcebus to Tydides flies,
Strikes from his hand the scourge, and renders vain
His matchless horses' labour on the plain.
Rage fills his eye with anguish to survey,
Snatch'd from his hope, the glories of the day.
The fraud celestial Pallas sees with pain,
Springs to her knight, and gives the scourge again.
And fills his steeds with vigour. At a stroke.
She breaks his rival's chariot from the yoke; 470

No more their way the startled horses held ;
The car reversed came rattling on the field ;
Shot headlong from his seat, beside the wheel,
Prone on the dust th' unhappy master fell;


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His batter'd face and elbows strike the ground ;

Nose, mouth, and front, one undistinguishM wound:

Grief stops his voice, a torrent drowns his eyes;

Before him far the glad Tydides flies;

Minerva's spirit drives his matchless pace.

And crowns him victor of the labour'd race. 480

The next, though distant, Menelaus succeeds;
While thus young Nestor animates his steeds:
**Now, now, my generous pair, exert your force;
Not that we hope to match Tydides' horse,
Since great Minerva wings their rapid way,
And gives their lord the honours of the day.
But rich Atrides! shall his mare out-go
Your swiftness, vanquish'd by a female foe?
Through your neglect, if, lagging oa the plain,
The last ignoble gift be all we gain, 400

No more shall Nestor's hand your food supply,
The old man's fury rises, and ye die.
Haste then; yon narrow road before our sight
Presents th' occasion, could we use it right."

Thus he. The coursers, at their master's threat.
With quicker steps the sounding champaign beat.
And now Antilochus with nice survey
Observes the compass of the hollow way.
'Twas where by force of wintry torrents torn.
Fast by the road a precipice was worn ;
Here, where but one could pass to shun the throng, 600
The Spartan hero's chariot smoked along.
Close up the venturous youth resolves to keep.
Still edging near, and bears him tow'rd the steep.
Atrides, trembling, casts his eye below.
And wonders at the rashness of his foe.

"Hold ! stay your steeds! What madness thus to ride
This narrow way: take larger field," he cried,
**0r both must fall." Atrides cried in vain;
He flies more fast, and throws up all the rein. 510

Far as an able arm the disc can send.
When youthful rivals their full force extend,


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Bo far, Antilochus I thy chariot flew

Before the king: he, cautious, backward drew

His horse compeFd ; foreboding in his fears

The rattling ruin of the clashing cars.

The floundering coursers rolling on the plain.

And conquest lost, through frantic haste to gain;

But thus upbraids his rival as he flies:

"Go, furious youth! ungenerous and unwise! 620

Go, but expect not I'll the prize resign;
Add perjury to fraud, and make it thine.**
Then to his steeds with all his force he cries:
•^Be swift, be vigorous, and regain the prize!
Your rivals, destitute of youthful force.
With fainting knees shall labour in the course.
And yield the glory yours." — The steeds obey;
Already at their heels they wing their way.
And seem already to retrieve the day.
Meantime, the Grecians, in a ring, beheld 630

The coursers bounding o'er the dusty field.
The first who mark'd them was the Cretan king:
High, on a rising ground, above the ring.
The monarch sate; from whence, with sure survey,
He well observed the chief who led the way.
And heard, from far, his animating cries ;
And saw the foremost steed with sharpened eyes;
On whose broad front a blaze of shining white.
Like the full moon, stood obvious to the sight.
He saw; and, rising, to the Greeks begun: 640

"Are yonder horse discerned by me alone?
Or can ye all another chief survey,
And other steeds, than lately led the way?
Those, though the swiftest, by some god withheld,
Lie, sure disabled, in the middle field:
For, since the goal they doubled, round the plain
I search to find them, but I search in vain.
Perchance the reins forsook the driver's hand,
And, tum'd too short, he tumbled on the strand.
Shot from the chariot; while his coursers stray 650

With frantic fury from the destined way

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Rise then some other, and inform my sight;
For these dim eyes, perhaps, discern not right.
Yet sure he seems (to judge by shape and air)
The great iEtolian chief, renown 'd in war.**

"Old man!" Oileus rashly thus replies,
"Thy tongue too hastily confers the prize;
Of those who view the course, not sharpest eyed
Nor youngest, yet the readiest to decide.
Eumelus* steeds, high-bounding in the chaae, 56C

Still, as at first, unrival'd lead the race:
I well discern him as he shakes the rein.
And hear his shouts victorious o'er the plain."

Thus he. Idomeneus, incensed, rejoin'd:
"Barbarous of words! and arrogant of mind!
Contentious prince, of all the Greeks beside
The last in merit, as the first in pride!
To vile reproach what answer can we make?
A goblet, or a tripod let us stake.

And be the king the judge. The most unwise 670

Will learn their rashness, when they pay the price."

He said: and Ajax, by mad passion borne.
Stem had replied; fierce scorn, enhancing scorn,
To fell extremes ; but Thetis' god-like son
Awful amidst them rose, and thus begun :

"Forbear, ye chiefs! reproachful to contend;
Much would you blame, should others thus offend :
And, lo! th' approaching steeds your contest end."

No sooner had he spoke, but, thundering near,
Drives through a stream of dust the charioteer. 580

High o'er his head the circling lash he wields;
His bounding horses scarcely touch the fields:
His car amidst the dusty whirlwind roll'd,
Bright with the mingled blaze of tin and gold.
Refulgent through the cloud: no eye could find
The track his flying wheels had left behind:
And the fierce coursers urged their rapid pace
So swift, it seem'd a flight, and not a race.

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