Copyright
Homer.

Homer's Iliad online

. (page 5 of 41)
Online LibraryHomerHomer's Iliad → online text (page 5 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


And nodding Ilion waits th' impending fall. 40

Awake ! but, waking, this advice approve,
And trust the vision that descends from Jove."

The phantom said ; then vanish'd from his sight.
Resolves to air, and mixes with the night.
A thousand schemes the monarch's mind employ :
Elate in thought, he sacks untaken Troy ;
Vain as he was, and to the future blind :
Nor saw what Jove and secret fate design'd :
What mighty toils to either host remain.
What scenes of grief, and numbers of the slain ! 60

Eager he rises, and in fancy hears
The voice celestial murmuring in his ears.



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 45

Pirst on his liinbs a slender vest he drew,

Ai'ound him next the regal mantle threw,

Th' embroider'd saadals on his feet were tied:

The starry faulchion glitter'd at his side ;

At last his arm the massy sceptre loads,

UnstainM, immortal, and the gift of gods.

Now rosy mom ascends the court of Jove,

Lifts up her light, and opens day above. 60

The king despatched his heralds with commands

To range the camp, and summon all the bands:

The gathering hosts the monarch's word obey;

While to his fleet Atrides bends his way.

In his black ship the Pylian prince he found :

There calls a senate of the peers around :

Th* assembly placed, the king of men expressed

The counsels labouring in his artful breast

"Friends and confederates I with attentive ear
Receive my words, and credit what you hear. 70

Late as I slumber'd in the shades of night,
A dream divine appearM before my sight,
Whose visionary form like Nestor came,
The same in habit, and in mien the same.
The heavenly phantom hovered o'er my head,
*And dost thou sleep? oh, Atreus' sonT he said:
'111 fits a chief who mighty nations guides.
Directs in council, and in war presides,
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose. 80

Monarch, awake ! 'tis Jove's command I bear,
Thou and thy glory claim his heavenly care.
In just array draw forth th' embattled train,
And lead the Grecians to the dusty plain ;
Ev'n now, O king I 'tis given thee to destroy
The lofty towers of wide-extended Troy.
For now no more the gods with fate contend,
At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Uion waits the impending fall. 00

Digitized by CjOOQ IC



40 THE ILIAD, BOOK II.

This hear observant, and the gods obey !' —

The vision spoke, and pass'd in air away.

Now, valiant chiefs ! since Heaven itself alarms.

Unite, and touse the sons of Greece to arms.

But first with caution try what yet they dare,

Worn with nine years of unsuccessful war !

To move the troops to measure back the mcain, \

Be mine ; and yours the province to detain."

He spoke, and sat; when Nestor, rising, said
(Nestor, whom Pylos' sandy realms obey'd) : 100

"Princes of Greece, your faithful ears incline.
Nor doubt the vision of the powers divine ;
Sent by great Jove to him who rules the host,
Forbid it Heaven! this warning should be lost!
Then let us haste, obey the god's alarms.
And join to rouse the sons of Greece to arms."

Thus spoke the sage. The kings without delay
Dissolve the council, arid their cliief obey :
The sceptred rulers lead : the following host,
Pour'd forth by thousands, darkens all the coast. 110

As from some rocky cliff the shepherd sees
Clustering in heaps on heaps the dwing bees,
Rolling, and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms,
With deeper murmurs and more hoarse alarms ;
Dusky they spread, a close embodied crowd.
And o'er the vale descends the living cloud :
So, from the tents and ships, a lengthening train
Spreads all the beach, and wide o'ershades the plain:
Along the region runs a deafening sound ;
Beneath their footsteps groans the trembling ground: 12G
Fame flies before, the messenger of Jove,
And shining soars, and claps her wings above.
Nine sacred heralds now, proclaiming loud
The monarch's will, suspend the listening crowd.
Soon as the throngs in order ranged appear.
And fiiinter murmurs died upon the ear,
The king of kings his awful figure raised;
High in his hand the golden sceptre blazed :



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 47

The golden sceptre, of celestial frame,

By Vulcan form'd, from Jove to Hermes came: 180

To Pelops he th' immortal gift resigned ;

Th' immortal gift great Pelops left behind.

In Atreus' hand, which not with Atreus ends,

To rich Thyestes next the prize descends ;

And now the mark of Agpmemnon's reign

Subjects all Argos, and controls the main.

oil this bright sceptre now the king reclined,
And artful thus pronounced the speech design'd:
"Ye sons of Mars! partake your leader's care.
Heroes of Greece, and brothers of the war! 14^

Of partial Jove with justice I complain.
And heavenly oracles beHeved in vain.
A safe return was promised to our toils,
Renown'd, triumphant, and enrich'd with spoils ;
Now shameful flight alone can save the host,
Our blood, our treasure, and our glory lost.
So Jove decrees, resistless lord of all !
At whose command whole empires rise or fall :
He shakes the feeble props of human trust.
And towns and armies humbles to the dust. 150

What shame to Greece a fruitless war to wage.
Oh, lasting shame in every future age !
Once great in arms, the common scorn we grow,
Repulsed and baflled by a feeble foe.
So small their number, that, if wars were ceased.
And Greece triumphant held a general feast —
All ranked by tens — whole decads, when they dine,
Must want a Trojan slave to pour the wine.
But other forces have our hopes overthrown.
And Troy prevails by armies not her own. 160

Now nine long years of mighty Jove are run.
Since first the labours of this war begun.
Our cordage torn, decay'd our vessels lie,
And scarce insure the wretched power to fly.
Haste *then, for ever leave the Trojan wall!
Our weeping wives, our tender children call:



Digitized



by Google



i8 THE ILIAD, BOOK II.

Love, duty, safety, summon us away,

'Tis nature's voice, and nature we obey.

Our shattered bark may yet transport us o'er, '

Safe and inglorious, to our native shore. 17C

Fly, Grecians, fly ! your sails and oars employ,

And dream no more of heaven-defended Troy,**

His deep design unknown, th^ hosts approve
Atrides* speech. The mighty numbers move.
So roll the billows to the Icarian shore.
From east and south when winds begin to roar.
Burst their dark mansion in the clouds, and sweep
The whitening surface of the ruffled deep.
And as on com when western gusts descend.
Before the blast the lofty harvests bend; 180

Thus o'er the field -the moving host appears.
With nodding plumes and groves of waving spears.
The gathering murmur spreads, their trampling feet
Beat the loose sands, and thicken to the fleet.
With long-resounding cries they urge the train
To fit the ships, and launch into the main.
They toil, they sweat, thick clouds of dust arise,
The doubling clamours echo to the skies.
Ev'n then the Greeks had lefl the hostile plain.
And fate decreed the fall of Troy in vain; 190

But Jove's imperial queen their flight survey*d.
And, sighing, thus bespoke the blue-eyed maid :

^' Shall then the Grecians fly? O dire disgrace!
And leave unpunish'd this perfidious race? m

Shall Troy, shall Priam, and the adulterous spouse,
In peace enjoy the fi*uits of broken vows?
And bravest chiefs, in Helen's quarrel slain,
liie unrevenged on yon detested plain?
No let my Greeks, unmoved by vain alarms,
Once more refulgent shine in brazen arms. 300

Haste, goddess, haste I the flying host detain.
Nor let one sail be hoisted on the main."

Pallas obeys ; and from Olympus' height,
Swifl to the ships precipitates her flight:



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 49

UlysseSy first in public cares, she found.
For prudent council like the gods renown'd:
Oppress'd with generous grief the hero stood,
Nor drew his sable vessels to the flood:

^And is it thus, divine Laertes' son!
Thus fly the Greeks?" the martial maid begun ; 210

**Thus to their country bear their own disgrace,
And fame eternal leave to Priam's race?
Shall beauteous Helen still remain unfreed?
Still unrevenged a thousand heroes bleed?
Haste, generous Ithacus ! prevent the shame,
Recall your armies, and your chiefs reclaim.
Your own resistless eloquence employ,
And to th* immortals trust the fall of Troy."

The voice divine confessed the warlike maid,
Ulysses beard, nor uninspired obey'd : 220

Then meeting first Atrides, from his hand
Received the imperial sceptre of command.
Thus graced, attention and respect to gam.
He runs, he flies through all the Grecian train.
Each prince of name, or chief in arms approved,
He fired with praise, or with persuasion moved.

** Warriors like you, with strength and wisdom bless'd,
By brave examples should confirm the rest.
The monarch's will not yet revealed appears;
He tries our courage, but resents our fears. 230

Th* unwary Greeks his fury may provoke;
Not thus the king in secret council spoke.
Jove loves our chieli fi-om Jove his honour springs;
Beware ! for dreadfiil is the wrath of kings."

But if a clamorous, vile plebeian rose.
Him with reproof he checked, or tamed with blows.
^Be still, thou slave, and to thy betters yield !
Unknown alike in council and in field I
Ye gods, what dastards would our host command !
Swept to the war, the lumber of a land 1 2-10

Be silent, wretch I and think not here allow'd
That worst of tyrants, an usurping crowd.
3 D



Digitized



by Google



50 THE ILIAD. BOOK 11.

To one sole monarch Jove commits the sway ;
His are the laws, and him let all obey."

With words like these the troops Ulysses ruled ;
The loudest silenced, and the fiercest cool'd.
Back to th' assembly rolled the thronging train,
Desert the ships, and pour upon the plain.
Murmuring they move, as when old Ocean roars,
And heaves huge surges to the trembling shores: 25U
The groaning banks are burst with bellowing sound, .
The rocks remurmur, and the deeps rebound*
At length the tumult sinks, the noises cease.
And a still silence lulls the camp to peace.
Thersites only clamour'd in the throng,
Loquacious, loud, and turbulent of tongue:
Awed by no shame, by no respect controll'd.
In scandal busy, in reproaches bold :
With witty malice studious to defame:
Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim. 260

But chief he gloried, with licentious style,
To lash the great, and monarchs to revile.
His figure such as might his soul proclaim ;
One eye was blinking, and one leg was lame:
His mountain-shoulders half his breast o'erspread,
Thin hairs bestrew'd his long mis-shapen head.
Spleen to mankind his envious heart possess'd,
And much he hated all, but most the best.
Ulysses or Achilles still his theme:

But royal scandal his delight supreme. 370

Long had he lived the scorn of every Greek,
Vex'd when he spoke, yet still they heard him speak.
Sharp was his voice; which, in the shrillest tone,
Thus with injurious taunts attacked the throne:

** Amidst the glories of so bright a reign,
What moves the great Atrides to complain?
Tis thine whate'er the warrior's breast inflames,
The golden spoil, and thine the lovely dames.
With all the wealth our wars and blood bestow,
Thy tents are crowded, and thy chests o'erflow. 280



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 61

Thus at full ease in heaps of riches rolPd,

What grieves the monarch? Is it thirst of gold ?

Say, shall we march with our unconquer'd powers,

The Greeks and I, to Jlion's hostile towers,

And bring the race of royal bastai'ds here

For Troy to ransom at a price too dear?

But safer plunder thy own host supplies :

Say, would'st thou seize some valiant leaders prize ?

Or, if thy heart to generous love be led,

Some captive fair, to bless thy kingly bed? 290

Whatever our master craves, submit we must.

Plagued with his pride, or punish'd for his lust.

Oh, women of Achaia! men no more!

Hence let us fly, and let him waste his store

In loves and pleasures on the Phrygian shore.

We may be wanted on some busy day,

When Hector comes: so great Achilles may:

From him he forced the prize we jointly gave.

From him, the fierce, the fearless, and the brave:

And durst he, as he ought, resent that wrong, 300

This mighty tyrant were no tyrant long."

Fierce from his seat at this Ulysses sprinjgs,
In generous vengeance of the king of kings.
With indignation sparkling in his eyes.
He views the wretch, and sternly thus replies:

" Peace, factious monster ! born to vex the state,
With wrangling talents form'd for foul debate :
Curb that impetuous tongue ! nor, rashly vain
And singly mad, asperse the sovereign reign.
Have we not known thee, slave 1 of all our host, 810
The man who acts the least, upbraids the most ?
Think not the Greeks to shameful flight to brmg.
Nor let those lips profane the name of king.
For our return, we trust the heavenly powers ;
Be that their care ; to fight like men, be ours.
But grant the host with wealth the general load.
Except detraction, what hast thou bestowed ?
Suppose some hero should his spoils resign.
Art thou that hero ? — could those spoils be thine T

Digitized by CjOOQ IC



52 THE ILIAD, BOOK II.

Gods ! let me perish on this hateful shore, 320

And let these eyes behold my son no more,

IC on thy next offence, this hand forbear

To strip those arms thou ill deserv'gt to wear,

Expel the council where our princes meet,

And send thee scourged and howling through the fleet."

He said ; and, cowering as the dastard bends,
The weighty sceptre on his back descends :
On the round bunch the bloody tumours rise ;
The tears spring starting from his haggard eyes :
Trembling he sat, and shrunk in abject fears, 330

From his vile visage wipes the scalding tears.
While to his neighbour each expressed his thought :
* Ye gods ! what wonders has Ulysses wrought !
What fruits his conduct and his courage yield ;
Great in the council, glorious in the field !
Generous he rises in the crown's defence.
To curb the factious tongue of insolence.
Such just examples on offenders shown.
Seditions silence, and assert the throne.'

'Twas thus the general voice the hero praised, 340
Who, rising, high the imperial sceptre raised :
The blue-eyed Pallas, his celestial friend,
(In form a herald) bade the crowds attend.
Th' expecting crowds in still attention hung.
To hear the wisdom of his heavenly tongue.
Then, deeply thoughtful, pausing ere he spoke.
His silence thus the prudent hero broke :

** Unhappy monarch I whom the Grecian race.
With shame deserting, heap with vile disgrace.
Not such at Argos was their generous vow, 850

Once all their voice, but, ah ! forgotten now:
Ne'er to return, was then the common cry.
Till Troy's proud structures should in ashes lie.
Behold them weeping for their native shore !
What could their wives or helpless children more?
What heart but melts to leave the tender train.
And, one short month, endure the wintry main?



Digitized



by Google



• THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 53

Few leagues removed, we wish our peaceful seat,

When the ship tosses, and the tempests beat :

Then well may this long stay provoke their tears, 560

The odious length of nine revolving years.

Not for their grief the Grecian host I blame ;

But vanquished 1 baffled ! oh, eternal shame !

Expect the time to Troy's destruction given.

And try the fate of Calchas and of heaven.

What pass'd at Aulis, Greece can witness bear.

And all who live to breathe this Phrygian air.

Beside a fountain's sacred brink we raised

Our verdant altars, and the victims blazed ; 370

(Twas there the plane-tree spread its shades around,)

The altars heaved : and from the crumbling ground

A mighty dragon shot, of dire portent ;

From Jove himself the dreadful sign was sent.

Straight to the tree his sanguine spires he roll'd,

And curl'd around it many a winding fold.

The topmost branch a mother-bird possessed ;

Eight callow infants fiU'd the mossy nest ;

Herself the ninth ; the serpent, as he hung,

Stretch'd his black jaws, and crash'd the crying young ;

W^hile, hovering near, with miserable moan, 3S I

The drooping mother wail'd her children gone.

The mother last as round the nest she flew.

Seized by the beating wing, the monster slew ;

Nor long survived ; to marble tum'd, he stands

A lasting prodigy on Aulis' sands.

Such was the will of Jove ; and hence we dare

Trust in his omen, and support the war.

For while around we gazed with wondering eyes.

And, trembling, sought the powers with sacrifice,

Full of his god, the reverend Calchas cried : 300

* Ye Grecian warriors ! lay your fears aside.

This wondrous signal, Jove himself displays.

Of long, long labours, but eternal praise.

As many birds as by that snake were slain,

So many years the toils of Greece remain ;



Digitized



by Google



54 THE ILIAD, BOOK II. '

Bul wait the tenth, for Ilion's fall decreed.' —
Thus spoke the prophet, thus the fates succeed.
Obey, ye Grecians : with submission wait,
Nor let your flight avert the Trojan fate."

He said. The shores with loud applauses sound, 100
The hollow ships each deafening shout rebound.

Then Nestor thus: "These vain debates forbear.
Ye talk like children, not like heroes dare.
Where now are all your high resolves at last?
Your leagues concluded, your engagements past ?
Vow*d with libations and with victims then.
Now vanish'd like their smoke — ^the faith of men !
While useless words consume th' inactive hours,
No wonder Troy so long resists our powers.
Rise, great Atrides ! and with courage sway : UO

We march to war, if thou direct the way.
But leave the few that dare resist thy laws.
The mean deserters of the Grecian cause.
To grudge the conquest mighty Jove prepares,
And view with envy our successful wars.
On that great day when first the martial train.
Big with the fate of Ilion, ploughed the main ;
Jove, on the right, a prosperous signal sent,
And thunder rolling shook the firmament.
Encouraged hence, maintain the glorious strife, 120

Till every soldier grasp a Phrygian wife ;
Till Helen's woes at full revenged appear.
And Troy's proud matrons render tear for tear.
Before that day, if any Greek invite
His country's troops to base, inglorious flight ;
Stand forth that Greek ! and hoist his sail to fly,
And die the dastard first, who dreads to die.
But now, O monarq^i ! all thy chiefs advise ;
Nor what they offer, thou thyself despise.
Among those counsels let not mine be vain : 43C

In tribes and nations to divide thy train ;
His separate troops let every leader call.
Each strengthen each, and all encourage all.



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD. BOOK II. 55

What chief, or soldier, of the numerous band,
Or bravely fights, or ill obeys command,
When thus distinct they war, shall soon be known.
And what the cause of Ilion not o'erthrown ;
If fate resists, or if our aims> are slow,
If gods above prevent, or men below.**

To him the king : "How much thy years excel 44u
In arts of council, and in speaking well I
Oh I would the gods, in love to Greece, decree
But ten such sages as they grant in thee I
Such wisdom soon should Priam's force destroy,
And soon should fall the haughty towers of Troy !
But Jove forbids, who plunges those he hates
In fierce contention and in vain debates.
Now great Achilles from our aid withdraws.
By me provoked ; a captive maid the cause :
If e'er as friends we join, the Trojan wall 450

Must shake, and heavy will the vengeance fall.
But now, ye warriors, take a short repast ;
And, well refresh'dj to bloody conflict haste.
His sharpen'd spear let every Grecian wield.
And every Grecian fix his brazen shield ;
Let all excite the fiery steeds of war.
And all for combat fit the rattling car.
This day, this dreadful day, let each contend ;
No rest, no respite, till the shades descend ;
Till darkness, or till death, shall cover all, 400

Let the war bleed, and let the mighty fall ;
Till bathed in sweat be every manly breast.
With the huge shield each brawny arm depressed.
Each aching nerve refiise the lance to throw,
And each spent courser at the chariot blow.
Who dares, inglorious, in his ships to stay.
Who dares to tremble on this signal day.
That wretch, too mean to fall by martial power,
The birds shall mangle, and the dogs devour."

The monarch spoke ; and straight a murmur rose, 470
Loud as the surges when the tempest blows,



Digitized



by Google



56 THE ILIAD. BOOK 11.

Thai dash'd on broken rocks tumultuous roar,

And foam and thunder on the stony shore.

Straight to the tents the troops dispersing bend.

The fires are kindled, and the smokes ascend ;

With hasty feast they sacrifice, and pray *

T' avert the dangers of the doubtful day.

A steer of five years' age, large limb'd and fed.

To Jove's high altars Agamemnon led ;

There bade the noblest of the Grecian peers; 480

And Nestor first, as most advanced in years.

Next came Idomeneus, and Tydeus' son,

Ajax the less, and Ajax Telamonj

Then wise Ulysses in his rank was placed,

And Menelaus came unbid, the last.

The chiefs surround the destined beast, and take

The sacred offering of the salted cake ;

When thus the king prefers his solemn prayer :

" Oh thou 1 whose thunder rends the clouded air,
Who in the heaven of heavens hast fix'd thy throne 4DC
Supreme of gods I unbounded and alone !
Hear ! and before the buniing sun descends.
Before the night her gloomy veil extends.
Low in the dust be laid yon hostile spires.
Be Priam's palace sunk. in Grecian fires,
In Hector's breast be plunged this shining sword,
And slaughter'd heroes groan around their lord !"

Thus pray'd the chief. His unavailing prayer
Great Jove refused, and toss'd in empty a^r :
The god, averse, while yet the fiimes arose, 600

Prepared new toils, and doubled woes on woes.
Their prayers perform'd, the chiefs the rite pursue.
The barley sprinkled, and the victim slew.
The limbs they sever from th' inclosing hide.
The thighs, selected to the gods, divide.
On these, in double cauls involved with art.
The choicest morsels He from every part.
From the cleft wood the crackling flames aspire,
While the fat victim feeds the sacred fire.



Digitized



by Google



THE ILIAD, BOOK II. 5-7

The thighs thiis sacrificed, and entrails dress'd, 510

Th' assistants part, transfix, and roast the rest ;
Then spread the tables, the repast prepare,
Each takes his seat, and each receives his share.
Soon as the rage of hunger ^as suppressed,
The generous Nestor thus the prince addressed :

** Now bid thy heralds sound the loud alarms.
And call the squadrons sheath'd in brazen arms :
Now seize th' occasion, now the troops survey.
And lead to war when Heaven directs the way."

He said. The monarch issued his commands ; 520
Straight the loud heralds call the gathering bands.
The chiefs inclose their king ; the host divide.
In tribes and nations rank'd on either side.
High in the midst the blue-eyed virgin flies ;
From rank to rank she darts her ardent eyes :
The dreadful cegis, Jove's immortal shield.
Blazed on her arm, and lighten'd all the field :
Round the vast orb a hundred serpents roH'd,
Form'd the bright fringe, and seem'd to burn in gold.
With this each Grecian's manly breast she warms, 530
Swells their bold hearts, and strings their nervous arms ;
No more they sigh, inglorious, to return,
But breath revenge, and for the combat burn.
As on some mountain, through the lofty grove.
The crackling flames ascend, and blaze above.
The fires expanding, as the winds arise.
Shoot their long beams, and kindle half the skies:
So from the polish'd arms and brazen shields,
A gleamy splendour flash'd along the fields.
Not less their number than th' embodied cranes, 5 10

Or milk-white swans in Asius' wat'rj' plains.
That o'er the winding of Cayster's springs
Stretch their long necks, and clap their rusthng wings
Now tower_ aloft, and course in airy rounds ;
Now light with noise : with noise the field resounds.
Thus numerous and confused, extending wide.
The legions crowd Scamander's flowery side ;
3*



Digitized



by Google



58 THE ILIAD, BOOK II.

With rushing troops the plains are cover'd o'er,
And thundering footsteps shake the sounding shore.
Along the river's level meads they stand, 550

Thick as in spring the flowers adorn the land.
Or leaves the trees ; or thick as insects play,
The wandering nation of a summer's day,
That, drawn by milky steams at evening hours.
In gathered swarms surround the rural bowers ;
From pail to pail with busy murmur run



Online LibraryHomerHomer's Iliad → online text (page 5 of 41)