Pope's translation of Homer's Iliad, books I, VI, XXII, XXIV; online

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100 Who dies in youth and vigor dies the best,



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 rev'rend lineaments deform,
105 And pour to dogs the life-blood scarcely warm ;

This, this is misery ! the last, the worst,

That man can feel, man, fated to be curst ! "
He said, and acting what no words could say,

Rent from his head the silver locks away.
110 With him the mournful mother bears a part ;

Yet all their sorrows turn not Hector's heart :

The zone unbrac'd, her bosom she displayed ;

And thus, fast-falling the salt tears, she said :

" Have mercy on me, my son ! revere
115 The words of age ; attend a parent's pray'r !

If ever thee in these fond arms I prest,

Or still'd thy infant clamours at this breast,

Ah ! do not thus our helpless years forego,

But, by our walls secur'd, repel the foe.
120 Against his rage if singly thou proceed,

Shouldst thou (but heav'n avert it !) shouldst thou bleed,

Nor must thy corse lie honoured on the bier,

Nor spouse, nor mother, grace thee with a tear ;

Far from our pious rites, those dear remains
125 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 ;

Resolv'd he stands, and with a fiery glance

Expects the hero's terrible advance.
130 So, roll'd up in his den, the swelling snake

Beholds the traveller approach the brake,

When, fed with noxious herbs, his turgid veins

Have gather'd half the poisons of the plains ;

He burns, he stiffens with collected ire,
135 And his red eye-balls glare with living fire.



Beneath a turret, on his shield reclin'd,

He stood, and question'd thus his mighty mind :

" Where lies my way ? to enter in the wall ?
Honour and shame th' ungen'rous thought recall :

140 Shall proud Polydamas before the gate
Proclaim, his counsels are obeyed too late,
Which timely .folio wM but the former night,
What numbers had been saved by Hector's flight ?
That wise advice rejected with disdain,

145 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.

150 No ! If I e'er return, return I must

Glorious, my country's terror laid in dust :
Or if I perish, let her see my fall
In field at least, and fighting for her wall.
And yet suppose these measures I forego,

155 Approach unarm'd, and parly 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),

IGO With honourable justice to restore ;

And add half Ilion's yet remaining store,
Which Troy shall, sworn, produce; that injur'd Greece
May share our wealth, and leave our walls in peace.
But why this thought ? Unarm'd if I should go,

165 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,

170 Like youths and maidens in an ev'ning walk :


War is our business, but to whom is giv'n
To die or triumph, that determine heav'n ! "

Thus pond'ring, like a god the Greek drew nigh :.-,-<
His dreadful plumage nodded from on high ;

175 The Pelian jav'lin, in his better hand.

Shot trembling rays that glitter'd o'er the land ;
And on his breast the beamy splendors shone
Like Jove's own lightning, or the rising sun.
As Hector sees, unusual terrors rise,

180 Struck by some god, he fears, recedes, and flies.
He leaves the gates, he leaves the walls behind ;
Achilles follows like the winged wind.
Thus at the panting dove a falcon flies
(The swiftest racer of the liquid skies),

185 Just when he holds, or thinks he holds, his prey,
Obliquely wheeling through th' aerial 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,

UK) One urg'd by fury, one by fear impell'd ;

Now circling round the walls their course maintain,
Where the high watch-tow'r overlooks the plain ;
Now where the fig-trees spread their umbrage broad
(A wider compass), smoke along the road.

195 Next by Scamander's double source they bound,
Where two fam'd 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,

200 Like crystal clear, and cold as winter snows.
Each gushing fount a marble cistern fills,
Whose polish'd bed receives the falling rills;
Where Trojan dames (e'er yet alarm'd by Greece)
Wash'd their fair garments in the days of peace.

205 By these they past, one chasing, one in flight


(The mighty 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) :

210 The prize contended was great Hector's life.
As when some hero's fun'rals are decreed,
In grateful honour of the mighty dead,
Where high rewards the vig'rous youth inflame
(Some golden tripod or some lovely dame),

215 The panting coursers swiftly turn the goal,
And with them turns the rais'd spectator's soul :
Thus three times round the Trojan wall they fly ;
Th,e gazing gods lean forward from the sky :
To whom, while eager on the chase they look,

220 The sire of mortals and immortals spoke :

" Unworthy sight ! the man belov'd of heav'n,
Behold, inglorious round yon' city driv'n !
My heart partakes the gen'rous Hector's pain ;
Hector, whose zeal whole hecatombs has slain,

225 Whose grateful fumes the gods receiv'd with joy,
From Ida's summits and the towers of Troy :
Now see him flying ! to his fears resign'd,
And Fate and fierce Achilles close behind.
Consult, ye pow'rs ('tis worthy your debate)

230 Whether to snatch him from impending fate,
Or let him bear, by stern Pelides slain
(Good as he is), the lot impos'd on man ? "

Then Pallas thus : " Shall he whose vengeance forms
The forky bolt, and blackens heav'n with storms,

235 Shall he prolong one Trojan's forfeit breath !
A man, a mortal, pre-ordain'd to death !
And will no murmurs fill the courts above,
No gods indignant blame their partial Jove ? "
" G-o then " (return'd the. sire), " without delay ;

240 Exert thy will : I give the fates their way."


Swift at the mandate pleas'd Tritonia flies.
And stoops impetuous from the cleaving skies.

As thro 7 the forest, o'er the vale and lawn,
The well-breath' d beagle drives the flying fawn :

245 In vain he tries the covert of the brakes,

Or deep beneath the trembling thicket shakes :
Sure of the vapour in the tainted dews,
The certain hound his various maze pursues.
Thus step by step, where'er the Trojan wheePd,

250 There swift Achilles compass'd round the field.
Oft 7 as to reach the Dardan gates he bends,
And hopes th' assistance of his pitying friends
(Whose show'ring arrows, as he cours'd below,
From the high turrets might oppress the foe),

255 So oft' Achilles turns him to the plain :
He eyes the city, but he eyes in vain.
As men in slumbers seem with speedy pace
One to pursue and one to lead the chase,
Their sinking limbs the fancied course forsake,

200 1ST or this can fly, nor that can overtake :
No less the laboring heroes pant and strain,
While that but flies, and this pursues, in vain.
What god, Muse ! assisted Hector's force,
With fate itself so long to hold the course ?

265 Phoebus it was : who, in his latest hour,

Endu'd his knees with strength, his nerves with pow'r.
And great Achilles, lest some Greek's advance
Should snatch the glory from his lifted lance,
Sign'd to the troops to yield his foe the way,

270 And leave untouch'd the honours of the day.

Jove lifts the golden balances, that show
The fates of mortal men and things below :
Here each contending hero's lot he tries,
And weighs, with equal hand, their destinies.

275 Low sinks the scale surcharged with Hector's fate ;


Heavy with death it sinks, and hell receives the


Then Phoebus left him. Fierce Minerva flies
To stern Pelides, and, triumphing, cries :
" lov'd of Jove ! this day our labours cease,

280 And conquest blazes with full beams on Greece.
Great Hector falls ; that Hector, fam'd so far,
Drunk with renown, insatiable of war,
Falls by thy hand, and mine ! nor force nor flight
Shall more avail him nor his god of light.

285 See, where in vain he supplicates above,
Koll'd at the feet of unrelenting Jove !
Eest here : myself will lead the Trojan on,
And urge to meet the fate he cannot shun."
Her voice divine the chief with joyful mind

290 Obeyed, and rested, on his lance reclin'd,
While like De'iphobus the martial dame
(Her face, her gesture, and her arms the same),
In show an aid, by hapless Hector's side
Approach 7 d, and greets him thus with voice belied :

295 " Too long, '0 Hector ! have I borne the sight
Of this distress, and sorrowed in thy flight :
It fits us now a noble stand to make,
And here, as brothers, equal fates partake."

Then he : "0 prince ! allied in blood and fame,

300 Dearer than all that own a brother's name ;
Of all that Hecuba to Priam bore,

Long tried, long lov'd ; much lov'd, but honoured more !
Since you, of all our numerous race, alone
Defend my life, regardless of your own."

305 Again the goddess : " Much my father's pray'r,
And much my mother's, prest me to forbear :
My friends embrac'd my knees, adjur'd my stay,
But stronger love impell'd, and I obey.
Come, then, the glorious conflict let us try,


310 Let the steel sparkle and the jav'lin fly ;

Or let us stretch Achilles on the field,

Or to his arm our bloody trophies yield."

Fraudful she said ; then swiftly march'd before ;

The Dardan hero shuns his foe no more.
315 Sternly they met. The silence Hector broke ;

His dreadful plumage nodded as he spoke :
" Enough, son of Peleus ! Troy has view'd

Her walls thrice circled, and her chief pursu'd.

But now some god within me bids me try
3 4 20 Thine or my fate : I kill thee, or I die.

Yet on the verge of battle let us stay,

And for a moment's space suspend the day :

Let heavVs high pow'rs be call'd to arbitrate

The just conditions of this stern debate.
325 (Eternal witnesses of all below,

And faithful guardians of the treasured vow !)

To them I swear : if, victor in the strife,

Jove by these hands shall shed thy noble life,

No vile dishonour shall thy corse pursue ;
>30 Stripped of its arms alone (the conqu'ror's due),

The rest to Greece uninjured I'll restore :

Now plight thy mutual oath, I ask no more."
u Talk not of oaths " (the dreadful chief replies,

While anger flashed from his disdainful eyes),
335 Detested as thou art and ought to be,

Nor oath nor pact Achilles plights with thee ;

Such pacts as lambs and rabid wolves combine,

Such leagues as men and furious lions join,

To such I call the gods ! one constant state
340 Of lasting rancour and eternal hate :

No thought but rage and never-ceasing strife,

Till death extinguish rage, and thought, and life.

Rouse then thy forces this important hour,

Collect thy, soul, and call forth all thy pow'r.


845 No farther subterfuge, no farther chance ;
'Tis Pallas, Pallas gives thee to my lance.
Each Grecian ghost by thee deprived of breath,
Now hovers round, and calls thee to thy death."
He spoke, and lanch'd his jav'lin at the foe ;

350 But Hector shun'd the meditated blow ;

He stoop'd, while o'er his head the flying spear
Sung innocent, and spent its force in air.
Minerva watch' d it falling on the land,
Then drew, and gave to great Achilles' hand,

355 Unseen of Hector, who, elate with joy,

Now shakes his lance, and braves the dread of Troy.

" The life you boasted to that jav'lin giv'n,
Prince ! you have mist. My fate depends on heav'n.
To thee (presumptuous as thou art) unknown

360 Or what must prove my fortune or thy own.
Boasting is but an art, our fears to blind,
And with false terrors sink another's mind.
But know, whatever fate I am to try,
By no dishonest wound shall Hector die ;

3r>5 I shall not fall a fugitive at least,

My soul shall bravely issue from my breast.
But first, try thou my arm ; and may this dart
End all my country's woes, deep buried in thy heart !
The weapon flew, its course unerring held ;

370 Unerring, but the heav'nly shield repell'd
The mortal dart ; resulting with a bound
From off the ringing orb, it struck the ground.
Hector beheld his jav'lin fall in vain,
Nor other lance nor other hope remain ;

375 He calls Dei'phobus, demands a spear,
In vain, for no Dei'phobus was there.
All comfortless he stands : then with a sigh :
" 'Tis so heaven wills it, and my hour is nigh !
I deem'd De'iphobus had heard my call,


380 But he secure lies guarded in the wall.

A god deceived me ; Pallas, 'twas thy deed.

Death and black fate approach ! 'Tis I must bleed.

No refuge now, no succour from above,

Great Jove deserts me, and the son of Jove,
385 Propitious once and kind ! Then welcome fate !

'Tis true I perish, yet I perish great :

Yet in a mighty deed I shall expire,

Let future ages hear it, and admire ! "

Fierce, at the word, his weighty sword he drew,
390 And, all collected, on Achilles flew.

So Jove's bold bird, high-balanc'd in the air,

Stoops from the clouds to truss the quiv'ring hare.

Nor less Achilles his fierce soul prepares ;

Before his breast the flaming shield he bears,
3<J5 Refulgent orb ! Above his fourfold cone

The gilded horsehair sparkled in the sun,

Nodding at ev'ry step (Vulcauian frame !) ;

And as he mov'd, his figure seem'd on flame.

As radiant Hesper shines with keener light,
400 Far-beaming o'er the silver host of night,

When all the starry train emblaze the sphere :

So shone the point of great Achilles' spear.

In his right hand he waves the weapon round,

Eyes the whole man, and meditates the wound ;
405 But the rich mail Patroclus lately wore

Securely cas'd the warrior's body o'er.

One place at length he spies, to let in fate,

Where 'twixt the neck and throat the jointed plate

Gave entrance : through that penetrable part
410 Furious he drove the well-directed dart :

Nor pierc'd the windpipe yet, nor took the pow'r

Of speech, unhappy ! from thy dying hour.

Prone on the field the bleeding warrior lies,

While thus, triumphing, stern Achilles cries :


415 " At last is Hector stretch 7 d upon the plain,

Who f ear'd no vengeance for Patroclus slain :

Then, prince ! you should have f ear'd what now you feel ;

Achilles absent was Achilles still.

Yet a short space the great avenger stay'd,
420 Then low in dust thy strength and glory laid.

Peaceful he sleeps, with all our rites adorn'd,

For ever honoured, and for ever mourn'd ;

While, cast to all the rage of hostile pow'r,

Thee birds shall mangle and the dogs devour. 77
425 Then Hector, fainting at th 7 approach of death :

" By thy own soul ! by those who gave thee breath !

By all the sacred prevalence of pray'r ;

Ah, leave me not for Grecian dogs to tear !

The common rites of sepulture bestow,
430 To sooth a fathers and a mothers woe ;

Let their large gifts procure an urn at least,

And Hector 7 s ashes in his country rest. 77
" No, wretch accurst ! " relentless he replies

(Flames, as he spoke, shot flashing from his eyes),
435 " Not those who gave me breath, shou 7 d bid me spare,

Nor all the sacred prevalence of pray'r.

Could I myself the bloody banquet join !

No ! to the dogs that carcase I resign.

Should Troy to bribe me bring forth all her store,
440 And, giving thousands, offer thousands more ;

Should Dardan Priam and his weeping dame

Drain their whole realm to buy one f tin'ral flame ;

Their Hector on the pile they should not see,

Nor rob the vultures of one limb of thee. 77
445 Then thus the chief his dying accents drew :

" Thy rage, implacable ! too well I knew :

The furies that relentless breast have steel'd,

And curs'd thee with a heart that cannot yield.

Yet think, a day will come, when fate 7 s decree,


450 And angry gods, shall wreak this wrong on thee ;

PlKjebus and Paris shall avenge my fate,

And stretch thee here, before this Scsean gate."

He ceas'd. The fates suppress'd his laboring breath,

And his eyes stiffened at the hand of death ;
455 To the dark realm the spirit wings its way

(The manly body left a load of clay),

And plaintive glides along the dreary coast,

A naked, wand ring, melancholy ghost!
Achilles, musing as he rolPd his eyes
400 O'er the dead hero, thus (unheard) replies :

"Die thou the first! when Jove and heav'ii ordain,

I follow thee."- He said, and stripped the slain.

Then, forcing backward from the gaping wound

The reeking jav'lin, cast it on the ground.
465 The thronging Greeks behold with wond'ring eyes

His manly beauty and superior size :

While some, ignobler, the great dead deface

With wounds ungen'rous or with taunts disgrace :

" How chang'd that Hector who, like Jove, of late
470 Sent lightning on our fleets, and scattered fate ! "
High o'er the slain the great Achilles stands,

Begirt with heroes and surrounding bands ;

And thus aloud, while all the host attends :

"Princes and leaders ! countrymen and friends !
475 Since now at length the pow'rful will of heav'n

The dire destroyer to our arm has giv'n,

Is not Troy fall'n already ? Haste, ye pow'rs !

See if already their deserted tow'rs

Are left unmanned ; or if they yet retain
480 The souls of heroes, their great Hector slain.

But what is Troy, or glory what to me ?

Or why reflects my mind on aught but thee,

Divine Patroclus ! Death has seaPd his eyes :

Unwept, unhonour'd, uninterr'd he lies !


485 Can his dear image from my soul depart,
Long as the vital spirit moves my heart?
If, in the melancholy shades below,
The flames of friends and lovers cease to glow,
Yet mine shall sacred last; mine, undecay'd,

490 Burn 011 through death and animate my shade.
Meanwhile, ye sons of Greece ! in triumph bring
The corpse of Hector, and your Paeans sing.
Be this the song, slow moving tow'rd the shore,
' Hector is dead, and Dion is no more.' "

195 Then his fell soul a thought of vengeance bred
(Unworthy of himself and of the dead) :
The nervous ancles bor'd, his feet he bound
With thongs inserted thro' the double wound ;
These fix'd up high behind the rolling wain,

500 His graceful head was trail'd along the plain.
Proud on his car th' insulting victor stood,
And bore aloft his arms, distilling blood.
He smites the steeds ; the rapid chariot flies ;
The sudden clouds of circling dust arise.

505 Now lost is- all that formidable air ;

The face divine and long-descending hair
Purple the ground, and streak the sable sand ;
Deform 'd, dishonoured, in his native land !
Giv'n to the rage of an insulting throng !

510 And, in his parents' sight,' now dragg'd along !

The mother first beheld with sad survey ;
She rent her tresses, venerably grey,
And cast far off the regal veils away.
With piercing shrieks his bitter fate she moans,

515 While the sad father answers groans with groans ;
Tears after tears his mournful cheeks overflow,
And the whole city wears one face of woe :
No less than if the rage of hostile fires,
From her foundations curling to her spires,


520 O'er the proud citadel at length should rise,

And the last blaze send Ilion to the skies.

The wretched monarch of the falling state,

Distracted, presses to the Dardan gate.

Scarce the whole people stop his desp'rate course,
525 While strong affliction gives the feeble force :

Grief tears his heart, and drives him to and fro

In all the raging impotence of woe.

At length he rolPd in dust, and thus begun,

Imploring all, and naming one by one :
530 " Ah ! let me, let me go where sorrow calls ;

I, only I, will issue from your walls

(Guide or companion, friends ! I ask ye none),

And bow before the murd'rer of my son.

My grief perhaps his pity may engage ;
535 Perhaps at least he may respect my age.

He has a father too ; a man like me ;

One not exempt from age and misery

(Vigorous no more, as when his young embrace

Begot this pest of me and all my race).
540 How many valiant sons, in early bloom,

Has that curst hand sent headlong to the tomb !

Thee, Hector ! last : thy loss (divinely brave !)

Sinks my sad soul with sorrow to the grave.

Oh had thy gentle spirit passed in peace,
545 The son expiring in the sire's embrace,

While both thy parents wept thy fatal hour,

And, bending o'er thee, mix'd the tender show'r !

Some comfort that had been, some sad relief,

To melt in full satiety of grief ! "
550 Thus wail'd the father, grov'ling on the ground,

And all the eyes of Ilion streamed around.
Amidst her matrons Hecuba appears

(A mourning princess, and a train in tears) :

" Ah ! why has heaven prolonged this hated breath,


555 Patient of horrors, to behold thy death ?
Hector ! late thy parents' pride and joy,
The boast of nations ! the defence of Troy !
To whom her safety and her fame she ow'd,
Her chief, her hero, arid almost her god !

500 fatal change ! become in one sad day
A senseless corpse ! inanimated clay ! "

But not as yet the fatal news had spread
To fair Andromache, of Hector dead ;
As yet no messenger had told his fate,

565 Nor ev'n his stay without the Scaean gate.
Far in the close recesses of the dome
Pensive she plied the melancholy loom ;
A growing work employ 'd her secret hours,
Confus'dly gay with intermingled flow'rs.

570 Her fair-hair'd handmaids heat the brazen urn,
The bath preparing for her lord's return :
In vain ; alas ! her lord returns no more !
Unbath'd he lies, and bleeds along the shore !
Now from the walls the clamours reach her ear,

575 And all her members shake with sudden fear ;
Forth from her iv'ry hand the shuttle falls,
As thus, astonish'd, to her maids she calls :

" Ah, follow me ! " (she cried) " what plaintiff noise
Invades my ear ? 'Tis sure my mother's voice.

580 My falt'ring knees their trembling frame desert,
A pulse unusual flutters at my heart.
Some strange disaster, some reverse of fate
(Ye gods avert it !) threats the Trojan state.
Far be the omen which my thoughts suggest !

585 But much I fear my Hector's dauntless breast
Confronts Achilles ; chas'd along the plain,
Shut from our walls ! I fear, I fear him slain !
Safe in the crowd he ever scorn'd to wait,
And sought for glory in the jaws of fate :


590 Perhaps that noble heat has cost his breath,

Now quench'd for ever in the arms of death."
She spoke ; and, furious, with distracted pace,

Fears in her heart and anguish in her face,

Flies through the dome (the maids her step pursue),
595 And mounts the walls, and sends around her view.

Too soon her eyes the killing object found,

The godlike Hector dragg'd along the ground.

A sudden darkness shades her swimming eyes :

She faints, she falls ; her breath, her colour flies.
600 Her hair's fair ornaments, the braids that bound,

The net that held them, and the wreath that crown'd,

The veil and diadem, flew far away

(The gift of Venus on her bridal day).

Around a train of weeping sisters stands,
005 To raise her sinking with assistant hands.

Scarce from the verge of death recall' d, again

She faints, or but recovers to complain :
" wretched husband of a wretched wife !

Born with one fate, to one unhappy life !
Glo For sure one star its baneful beam displayed

On Priam's roof and Hippoplacia's shade.

From different parents, different climes, we came,

At different periods, yet our fate the same !

Why was my birth to great Eetion ow'd,
615 And why was all that tender care bestow'd ?

Would I had never been ! thou, the ghost

Of my dead husband ! miserably lost !

Thou to the dismal realms for ever gone!

And I abandon'd, desolate, alone !
620 An only child, once comfort of my pains,

Sad product now of hapless love, remains !

No more to smile upon his sire ! no friend

To help him now ! no father to defend !

For should he 'scape the sword, the common doom,


(L>5 What wrongs attend him, and what griefs to come !

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Online LibraryHomerPope's translation of Homer's Iliad, books I, VI, XXII, XXIV; → online text (page 7 of 13)