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Produced by Anne Soulard, Charles Franks
and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team.





In the spring of 1862 I was induced, at the request of some personal
friends, to print, for private circulation only, a small volume of
"Translations of Poems Ancient and Modern," in which was included the
first Book of the Iliad. The opinions expressed by some competent
judges of the degree of success which had attended this "attempt to
infuse into an almost literal English version something of the spirit,
as well as the simplicity, of the great original," [Footnote:
Introduction to unpublished volume.] were sufficiently favourable to
encourage me to continue the work which I had begun. It has afforded
me, in the intervals of more urgent business, an unfailing, and
constantly increasing source of interest; and it is not without a
feeling of regret at the completion of my task, and a sincere
diffidence as to its success, that I venture to submit the result of my
labour to the ordeal of public criticism.

Various causes, irrespective of any demerits of the work itself, forbid
me to anticipate for this translation any extensive popularity. First,
I fear that the taste for, and appreciation of, Classical Literature,
are greatly on the decline; next, those who have kept up their
classical studies, and are able to read and enjoy the original, will
hardly take an interest in a mere translation; while the English
reader, unacquainted with Greek, will naturally prefer the harmonious
versification and polished brilliancy of Pope's translation; with
which, as a happy adaptation of the Homeric story to the spirit of
English poetry, I have not the presumption to enter into competition.
But, admirable as it is, Pope's Iliad can hardly be said to be Homer's
Iliad; and there may be some who, having lost the familiarity with the
original language which they once possessed, may, if I have at all
succeeded in my attempt, have recalled to their minds a faint echo of
the strains which delighted their earlier days, and may recognize some
slight trace of the original perfume.

Numerous as have been the translators of the Iliad, or of parts of it,
the metres which have been selected have been almost as various: the
ordinary couplet in rhyme, the Spenserian stanza, the Trochaic or
Ballad metre, all have had their partisans, even to that "pestilent
heresy" of the so-called English Hexameter; a metre wholly repugnant to
the genius of our language; which can only be pressed into the service
by a violation of every rule of prosody; and of which, notwithstanding
my respect for the eminent men who have attempted to naturalize it, I
could never read ten lines without being irresistibly reminded of

"Dactylics call'st thou them? God help thee, silly one!"

But in the progress of this work, I have been more and more confirmed
in the opinion which I expressed at its commencement, that (whatever
may be the extent of my own individual failure) "if justice is ever to
be done to the easy flow and majestic simplicity of the grand old Poet,
it can only be in the Heroic blank verse." I have seen isolated
passages admirably rendered in other metres; and there are many
instances in which a translation line for line and couplet for couplet
naturally suggests itself, and in which it is sometimes difficult to
avoid an involuntary rhyme; but the blank verse appears to me the only
metre capable of adapting itself to all the gradations, if I may use
the term, of the Homeric style; from the finished poetry of the
numerous similes, in which every touch is nature, and nothing is
overcoloured or exaggerated, down to the simple, almost homely, style
of some portions of the narrative. Least of all can any other metre do
full justice to the spirit and freedom of the various speeches, in
which the old warriors give utterance, without disguise or restraint,
to all their strong and genuine emotions. To subject these to the
trammels of couplet and rhyme would be as destructive of their chief
characteristics, as the application of a similar process to the
Paradise Lost of Milton, or the tragedies of Shakespeare; the effect
indeed may be seen by comparing, with some of the noblest speeches of
the latter, the few couplets which he seems to have considered himself
bound by custom to tack on to their close, at the end of a scene or an

I have adopted, not without hesitation, the Latin, rather than the
Greek, nomenclature for the Heathen Deities. I have been induced to do
so from the manifest incongruity of confounding the two; and from the
fact that though English readers may be familiar with the names of
Zeus, or Aphrodite, or even Poseidon, those of Hera, or Ares, or
Hephaestus, or Leto, would hardly convey to them a definite

It has been my aim throughout to produce a translation and not a
paraphrase; not indeed such a translation as would satisfy, with regard
to each word, the rigid requirements of accurate scholarship; but such
as would fairly and honestly give the sense and spirit of every
passage, and of every line; omitting nothing, and expanding nothing;
and adhering, as closely as our language will allow, ever to every
epithet which is capable of being translated, and which has, in the
particular passage, anything of a special and distinctive character. Of
the many deficiencies in my execution of this intention, I am but too
conscious; whether I have been in any degree successful, must be left
to the impartial decision of such of the Public as may honour this work
with their perusal.




The favourable reception which has been given to the first Editions of
this work, far exceeding my most sanguine hopes, affords a gratifying
proof how far, in my preface, I had overrated the extent to which the
taste for, and appreciation of, Classical Literature had declined. It
will not, I hope, be thought extraordinary that some errors and
inaccuracies should have found their way into a translation executed, I
must admit, somewhat hastily, and with less of the "limae labor" than I
should have bestowed upon it, had I ventured to anticipate for it so
extensive a circulation. My thanks, therefore, are due to those
critics, who, either publicly or privately, have called my attention to
passages in which the sense of the Author has been either incorrectly
or imperfectly rendered. All of these I have examined, and have availed
myself of several of the suggestions offered for their correction; and
a careful revision of the whole work, and renewed comparison with the
original, have enabled me to discover other defects, the removal of
which will, I hope, render the present Edition, especially in the eyes
of Classical Scholars, somewhat more worthy of the favour which has
been accorded to its predecessors.


ST. JAMES'S SQUARE, _May,_ 1885.



In the war of Troy, the Greeks having sacked some of the neighbouring
towns, and taken from thence two beautiful captives, Chryseis and
Briseis, allotted the first to Agamemnon, and the last to Achilles.
Chryses, the father of Chryseis, and priest of Apollo, comes to the
Grecian camp to ransom her; with which the action of the poem opens, in
the tenth year of the siege. The priest being refused, and insolently
dismissed by Agamemnon, entreats for vengeance from his god, who
inflicts a pestilence on the Greeks. Achilles calls a council, and
encourages Calchas to declare the cause of it, who attributes it to the
refusal of Chryseis. The King being obliged to send back his captive,
enters into a furious contest with Achilles, which Nestor pacifies;
however, as he had the absolute command of the army, he seizes on
Briseis in revenge. Achilles in discontent withdraws himself and his
forces from the test of the Greeks; and complaining to Thetis, she
supplicates Jupiter to render them sensible of the wrong done to her
son, by giving victory to the Trojans. Jupiter granting her suit,
incenses Juno, between whom the debate runs high, till they are
reconciled by the address of Vulcan.

The time of two-and-twenty days is taken up in this book; nine during
the plague, one in the council and quarrel of the Princes, and twelve
for Jupiter's stay among the Ethiopians, at whose return Thetis prefers
her petition. The scene lies in the Grecian camp, then changes to
Chrysa, and lastly to Olympus.


Of Peleus' son, Achilles, sing, O Muse,
The vengeance, deep and deadly; whence to Greece
Unnumbered ills arose; which many a soul
Of mighty warriors to the viewless shades
Untimely sent; they on the battle plain
Unburied lay, a prey to rav'ning dogs,
And carrion birds; but so had Jove decreed,
From that sad day when first in wordy war,
The mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
Confronted stood by Peleus' godlike son.

Say then, what God the fatal strife provok'd?
Jove's and Latona's son; he, filled with wrath
Against the King, with deadly pestilence
The camp afflicted, - and the people died, -
For Chryses' sake, his priest, whom Atreus' son
With scorn dismiss'd, when to the Grecian ships
He came, his captive daughter to redeem,
With costly ransom charg'd; and in his hand
The sacred fillet of his God he bore,
And golden staff; to all he sued, but chief
To Atreus' sons, twin captains of the host:
"Ye sons of Atreus, and ye well-greav'd Greeks,
May the great Gods, who on Olympus dwell,
Grant you yon hostile city to destroy,
And home return in safety; but my child
Restore, I pray; her proffer'd ransom take,
And in his priest, the Lord of Light revere."

Then through the ranks assenting murmurs ran,
The priest to rev'rence, and the ransom take:
Not so Atrides; he, with haughty mien,
And bitter speech, the trembling sire address'd:
"Old man, I warn thee, that beside our ships
I find thee not, or ling'ring now, or back
Returning; lest thou prove of small avail
Thy golden staff, and fillet of thy God.
Her I release not, till her youth be fled;
Within my walls, in Argos, far from home,
Her lot is cast, domestic cares to ply,
And share a master's bed. For thee, begone!
Incense me not, lest ill betide thee now."

He said: the old man trembled, and obeyed;
Beside the many-dashing Ocean's shore
Silent he pass'd; and all apart, he pray'd
To great Apollo, fair Latona's son:

"Hear me, God of the silver bow! whose care
Chrysa surrounds, and Cilia's lovely vale;
Whose sov'reign sway o'er Tenedos extends;
O Smintheus, hear! if e'er my offered gifts
Found favour in thy sight; if e'er to thee
I burn'd the fat of bulls and choicest goats,
Grant me this boon - upon the Grecian host
Let thine unerring darts avenge my tears."

Thus as he pray'd, his pray'r Apollo heard:
Along Olympus' heights he pass'd, his heart
Burning with wrath; behind his shoulders hung
His bow, and ample quiver; at his back
Rattled the fateful arrows as he mov'd;
Like the night-cloud he pass'd, and from afar
He bent against the ships, and sped the bolt;
And fierce and deadly twang'd the silver bow.
First on the mules and dogs, on man the last,
Was pour'd the arrowy storm; and through the camp,
Constant and num'rous, blaz'd the fun'ral fires.

Nine days the heav'nly Archer on the troops
Hurl'd his dread shafts; the tenth, th' assembled Greeks
Achilles call'd to council; so inspir'd
By Juno, white-arm'd Goddess, who beheld
With pitying eyes the wasting hosts of Greece.
When all were met, and closely throng'd around,
Rose the swift-footed chief, and thus began:

"Great son of Atreus, to my mind there seems,
If we would 'scape from death, one only course,
Home to retrace our steps: since here at once
By war and pestilence our forces waste.
But seek we first some prophet, or some priest,
Or some wise vision-seer (since visions too
From Jove proceed), who may the cause explain,
Which with such deadly wrath Apollo fires:
If for neglected hecatombs or pray'rs
He blame us; or if fat of lambs and goats
May soothe his anger and the plague assuage."

This said, he sat; and Thestor's son arose,
Calchas, the chief of seers, to whom were known
The present, and the future, and the past;
Who, by his mystic art, Apollo's gift,
Guided to Ilium's shore the Grecian fleet.
Who thus with cautious speech replied, and said;
"Achilles, lov'd of Heav'n, thou bidd'st me say
Why thus incens'd the far-destroying King;
Therefore I speak; but promise thou, and swear,
By word and hand, to bear me harmless through.
For well I know my speech must one offend,
The Argive chief, o'er all the Greeks supreme;
And terrible to men of low estate
The anger of a King; for though awhile
He veil his wrath, yet in his bosom pent
It still is nurs'd, until the time arrive;
Say, then, wilt thou protect me, if I speak?"

Him answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot:
"Speak boldly out whate'er thine art can tell;
For by Apollo's self I swear, whom thou,
O Calchas, serv'st, and who thy words inspires,
That, while I live, and see the light of Heav'n,
Not one of all the Greeks shall dare on thee,
Beside our ships, injurious hands to lay:
No, not if Agamemnon's self were he,
Who 'mid our warriors boasts the foremost place."

Embolden'd thus, th' unerring prophet spoke:
"Not for neglected hecatombs or pray'rs,
But for his priest, whom Agamemnon scorn'd,
Nor took his ransom, nor his child restor'd;
On his account the Far-destroyer sends
This scourge of pestilence, and yet will send;
Nor shall we cease his heavy hand to feel,
Till to her sire we give the bright-ey'd girl,
Unbought, unransom'd, and to Chrysa's shore
A solemn hecatomb despatch; this done,
The God, appeas'd, his anger may remit."

This said, he sat; and Atreus' godlike son,
The mighty monarch, Agamemnon, rose,
His dark soul fill'd with fury, and his eyes
Flashing like flames of fire; on Calchas first
A with'ring glance he cast, and thus he spoke;

"Prophet of ill! thou never speak'st to me
But words of evil omen; for thy soul
Delights to augur ill, but aught of good
Thou never yet hast promis'd, nor perform'd.
And now among the Greeks thou spread'st abroad
Thy lying prophecies, that all these ills
Come from the Far-destroyer, for that I
Refus'd the ransom of my lovely prize,
And that I rather chose herself to keep,
To me not less than Clytemnestra dear,
My virgin-wedded wife; nor less adorn'd
In gifts of form, of feature, or of mind.
Yet, if it must he so, I give her back;
I wish my people's safety, not their death.
But seek me out forthwith some other spoil,
Lest empty-handed I alone appear
Of all the Greeks; for this would ill beseem;
And how I lose my present share, ye see."

To whom Achilles, swift of foot, replied:
"Haughtiest of men, and greediest of the prey!
How shall our valiant Greeks for thee seek out
Some other spoil? no common fund have we
Of hoarded treasures; what our arms have won
From captur'd towns, has been already shar'd,
Nor can we now resume th' apportion'd spoil.
Restore the maid, obedient to the God!
And if Heav'n will that we the strong-built walls
Of Troy should raze, our warriors will to thee
A threefold, fourfold recompense assign."

To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus:
"Think not, Achilles, valiant though thou art
In fight, and godlike, to defraud me thus;
Thou shalt not so persuade me, nor o'erreach.
Think'st thou to keep thy portion of the spoil,
While I with empty hands sit humbly down?
The bright-ey'd girl thou bidd'st me to restore;
If then the valiant Greeks for me seek out
Some other spoil, some compensation just,
'Tis well: if not, I with my own right hand
Will from some other chief, from thee perchance,
Or Ajax, or Ulysses, wrest his prey;
And woe to him, on whomsoe'er I call!
But this for future counsel we remit:
Haste we then now our dark-ribb'd bark to launch,
Muster a fitting crew, and place on board
The sacred hecatomb; then last embark
The fair Chryseis; and in chief command
Let some one of our councillors be plac'd,
Ajax, Ulysses, or Idomeneus,
Or thou, the most ambitious of them all,
That so our rites may soothe the angry God."

To whom Achilles thus with scornful glance;
"Oh, cloth'd in shamelessness! oh, sordid soul!
How canst thou hope that any Greek for thee
Will brave the toils of travel or of war?
Well dost thou know that 't was no feud of mine
With Troy's brave sons that brought me here in arms;
They never did me wrong; they never drove
My cattle, or my horses; never sought
In Phthia's fertile, life-sustaining fields
To waste the crops; for wide between us lay
The shadowy mountains and the roaring sea.
With thee, O void of shame! with thee we sail'd,
For Menelaus and for thee, ingrate,
Glory and fame on Trojan crests to win.
All this hast thou forgotten, or despis'd;
And threat'nest now to wrest from me the prize
I labour'd hard to win, and Greeks bestow'd.
Nor does my portion ever equal thine,
When on some populous town our troops have made
Successful war; in the contentious fight
The larger portion of the toil is mine;
But when the day of distribution comes,
Thine is the richest spoil; while I, forsooth,
Must be too well content to bear on board
Some paltry prize for all my warlike toil.
To Phthia now I go; so better far,
To steer my homeward course, and leave thee here
But little like, I deem, dishonouring me,
To fill thy coffers with the spoils of war."

Whom answer'd Agamemnon, King of men:
"Fly then, if such thy mind! I ask thee not
On mine account to stay; others there are
Will guard my honour and avenge my cause:
And chief of all, the Lord of counsel, Jove!
Of all the Heav'n-born Kings, thou art the man
I hate the most; for thou delight'st in nought
But war and strife: thy prowess I allow;
Yet this, remember, is the gift of Heav'n.
Return then, with thy vessels, if thou wilt,
And with thy followers, home; and lord it there
Over thy Myrmidons! I heed thee not!
I care not for thy fury! Hear my threat:
Since Phoebus wrests Chryseis from my arms,
In mine own ship, and with mine own good crew,
Her I send forth; and, in her stead, I mean,
Ev'n from thy tent, myself, to bear thy prize,
The fair Briseis; that henceforth thou know
How far I am thy master; and that, taught
By thine example, others too may fear
To rival me, and brave me to my face."

Thus while he spake, Achilles chaf'd with rage;
And in his manly breast his heart was torn
With thoughts conflicting - whether from his side
To draw his mighty sword, and thrusting by
Th' assembled throng, to kill th' insulting King;
Or school his soul, and keep his anger down.
But while in mind and spirit thus he mus'd,
And half unsheath'd his sword, from Heav'n came down
Minerva, sent by Juno, white-arm'd Queen,
Whose love and care both chiefs alike enjoy'd.
She stood behind, and by the yellow hair
She held the son of Peleus, visible
To him alone, by all the rest unseen.
Achilles, wond'ring, turn'd, and straight he knew
The blue-eyed Pallas; awful was her glance;
Whom thus the chief with winged words address'd:

"Why com'st thou, child of aegis-bearing Jove?
To see the arrogance of Atreus' son?
But this I say, and will make good my words,
This insolence may cost him soon his life."

To whom the blue-ey'd Goddess thus replied:
"From Heav'n I came, to curb, if thou wilt hear,
Thy fury; sent by Juno, white-arm'd Queen,
Whose love and care ye both alike enjoy.
Cease, then, these broils, and draw not thus thy sword;
In words, indeed, assail him as thou wilt.
But this I promise, and will make it good,
The time shall come, when for this insolence
A threefold compensation shall be thine;
Only be sway'd by me, and curb thy wrath."

Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot:
"Goddess, I needs must yield to your commands,
Indignant though I be - for so 'tis best;
Who hears the Gods, of them his pray'rs are heard."

He said: and on the silver hilt he stay'd
His pow'rful hand, and flung his mighty sword
Back to its scabbard, to Minerva's word
Obedient: she her heav'nward course pursued
To join th' Immortals in th' abode of Jove.
But Peleus' son, with undiminish'd wrath,
Atrides thus with bitter words address'd:

"Thou sot, with eye of dog, and heart of deer!
Who never dar'st to lead in armed fight
Th' assembled host, nor with a chosen few
To man the secret ambush - for thou fear'st
To look on death - no doubt 'tis easier far,
Girt with thy troops, to plunder of his right
Whoe'er may venture to oppose thy will!
A tyrant King, because thou rul'st o'er slaves!
Were it not so, this insult were thy last.
But this I say, and with an oath confirm,
By this my royal staff, which never more
Shall put forth leaf nor spray, since first it left
Upon the mountain-side its parent stem,
Nor blossom more; since all around the axe
Hath lopp'd both leaf and bark, and now 'tis borne
Emblem of justice, by the sons of Greece,
Who guard the sacred ministry of law
Before the face of Jove! a mighty oath!
The time shall come, when all the sons of Greece
Shall mourn Achilles' loss; and thou the while,
Heart-rent, shalt be all-impotent to aid,
When by the warrior-slayer Hector's hand
Many shall fall; and then thy soul shall mourn
The slight on Grecia's bravest warrior cast."

Thus spoke Pelides; and upon the ground
He cast his staff, with golden studs emboss'd,
And took his seat; on th' other side, in wrath,
Atrides burn'd; but Nestor interpos'd;
Nestor, the leader of the Pylian host,
The smooth-tongued chief, from whose persuasive lips
Sweeter than honey flowed the stream of speech.
Two generations of the sons of men
For him were past and gone, who with himself
Were born and bred on Pylos' lovely shore,
And o'er the third he now held royal sway.
He thus with prudent words the chiefs address'd:

"Alas, alas! what grief is this for Greece!
What joy for Priam, and for Priam's sons!
What exultation for the men of Troy,
To hear of feuds 'tween you, of all the Greeks
The first in council, and the first in fight!
Yet, hear my words, I pray; in years, at least,
Ye both must yield to me; and in times past
I liv'd with men, and they despis'd me not,
Abler in counsel, greater than yourselves.
Such men I never saw, and ne'er shall see,
As Pirithous and Dryas, wise and brave,
Coeneus, Exadius, godlike Polypheme,
And Theseus, AEgeus' more than mortal son.
The mightiest they among the sons of men;
The mightiest they, and of the forest beasts
Strove with the mightiest, and their rage subdued.
With them from distant lands, from Pylos' shore
I join'd my forces, and their call obey'd;
With them I play'd my part; with them, not one
Would dare to fight of mortals now on earth.
Yet they my counsels heard, my voice obey'd;
And hear ye also, for my words are wise.
Nor thou, though great thou be, attempt to rob
Achilles of his prize, but let him keep
The spoil assign'd him by the sons of Greece;
Nor thou, Pelides, with the monarch strive
In rivalry; for ne'er to sceptred King
Hath Jove such pow'rs, as to Atrides, giv'n;
And valiant though thou art, and Goddess-born,
Yet mightier he, for wider is his sway.
Atrides, curb thy wrath! while I beseech
Achilles to forbear; in whom the Greeks
From adverse war their great defender see."

To whom the monarch, Agamemnon, thus:
"O father, full of wisdom are thy words;
But this proud chief o'er all would domineer;
O'er all he seeks to rule, o'er all to reign,
To all to dictate; which I will not bear.
Grant that the Gods have giv'n him warlike might,
Gave they unbridled license to his tongue?"

To whom Achilles, interrupting, thus:
"Coward and slave indeed I might be deem'd.
Could I submit to make thy word my law;
To others thy commands; seek not to me
To dictate, for I follow thee no more.
But hear me speak, and ponder what I say:
For the fair girl I fight not (since you choose
To take away the prize yourselves bestow'd)
With thee or any one; but of the rest
My dark swift ship contains, against my will
On nought shalt thou, unpunish'd, lay thy hand.
Make trial if thou wilt, that these may know;
Thy life-blood soon should reek upon my spear."

After this conflict keen of angry speech,
The chiefs arose, the assembly was dispers'd.

With his own followers, and Menoetius' son,
Achilles to his tents and ships withdrew.
But Atreus' son launch'd a swift-sailing bark,
With twenty rowers mann'd, and plac'd on board
The sacred hecatomb; then last embark'd
The fair Chryseis, and in chief command
Laertes' son, the sage Ulysses, plac'd.
They swiftly sped along the wat'ry way.

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