The Iliad of Homer rendered into English blank verse (Volume 1) online

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Whom ev'n tli' Immortals honour'd ; for his prize
Thou took'st and still retain'st ; but let us now
Consider, if ev'n yet, with costly gifts
And soothing words, we may his wrath appease." 130

To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus :
" Father, too truly thou recall'st my fault :
I err'd, nor will deny it ; as a host
Is he whom Jove in honour holds, as now
Achilles hon'ring, he confounds the Greeks. 135

But if I err'd, by evil impulse led,
Fain would I now conciliate him, and pay
An ample penalty ; before you all
I pledge myself rich presents to bestow.
Sev'n tripods will I give, untouch'd by fire ; 140

Of gold, ten talents, twenty caldrons bright,
Twelve pow'rful horses, on the course renown'd,
Who by their speed have many prizes won.
Not empty-handed could that man be deem'd,
Nor poor in gold, who but so much possess'd 145
As by those horses has for me been won.
Sev'n women too, well skill'd in household cares,
Lesbians, whom I selected for myself,


That day lie captur'd Lesbos' goodly isle,

In beauty far surpassing all their sex : 150

These will I give ; and with them will I send

The fair Briseis, her whom from his tent

I bore away ; and add a solemn oath,

I ne'er approach'd her bed, nor held with her

Such intercourse as man with woman holds. 155

All these shall now be his : but if the Gods

Shall grant us Priam's city to destroy,

Of gold and brass, when we divide the spoil,

With countless heaps he shall a vessel freight,

And twenty captives he himself shall choose, 160

All only less than Argive Helen fair.

And if it be our fate to see ao-ain

The teeming soil of Argos, he shall be

My son by marriage ; and in honour held

As is Orestes, who, my only son, 165

Is rear'd at home in luxury and ease.

Three daughters fair I have, Chrysothemis,

Iphianassa, and Laodice ;

Of these, whiche'er he will, to Peleus' house,

No portion ask'd for, he shall take to wife ; 170


And with her will I add such wedding: gifts,

DO "

As never man before to daughter gave.

Sev'n prosp'rous towns besides; Cardamyle,

And Enope, and Ira's grassy plains ;

And Pherae, and Antheia's pastures deep, 175

^Epeia fair, and vine-clad Pedasus;

All by the sea, by sandy Pylos' bounds.

The dwellers there in flocks and herds are rich,

And, as a God, shall honour him with gifts,

And to his sceptre ample tribute pay. 180

This will I do, so he his wrath remit :

Then let him yield (Pluto alone remains

Unbending and inexorable ; and thence

Of all the Gods is most abhorr'd of men),

To- me submitting, as in royal pow'r 185

Superior far, and more advane'd in age."

To whom Gerenian Kestor thus replied :
" Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
Atrides, not unworthy are the gifts,
Which to Achilles thou design'st to send : 190

Then to the tent of Peleus' son in haste
Let us our chosen messengers despatch :


Whom I shall choose, let them consent to go.

Then first of all let Phoenix lead the way,

Belov'd of Jove ; the mighty Ajax next : 195

With them, Ulysses sage; and let them take,

Of heralds, llodius and Eurybates.

Bring now the hallowing water for our hands ;

And bid be silent, while to Saturn's son,

That he have mercy, we address our pray'r." 200

He said, and well his counsel pleas'd them all ;
The heralds pour'd the water on their hands ;
The youths, attending, crown'd the bowls with wine,
And in due order serv'd the cups to all.
Then, their libations made, when each with wine 205
Had satisfied his soul, from out the tent
Of Agamemnon, Atreus' son, they pass'd;
And many a caution aged Nestor gave,
With rapid glance to each, Ulysses chief.
How best to soften Peleus' matchless son. 210

Beside the many-dashing ocean's shore
They mov'd along ; and many a pray'r address'd
To Neptune, Ocean's Earth-surrounding God,
That he to gentle counsels would incline


The haughty soul of great iEacides. 215

When to the ships and tents they came, where lay
The warlike Myrmidons, their chief they found
His spirit soothing with a sweet-ton'd lyre,
Of curious work, with silver band adorn'd ;
Part of the spoil he took, when he destroy'd 220

Eetion's wealthy town ; on this he play'd,
Soothing his soul, and sang of warriors' deeds.
Before the chief, in silence and alone
Patroclus sat, upon Achilles fix'd
His eyes, awaiting till the song should cease. 225

The envoys forward stepp'd, Ulysses first,
And stood before him ; from his couch, amaz'd,
And holding still his lyre, Achilles sprang,
Leaving the seat whereon they found him plac'd ;
And at their entrance rose Patroclus too : 230

Waving his hand, Achilles, swift of foot,
Address'dthem: ""Welcome, friends! as friends ye come:
Some great occasion surely to my tent
Hath brought the men who are, of all the Greeks,
Despite my anger, dearest to my heart." 235

Thus as he spoke, he led them in, and plac'd


On couches spread with purple carpets o'er,

Then thus adclress'd Patroclus at his side :

" Son of Mencetius, set upon the hoard

A larger bowl, and stronger mix the wine, 210

And serve a cup to each : beneath my roof

This night my dearest friends I entertain."

He said ; Patroclus his commands obey'd ;

And in the fire-light plac'd an ample tray,

And on it laid of goat's flesh and of sheep's 2-15

A saddle each ; and with them, rich in fat,

A chine of well-fed hog ; Automedon

Held fast, while great Achilles carv'd the joints.

The meat, prepar'd, he fix'd upon the spits :

Patroclus kindled then a blazing fire ; 250

And when the fire burnt hotly, and the flame

Subsided, spread the glowing embers out,

And hung the spits above ; then sprinkled o'er

The meat with salt, and lifted from the stand.

The viands cook'd and plac'd upon the board, 255

From baskets fair Patroclus portion'd out

The bread to each ; the meat Achilles shar'd.

Facing the sage Ulysses, sat the host


On th' other side the tent ; and bade his friend,

Patroclus, give the Gods their honours due : 260

He in the tire the wonted off 'rings burnt :

They on the viands set before them fell.

The rage of thirst and hunger satisfied,

Ajax to Phoenix sign'd : Ulysses saw

The sign, and rising, fill'd a cup with wine, 2G5

And pledg'd Achilles thus : " To thee I drink,

Achilles ! nobly is thy table spread,

As heretofore in Agamemnon's tent,

So now in thine ; abundant is the feast :

But not the pleasures of the banquet now 270

We have in hand : impending o'er our arms

Grave cause of fear, illustrious chief, we see ;

Grave doubts, to save, or see destroy'd our ships,

If thou, great warrior, put not forth thy might.

For close beside the ships and wall are camp'd 275

The haughty Trojans and renown' d allies :

Their watch-fires frequent burn throughout the camp;

And loud their boast that nought shall stav their hands,

Until our dark-ribb'd ships be made their prey.

Jove too for them, with fav'ring augury 2S0


Sends forth his lightning ; boastful of his strength,

And firmly trusting in the aid of Jove,

Hector, resistless, rages ; nought he fears

Or God or man, with martial fury fir'd.

He prays, impatient, for th' approach of morn ; 235

Then, breaking through the lofty sterns, resolv'd

To the devouring flames to give the ships,

And slay the crews, bewilder'd in the smoke.

And much my mind misgives me, lest the Gods

His threats fulfil, and we be fated here 290

To perish, far from Argos' grassy plains.

Up then ! if in their last extremity

Thy spirit inclines, though late, to save the Greeks

Sore press'd by Trojan arms : lest thou thyself

Hereafter feel remorse ; the evil done 295

Is past all cure ; then thou reflect betimes

How from the Greeks to ward the day of doom.

Dear friend, remember now thy father's words,

The aged Peleus, when to Atreus' son

He sent thee forth from Phthia, how he said, 300

' My son, the boon of strength, if so they will,

Juno or Pallas have the pow'r to give ;


But thou thyself thy haughty spirit must curb,

For better far is gentle courtesy :

And cease from angry strife, that so the Greeks 305

The more may honour thee, both young and old.'

Such were the words thine aged father spoke,

"Which thou hast now forgotten ; yet, e'en now,

Pause for awhile, and let thine anger cool ;

And noble gifts, so thou thy wrath remit, 310

From Agamemnon shalt thou bear away.

Listen to me, while I recount the gifts

Which in his tent he pledg'd him to bestow.

Sevn tripods promis'd he, untouch'd by fire,

Of gold, ten talents, twenty caldrons bright, 315

Twelve pow'rful horses, in the course renown'd,

Who by their speed have many prizes won.

Not empty-handed could that man be deem'd,

Nor poor in gold, who but so much possess'd

As by those horses has for him been won. 320

Sev'n women too, well skill'd in household cares,

Lesbians, whom he selected for himself,

That day thou captnr'dst Lesbos' goodly isle,

In beauty far surpassing all their sex.


These will lie give ; and with them will he send 325

The fair Briseis, her whom from thy tent

He bore away ; and add a solemn oath,

He ne'er approach'd her bed, nor held with her

Snch intercourse as man with woman holds.

All these shall now be thine : bnt if the Gods 330

Shall grant ns Priam's city to destroy,

Of gold and brass, when we divide the spoil,

With countless heaps a vessel shalt thou freight,

And twenty captives thou thyself shalt choose,

All only less than Argive Helen fair. 335

And if it be our fate to see again

The teeming soil of Argos, thou mayst be

His son by marriage, and in honour held

As is Orestes, who, his only son,

Is rear'd at home in luxury and ease. 340

Three daughters fair are his, Chrysothemis,

Iphianassa, and Laodice ;

Of these whiche'er thou wilt, to Peleus' house,

No portion ask'd for, thou shalt take to wife ;

And with her will he add such wedding gifts, 345

As never man before to daughter gave.


Sev'n prosp'rous towns besides ; Cardamyle,

And Enope, and Ira's grassy plains,

And Pkeme, and Antheia's pastures deep,

./Epeia fair, and vine-clad Pedasus ; 350

All by the sea, by sandy Pylos' bounds.

The dwellers there in flocks and herds are rich,

And, as a God, will honour thee with gifts,

And to thy sceptre ample tribute pay.

All these he gives, so thon thy wrath remit. 355

But if thou hold Atrides in such hate,

Him and his gifts, yet let thy pity rest

On all the other Greeks, thus sore bested ;

By whom thou shalt be honour'd as a God :

For great the triumph that thou now mayst gain ;

E'en Hector's self is now within thy reach ; 301

For he is near at hand ; and in his pride

And martial fury deems that none, of all

Our ships contain, can rival him in arms."

"Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot : 365
" Heav'n-born Ulysses, sage in council, son
Of great Laertes, I must frankly speak
My mind at once, my fix'd resolve declare :


Tliat from henceforth I may not by the Greeks,

By this man and by that, be importun'd. 370

Him as the gates of hell my soul abhors,

Whose outward words his secret thoughts belie.

Hear then what seems to me the wisest course.

On me- nor Agamemnon, Atreus' son,

Nor others shall prevail, since nought is gain'd 375

By toil unceasing in the battle field.

Who nobly fight, but share with those who skulk ;

Like honours gain the coward and the brave ;

Alike the idlers and the active die :

And nought it profits me, though day by day 380

In constant toil I set my life at stake ;

But as a bird, though ill she fare herself,

Brings to her callow brood the food she takes,

So I through many a sleepless night have lain,

And many a bloody day have labour'd through, 3S5

Engag'd in battle on your wives' behalf.

Twelve cities have I taken with my ships ;

Eleven more by land, on Trojan soil :

From all of these abundant stores of wealth

I took, and all to Agamemnon gave ; 390


He, safe beside his ships, my spoils receiv'd,

A few divided, hut the most retain'd.

To other chiefs and Kings he meted out

Their sev'ral portions, and they hold them still ;

From me, from me alone of all the Greeks, 395

He bore away, and keeps my cherish'd wife ;

Well ! let him keep her, solace of his bed !

But say then, why do Greeks with Trojans fight ?

Why hath Atrides brought this mighty host

To Troy, if not in fair-hair'd Helen's cause ? 100

Of mortals are there none that love their wives,

Save Atreus' sons alone ? or do not all,

"Who boast the praise of sense and virtue, love

And cherish each his own ? as her I lov'd 404

E'en from my soul, though captive of my spear.

ISTow, since he once hath robb'd me, and deceiv'd,

Let him not seek my aid ; I know him now,

And am not to be won ; let him devise,

With thee, Ulysses, and the other Kings,

How best from hostile fires to save his ships. 410

He hath completed many mighty works

Without my aid ; hath built a lofty wall,

VOL. i. v


And dug a trench around it, wide and deep,

And in the trench' hath fix'd a palisade ;

Nor so the warrior-slayer Hector's might 415

Can keep in check ; while I was in the field,

Not far without the walls would Hector range

His line of battle, nor beyond the Oak

And Scsean gates would venture ; there indeed

He once presum'd to meet me, hand to hand, 420

And from my onset narrowly escap'd.

But as with Hector now no more I fight,

To-morrow morn, my off 'rings made to Jove,

And all the Gods, and freighted well my ships,

And launch'd upon the main, thyself shall see, 425

If that thou care to see, my vessels spread

O'er the broad bosom of the Hellespont,

My lusty crews plying the vig'rous oar ;

And if th' Earth-shaker send a fav'ring breeze,

Three days will bear us home to Phthia's shore. 430

There did I leave abundant store of wealth,

When hitherward I took my luckless way ;

Thither from hence I bear, of ruddy gold,

And brass, and women fair, and iron hoar


The share assign'd me ; but my chiefest prize 435

The monarch Agamemnon, Atreus' son,

Himself who gave, with insult takes away.

To him then speak aloud the words I send,

That all may know his crimes, if yet he hope

Some other Greek by treach'rous wiles to cheat, 440

Cloth'd as he is in shamelessness ! my glance,

All brazen as he is, he dare not meet.

I share no more his counsels, nor his acts ;

He hath deceiv'd me once, and wrong'd ; again

He shall not cozen me ! Of him, enough ! 445

I pass him by, whom Jove hath robb'd of sense.

His gifts I loathe, and spurn ; himself I hold

At a hair's worth ; and would he proffer me

Tenfold or twentyfold of all he has,

Or ever may be his ; or all the gold 450

Sent to Orchomenos or royal Thebes,

Egyptian, treasurehouse of countless wealth,

Who boasts her hundred gates, through each of which

With horse and car two hundred warriors march :

Nay, were his gifts in number as the sand, 455

Or dust upon the plain, yet ne'er will I


By Agamemnon be prevail'd upon,

Till I have paid him back my heart's offence.

Nor e'er of Agamemnon, Atrens' son,

Will I a daughter wed; not were she fair 460

As golden Yenus, and in works renown'd

As Pallas, blue-ey'd Maid, yet her e'en so

I wed not ; let him choose some other Greek,

Some fitting match, of nobler blood than mine.

But should the Gods in safety bring me home, 405

At Peleus' hands I may receive a wife ;

And Greece can boast of many a lovely maid,

In Hellas or in Phthia, daughters fair

Of chiefs who hold their native fortresses :

Of these, at will, a wife I may select : 470

And ofttimes hath my warlike soul inclin'd

To take a wedded wife, a fitting bride,

And aged Peleus' wealth in peace enjoy.

For not the stores which Troy, they say, contain'd

In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece, 475

Nor all the treasures which Apollo's shrine,

The Archer-God, in rock-built Pythos holds,

May weigh with life ; of oxen and of sheep


Successful forays may good store provide ;

And tripods may be gain'd, and noble steeds : 4S0

But when tlie breatli of man liatli pass'd his lips,

!Nor strength nor foray can the loss repair.

I by my Goddess-mother have been warn'd,

The silver-footed Thetis, that o'er me

A double chance of destiny impends : 485

If here remaining, round the walls of Troy

I wage the war, I ne'er shall see my home,

But then undying glory shall be mine :

If I return, and see my native land,

My glory all is gone ; but length of life 490

Shall then be mine, and death be long deferr'd.

If others ask'd my counsel, I should say,

' Homeward direct your course ; of lofty Troy

Ye see not yet the end ; all-seeing Jove

O'er her extends his hand ; on him relying 495

Her people all with confidence are fill'd.'

Go then ; my answer to the chiefs of Greece

Speak boldly — such the privilege of age —

Bid that some better counsel they devise

To save their ships and men ; their present scheme,


My anger unappeas'd, avails them nought. 501

But Phoenix here shall stay, and sleep to-night ;

And with the morrow he with me shall sail

And seek our native land, if so he will :

For not by force will I remove him hence." 505

He said ; they all, confounded by his words,
In silence heard ; so sternly did he speak.
At length, in tears, the aged Phoenix spoke,
For greatly fear'd he for the ships of Greece :
" If, great Achilles, on returning home 510

Thy mind is set, nor canst thou be induc'd
To save the ships from fire, so fierce thy wrath ;
How then, dear boy, can I remain behind,
Alone ? whom with thee aged Peleus sent,
That day when he in Agamemnon's cause 515

From Phthia sent thee, inexperienc'd yet
In all the duties of confed'rate war,
And sage debate, on which attends renown.
Me then he sent, instructor of thy youth,
To prompt thy language, and thine acts to guide. 520
So not from thee, dear boy, can I consent
To part, though Heav'n should undertake my age


To wipe away, and vig'rous youth, restore,

Such as I boasted, when from Greece I fled

Before my angry sire, Amyntor, son 525

Of Ormenus ; a fair-hair'd concubine

Cause of the quarrel ; her my father lov'd,

And by her love estrang'd, despis'd his wife,

My mother ; oft she pray'd me to seduce,

To vex th' old man, my father's concubine ; 530

I yielded ; he, suspecting, on my head

A curse invok'd, and on the Furies call'd

His curse to witness, that upon his knees

No child, by me begotten, e'er should sit :

His curse the Gods have heard, and ratified, 535

Th' infernal King, and awful Proserpine.

Then would I fain have slain him with the sword,

Had not some God my rising fury quell'd,

And set before my mind the public voice,

The odium I should have to bear 'mid Greeks, 540

If branded with the name of parricide.

But longer in my angry father's house

To dwell, my spirit brook'd not, though my friends

And kinsmen all besought me to remain ;


And many a goodly sheep, and many a steer 545

They slew, and many swine, with fat o'erlaid,

They sing'd, and roasted o'er the burning coals ;

And drank in many a cup the old man's wine.

.N ine nights they kept me in continual watch,

By turns relieving guards. The fires meanwhile 550

Burnt constant : one beneath the porch that fac'd

The well-fenc'd court ; one in the vestibule

Before my chamber door. The tenth dark night

My chamber's closely-fitting doors I broke,

And lightly vaulted o'er the court-yard fence, 555

By guards alike and servant maids unmark'd.

Through all the breadth of Hellas then I fled,

Until at length to Phthia's fruitful soil,

Mother of flocks, to Peleus' realm I came,

Who kindlv welcom'd me, and with such love 560

As to his only son, his well-belov'd,

A father shows, his gen'rous gifts bestow'd.

He gave me wealth, he gave me ample rule ;

And on the bounds of Phthia bade me dwell,

And o'er the Dolopes hold sov'reign sway. 565

Thee too, Achilles, rival of the Gods,


Such as thou art I made thee ; from my soul

I lov'd thee ; nor wouldst thou with others go

Or to the meal, or in the house be fed,

Till on my knee thou satt'st, and by my hand 570

Thy food were cut, the cup were tender'd thee ;

And often, in thy childish helplessness,

The bosom of my dress with wine was drench'd ;

Such care I had of thee, such pains I took,

Rememb'ring that by HeavVs decree, no son 575

Of mine I e'er might see ; then thee I made,

Achilles, rival of the Gods, my son,

That thou mightst be the guardian of mine age.

But thou, Achilles, curb thy noble rage ;

A heart implacable beseems thee not. 580

The Gods themselves, in virtue, honour, strength,

Excelling thee, may yet be mollified ;

For they, when mortals have transgress'd, or fail'd

To do aright, by sacrifice and pray'r,

Libations and burnt -off'rings, may be sooth'd. 585

Pray'rs are the daughters of immortal Jove ;

But halt, and wrinkled, and of feeble sight,

They plod in Ate's track ; while Ate, strong


And swift of foot, outstrips their laggard pace,

And, dealing woe to man, o'er all the earth 590

Before them flies : they, following, heal her wounds.

Him who with honour welcomes their approach,

They greatly aid, and hear him when he prays ;

But who rejects, and sternly casts them off,

To Saturn's son they go, and make their pray'r 595

That Ate follow him and claim her dues.

Then to the daughters of immortal Jove,

Do thou, Achilles, show the like respect,

That many another brave man's heart hath sway'd. •

If to thy tent no gifts Atrides brought, 600

With promises of more, but still retain'd

His vehement enmity, I could not ask

That thou thy cherish'd anger shouldst discard,

And aid the Greeks, how great so-e'er their need.

But now large off 'rings hath he giv'n, and more 605

Hath promis'd ; and, of all the Greeks, hath sent

To pray thine aid, the men thou lov'st the best.

Discredit not their mission, nor their words.

Till now, I grant thee, none could blame thy wrath.

In praise of men in ancient days renown'd, 610


This have we heard, that how-so-e'er might rage

Their hostile feuds, their anger might be still

By gifts averted, and by words appeas'd.

One case I bear in mind, in times long past,

And not in later days ; and here, 'mid friends, 615

How all occurr'd, will I at length recite.

Time was, that with JEtolia's warlike bands

Round Calydon the Acarnanians fought

With mutual slaughter ; these to save the town,

The Acarnanians burning to destroy. 020

This curse of war the golden-throned Queen

Diana sent, in anger that from her

(Eneus the first-fruits of his field withheld.

The other Gods their hecatombs receiv'd ;

Diana's shrine alone no off 'rings deek'd, 625

Neglected, or o'erlook'd ; the sin was great ;

And in her wrath the arrow-darting Queen

A savage wild-boar sent, with gleaming tusks,

"Which (Eneus' vineyard haunting, wrought him harm.

There laid he prostrate many a stately tree, 630

With root and branch, with blossom and with fruit.

Him Meleager, son of (Eneus, slew,


"With youths and clogs from all the neighbouring towns

Collected ; smaller force had not avail'd,

So huge he was, so fierce ; and many a youth 635

Had by his tusks been laid upon the bier.

A fierce contention then the Goddess rais'd,

For the boar's head and bristly hide, between

The Acarnanian and th' iEtolian bands.

While warlike Meleager kept the field, 640

So long the Acarnanians far'd but ill ;

Nor dar'd, despite the numbers of their host,

Maintain their ground before the city walls.

"When he to anger yielded, which sometimes

Swells in the bosom e'en of wisest men, 645

Incens'd against his mother, he withdrew

To Cleopatra fair, his wedded wife ;

(Marpessa her, Evenus' daughter, bore

To Idas, strongest man of all who then

Were living, who against Apollo's self 650

For the neat-footed maiden bent his bow.

Her parents call'd the child Alcyone,

In mem'ry of the tears her mother shed,

Rival of Alcyon's melancholy fate,


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