Homer.

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

. (page 14 of 18)
Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad of Homer rendered into English blank verse (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


When by far-darting Plioebus forc'd away). 655

With her, retiring from the field, he nurs'd

His wrath ; resenting thus his mother's curse,

Althasa ; she her brother's death bore hard,

And pray'd to Heav'n above, and with her hands

Beating the solid earth, the nether pow'rs, 660

Pluto and awful Proserpine, implor'd,

Down on her knees, her bosom wet with tears,

Death on her son invoking ; from the depths

Of Erebus Erinnys heard her pray'r,

Gloom-haunting Goddess, dark and stern of heart. 665

Soon round the gates the din of battle rose,

The tow'rs by storm assaulted ; then his aid

Th' ^Etonian Elders and the sacred priests

With promises of great reward implor'd.

A fruitful plot they bade him set apart, 670

The richest land in lovely Calydon,

Of fifty acres : half for vineyard meet,

And half of fertile plain, for tillage clear'd.

Upon the threshold of his lofty rooms

Old CEneus stood, and at the portals clos'd 675

He knock'd in vain, a suppliant to his son.



318 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book IX.

His sisters and his brother join'd their pray'rs,

But sterner his rejection of their suit ;

The friends he valued most, and lov'd the best,

Yet they too fail'd his fix'd resolve to shake ; 680

Till to his very doors the war had reach'd,

The foe upon the tow'rs, the town in flames :

Then Meleager's beauteous wife, at length,

In tears, beseeching him, the thousand ills

Recall'd, which on a captur'd town attend ; 685

The slaughter'd men, the city burnt with fire,

The helpless children and deep-bosom'd dames

A prey to strangers. List'ning to the tale,

His spirit was rous'd within him ; and again

He took the field, and donn'd his glitt'ring arms.

Thus did his act from doom th' JEtolians save 691

Spontaneous ; yet he gain'd not, though he savVl,

The rich reward they once were pledg'd to give.

But be not thou like him, nor let thy God

Turn thitherward thy thoughts ; our ships on fire,695

Thine aid will less be priz'd ; come, take the gifts,

And as a God be honour'd by the Greeks.

If thou hereafter, unsolicited,



BookIX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 319

The battle join, the Greeks thou mayst protect,

But not an equal share of honour gain." 700

Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot :
" Phoenix, my second father, rev'rend sire,
Such honours move me not ; my honour comes
From Jove, whose will it is that I should here
Remain beside the ships, while I retain 705

Breath in my lungs and vigour in my limbs.
This too I say, and bear it in thy mind :
Disturb me not with weeping and complaints,
To do Atrides grace ; if him thou love,
My love for thee perchance may turn to hate : 710
My friend should honour him who honours me.
But come with me, and of my kingdom half,
And equal honours shalt thou share with me.
These shall our message bear ; stay thou the while,
And on soft couch repose ; to-morrow morn 71

Will we determine or to sail or stay."

He said, and with his eyebrows gave a sign
In silence to Patroclus, to prepare
A bed for Phoenix, that without delay
The rest might leave the tent ; then thus began



r.



320 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book IX.

Ajax, the godlike sou of Telamon : 721

" Ulysses sage, Laertes' high-born son,

Depart we now ; for this way our discourse

Can lead to no result ; behoves us bear

Our tidings, all unwelcome as they are, 725

Back to the chiefs awaiting our return.

Achilles hath allow'd his noble heart

To cherish rancour and malignant hate ;

Nor recks he of his old companions' love,

Wherewith we honour'd him above the rest. 730

Eelentless he ! a son's or brother's death,

By payment of a fine, may be aton'd ;

The slayer may remain in peace at home,

The debt discharged ; the other will forego,

The forfeiture receiv'd, his just revenge ; 735

But thou maintain'st a stern, obdurate mood.

And for a single girl ! we offer sev'n,

Surpassing fair, and other gifts to boot.

We now bespeak thy courtesy ; respect

Thy hearth ; remember that beneath thy roof 740

Wc stand, deputed by the gen'ral voice

Of all the host ; and fain would claim to be,



Book IX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 321

Of all the Greeks, thy best and dearest friends."

"Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot :

" Illustrious Ajax, son of Telamon, 745

Without offence hast thou thy message giv'n ;

But fury fills my soul, whene'er I think

How Agamemnon, 'mid th' assembled Greeks,

Insulting, held me forth to public scorn,

As some dishonour'd, houseless vagabond. 750

But go ye now, and bear my answer back :

Ko more in bloody war will I engage,

Till noble Hector, Priam's godlike son,

O'er slaughter'd Greeks, your ships enwrapp'd in fire,

Shall reach the quarters of the Myrmidons. 755

Ere he assail my ship and tents, I think

That Hector, valiant as he is, will pause."

Thus he : they each the double goblet rais'd,

And, to the Gods their due libations pour'd,

Ulysses leading, to the ships return'd. 760

Meanwhile Patroclus bade th' attendant maids

Prepare a bed for Phoenix ; they obey'd,

And quickly laid the bed with fleeces warm,

And rugs, and linen light and fine o'erspread.

vol. i. w



322 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book IX.

There slept th' old man, and waited for the morn. 765

"Within the tent's recess Achilles slept ;

And by his side, from Lesbos captive brought,

Daughter of Phorbas, Diomede fair ;

On th' other side Patroclus lay ; with him

The graceful Iphis, whom, when Scyros' isle 770

He captur'd, and Enyes' rock-built fort,

Achilles to his lov'd companion gave.

"When to Atrides' tent the envoys came,
The chiefs, uprising, pledg'd them one by one
In golden goblets ; then their tidings ask'd. 775

First Agamemnon, King of men, enquir'd :
" Tell me, renown'd Ulysses, pride of Greece,
"What says he : will he save our ships from fire,
Or still, in wrathful mood, withhold his aid ?"

To whom again Ulysses, stout of heart : 780

" Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
His anger is not quench'd, but fiercer still
It glows ; thy gifts and thee alike he spurns ;
He bids thee with the other chiefs concert
The means thy people and thy ships to save ; 785
And menaces himself at early dawn



BookIX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 323

To launch his well-trimm'd vessels on the main.

Kay more, he counsels others, so he says,

Homeward to turn, since here of lofty Troy

"We see not yet the end ; all-seeing Jove 790

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

Her people all with confidence are fill'd.

Such was his language ; here before you stand

Ajax and both the heralds, sage, grave men,

Who with me went, and will confirm my words. 795

Old Phomix left we there, so will'd the chief,

That with the morrow he with him may sail,

And seek their native land, if so he will ;

For not by force will he remove him hence."

Ulysses thus ; they all in silence heard, 800

Amaz'd, so stern the message that he bore.
Long time in silence sat the chiefs of Greece.
Outspoke at length the valiant Diomed :
" Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
Would that thou ne'er hadst stoop'd with costly gifts
To sue for aid from Peleus' matchless son ; 806

For he before was over-proud, and now
Thine offers will have tenfold swoll'n his pride.



324 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book IX.

But leave we him, according to his will.
To go or stay : he then will join the fight, 810

"When his own spirit shall prompt, or Heav'n inspire.
But hear ye all, and do as I advise :
Refresh'd with food and wine (for therein lie
Both strength and courage), turn we to our rest ;
And when the rosy-finger'd morn appears, 815

Thyself among the foremost, with bold hearts,
Before our ships both horse and foot array."

He said ; and all the chiefs with loud applause
His speech confirm'd ; then, due libations pour'd,
Each to his sev'ral tent they all withdrew ; 820

Then laid them down, and sought the boon of sleep. 821



ARGUMENT.

THE NIGHT AD VENTURE OP DIOMED AND ULYSSES.

Upon the refusal of Achilles to return to the army, the distress of
Agamemnon is described in the most lively manner. He takes
no rest that night, but passes through the camp, awaking the
leaders, and contriving all possible methods for the public safety.
Meneliius, Nestor, Ulysses, and Diomed, are employed in raising
the rest of the captains. They call a council of war, and deter-
mine to send scouts into the enemy's camp, to learn their pos-
ture, and discover their intentions. Diomed undertakes the
hazardous enterprise, and makes choice of Ulysses for his com-
panion. In their passage they surprise Dolon, whom Hector had
sent on a like design to the camp of the Grecians. From him
they are informed of the situation of the Trojans and auxiliary
forces, and particularly of Rhesus, and the Thracians, who were
lately arrived. They pass on with success; kill Rhesus with
several of his officers, and seize the famous horses of that prince,
with which they return in triumph to the camp.

The same night continues ; the scene lies in the two camps.



BookX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 327



BOOK X.

K night-long slumbers lay the other chiefs
Of all the Greeks, by gentle sleep subdued ;
But not on Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
By various cares oppress'd, sweet slumber fell.
As when from Jove, the fair-hair'd Juno's Lord, 5
Flashes the lightning, bringing in its train
Tempestuous storm of mingled rain and hail
Or snow, by winter sprinkled o'er the fields ;
Or op'ning wide the rav'nous jaws of war ;
So Agamemnon from his inmost heart 10

Pour'd forth in groans his multitudinous grief,
His spirit within him sinking. On the plain
He look'd, and there, alarm'd, the watchfires saw,
Which, far advanc'd before the walls of Troy,
Blaz'd numberless ; and thence of pipes and flutes 15
He heard the sound, and busy hum of men.
Upon the ships he look'd, and men of Greece,



328 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book X.

And by the roots his hair in handfuls tore

To Jove on high ; deep groan'd his mighty heart.

Thus as he nius'd, the wisest course appear'd, 20

"With JSTestor, son of ISTeleus, to confer,

If they some scheme in council might devise

To ward destruction from the Grecian host.

He rose, and o'er his body drew his vest,

And underneath his well-turn' d feet he bound 25

His sandals fair ; then o'er his shoulders threw,

Down reaching to his feet, a lion's skin,

Tawny and vast ; then grasp'd his pond'rous spear.

On Meneliius weigh'd an equal dread ;
3STor on his eyes that night had slumber sat, 30

Lest ill befall the Greeks ; who, in his cause,
Crossing the wat'ry waste, had come to Troy,
And bold defiance to the Trojans giv'n.
Round his broad chest a panther's skin he threw ;
Then on his head his brazen helmet plac'd, 35

And in his brawny hand a lance he bore.
To meet his brother went he forth, of Greece
The mighty monarch, as a God rever'd.
Him by the ship he found, in act to arm ;



BookX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 329

And -welcome was his presence to the King. 40

Then valiant Meneliius first began :
"Why thus in arms, good brother? seek'st thou one
The Trojan camp to spy ? I greatly fear
That none will undertake the task, alone
To spy the movements of the hostile camp 45

In the dark night ; stout-hearted he must be."

To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus :
" Great need, my noble brother, have we both
Of sagest counsels, if we hope the Greeks
And Grecian ships from ruin to preserve, 50

Since turn'd against us is the mind of Jove.
To Hector's off 'rings most his soul inclines ;
For never have I seen, or heard men tell,
How in one day one man has wrought such loss
As Hector, dear to Jove, yet not the son 55

Of God or Goddess, on the Greeks has wrought.
Such deeds hath he achiev'd, such havoc made,
As we shall long in bitter mem'ry keep.
Haste thou amid the ships, and hither bring
Idomeneus and Ajax; I the while 6C

Will Nestor rouse, and urge that he with us



330 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book X.

The outposts visit, and instruct the guard.

To him they best will listen; for his son

Commands the watch ; with him Meriones,

The follower of the King Idomeneus : 65

To them by pref'rence hath this charge been giv'n."

He said : and Menelaus answer'd thus :
" What wouldst thou have me do then ? here remain
"With them, and wait thy coming, or to them
Thy message give, and follow in thy steps ? " 70

Him answer'd Agamemnon, King of men :
" Remain thou here, lest haply we might fail
To meet ; for in the camp are many paths.
But thou, where'er thou go'st, each sev'ral man
Address, and ask to rise ; to each his name 75

And patronymic giving ; pay to each
All due respect ; nor bear thee haughtily ;
We like the rest must share the load of toil, «
Which Jove assigns to all of mortal birth."

His brother thus with counsels wise dismiss'd, 80
The King to aged Nestor took his way :
Him by his tent and dark-ribb'd ship he found
On a soft couch ; beside him lay his arms,



BookX. HOMEK'S ILIAD. 331

His shield, two lances, and a glitt'ring helm :

There lay the rich- wrought belt the old man wore, 85

When to the battle, arm'd, he led his troops ;

For nought to age's weakness would he yield.

Raising his head, and oU his elbow propp'd,

He question'd thus Atrides : " Who art thou,

That wand'rest through th' encampment thus alone, 90

In the dark night, when other mortals sleep ?

Seek'st thou some mule broke loose, or comrade lost ?

Speak, nor in silence come ; what wouldst thou here ?"

To whom thus Agamemnon, King of men :
" O Nestor ! son of Keleus, pride of Greece, 95

Know me for Agamemnon, Atreus' son,
On whom hath Jove, beyond the lot of men,
Laid grief that ne'er shall end, while I retain
Breath in my lungs, and vigour in my limbs.
I wander thus, because these eyes of mine 100

Sweet slumber visits not, by cares of war
Oppress'd, and harass'd by the woes of Greece.
Much for the Greeks I fear ; nor keeps my mind
Its wonted firmness ; I am ill at ease ;
And leaps my troubled heart as tho' 'twould burst 105



332 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book X

My bosom's bounds ; my limbs beneath me shake.

But if thou wilt, since thou too know'st not sleep,

Together to the outposts let us go,

And see if there, by toil and sleep o'erpow'r'd,

The guard repose, neglectful of their watch. 110

The foe is close at hand ; nor are we sure

Ho may not hazard e'en a night attack."

To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied ;
" Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men,
Not all the hopes that Hector entertains 115

Shall by the Lord of counsel be fulfill'd ;
For him are toil and danger yet in store,
If but Achilles of his wrath repent.
Gladly will I attend thee ; others too,
Tydides, spearman bold, Ulysses sage, 120

Ajax the swift, and Phyleus' noble son,
Should all be summon'd ; and 'twere well that one
Across the camp should run, to call in haste
The godlike Ajax, and Idomeneus ;
Theirs are the farthest ships, nor near at hand. 125
But, dear to me as Menelaus is,
And highly honour'd, I must blame, that thus



bookX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 333

(Though thou shouldst take offence, I needs must say)
He sleeps, and leaves the toil to thee alone.
With all the chiefs he should be busied now, 130

Imploring aid, in this our utmost need."

To whom thus Agamemnon, King of men :
" For other times, old man, reserve thy blame ;
Sometimes, I own, he lags behind, nor takes
His share of labour ; not from indolence, 135

Or want of sense ; but still regarding me ;
Waiting from me an impulse to receive.
But now, before me he was up, and came
To visit me ; and I have sent him on
To call those very men whom thou hast nam'd. 140
Come then ; for we, beside the gates, and guard
Shall find them ; there my orders were to meet."

To whom Gerenian ISTestor thus replied ;
" Then none can blame him ; nor can any Greek
Justly refuse his summons to obey." 145

He said, and round his body wrapped his vest ;
Then on his feet his sandals fair he bound,
And o'er his shoulders clasp'd a purple cloak,
Doubled, with ample folds, and downy pile ;



331 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book X.

Then took his spear, with point of sharpen'd brass, 150
And through the camp prepar'd to take his way.
Gerenian Nestor from his slumbers first
Ulysses, sage as Jove in council, rous'd,
Loud shouting ; soon the voice his senses reach'd ;
Forth from his tent he came, and thus he spoke : 155
" What cause so urgent leads you, through the camp,
In the dark night to wander thus alone ?"

To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied :
" Ulysses sage, Laertes' godlike son,
Be not offended ; such the stress that now 160

Weighs down our army ; come thou then with us,
And others let us call ; with whom 'tis meet
That we should counsel take, to fight or fly."

He said ; Ulysses to the tent return'd ;
Then, his broad shield across his shoulders thrown, 165
Came forth again, and with them took his way.
To Diomed, the son of Tydeus, next
They went ; and him they found beside his arms,
Without his tent ; his comrades slept around,
Their heads upon their bucklers laid ; their spears
Stood upright, on the butts ; the burnish'd brass 171



BookX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 335

Like Heav'n's own lightning, flashing far around.
Streteh'd on a wild bull's hide the chief repos'd,
A gay-wrought carpet roll'd beneath his head.
Gerenian Nestor close behind him stood, 175

And touched him with his foot, and thus in tone
Reproachful spoke : " Arouse thee, Tydeus' son !
Why sleep'st thou thus all night ? or know'st thou not
That on the very margin of the plain,
And close beside the ships the Trojans lie, 180

And little space between the camps is left ?"

Quick rous'd from sleep, thus answer'd Diomed :
" Beshrew thy heart, old man ! no labour seems
For thee too hard ; are there not younger men
To run about the camp, and summon all 185

The sev'ral chiefs ? thou dost too much, old man."

To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied :
" True, friend, and full of wisdom are thy words ;
Good sons indeed I have, and followers brave
And many, who might well my message bear ; 190
But great is now the stress that lies on Greece ;
For on a razor's edge is balanc'd now,
To all the Greeks, the chance of life or death.



336 HOMEK'S ILIAD. Book X

Do tliou then go (for thou my younger art),

And if thou pity me, thyself arouse 195

Ajax the swift, and Phyleus' noble son."

lie said ; the warrior round his shoulders threw,

Down reaching to his feet, a lion's hide,

Tawny and dark ; and took his pond'rous spear.

He went, arous'd, and with him brought the chiefs. 200

"When to the guard they came, not sunk in sleep
Found they the leaders ; but on wakeful watch
Intent, and all alert beside their arms.
As round a sheepfold keep their anxious watch
The dogs, who in the neighbouring thicket hear 205
Some beast, that, bold in search of prey, has come
Down from the mountain ; loud the clamours rise
Of men and dogs ; all sleep is banish'd thence ;
So from their eyes was banish'd sleep, who watch'd
Through that disastrous night ; still plainward turning
At ev'ry movement in the Trojan camp. 211

The old man saw, well-pleas'd ; and thus address'd
"With cheering words the captains of the guard :
" "Watch ever thus, good youths; nor be surpris'd
By slumber, lest the foe a triumph gain." 215



BookX. HOMEli'S ILIAD. 337

This said, lie cross'd the ditch, and with him went
The Grecian leaders, to the council call'd :
With them, admitted to the conf 'rence, went
Meriones, and Nestor's noble son.
The deep-dug ditch they cross'd, and sat them down
Upon an open space, from corpses clear ; 221

Where Hector from the slaughter of the Greeks
Turn'd back, when Ev'ning spread her veil around :
There sat they down, and there the conf 'rence held.
Gerenian Nestor first took up the word : 225

" O friends ! is any here with heart so bold
Who dares, self-confident, the Trojan camp
To enter ? there some straggler he might take,
Or in the camp itself some tidings gain,
What are their secret counsels ; if they mean 230
Here by the ships to hold their ground, or back,
Sated with vict'ry, to the town retire.
This could he learn, and hither scatheless bring
His tidings, high as Heav'n in all men's mouths
Would be his praise, and ample his reward. 235

For ev'ry captain of a ship should give
A. coal-black ewe, and at her foot a lamb,

VOL. I. X



338 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book X.

A prize beyond compare ; and high should be
His place at banquets and at solemn feasts."

He said ; but all the chiefs in silence heard ; 240
Then rose the valiant Diomed, and said :
" Nestor, that heart is mine ; I dare alone
Enter the hostile camp, so close at hand ;
Yet were one comrade giv'n me, I should go
"With more of comfort, more of confidence. 245

"Where two combine, one before other sees
The better course ; and ev'n though one alone
The readiest way discover, yet would be
His judgment slower, his decision less."

He said, and many chiefs to Diomed 250

Proffer'd companionship ; stood forth at once,
"With him to penetrate the Trojan camp,
The two Ajaces, ministers of Mars ;
Stood forth Meriones, and eagerly
Stood forth the son of ISTestor; Atreus' son, 255

The royal Menelaus, spearman bold,
And stout Ulysses, whose enduring heart
For ev'ry deed of valour was prepar'd.
Hose Agamemnon, King of men, and said :



BookX. HOMER'S ILIAD. 339

" Tydides, comrade dearest to my soul, 260

Choose thou thine own companion, whom thou wilt ;

Of all the many here that proffer aid

Him whom thou deem'st the best ; nor from respect

To persons leave the better man behind,

And take the worse ; nor def 'rence show to rank, 265

Not though the purest royal blood were his."

In fear for Menelaus thus he spoke :
Then answer'd valiant Diomed, and said ;
'■ If my companion I may freely choose,
How can I pass the sage Ulysses by ? 270

Of ready wit, and dauntless courage, prov'd
In ev'ry danger ; and to Pallas dear.
I should not fear, by him accompanied,
To pass through fire, and safely both return ;
So far in prudence he surpasses all." 275

"Whom answer'd thus Ulysses, stout of heart :
" Tydides, nor exaggerated praise
Restow on me, nor censure ; for thou speak'st
To those who know me all for what I am.
But go we ; night wanes fast, the morn is near : 280
The stars are high in Heav'n ; and of the night



340 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book X

Two thirds are spent, one third alone remains."

He said ; and both prepar'd to don their arms.
The youthful warrior Thrasymedes gave
\/ To Diomed a two-edg'd sword (his own 285

Had in the ship been left) and ample shield ;
Then on his brows a leathern headpiece plac'd,
Without or peak or plume ; a simple casque,
Such as is worn by youths to guard their head.
A bow, and well-fill'd quiver, and a sword, 290

Meriones to sage Ulysses gave ;
And on his brows a leathern headpiece plac'd,
Well wrought within, with num'rous straps secur'd,
And on th' outside, with wild boars' gleaming tusks
Profusely garnish'd, scatter'd here and there 295

By skilful hand ; the midst with felt was lin'd ;
This from Amyntor, son of Ormenus,
Autolycus from Eleon bore away,
Spoil of his pillag'd house ; Autolycus
Gave to Amphidamas, Cytheran chief, 300

Who in Scandea dwelt ; Amphidamas
To Molus, pledge of friendship ; he again
Gave to his son, Meriones, from whom



BookX. HOMEE'S ILIAD. 341

It now encircled sage Ulysses' brow.

Thus with accoutrements and arms supplied, 305

They left their brother chiefs, and took their way.

Then close beside their path, by Pallas sent,

Rose, on the right, a heron ; through the gloom

They saw it not indeed, but heard the cry.

The fav'ring sign with joy Ulysses hail'd, 310

And thus to Pallas pray'd : " Hear me, thou child

Of aegis-bearing Jove, who still hast stood

In ev'ry peril at my side, whose eye

My ev'ry movement sees ; now, Goddess, now

Befriend me ; grant that safe, with triumph crown'd,

We may return, some great exploit achiev'd, 316

Such as the Trojans long may bear in mind."

Him following, thus the brave Tydides pray'd :
" My voice too, child of Jove, undaunted, hear ;
And be with me, as with my father erst, 320

The godlike Tydeus, when to Thebes he went,
An envoy, in advance ; and left behind,
Upon Asopus' banks the mail-clad Greeks.
Smooth Avas the message which to Thebes he bore ;
But great, his mission ended, were the deeds 325



342 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book X.

That with thine aid he wrought ; for, Goddess, thou

Wast with him, and thine arm was his defence :

So be thou now with me, and me defend.

Then on thine altar will I sacrifice

A yearling heifer, broad of brow, untam'd, 330

Whereon no yoke hath mortal ever laid :

Her will I give, and tip her horns with gold."

Thus as they pray'd, their pray'r the Goddess heard ;
Then, their devotions ended, on they far'cl


1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 14 16 17 18

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad of Homer rendered into English blank verse (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 18)