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

. (page 17 of 18)
Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad of Homer rendered into English blank verse (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Bore Nestor and Machaon from the field ;
Achilles saw, and mark'd them where he stood
Upon his lofty vessel's prow, and watch'd 685

The grievous toil, the lamentable rout.
Then on his friend Patroclus from the ship
He call'd aloud ; he heard his voice, and forth,
As Mars majestic, from the tent he came:
(That day commenc'd his evil destiny) G90

And thus Mencetius' noble son began :

"Why call'st thoume? whatwouldst thou, Peleus'son V }
To whom Achilles, swift of foot, replied :
" Son of Mencetius, dearest to my soul,
Soon must the suppliant Greeks before me kneel, 695
So insupportable is now their need.
But haste thee now, Patroclus, dear to Jove :
Enquire of ISTestor, from the battle field

book XI. HOMER'S ILIAD. 391

Whom brings lie wounded ; looking from beliind
Most like he seem'd to iEsculapius' son, 700

Machaon ; but his face I could not see,
So swiftly past the eager horses new."

He said : obedient to his friend's command,
Quick to the tents and ships Patroclus ran.

They, when they reach'd the tent of Neleus' son, 705
Descended to the ground ; Eurymedon
The old man's mares unharness'd from the car,
While on the beach they fac'd the cooling breeze,
Which from their garments dried the sweat ; then

And in the tent on easy seats repos'd. 710

For them the fair-hair'd Hecamede mix'd
A cordial potion ; her from Tenedos,
When by Achilles ta'en, the old man brought ;
Daughter of great Arsinous, whom the Greeks
On him, their sagest councillor, bestow'd. 715

Before them first a table fair she spread,
Well polish'd, and with feet of solid bronze ;
On this a brazen canister she plac'd,
f And onions, as a relish to the wine,


And pale clear honey, and pure barley meal : 720

By these a splendid goblet, which from home

Th' old man had brought, with golden studs adorn'd :

Four were its handles, and round each two doves

Appear'd to feed ; at either end, a cup.

Scarce might another move it from the board, 725

"When full ; but aged Nestor rais'd with ease.

In this, their goddess-like attendant first

A gen'rous measure mix'd of Pramnian wine :

Then with a brazen grater shredded o'er

The goatsmilk cheese, and whitest barley meal, 730

And of the draught compounded bade them drink.

They drank, and then, reliev'd the parching thirst,

With mutual converse entertain'd the hour.

Before the gate divine Patroclus stood :

The old man saw, and from his seat arose, 735

And took him by the hand. and led him in,

And bade him sit ; but he, refusing, said :

" ISTo seat for me, thou venerable sire !
I must not stay ; for he both awe and fear
Commands, who hither sent me to enquire 740

"What wounded man thou hast ; I need not ask,


I know Machaon well, his people's guard.

My errand done, I must my message bear

Back to Achilles ; and thou know'st thyself,

Thou venerable sire, how stern his mood : 745

Nay sometimes blames he, where no blame is due "

To whom Gerenian JSTestor thus replied :
" Whence comes Achilles' pity for the Greeks
By Trojan weapons wounded ? knows he not
What depth of suff 'ring through the camp prevails %
How in the ships, by arrow or by spear 751

Sore wounded, all our best and bravest lie ?
The valiant son of Tydeus, Diomed,
Pierc'd by a shaft ; Ulysses by a spear,
And Agamemnon's self; Eurypylus 755

By a sharp arrow through the thigh transfix'd ;
And here another, whom but now I bring,
Shot by a bow, from off the battle field :
Achilles, valiant as he is, the while
For Grecian woes nor care nor pity feels.
Waits he, until our ships beside the sea,
In our despite, are burnt by hostile fires,
And we be singly slain ? not mine is now



The strength. I boasted once of active limbs,

that such youth and vigour yet were mine, 765
As when about a cattle-lifting raid

"We fought th' Eleans ; there Itymoneus

1 slew, the son of brave Hyperochus,
Who dwelt in Elis ; and my booty drove.

He sought to guard the herd ; but from my hand 770

A jav'lin struck him in the foremost ranks :

He fell, and terror seiz'd the rustic crowd.

Abundant store of plunder from the plain

We drove : of horned cattle fifty herds ;

As many flocks of sheep, as many droves 775

Of swine, as many wide-spread herds of goats,

And thrice so many golden-chesnut mares,

The foals of many running with their dams.

To Pylos, Neleus' city, these we drove

By night ; and much it gladden'd Neleus' heart, 780

That I, though new to war, such prize had won.

When morn appear'd, the clear-voic'd heralds call'd

For all to whom from Elis debts were due ;

Collected thus, the Pylians' leading men

Division made : for Elis ow'd us much ; 785


Such wrongs we few in Pylos had sustain'd.

The might of Hercules in former years

Had storm'd our town, and all our bravest slain.

Twelve gallant sons had Keleus ; I of these

Alone was left ; the others all were gone. 790

Whence over-proud, th' Epeians treated us

With insult, and high-handed violence.

A herd of oxen now, and num'rous flock

Of sheep, th' old man selected for himself,

Three hundred, with their shepherds ; for to him 795

Large compensation was from Elis due.

Train'd to the course, four horses, with their cars,

He for the Tripod at th' Elean games

Had sent to run ; these Augeas, King of men,

Detain'd, and bade the drivers home return, 800

Bootless, and grieving for their horses' loss.

Th' old man his words resenting, and his acts,

Large spoils retain' d ; the rest among the crowd

He shar'd, that none might lose his portion due.

These we dispos'd of soon, and to the Gocls 805

Due off 'rings made ; but when the third day rose,

Back in all haste, in numbers, horse and foot,


Our foes return' d ; with them the Molion twins,

Yet boys, mitutor'd in the arts of war.

Far off, by Alpheus' banks, th' extremest verge 810

Of sandy Pylos, is a lofty mound,

The city of Thryum ; which around, intent

To raze its walls, their army was encamp'd.

The plain already they had overspread ;

"When Pallas from Olympus' heights came down 815

In haste, and bade us all prepare for war.

On no unwilling ears her message fell,

But eager all for light ; but me, to arm

ISTeleus forbade, and e'en my horses hid,

Deeming me yet unripe for deeds of war. 820

Yet so, albeit on foot, by Pallas' grace

A name I gain'd above our noblest horse.

There is a river, Minyis by name,

Hard by Arene, flowing to the sea,

"Where we, the Pylian horse, expecting morn, 825

Encamp'd, by troops of footmen quickly join'd.

Thence in all haste advancing, all in arms,

We reach'd, by midday, Alpheus' sacred stream.

There, to o'erruling Jove our off 'rings made,


To Alpheus and to Neptune each a bull, 830

To Pallas, blue-ey'd Maid, a heifer fair,

In order'd ranks we took our ev'ning meal,

And each in arms upon the river's brink

Lay down to rest ; for close beside us lay

Th' Epeians, on the town's destruction bent. 835

Then saw they mighty deeds of war display'd ;

For we, as sunlight overspread the earth,

To Jove and Pallas praying, battle gave.

But when the Pylians and th' Epeians met,

I first a warrior slew, and seiz'd his car, 840

Bold spearman, Mulius ; Augeas' son-in-law,

His eldest daughter's husband, Agamede,

The yellow-hair'd, who all the virtues knew

Of each medicinal herb the wide world grows.

Him, with my brass-tipp'd spear, as on he came, 845

I slew ; he fell ; I, rushing to his car,

Stood 'mid the foremost ranks ; th' Epeians brave

Fled diverse, when they saw their champion fall,

Chief of their horsemen, foremost in the fight.

"With the dark whirlwind's force,! onward rush'd, 850

And fifty cars I took ; two men in each


Fell to my spear, and bit the bloody dust.

Then Actor's sons, the Molions, had I slain,

Had not tli' Earth-shaking God, their mighty sire,

Veil'd in thick cloud, withdrawn them from the field ;

Then Jove great glory to the Pylians gave. 856

For o'er the wide-spread plain we held pursuit,

Slaying, and gath'ring up the scatter'd arms,

Nor till corn-clad Buprasium, and the rock

Olenian, and Alesium, term'd the Mound, 860

Stay'd we our steeds ; there Pallas bade us turn.

There the last man I slew, and left ; the Greeks

Back from Buprasium drove their flying cars

To Pylos, magnifying all the name,

'Mid men, of Nestor, as 'mid Gods, of Jove. 865

Such once was I 'mid men, while yet I was ;

Now to himself alone Achilles keeps

His valour ; yet hereafter, when the Greeks

Have perish'd all, remorse shall touch his soul.

Dear friend, remember now th' injunctions giv'n 870

By old Mencetius, when from Phthian land

He sent thee forth to Agamemnon's aid :

I, and Laertes' godlike son, within,


Heard all his counsel ; to the well-built house

Of Peleus we on embassy had come, 875

Throughout Achaia's fertile lands to raise

The means of war ; Menoetius there we found,

Achilles, and thyself within the house ;

While in the court-yard aged Peleus slew,

And to the Lord of thunder offer' d up 880

A fatten'd steer ; and from a golden bowl

O'er the burnt-off 'ring pour'd the ruddy wine.

We two, while ye were busied with the flesh,

Stood at the gate ; surpris'd, Achilles rose.

And took us by the hand, and bade us sit, 885

Dispensing all the hospitable rites.

With food and wine recruited, I began

My speech, and urg'd ye both to join the war :

Kor were ye loth to go ; much sage advice

Your elders gave ; old Peleus bade his son 890

To aim at highest honours, and surpass

His comrades all ; Menoetius, Actor's son,

To thee this counsel gave : ' My son,' he said,

' Achilles is by birth above thee far ;

Thou art in years the elder ; he in strength 895


Surpasses thee ; do thou with prudent words
And timely speech address him, and advise
And guide him ; he will, to his good, obey.'

' Such were the old man's words ; but thou hast let
His counsel slip thy mem'ry ; yet ev'n now 900

Speak to Achilles thus, and stir his soul,
If haply he will hear thee ; and who knows
But by the grace of Heav'n thou mayst prevail ?
For great is oft a friend's persuasive pow'r.
But if the fear of evil prophesied, 905

Or message by his Goddess-mother brought
From Jove, restrain him, let him send thee forth
"With all his force of warlike Myrmidons,
That thou mayst be the saving light of Greece.
Then let him bid thee to the battle bear 910

His glitt'ring arms ; if so the men of Troy,
Scar'd by his likeness, may forsake the field,
And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece,
Toil-worn ; for little pause has yet been theirs.
Fresh and unwearied, ye with ease may drive 915
To their own city, from our ships and tents,
The Trojans, worn and battle-wearied men."


Thus lie ; Patroclus' spirit within him burn'd,
And tow'rd Achilles' tent in haste he sped.
But, running, as Ulysses' ship he pass'd, 920

Where was the Council and the Justice-seat,
And where were "built the altars of the Gods,
There met him, halting from the battle-field,
Shot through the thigh, Eusemon's Heav'n-born son,
Eurypylus ; his head and shoulders dank 925

With clammy sweat, while from his grievous wound
Stream'd the dark blood ; yet firm was still his soul.
Menoetius' noble son with pity saw,
And deeply sorrowing thus address'd the chief :

" Woe for the chiefs and councillors of Greece ! 930
And must ye, far from friends and native home,
Glut with your flesh the rav'ning dogs of Troy ?
Yet tell me this, Heav'n-born Eurypylus :
Still do the Greeks 'gainst Hector's giant force
Make head ? or fall they, vanquish'd by his spear ?"

To whom with prudent s£>eech, Eurypylus : 930

" JSTo source, Heav'n-born Patroclus, have the Greeks,

Of aid, but all must perish by their ships :

For in the ships lie all our bravest late,

VOL. i. 2B


By spear or arrow struck, by Trojan hands ; 940

And fiercer, hour by hour, their onset grows.

But save me now, and lead me to the ships ;

There cut the arrow out, and from the wound

With tepid water cleanse the clotted blood :

Then soothing drugs apply, of healing pow'r, 945

"Which from Achilles, thou, 'tis said, hast learn'd,

From Chiron, justest of the Centaurs, he.

For Podalirius and Machaon both,

Our leeches, one lies wounded in the tents,

Himself requiring sore the leech's aid ; 950

The other on the plain still dares the fight."

To whom again Menostius' noble son :
" How may this be ? say, brave Eurypylus,
What must I do ? a messenger am I,
Sent by Gerenian Nestor, prop of Greece, 955

With tidings to Achilles ; yet ev'n so
I will not leave thee in this weary plight."

He said, and passing his supporting hand
Beneath his breast, the wounded warrior led
Within the tent ; th' attendant saw, and spread 960
The ox-hide couch ; then as he lay reclin'd,


Patroclus, with his dagger, from the thigh

Cut out the biting shaft ; and from the wound

"With tepid water cleans'd the clotted blood ;

Then, pounded in his hands, a root applied 965

Astringent, anodyne, which all his pain

Allay'd ; the wound was dried, and stanch'd the blood.



The Greeks naving retired into their entrenchments, Hector attempts
to force them ; hut it proving impossible to pass the ditch, Poly-
damas advises to quit their chariots, and manage the attack on
foot. The Trojans follow his counsel, and having divided their
army into five bodies of foot, begin the assault. But upon the
signal of an eagle with a serpent in his talons, which appeared on
the left hand of the Trojans, Polydamas endeavours to withdraw
them again. This Hector opposes, and continues the attack ;
in which, after many actions, Sarpedon makes the first breach
in the wall : Hector also, casting a stone of a vast size, forces
open one of the gates, and enters at the head of his troops, who
victoriously pursue the Grecians even to their ships.



nnHUS o'er the wounded chief Emypylus

Watch'd in his tent Menoetius' noble son ;
But hand to hand the Greeks and Trojans fought ;
Nor longer might the ditch th' assault repel,
Nor the broad wall above, which Greets had built, 5
To guard their ships, and round it dug the ditch ;
But to the Gods no hecatombs had paid,
That they the ships and all the stores within
Might safely keep ; against the will of Heav'n
The work was done, and thence not long endur'd. 10
While Hector liv'd, and Peleus' son his wrath
Eetain'd, and Priam's city untaken stood ;
So long the Grecian wall remain'd entire :
But of the Trojans when the best had fall'n,
Of Greeks, when some were slain, some yet survivd ;
When the tenth year had seen the fall of Troy, 16
And Greeks, embark'd,had ta'en their homeward way,

408 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book xn.

Then Neptune and Apollo counsel took

To sap the wall by aid of all the streams

That seaward from the heights of Ida flow ; 20

Rhesus, Caresus, and Heptaporus,

Granicus, and iEsepus, Rhodiusj

Scamander's stream divine, and Simois,

Where helms and shields lay buried in the sand,

And a whole race of warrior demigods : 25

These all Apollo to one channel turn'd ;

Nine days against the wall the torrent beat ;

And Jove sent rain continuous, that the wall

Might sooner be submerg'd ; while Neptune's self,

His trident in his hand, led on the stream, 30

"Washing away the deep foundations, laid,

Laborious, by the Greeks, with logs and stones,

Now by fast-flowing Hellespont dispers'd.

The wall destroy'd, o'er all the shore he spread

A sandy drift ; and bade the streams return 35

To where of old their silver waters flow'd.

Such were, in future days, to be the works

Of Neptune and Apollo ; but meanwhile;

Fierce rag'd the battle round the firm-built wall,



And frequent clatter'd on the turrets' beams 40

The hostile missiles : by the scourge of Jove

Subdued, the Greeks beside their ships were hemm'd,

By Hector scar'd, fell minister of Dread,

Who with the whirlwind's force, as ever, fouu'ht.

As when, by dogs and hunters circled round, 45

A boar, or lion, in his pride of strength,

Turns on his foes, while they in close array

Stand opposite, and frequent shoot their darts ;

Nor yet his spirit quails, but firm he stands

"With suicidal courage ; swift he turns, 50

Where best to break the circling ranks ; where'er

He makes his rush, the circling ranks give way :

So Hector, here and there, amid the crowd,

Urg'd his companions on to cross the ditch :

The fiery steeds shrank back, and, snorting, stood 55

Upon the topmost brink ; for the wide ditch

Withheld them, easy nor to leap nor cross :

For steep arose on either side the banks,

And at the top with sharpen'd stakes were crown'd,

Thick-set and strong, which there the sons of Greece

Had planted, to repel th' invading foes. Gl


Scarce might a horse, with well-wheel' d car attach'd,
Essay the passage ; but on foot they burn'd
To make th' attempt ; and thus Polydamas,
Approaching near, to valiant Hector spoke : 65

" Hector, and all ye other chiefs of Troy,
And brave Allies, in vain we seek to drive
Our horses o'er the ditch ; 'tis hard to cross ;
'Tis crown'd with pointed stakes, and them behind
Is built the Grecian wall ; there to descend TO

And from our cars in narrow space to fight
Were certain ruin. If it be indeed
The will of Jove, high-thund'ring, to confound
The Greeks in utter rout, and us to aid,
I should rejoice that ev'ry Greek forthwith 75

Far from his home should fill a nameless grave ;
But should they turn, and we again be driv'n
Back from the ships, and hurried down the ditch,
Such were our loss, that scarce a messenger
Would live to bear the tidings to the town 80

Of our destruction by the rallied Greeks.
Hear then my counsel ; let us all agree
With our attendants here upon the bank


To leave our horses ; and ourselves on foot.

All arm'd, press on where Hector leads ; the Greel

If that their doom be nigh, will make no stand." 86

Thus spoke Polydamas ; his counsel pleas'd ;
And Hector sprang, in arms, from off his car ;
Nor long, the noble Hector when they saw,
Delay'd the other chiefs ; then gave command 90
Each to his own attendant, by the ditch
To keep the chariots all in due array ;
Then paiting, form'd in order of attack,
In five divisions, with their sev'ral chiefs.
Round Hector throng'd, and bold Polydamas, 95
The best and bravest ; they who long'd the most
To storm the wall, and fight beside the ships.
With them Cebriones ; for Hector left,
To guard the horses, one of lesser note.
The next division was by Paris led, 100

Agenor, and Alcathous ; the third
By Helenas, and brave Deiphobus,
Two sons of Priam; Asius was the third,
Asius, the son of Hyrtacus; who brought
His tow'ring fiery steeds from Selles' stream, 105


Hard by Arisba ; stout ^Eneas led

The fourth, Auchises' son, Archilochus

With him, and Acamas, Antenor's sons ;

Both skill'd alike in ev'ry point of war.

Of the far-fam'd Allies, Sarpedon held 110

The chief command ; and for his comrades chose

Asteropseus, and the warlike might

Of Glaucus ; these o'er all the rest he held

Pre-eminent in valour, save himself,

"Who o'er them all superior stood confess'd. 115

These, interlac'd their shields of tough bull's-hide,

"With eager step advanc'd, and deem'd the Greeks

Would, unresisting, fall before their ships.

The other Trojans and renown'd Allies

The words of wise Polydamas obey'd : 120

But Asius, son of Hyrtacus, refus'd

His horses and his charioteer to leave,

With them advancing to assail the ships.

Blind fool, unconscious ! from before those ships,

Escap'd from death, with horses and with car 125

Triumphant, to the breezy heights of Troy

He never shall return ; ill-omen'd fate


O'ershadowing, dooms him by the spear to fall

Of brave Idomeneus, Deucalion's son.

He tow'rd the left inclin'd, what way the Greeks 130

With horse and chariot from the plain return'd.

That way he drove his horses ; and the gates

Unguarded found by bolt or massive bar.

Their warders held them open'd wide, to save

Perchance some comrade, flying from the plain. 135

Thither he bent his course ; with clamours loud

Follow 1 d his troops ; nor deem'd they that the Greeks

Would hold their ground, but fall amid their ships.

Little they knew ; before the gates they found

Two men, two warriors of the prime, two sons 140

Illustrious of the spear-skill'd Lapithte :

Stout Polypoetes one, Pirithous' son,

With whom Leonteus, bold as blood-stain'd Mars :

So stood these two before the lofty gates,

As on the mountain side two tow'ring oaks, 145

Which many a day have borne the wind and storm,

Firm rifted by their strong continuous roots :

So in their arms and vigour confident

Those two great Asms' charge, undaunted, met.


On th' other side, with shouts and wild uproar, 150
Their bull's-hide shields uplifted high, advanc'd
Against the well-built wall, Asius the King,
Ianienus, Orestes, Acamas
The son of Asius, and GEnomaus,
And Thoon ; those within to save the ships 155

Calling meanwhile on all the well-greav'd Greeks ;
But when they saw the wall by Trojans scal'd,
And heard the cry of Greeks in panic fear,
Sprang forth those two, before the gates to light.
As when two boars, upon the mountain side, 160

Await th' approaching din of men and dogs,
Then sideways rushing, snap the wood around,
Ripp'd from the roots ; loud clash their clatt'ring tusks,
Till to the huntsman's spear they yield their lives ;
So clatter'd on those champions' brass-clad breasts 165
The hostile weapons ; stubbornly they fought,
Relying on their strength, and friends above :
For from the well-built tow'rs huge stones were hurl'd
By those who for themselves, their tents and ships,
Maintain'd defensive warfare ; thick they fell, 170
As wintry snow-flakes, which the boist'rous wind,


Driving the shadowy clouds, spreads fast and closo

O'er all the surface of the fertile earth :

So thick,' from Grecian aud from. Trojan hands,

The weapons flew ; on helm and bossy shield 175

With grating sound the pond'rous masses rang.

Then deeply groaning, as he smote his thigh

Thus spoke dismay'd the son of Hyrtacus :

" O Father Jove, how hast thou lov'd our hopes

To falsify, who deem'd not that the Greeks 180

Would stand our onset, and resistless arms !

But they, as yellow-banded wasps, or bees,

That by some rocky pass have built their nests,

Abandon not their cavern'd home, but wait

Th' attack, and boldly for their offspring fight ; 185

So from the gates these two, though two alone,

Retire not, till they be or ta'en or slain."

He said : but Jove regarded not his words ;
So much on Hector's triumph he was bent.
Like battle rag'd round th' other gates ; but hard 190
It were for me, with godlike pow'r to paint
Each sev'ral combat ; for around the wall
A more than human storm of stone was pour'd


On ev'ry side ; the Greeks, hard press'd, perforce

Fought for their ships, while all the Gods look'd on

Indignant, who the Grecian cause upheld. 196

Fiercely the Lapithee sustain'd the war :

Stout Polypostes first, Pirithous' son,

Smote, through the hrass-cheek'd helmet, Damasus ;

Nor stay'd the brazen helm the spear, whose point

"Went crashing through the bone, that all the brain

"Was shatter'd ; onward as he rush'd, he fell. 202

Then Pylon next, and Ormenus he slew :

Meantime Leonteus, scion true of Mars,

Struck with unerring spear Hippomachus, 205

Son of Antimachus, below the waist ;

Then, drawing from the sheath his trenchant sword,

Dash'd through the crowd, and hand to hand he smote

Antiphates ; he, backward, fell to earth.

Menon, Iamenus, Orestes next, 210

In quick succession to the ground he brought.

From these while they their glitt'ring armour stripp'd,

Round Hector throng'd, and bold Polydamas,

The bravest and the best, who long'd the most

To storm the wall, and burn with fire the ships. 215


Yet on the margin of the ditch they paus'd ;

For, as they sought to cross, a sign from Ilcav'n

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad of Homer rendered into English blank verse (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 18)