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

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Appear'd, to leftward of th' astonish'd crowd ;

A soaring eagle in his talons bore

A dragon, huge of size, of blood-red hue, 220

Alive, and breathing still, nor yet subdued ;

For twisting backward through the breast he pieroYl

His bearer, near the neck; he, stung with pain,

Let fall his prey, which dropp'd amid the crowd ;

Then screaming, on the blast was borne away. 225

The Trojans, shudd'ring, in their midst beheld

The spotted serpent, dire portent of Jove :

Then to bold Hector thus Polydamas :

" Hector, in council thou reprov'st me oft

For good advice ; it is not meet, thou say'st, 230

That private men should talk beside the mark,

In council or in war, but study still

Thine honour to exalt ; yet must I now

Declare what seems to me the wisest course :

Let us not fight the Greeks beside their ships ; 235

For thus I read the future, if indeed

To us, about to cross, this sign from Heav'n

VOL. I. ^



418 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book XIL

"Was sent, to leftward of tli' astonish'd crowd :

A soaring eagle, bearing in his claws

A dragon, huge of size, of blood-red hue, 240

Alive ; yet dropp'd hirn ere he reach'd his home,

ISTor to his nestlings bore th' intended prey :

So we, e'en though our mighty strength should break

The gates and wall, and put the Greeks to rout,

By the same road not scatheless should return, 245

But many a Trojan on the field should leave,

Slain by the Greeks, while they their ships defend.

So would a seer, well vers'd in augury,

"Worthy of public credit, read this sign."

To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm 250
Replied, with stern regard : " Polydamas,
This speech of thine is alien to my soul :
Thy better judgment better counsel knows.
But if in earnest such is thine advice,
Thee of thy senses have the Gods bereft, 255

"Who fain wouldst have us disregard the word
And promise by the nod of Jove confirm'd,
And put our faith in birds' expanded wings ;
Little of these I reck, nor care to look,



SookXH. HOMER'S ILIAD. n:.

If to the right, and tow'rd the morning sun, 200

Or to the left, and shades of night, they fly.
Put we our trust in Jove's eternal will,
Of mortals and Immortals King supreme.
The best of omens is our country's cause.
Why shouldst thou tremble at the battle strife \
Though ev'ry Trojan else were doom'd to die
Beside the ships, no fear lest thou should-i fall :
Unwarlike is thy soul, nor firm of mood :
But if thou shrink, or by thy craven words
Turn back another Trojan from the fight,
My spear shall take the forfeit of thy life."

This said, he led the way ; with joyous shouts
They folio w'd all ; then Jove, the lightning's Lord,
From Ida's heights a storm of wind sent down.
Driving the dust against the Grecian ships ; \i 7*>

Which quell'd their courage, and to Hector gave,
And to the Trojans, fresh incitement ; they.
On their own strength, and heav'nly signs reiving,
Their force address'd to storm the Grecian wall.
They raz'd the counterscarp, the battlements
Destroy'd ; and the projecting buttresses,



420 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book XIL

Which, to sustain the tow'rs, the Greeks had fix'd

Deep in the soil, with levers undermin'd.

These once withdrawn, they hop'd to storm the wall ;

jSTor from the passage yet the Greeks withdrew, 285

But closely fencing with their bull's-hide shields

The broken battlements, they thence hurl'd down

A storm of weapons on the foe beneath.

Commanding from the tow'r in ev'ry place

"Were seen th' Ajaces, urging to the fight, 290

Imploring these, and those in sterner tones

Rebuking, who their warlike toil relax'd.

" Friends, Grecians all, ye who excel in war,
And ye of mod'rate or inferior strength,
Though all are not with equal pow'rs endued, 295
Yet here is work for all ! bear this in mind,
Nor tow'rd the ships let any turn his face,
By threats dismay'd ; but forward press, and each
Encourage each, if so the lightning's Lord,
Olympian Jove, may grant us to repel, 300

And backward to his city chase the foe."

Thus they, with cheering words, sustain'd the war :
Thick as the snow-flakes on a wintry day,



Book XII. HOMER'S ILIAD. 421

When Jove, the Lord of counsel, down on men

His snow-storm sends, and manifests his pow'r : '"> (, -"i

Hush'd are the winds ; the flakes continuous fall,

That the high mountain tops, and jutting crags,

And lotus-cover' d meads are buried deep,

And man's productive labours of the field ;

On hoary Ocean's beach and bays they lie, 310

Th' approaching waves their bound ; o'er all beside

Is spread by Jove the heavy veil of snow.

So thickly flew the stones from either side,

By Greeks on Trojans hurl'd, by these on Greeks ;

And clatter'd loud through all its length the wall.

Nor yet the Trojans, though by Hector led, 316

The gates had broken, and the massive bar.

But Jove against the Greeks sent forth his son

Sarpedon, as a lion on a herd :

His shield's broad orb before his breast he bore,

"Well-wrought, of beaten brass, which th' arrn'rer'sliand

Had beaten out, and lin'd with stout bullVlmle ;

With golden rods, continuous, all around ;

He thus equipp'd, two jav'lins brandishing,

Strode onward, as a lion, mountain-bred.



422 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book XII.

Whom, fasting long, his dauntless courage leads
To assail the flock, though in well-guarded fold ;

And though the shepherds there he find, prepar'd
With dogs and lances to protect the sheep,
Not unattempted will he leave the fold ; 330

But, springing to the midst, he bears his prey
In triumph thence ; or in the onset falls,
Wounded by jav'lins hurl'd by stalwart hands :
So, prompted by his godlike courage, burn'd
Sarpedon to assail the lofty wall, 335

And storm the ramparts ; and to Glaucus thus,
Son of Hippolochus, his speech address'd :

" Whence is it, Glaucus, that in Lycian land
We two at feasts the foremost seats may claim,
The largest portions, and the fullest cups ? 340

Why held as Gods in honour ? why endow'd
With ample heritage, by Xanthus' banks,
Of vineyard, and of wheat producing land ?
Then by the Lycians should we not be seen
The foremost to affront the raging fight ? 345

So may our well-arm'd Lycians make their boast ;
1 To no inglorious Kings we Lycians owe

l



Book XII. HOMER'S ILIAD.

Allegiance ; they on richest viands feed ;

Of luscious flavour drink the choicesl wine ;

But still their valour brightest shows ; and they, 350

Where Lycians war, are foremost in the fight I'

O friend ! if we, survivors of this wa

Could live, from age and death for ever free,

Thou shouldst not see me foremost in the fight,

Nor would I urge thee to the glorious field :

But since on man ten thousand forms of death

Attend, which none may 'scape, then on, thai

May glory on others gain, or they on ub ! "

Thus he ; nor Glaucus from his bidding shrank ;
And forward straight they led the Lycian pow're. 360
Menestheus, son of Peteus, with dismay
Observ'd their movement ; for on his command,
Inspiring terror, their attack was made.
He look'd around him to the Grecian toVrs,
If any chief might there be found, to save
His comrades from destruction ; there he saw,
Of war insatiable, th' Ajaces twain ;
And Teucer, from the tent but newly come,
Hard by; nor yet could reach them with Li- v. .ice ;



£24 HOMEE'S ILIAD. Book XII.

Such was the din, such tumult rose to Heav'n, 370
From clatt'ring shields, and horsehair-crested helms,
And batter' d gates, now all at once assail'd :
Before them fiercely strove th' assaulting bands
To break their way : he then Thootes sent,
His herald, to th' Ajaces, craving aid. 375

" Haste thee, Thootes, on th' Ajaces call,
Both, if it may be ; so we best may hope
To 'scape the death, which else is near at hand ;
So fierce the pressure of the Lycian chiefs,
Undaunted now, as ever, in the fight. 380

But if they too are hardly press'd, at least
Let Ajax, son of Telamon, be spar'd,
And with him Teucer, skilled to draw the bow."
He said ; the herald heard, and straight obey'd ;
Alono; the wall.where stood the brass-clad Greeks, 385
He ran, and standing near th' Ajaces, said :

" Ajaces, leaders of the brass-clad Greeks,
The son of Heav'n-born Peteus craves your aid,
To share awhile the labours of his guard ;
Both, if it may be ; so he best may hope 390

To 'scape the death, which else is near at hand :



Book XII. HOMEE'S ILIAD. 425

So fierce tlie pressure of tlie Lycian chiefs,

Undaunted now, as ever, in tlie fight.

But if ye too are hardly press'd, at least

Let Ajax, son of Telamon, "be spar'd, 395

And with him Teucer, skill'd to draw the bow."

He said : the mighty son of Telamon
Consenting, thus addresss'd Oileus' son :
" Ajax, do thou and valiant Lycomede
Exhort the Greeks the struggle to maintain ; 400

"While I go yonder, to affront the war,
To aid their need, and back return in haste."

Thus saying, Ajax Telamon set forth,
And with him Teucer went, his father's son,
"While by Pandion Teucer's bow was borne. 405

At brave Menestheus' tow'r, within the wall,
Arriv'd, sore press'd they found the garrison ;
For like a whirlwind on the ramparts pour'd
The Lycians' valiant councillors and cliiefs.
They quickly join'd the fray, and loud arose 410

The battle-cry ; first Ajax Telamon
Sarpedon's comrade, brave Epicles, slew,
Struck by a rugged stone, within the wall



*2G HOMER'S ILIAD. Book XII.

Which lay, the topmost of the parapet,

Of size prodigious ; which with both his hands 415

A man in youth's full vigour scarce could raise,

As men are now ; he lifted it on high,

And downward hurl'd; the four-peak'd helm it broke,

Crushing the bone, and shatt'ring all the skull ;

He, like a diver, from the lofty tow'r 420

Fell headlong down, and life forsook his bones.

Teucer, meanwhile, from off the lofty wall

The valiant Glaucus, pressing to the fight,

Struck with an arrow, where he saw his arm

Unguarded ; he no longer brook'd the fray ; 425

Back from the wall he sprang, in hopes to hide

From Grecian eyes his wound, that none might see,

And triumph o'er him with insulting words.

With grief Sarpedon saw his friend withdraw,

Yet not relax'd his efforts ; Thestor's son, 430

Alcmaon, with his spear he stabb'd, and back

The weapon drew ; he, following, prostrate fell,

And loudly rang his arms of polish'd brass.

Then at the parapet, with stalwart hand,

Sarpedon tugg'd ; and yielding to his force 435



uookXIL HOMER'S ILIAD. 427

Down fell the block entire ; the wall laid bare,
To many at once the breach gave open way.
Ajax and Tencer him at once assail'd ;
This with an arrow struck the glitt'ring belt
Around his breast, whence hung his pond'roufl shield;
But Jove, who will'd not that his son should fall -I 1 1
Before the ships, the weapon turn'd aside.
Then forward Ajax sprang, and with his spear
Thrust at the shield ; the weapon pass'd not through,
Yet check'd his bold advance ; a little space 445

Back he recoil'd, but not the more withdrew.
His soul on glory intent ; and rallying quick,
Thus to the warlike Lycians shouted loud :

" -Why, Lycians, thus your wonl ;ht relax i

'Tis hard for one alone, how brave soe'er, 450

E'en though he break the rampart down, to force
A passage to the ships ; but on with me !
For work is here for many hands to do."

He said ; and by the King's rebuke abash'd,
With fiercer zeal the Lycians press'd around
Their King and councillor ; on th' other side
Within the wall the Greeks their squadron i'd ;



428 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book XIL

Then were great deeds achiev'd ; nor thro' the breach

Could the brave troops of Lycia to the ships

Their passage force ; nor could the warrior Greeks 460

Repel the Lycians from the ground, where they,

Before the wall, had made their footing good.

As when two neighbours, in a common field,

Each line in hand, within a narrow space,

About the limits of their land contend ; 465

Between them thus the rampart drew the line ;

O'er which the full-orb'd shields of tough bull's-hide,

And lighter bucklers on the warriors' breasts

On either side they clove ; and many a wound

The pitiless weapons dealt, on some who, turn'd, 470

Their neck and back laid bare ; on many more,

Who full in front, and through their shields were struck.

On ev'ry side the parapet and tow'rs

With Greek and Trojan blood were spatter'd o'er.

Nor yet, e'en so, the Greeks to flight were driv'n ; 475

But as a woman that for wages spins,

Honest and true, with wool and weights in hand,

In even balance holds the scales, to mete

Tier humble hire, her children's maintenance ;



UooxXlI. HOMER'S ILIAD.

So even hung the balance of the war 3 ->0

Till Jove with highest honour Eector crown'd,
The son of Priam ; he, the foremi il'd

The wall, and loudly on the Trojans call'd :

" On, valiant Trojans, on ! the Grecian wall
Break down, and wrap their ships in blazing fires."

Thus he, exhorting, spoke ; they heard him all, 486
And to the wall rush'd numberless, and swarmM
Upon the ramparts, bristling thick with spears.
Then Hector, stooping, seiz'd a pond'rons si
That lay before the gates; 'twas broad below.
But sharp above ; and scarce two lab'ring men,
The strongest, from the ground could raise it up,
And load upon a wain ; as men are now ;
.But he unaided rifted it with ease,
So light it seem'd, by grace of Saturn's son.
As in one hand a shepherd bears with (
A fulksiz'd fleece, and scarcely feels the weight ;
So Hector tow'rd the portals bore the stone,
Which clos'd the lofty double-folding gate
Within defended by two massive bars 500

Laid crosswise, and with one cross bolt secur'd.



430 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book XII.

Close to the gate lie stood ; and planting firm

His foot, to give his arm its utmost pow'r,

"Full on the middle dash'd the mighty mass.

The hinges both gave way ; the pond'rous stone 505

Fell inwards ; widely gap'd the op'ning gates ;

Nor might the bars within the blow sustain :

This way and that the sever'd portals flew

Before the crashing missile ; dark as night

His low'ring brow, great Hector sprang within ; 510

Bright flask'd the brazen armour on his breast,

As through the gates, two jav'lins in his hand,

He sprang ; the Gods except, no pow'r might meet

That onset ; blaz'd his eyes with lurid fire.

Then to the Trojans, turning to the throng, 515

He call'd aloud to scale the lofty wall ;

They heard, and straight obey'd ; some scal'd the wall :

Some through the strong-built gates continuous pour'd ;

While in confusion irretrievable

Fled to their ships the panic-stricken Greeks. 520

I

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