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Seek we then straight to arm the sons of Greece."

He said, and from the council led the way.
Uprose the sceptred monarchs, and obey'd
Their leader's call, and round them throng'd the crowd.
As swarms of bees, that pour in ceaseless stream 100
From out the crevice of some hollow rock,
Now clust'ring, and anon 'mid vernal flow'rs,
Some here, some there, in busy numbers fly ;
So to th' Assembly from their tents and ships 104
The countless tribes came thronging ; in their midst,


By Jove enkindled, Rumour urged them on.

Great was the din ; and as the mighty mass

Sat down, the solid earth beneath them groan'd ;

Nine heralds rais'd their voices loud, to quell

The storm of tongues, and bade the noisy crowd 110

Be still, and listen to the Heav'n-born Kings.

At length they all were seated, and awhile

Their clamours sank to silence ; then uprose

The monarch Agamemnon, in his hand

His royal staff, the work of Vulcan's art ; 115

Which Yulcan to the son of Saturn gave ;

To Hermes he, the heav'nly messenger ;

Hermes to Pelops, matchless charioteer ;

Pelops to Atreus ; Atreus at his death

Bequeathed it to Thyestes, wealthy Lord 120

Of num'rous herds ; to Agamemnon last

Thyestes left it ; token of his sway

O'er all the Argive coast, and neighbouring isles.

On this the monarch leant, as thus he spoke :

" Friends, Grecian Heroes, Ministers of Mars ! 125

Grievous, and all unlook'd for, is the blow

Which Jove hath dealt me ; by his promise led


I liop'd to raze the strong-built walls of Troy,

And home return in safety ; but it seems

He falsifies bis word, and bids me now 130

Return to Argos, frustrate of my hope,

Dishonour'd, and with grievous loss of men.

Such now appears th' o'er-ruling sov'reign will

Of Saturn's son ; who oft hath sunk the heads

Of many a lofty city in the dust, 135

And yet will sink ; for mighty is his hand.

'Tis shame indeed that future days should hear

How such a force as ours, so great, so brave,

Hath thus been baffled, fighting, as we do,

'Gainst numbers far inferior to our own, 140

And see no end of all our warlike toil.

For should we choose, on terms of plighted truce,

Trojans and Greeks, to number our array ;

Of Trojans, all that dwell within the town,

And we, by tens disposed, to every ten, 145

To crown our cups, one Trojan should assign,

Full many a ten no cupbearer would find :

So far the sons of Greece outnumber all


That dwell within the town ; but to their aid

Bold warriors come from all the cities round, 150

Who greatly harass me, and render vain

My hope to storm the strong-built walls of Troy.

Already now nine weary years have pass'd ;

The timbers of our ships are all decay'd,

The cordage rotted; in our homes the while 155

Our wives and helpless children sit, in vain

Expecting our return ; and still the work,

For which we hither came, remains undone.

Hear then my counsel ; let us all agree

Home to direct our course, since here in vain 160

"We strive to take the well-built walls of Troy."

Thua_asjie spoke, the crowd, that had not heard
The secret council, by his words was mov'd;
So sway'd and heav'd the multitude, as when
O'er the vast billows of th' Icarian sea 165

Eurus and USTotus from the clouds of Heav'n
Pour forth their fury ; or as some deep field
Of wavy corn, when sweeping o'er the plain
The ruffling west wind sways the bending ears ; 1G9
So was th' Assembly stirr'd ; and tow'rd the ships


With clam'rous joy they rusli'd ; beneath their feet
Hose clouds of dust, while one to other call'd
To seize the ships and drag them to the main.
They clear'd the channels, and with shouts of " home"
That rose to Heav'n, they knock'd the shores away.
Then had the Greeks in shameful flight withdrawn,
Had Juno not to Pallas thus appeal'd : 177

" Oh Heav'n! brave child of segis-bearing Jove,
Shall thus the Greeks, in ignominious flight,
O'er the wide sea their homeward course pursue,
And as a trophy to the sons of Troy 181

The Argive Helen leave, on whose account,
Far from their home, so many valiant Greeks
Have cast their lives away ? Go quickly thou
Amid the brass-clad Greeks, and man by man 185
Address with words persuasive, nor permit
To launch their well-trimm'd vessels on the deep."

She said, nor did Minerva not obey,
But swift descending from Olympus' heights
With rapid flight she reach'd the Grecian ships. 190
V Laertes' son, in council sage as Jove

There found she standing ; he no hand had laid


On his dark vessel, for with, bitter grief

His heart was filled ; the blue-ey'd Maid approach'd,

And thus address'd him : " Great Laertes' son, 195

Ulysses, sage in council, can it be

That you, the men of Greece, embarking thus

On your swift ships, in ignominious flight,

O'er the wide sea will take your homeward way,

And as a trophy to the sons of Troy 200

The Argive Helen leave, on whose account

Far from their homes so many valiant Greeks

Have cast their lives away ? Go quickly thou

Among the multitude, and man by man

Address with words persuasive, nor permit 205

To launch their well-trimm'd vessels on the deep."

She said ; the heav'nly voice Ulysses knew ;
Straight, springing to the course, he cast aside,
And to Eurybates of Ithaca,

His herald and attendant, threw his robe ; 210

Then to Atrides hasten'd, and by him
Arm'd with his royal staff ancestral, pass'd
With rapid step amid the ships of Greece.
Each King or leader whom he found he thus


With cheering words encourag'd and restrain'd : 215

" O gallant friend, 'tis not for thee to yield,

Like meaner men, to panic ; but thyself

Sit quiet, and the common herd restrain.

Thou know'st not yet Atrides' secret mind :

He tries us now, and may reprove us soon. 220

His words in council reach'd not all our ears :

See that he work us not some ill ; for fierce

His anger ; and the Lord of counsel, Jove,

From whom proceeds all honour, loves him well."

But of the common herd whome'er he found 225
Clam'ring, he check'd with staff and threat'ning words:
" Good friend, keep still, and hear what others say,
Thy betters far : for thou art good for nought,
Of small account in council or in fight.
All are not sovereigns here : ill fares the state 230
Where many masters rule ; let one be Lord,
One King supreme ; to whom wise Saturn's son
In token of his sov'reign power hath giv'n
The sceptre's sway and ministry of law." 234

Such were his words, as through the ranks he pass'd :
They from the vessels and the tents again


Throng'd to th' Assembly, with sucli rush of sound,
As when the many-dashing ocean's wave
Breaks on the shore, and foams the frothing sea.
The others all were settled in their seats : 240

Only Thersites, with unmeasur'd words,
Of which he had good store, to rate the chiefs,
Not over-seemly, but wherewith he thought
To move the crowd to laughter, brawl'd aloud.
The ugliest man was he who came to Troy : 245

With squinting eyes, and one distorted foot,
His shoulders round, and buried in his breast
His narrow head, with scanty growth of hair.
Against Achilles and Ulysses most
His hate was turn'd ; on them his venom pour'd ; 250
Anon, at Agamemnon's self he launch'd
His loud-tongucd ribaldry ; 'gainst him he knew
Incensed the public mind ; and bawling loud,**
With scurril words, he thus address'd the King : 254
" What more, thou son of Atreus, would'st thou have ?
Thy tents are full of brass ; and in those tents
Many fair women, whom, from all the spoil,
We Greeks, whene'er some wealthy town we take,
* See note on page 84.


Choose first of all, and set apart for thee.

Or dost tliou thirst for gold, which here perchance

Some Trojan brings, the ransom of his son 201

Captnr'd by me, or by some other Greek ?

Or some new girl, to gratify thy lust,

Kept for thyself apart ? a leader, thou

Shouldst not to evil lead the sons of Greece. 265

Te slaves ! ye coward souls ! "Women of Greece !

I will not call you men ! why go we not

Home with our ships, and leave this mighty chief

To gloat upon his treasures, and find out

Whether in truth he need our aid, or no ; 2T0

Who on Achilles, his superior far,

Foul scorn hath cast, and robb'd him of his prize,

Which for himself he keeps ? Achilles, sure,

Is not intemperate, but mild of mood ;

Else, Atreus' son, this insult were thy last." 275

On Agamemnon, leader of the host,
With words like these Thersites pour'd his hate ;
But straight Ulysses at his side appear'd,
And spoke, with scornful glance, in stern rebuke :
" Thou babbling fool, Thersites, prompt of speech,



Kestrain thy tongue, nor singly thus presume 281

The Kings to slander ; thou, the meanest far

Of all that with the Atridse came to Troy.

Ill it beseems, that such an one as thou

Should lift thy voice against the Kings, and rail 235

With scurril ribaldry, and prate of home.

How these affairs may end, we know not yet ;

Nor how, or well or ill, we may return.

Cease then against Atrides, King of men,

To pom- thy spite, for that the valiant Greeks 290

To him, despite thy railing, as of right

An ample portion of the spoils assign.

But this I tell thee, and will make it good,

If e'er I find thee play the fool, as now,

Then may these shoulders ceasejthis head to bear, 295

And may my son Telemachus no more

Own me his father, if I strip not off

Thy mantle and thy garments, aye, expose

Thy nakedness, and flog thee to the ships

Howling, and scourg'd with ignominious stripes/' 300

Thus as he spoke, upon Thersites' neck
And back came down his heavy staff ; the wretch


Shrank from the blow, and scalding tears let fall.

Where struck the golden-stndded staff, appear'd

A bloody weal : Thersites quail'd, and down, 305

Qiiiv'ring with pain, he sat, and wip'd away,

"With horrible grimace, the trickling tears.

The Greeks, despite their anger, laugh'd aloud.

And one to other said, " Good faith, of all

The many works Ulysses well hath done, 310

Wise in the council, foremost in the fight,

He ne'er hath done a better, than when now

He makes this scurril babbler hold his peace.

Metkinks his headstrong spirit will not soon

Lead him again to vilify the Kings." 315

Thus spoke the gen'ral voice : but, staff in hand,
Ulysses rose ; Minerva by his side,
In likeness of a herald, bade the crowd
Keep silence, that the Greeks, from first to last,
Might hear his words, and ponder his advice. 320
He thus with prudent phrase his speech began :
" Great son of Atreus, on thy name, O King,
Throughout the world will foul reproach be cast,
If Greeks forget their promise, nor make good


Tlie vow they took to thee, when hither-ward 325

We sailed from Argos' grassy plains, to raze,

Ere onr return, the well-built walls of Troy.

But now, like helpless widows, or like babes,

They mourn their cruel fate, and pine for home.

'Tis hard indeed defeated to return ; 330

The seaman murmurs, if from wife and home,

Ev'n for one month, his well-found bark be stay'cl,

Toss'd by the wint'ry blasts and stormy sea ;

But us the ninth revolving year beholds

Still ling'ring here : I cannot therefore blame 335

Our valiant Greeks, if by the ships I hear

Their murmurs ; yet 'twere surely worst of all

Long to remain, and bootless to return.

Bear up, my friends, remain awhile, and see

If Calchas truly prophesy, or no. 340

For this ye all have seen, and can yourselves

Bear witness, all who yet are spar'd by fate,

Not long ago, when ships of Greece were met

At Aulis, charg'd with evil freight for Troy,

And we, around a fountain, to the Gods 345

Our altars rear'd, with faultless hecatombs,


Near a fair plane-tree, where bright water flow'd,
Behold a wonder ! by Olympian Jove
Sent forth to light, a snake, with bnrnish'd scales,
Of aspect fearful, issuing from beneath 350

The altars, glided to the plane-tree straight.
There, on the topmost bough, beneath the leaves
Cow'ring, 'a sparrow's callow nestlings lay ;
Eight fledglings, and the parent bird the ninth.
All the eight nestlings, utt'ring piercing cries, 355
The snake devour'd ; and as the mother flew,
Lamenting o'er her offspring, round and round,
Uncoiling, caught her, shrieking, by the wing.
Then, when the sparrow's nestlings and herself
The snake had swallowed, by the God, who first 360
Sent him to light, a miracle was wrought :
X For Jove, the deep-designing Saturn's son,

Turn'd him to stone ; we stood, and wond'ring gaz'd.

But when this prodigy befell our rites,

Calchas, inspir'd of Heaven, took up his speech : 365

' Ye Ions-haired sons of Greece, why stand ye thus

In mute amaze ? to us Olympian Jove,

To whom be endless praise, vouchsafes this sign,

54 HOMER'S ILIAD. Book n.

Late sent, of late fulfilment : as ye saw

The snake devour the sparrow and her young, 370

Eight nestlings, and the parent bird the ninth :

So, for so many years, are we condemn'd

To was-e a fruitless war ; but in the tenth

The wide-built city shall at last be ours.'

Thus he foretold, and now the time is come. 375

Here then, ye well-greav'd Greeks, let all remain,

Till Priam's wealthy city be our own."

He said, and loudly cheer'd the Greeks — and loud
From all the hollow ships came back the cheers —
In admiration of Ulysses' speech. 3S0

Gerenian Nestor next took up the word :
"Like children, Grecian warriors, ye debate ;
Like babes to whom unknown are feats of arms.
Where then are now our solemn covenants,
Our plighted oaths % Go, cast we to the fire 3S5

Our councils held, our warriors' plans matur'd,
Our absolute pledges, and our hand-plight giv'n,
In which our trust was placed ; since thus in vain
In words we wrangle, and how long soe'er
We here remain, solution none we find. 39U


Atrides, thou, as is thy wont, maintain

Unchang'd thy counsel ; for the stubborn fight

Array the Greeks ; and let perdition seize

Those few, those two or three among the host,

Who hold their separate counsel — (not on them 395

Depends the issue !) — rather than return

To Argos, ere we prove if Jove indeed

Will falsify his promis'd word, or no.

For well I ween, that on the day when first

We Grecians hitherward our course address'd, 400

To Troy the messengers of blood and death,

Th' o'er-ruling son of Saturn, on our right

His lightning flashing, with auspicious sign

Assur'd us of his favour ; let not then 404

The thoughts of home be breath'd, ere Trojan wives

Given to our warriors, retribution pay

For wrongs by us, in Helen's cause, sustain' d.

But whoso longs, if such an one there be,

To make his homeward voyage, let him take

His well-rigg'd bark, and go ; before the rest 410

To meet the doom of death ! But thou, O King !

Be well advis'd thyself, and others lead


By wholesome counsel ; for the words I speak
Are not to be despis'd ; by tribes and clans,
O Agamemnon ! range thy troops, that so 415

Tribe may to tribe give aid, and clan to clan.
If thus thou do, and Greeks thy words obey,
Then shalt thou see, of chiefs and troops alike,
The good and bad ; for on their own behoof
They all shall fight ; and if thou fail, shalt know 420
Whether thy failure be~of HejivVs decree,
Or man's default and ignorance of war."
To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus :

" Father, in council, of the sons of Greece,

None can compare with thee ; and would to Jove 425

To Pallas, and Apollo, at my side

I had but ten such counsellors as thee !

Then soon should royal Priam's city fall,

Tak'n and destroy'd by our victorious hands.

But now on me hath aegis-bearing Jove, 430

The son of Saturn, fruitless toil impos'd,

And hurtful quarrels ; for in wordy war

About a girl, Achilles and myself

Engag'd ; and I, alas ! the strife began :


Could we be friends again, delay were none, 435

How short soe'er, of Ilium's final doom.
But now to breakfast, ere we wage tlie fight.
Each sharpen well his spear, his shield prepare,
Each to his fiery steeds their forage give,
Each look his chariot o'er, that through the day 440
"We may unwearied stem the tide of war ;
For respite none, how short soe'er, shall be
Till niodit shall bid the storm of battle cease.
With sweat shall reek upon each warrior's breast
The leathern belt beneath the cov'ring shield ; 445
And hands shall ache that wield the pond'rous spear :
With sweat shall reek the fiery steeds that draw
Eaah warrior's car ; but whomsoe'er I find
Loit'ring beside the beaked ships, for him 449

: Twere hard to 'scape the vultures and the dogs."

He said ; and from th' applauding ranks of Greece
Rose a loud sound, as when the ocean wave,
Driv'n by the south wind on some lofty beach,
Dashes against a prominent crag, expos'd
To blasts from every storm that roars around. 455
Uprising then, and through the camp dispers'd


They took their sev'ral ways, and by their tents

The fires they lighted, and the meal prepar'd ;

And each to some one of the Immortal Gods

His off'ring made, that in the coming fight 400

He might escape the bitter doom of death.

But to the o'errnling son of Saturn, Jove,

A sturdy ox, well-fatten'd, five years old,

Atrides slew ; and to the banquet call'd

The a^ed chiefs and councillors of Greece ; 4-65

Nestor the first, the King Idomeneus,

The two Ajaces next, and Tydeus' son,

Ulysses sixth, as Jove in council sage.

But uninvited Menelaus came,

Knowing what cares upon his brother press'd. 470

Around the ox they stood, and on his head

The salt cake sprinkled ; then amid them all

The monarch Agamemnon pray'd aloud :

" Most great, most glorious Jove! who dwell'st on high,

In clouds and darkness veil'd, grant Thou that ere475

This sun shall set, and night o'erspread the earth,

I may the haughty walls of Priam's house

Lay prostrate in the dust ; and burn with fire


His lofty gates ; and strip from Hector's breast
His sword-rent tunic, while around his corpse 480
Many brave comrades, prostrate, bite the dust."
Thus he ; but Saturn's son his pray'r denied ;
Receiv'd his offrings, but his toils increas'd.
Their pray'rs concluded, and the salt cake strewed
Upon the victim's head, they drew him back, 485
And slew, and flay'd ; then cutting from the thighs
The choicest pieces, and in double layers
O'erspreading them with fat, above them plac'd
The due meat-off'rings ; these they burnt with logs
Of leafless timber ; and the inward parts, 490

First to be tasted, o'er the lire they held.
The thighs consum'd with fire, the inward parts
They tasted first ; the rest upon the spits
Roasted with care, and from the fire withdrew.
Their labours ended, and the feast prepar'd, 495

They shared the social meal, nor lacked there aught.
The rage of thirst and hunger satisfied,
Gerenian Nestor thus his speech began :
"Most mighty Agamemnon, King of meu,
Great Atreus' son, no longer let us pause, 500


The work delaying which the pow'rs of Heav'n
Have trusted to our hands ; do thou forthwith
Bid that the heralds proclamation make,
And summon through the camp the brass-clad Greeks ;
While, in a body, through the wide-spread ranks 505
We pass, and stimulate their warlike zeal."
He said ; and Agamemnon, King of men,
Obedient to his counsel, gave command
That to the war the clear-voic'd heralds call
Thelong-hair'd Greeks : they gave the word, and straight
From ev'ry quarter throng'd the eager crowd. 51 1
The Heav'n-born Kings, encircling Atreus' son,
The troops inspected : Pallas, blue-ey'd Maid,
Before the chiefs her glorious regis bore,
By time untouch'd, immortal : all around 5X5

A hundred tassels hung, rare works of art,
All gold, each one a hundred oxen's price.
"With this the Goddess pass'd along the ranks,
Exciting all ; and fix'd in every breast
The firm resolve to wao-e unwearied war : 520

And dearer to their hearts than thoughts of home
Or wish'd return, became the battle-field.

hook II. HOMEE'S ILIAD. 61

As when a -wasting fire, on mountain tops,
Hath seized the blazing woods, afar is seen
The glaring light ; so, as they mov'd, to Heav'n 525
Flash'd the bright glitter of their burnish' d arms.

As when a num'rous flock of birds, or geese,
Or cranes, or long-neck' d swans, on Asian mead, '
Beside Cayster's stream, now here, now there,
Disporting, ply their wings ; then settle down 530
"With clam'rous noise, that all the mead resounds ;
So to Scamander's plain, from tents and ships,
Pour'd forth the countless tribes ; the firm earth grown'd
Beneath the tramp of steeds and armed men.
Upon Scamander's flow'ry mead they stood, 535

Unnumber'd as the vernal leaves and flow'rs.

Or as the multitudinous swarms of flies,
That round the cattle-sheds in spring-tide pour,
"While the warm milk is frothing in the pail :
So numberless upon the plain, array'd 540

For Troy's destruction, stood the long-hair'd Greets.
And as experienced goat-herds, when their flocks
Are mingled in the pasture, portion out
Their sev'ral charges, so the chiefs array'd


Their squadrons for the fight ; while in the midst 545

The mighty monarch Agamemnon mov'd :

His eye, and lofty brow, the counterpart

Of Jove, the Lord of thunder ; in his girth

Another Mars, with Neptune's ample chest.

As 'mid the thronging heifers in a herd 550

Stands, proudly eminent, the lordly bull ;

So, by Jove's will, stood eminent that day,

'Mid many heroes, Atreus' godlike son.

Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell,
Muses (for ye are Goddesses, and ye 555

"Were present, and know all things : we ourselves
But hear from Humour's voice, and nothing know),
Who were the chiefs and mighty Lords of Greece.
But should I seek the multitude to name,
Not if ten tongues were mine, ten mouths to speak,
Voice inexhaustible, and heart of brass, 561

Should I succeed, unless, Olympian maids,
The progeny of a?gis-bearing Jove,
Ye should their names record, who came to Troy.
The chiefs, and all the ships, I now rehearse. 565

Boeotia's troops by Peneleus were led,


And Leitus, and Prothoenor bold,

Arcesilas and Clonius : they who dwelt

In Hyria, and on Anlis' rocky coast,

Scoenns, and Scolus, and the highland range 570

Of Eteonus ; in Thespeia's vale,

Graia, and Mycalessus' wide-spread plains :

And who in Harma and Eilesinm dwelt,

And in Erythrse, and in Eleon,

Hyle, and Peteon, and Ocalea, 575

In Copse, and in Medeon's well-bnilt fort,

Entresis, Thisbe's dove-freqnented woods,

And Coronea, and the grassy meads

Of Haliartns ; and Platrea's plain,

In Glissa, and the foot of Lower Thebes, 580

And in Anchestns, Neptune's sacred grove ;

And who in viny-cluster'd Arne dwelt,

And in Mideia, and the lovely site

Of Nissa, and Anthedon's utmost bounds.

"With these came fifty vessels ; and in each 585

"Were six score youths, Boeotia's noblest flow'r.

Who in Aspledon dwelt, and in Minyas' realm
Orchomenus, two sons of Mars obey'd,


•7. Ascalaphus, and bold Ialmenus ;

In Actor's house, the sou of Azeus, born 590

Of fair Astyoche, a maiden pure,

Till in the upper chamber, where she slept,

Stout Mars by stealth her virgin bed assail'd :

Of these came thirty ships in order due.

By Schedius and Epistrophus, the sons 595

Of great Iphitus, son of ]STaubolus,
Were led the Phocian forces ; these were they
"Who dwelt in Cyparissus, and the rock
Of Python, and on Crissa's lovely plain ;
And who in Daulis, and in Panope, 600

Anemorea and Hyampolis,
And by Cephisus' sacred waters dwelt,
Or in Lilsea, by Cephisus' springs.
hi their command came forty dark-ribb'd ships
These were the leaders of the Phocian bands, 605
And on Boeotia's left their camp was pitch'd.

Ajax, Oileus' son, the Locrians led ;
Swift-footed, less than Ajax Telamon,
Of stature low, with linen breastplate arm'd :
But skill'd to throw the spear o'er all who dwell 010


In Hellas or Achaia : these were they

From Cynos, Opus, and Calliarus,

Bessa, and Searpha, and Augasa fair,

Tarpha, and Thronium, by Boagrius' stream.

Him from beyond Eubcea's sacred isle, 613

Of Locrians folio w'd forty dark-ribb'd ships.

Breathing firm courage high, th' Abantian host,

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