The Iliad of Homer with a verse translation online

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Immortal, wherefore no long time it stood.
While Hector lived, while burned Achilleus' wrath,
While yet unsacked was royal Priam's town,
So long Achaia's mighty rampart stood.
But when of Trojans all the best were dead,
And many Argives slain, tho' some were left ;
When Priam's city in the tenth year fell,
And to their fatherland the Argives sailed ;
Then did Poseidon and Apollo scheme
That rampart to destroy, bringing thereon
The force of all the rivers that run down
Sea-ward from Ida's heights : Rhesus to wit,
Heptaporus, Caresus, Rhodius,

5 o6 IAIAA02 M.

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Granicus, with .^Esepus ; and those twain,
Scamander, godlike stream, and Simois,
Where many a bull's-hide targe and many a helm
Fell in the dust, and many a mighty man
Of seed divine. To one united flood
Phoebus Apollo turned the mouths of all,
And for nine days against the rampart drove ;
While Zeus incessant rained, the quicker so
In one wide sea the floating walls to whelm.
Himself withal, the Earth-shaker, led the way
Trident in hand, and to the waves heaved forth
All those foundations strong of beams and stones
Laid by much labour of Achaian hands,
And by the rushing stream of Hellespont
Made level plain, and now, the wall effaced,
Again with sand strewed the long line of shore :
The rivers then he turned, that in their beds
Fair flowing, as before, their waters ran.

Thus should Poseidon and Apollo work
Their will in days to come. But now fierce burned
Around the well-built wall the fight and cry,
Rattled with blows the timbers of the towers,
And by the scourge of Zeus the Argives quelled
Close at their hollow ships were penned, in fear
Of Hector mighty counsellor of flight,
Who still, as ever, like a storm-wind fought.
And as among the hounds and hunter throng
A boar or lion turns him, fierce in strength
They massed in solid wall against him stand,
And frequent from their hands the javelins hurl,
Yet never daunt nor fright his valiant heart,
Whose courage proves his bane ; and oft he turns
And tries the serried ranks, but wheresoe'er
He charges there the foemen's ranks give place- -
So Hector moved and turned him in the throng,
Urging his comrades on to cross the trench.

508 IAIAAO2 M.

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Nor yet his fleet-foot horses dared the deed,

But loudly neighed as on the brink they stood,

Scared by the trench so broad, not lightly leapt

How near soe'er nor light the task to climb

Or in or out, for steep round all its verge

O'erhung the rising banks on either side ;

And sharpened stakes above Achaia's sons

Frequent and large had set, to ward their foes.

No easy entrance there for horse that drew

The wheeled car : but eager were the foot

If they might do it. Then Polydamas

Spake to bold Hector at whose side he stood:

" Hector, and all ye other chiefs of Troy

And of allies, we surely are but fools

To drive across yon trench our fleet-foot steeds.

Full dangerous is the passage ; pointed stakes

Are set thereon, and close beyond them lies

Achaia's rampart. There dismount and fight

Our horsemen cannot ; 'tis a narrow lane,

Where hurt and loss will, as I deem, be ours.

For if indeed the lofty-thund'ring Zeus

Desiring utter evil to our foes

Destroys them, and is bent to succour Troy,

I surely were full fain this end might come

At once, that so away from Argos here

Achaia's sons might find inglorious doom.

But if they wheel them round, and from the ships

Pursuit reversed roll back, and we be driven

On the deep trench, then nevermore, I ween,

Will ev'n a messenger regain the town

Escap'd from these Achaians' rallying charge.

But come, as I advise, obey we all :

Our steeds upon the trench our squires shall rein,

Ourselves afoot, armed and arrayed, in mass

Will follow Hector: then Achaia's sons

510 IAIAAO2 M.

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Will not abide us, if indeed for them
The issue of destruction is ordained."

So spake Polydamas : whose wholesome words
Pleased Hector well. And straightway all in arms
Down leapt he from his chariot to the ground.
Nor now on steeds the other sons of Troy
Mustered their force, but lighted quickly down,
When godlike Hector thus on foot they saw.
Then to his charioteer each one gave charge
There by the trench to hold his horses back
In order due ; but they, disparting them
To several bands, arrayed their solid ranks
In columns five, who followed each their chiefs.
First those with Hector and Polydamas,
That blameless wight, most numerous they and best,
And keenest bent to break the rampart through
And urge the battle at the hollow ships.
Third with these twain followed Cebriones,
Cebriones, than whom a weaker far
Had Hector with his chariot left behind.
The second band led Paris, and with him
Alcathotis and Agenor : and the third
Godlike Deiphobus with Helenus,
Two sons of Priam, and a third with these
Asius the hero son of Hyrtacus,
Whom from Arisbd's town his horses drew,
Bright bay, large-limbed, bred by Selleis' stream.
The fourth band ruled Anchises' gallant son
Aeneas, and with him Antenor's sons
Were joined, Archelochus and Acamas,
A pair well-skilled in every wile of war,
Last the far-famed allies Sarpedon led,
And chose him Glaucus to his aid, and third
Warlike Asteropaeus ; these he deemed
Of other chiefs pre-eminently best
Next to himself, who them and all outshone.

5 1 2 IAIAA02 M.

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And when with well-wrought bull's-hide shields their lines
Were locked, against the Danaans straight they went
Full eager: who, they deemed, no more would stay,
But headlong fall upon their hollow ships.

There Trojans and allies from distant lands
Obeyed the counsel of Polydamas
That blameless sage ; but Asius, prince of men,
The son of Hyrtacus, willed not to leave
His horses and attendant charioteer :
But onward with them to the swift ships went,
Poor fool ! who nevermore, his evil fates
Escaping, proud in chariot and in steeds,
Should back return to wind-swept Ilion.
For him inglorious destiny forestalled
With death's dark veil, by spear of noble king
Idomeneus the son of Deucalus.
Toward the ships' left wing he bent his course,
That way whereby Achaia's warriors came
With steeds and cars returning from the plain :
There drove he steeds and car across, nor found
The doors upon the gateway closed and barred
With the long beam : these open still were held,
That so each comrade flying from the fray
Might pass and at the ships safe refuge find.
Straight for , this entrance Asius held his steeds
Resolved : whose warriors followed shouting shrill,
For now no more they deemed Achaia's sons
Would stay, but headlong on their black ships fall.
Poor fools! Two gallant champions in the gate
They found, of Lapithaean spearmen sons
High-couraged : of Pirithoiis one was born,
Stout Polypoetes named ; Leonteus one,
In semblance as the war-god, mortals' bane.
Before the lofty gate those champions twain
Stood as two oaks upon the mountain stand
Rearing their heads on high, that through all time

G - H - 33


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Bide brunt of wind and rain, by mighty roots

Far spreading through the soil full firmly set.

So these on hand and strength reliant bode

Great Asius as he came, and fled him not.

Straight for the well-built rampart came the foes,

Their bull's-hide targes hard raised o'er their heads,

With mighty shout, round Asius the king,

lamenus, Orestes, Adamas

Of Asius son, Thoon, CEnomaiis.
Awhile the twain biding within had stirred

Achaia's well-greaved warriors to defend

Their ships ; but when they saw the sons of Troy

Charge at the wall, and in the Danaan lines

Confused cries and panic fear arose,

Then forth they rushed and fought before the gates,

Like two wild boars, who in their mountain home

Await advancing rout of men and dogs ;

And charging with a side-long rush they break
Snapt to the roots the copsewood all around ;

And of their teeth the gnashing sound is heard,

Till to some hunter's stroke they yield their life :

So on the heroes' breasts the brazen mail

Rang 'neath the downright blows ; for they did fight

Full stubbornly, reliant on their strength

And on the host that crowned the wall above.

These from the well-built towers hurled frequent stones,

Themselves, their tents, and swiftly-sailing ships

Defending. Thick as snow-flakes to the earth

Their missiles fell, flakes that a driving wind

Whirling the shadowy clouds sheds thick and fast

Upon all-nurturing earth : so from their hands,

Both Trojan and Achaian, streamed the shower.

And all around the helms and bossy shields

Beneath the pelting boulders rattled loud.

Then Asius son of Hyrtacus brake forth

With cry of woe, and both his thighs he smote,

516 IAIAAO2 M.

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And thus in wrath indignant utterance found :
" O Father Zeus ! thou too hast surely now
Turned thee to love a lie : for I had deemed
That these Achaian heroes would not check
Our onset bold and hands invincible ;
But they, as supple-waisted wasps or bees,
Who by a rocky road their homes have made,
Nor leave their hollow dwelling, but abide
The hunter's coming and defend their young,
So from the gates, tho' twain alone they be,
They give no ground, but stand to slay or fall."

So spake he ; but won not the mind of Zeus
With these his words ; for 'twas the Father's will
Glory on none but Hector to bestow.
Others at other gates maintained the fight.
But 'twere a toilsome task, needing a god,
Should I tell all ; for round the rampart rose
On every side a heaven-enkindled fire
Of stones ; wherein the Argives, tho' distrest,
Stood for their ships perforce ; and sad at heart
Were all the gods who helped the Danaan arms.

But here the war and gathering combat led
Those Lapithaean twain. Pirithoiis' son
Stout Polypoetes here with flying spear
Smote Damasus right through the brazen helm
That fenced his cheeks ; nor stayed for brazen casque
The brazen point, but through and onwards passed
And brake the bone ; and all the brains within
Were scattered, and his eager spirit quelled.
Then Pylon next he slew, and Ormenus.
Meanwhile Leonteus, Ares' scion he,
Hippomachus son of Antimachus
Smote with a spear that lit upon his belt.
Then from the scabbard his keen sword he drew,
Rushed through the throng, and, closing with him, struck
Antiphates the first, who backward fell.

5 i8 IAIAA02 M.

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Bpd/covra <f>epwv ovv^eao'L 7re\wpov 220


Upon the ground : then in succession swift

Menon, Orestes, and lamenus,

Upon the fruitful earth he laid full low.

While they from these their glittering armour stripped,
Followed with Hector and Polydamas
Meanwhile a troop of youths, most numerous they
And bravest, and of all most hotly bent
To break the rampart down and fire the ships.
Who standing at the trench were yet in doubt :
For came to them in eager haste to cross
A bird, a soaring eagle, toward the left,
Parting their host midway, bearing a snake
Trussed in his talons blood-red, huge, alive,
Still struggling, nor forgetful yet of might.
For curling back he struck his ravisher,
Quick darting at his breast, beside his throat,
Who dropt him to the ground, stung with sharp pain,
Flinging him in mid throng, then with a scream
Adown the wafting breezes winged his way.
Shuddering the Trojans saw the writhing snake
Lie in their midst, of aegis-bearing Zeus
The portent dire. Then straight Polydamas
Spake to bold Hector, by whose side he stood :
" Hector, thou alway in assembly chid'st
My words of wholesome wit : for 'tis unmeet
(So thinkest thou) for common man to speak
Beside thy aims, in council or in war ;
But we must still support thy sovereign might.
Yet now again what seems me best I say.
Go we not on to fight the Danaan host
Who guard their ships : for thus, I ween, will end
Our venture if indeed this bird of fate
Came to the Trojans while in eager haste
To cross, a soaring eagle, toward the left,
Parting our host midway, bearing a snake
Trussed in his talons blood-red, huge, alive ;

5 20 IAIAAO2 M.

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Which yet he sudden dropt or e'er he came

To his beloved nest, nor to the end

Bare on, nor gave the booty to his brood

So we, tho' gates and wall with mighty strength

We break amain, and tho' Achaians yield,

Shall in no seemly wise come from these ships

The self-same way ; for many a son of Troy

We there shall leave, whom in their ships' defence

Achaia's warriors with the sword shall slay.

So would a seer interpret, skilled in lore

Of portents, whom his people would believe."

But plumed Hector with stern glance replied :
"Polydamas, I like not now thy words.
Other and better speech by far than this
Thou knowest to devise. Or, if indeed
These be thy earnest words, then of a truth
The very gods have clean destroyed thy wits :
Who biddest me forget the will of Zeus
Loud thundering king all that himself did pledge
And by his nod confirm. But thou dost bid
A blind belief in birds of spreading wing :
Whom I nor heed nor reck of, fly they east
Toward the right and seek the morning sun,
Or towards the left and misty western gloom.
Obey we now the will of mighty Zeus,
O'er mortals all and o'er immortals king.
One bird is best, to fight for fatherland.
And why at war and conflict tremblest thou ?
For, tho' we others at the Argive ships
Be all around thee slain, yet fear not thou
To perish, for no heart to wait the foe
Or dare the fight is thine. Yet, if thou skulk
Away from conflict, or by words persuade
And turn back others from the work of war,
My spear at once shall strike and reave thy life."

With that he led the way : they followed on

5 22


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d/jL<j)OTepco B* AXavre Ke\evTi6wvT* 7rl Trvpycov 265

Online LibraryHomerThe Iliad of Homer with a verse translation → online text (page 31 of 32)