The Iliad of Homer (Macpherson)
|"The Iliad of Homer"|
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The wrath of the son of Peleus,—O goddess of song, unfold! The deadly wrath of Achilles: To Greece the source of many woes! Which peopled the regions of death,—with shades of heroes untimely slain: While pale they lay along the shore: Torn by beasts and birds of prey: But such was the will of Jove! Begin the verse, from the source of rage,—between Achilles and the sovereign of men.
WHO of the gods was HE? Who kindled rage between the chiefs? Who, but the son of Latona and high-thundering Jove? HE—rouzed to wrath against the king,—threw death and disease, among the host. The people perished before him. The son of Atreus had dishonoured his priest. White-haired, the aged Chryses came—to the swift ships of the Argive powers. He came to redeem his daughter. The high-prized ransom is borne before. In his hands is the wreath of the god,—the golden scepter of far-shooting Phœbus. The aged suppliant, Greece addressed,—but most addressed the sons of Atreus: The two leaders of the nations in war!
“SONS of Atreus!” he said: “Other warriors of Achaia hear! May the gods crown all your desires! May the deathless dwellers of heaven give ear,—and grant to YOU, the city of Priam: With a safe return to your native land. But release my much-loved daughter. Receive her ransom from these hands. Revere the son of thundering Jove: Apollo, who shoots from afar!”
APPLAUDING Greece arose around. The holy man they all revered. They wished to take the splendid prize. But the soul of Agamemnon refused. HIM he dismissed with contempt,—and thus added threats to his rage:—“Take heed, I say, old man! Lest that scepter, that wreath of thy god,—should not in ought avail. HER I will never release,—till age her lovely form invades,—within our lofty halls in Argos,—far from her native land: While she runs o’er the web—and ascends the bed of her lord. Hence! Provoke me not—that safe thou may’st still retire.”
HE, frowning, spoke: The old man feared,—and shrunk from his high commands. Sad, silent, slow, he took his way,—along the wide-resounding main. Apart and distant from the host,—he poured his mournful soul in prayer: He poured it forth to bowyer Phœbus,—whom the long-haired Latona bore.
“HEAR, bearer of the splendid bow! Guardian of Chrysa, of Cilla, the divine! Thou that o’er Tenedos reign’st with fame! O Smintheus, hear my prayer! If ever with wreaths I adorned,—O Phœbus! Thy beauteous fane: If ever thine altars smoked with offerings—from the flocks and herds of Chryses: If ME thou regardest in ought—O Phœbus, hear my prayer! Punish Greece for these tears of mine. Send thy deadly arrow abroad.”
HE praying spoke. Apollo heard. He descended, from heaven, enraged in soul. On his shoulders his bow is hung: His quiver filled with deadly shafts: Which harshly rattled, as he strode in his wrath. Like Night he is borne along: Then darkly-sitting, apart from the host,—he sends an arrow abroad. The bright bow emits a dreadful sound,—as the shaft flies, unseen, from the string. Mules, first, the angry god invades: Then fleetly-bounding dogs are slain: Soon, on the heroes themselves,—the death-devoting arrow falls. The frequent piles are flaming to heaven.