Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/214

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194
[Iliad
HECTOR'S BEST OMEN

we break through the gates and wall of the Achæans, and they give way before us, still we shall not return in good order by the way we came, but shall leave many a man behind us whom the Achæans will do to death in defence of their ships. Thus would any seer who was expert in these matters, and was trusted by the people, read the portent."

230Hector looked fiercely at him and said, "Polydamas, I like not of your reading. You can find a better saying than this if you will. If, however, you have spoken in good earnest, then indeed has heaven robbed you of your reason. You would have me pay no heed to the counsels of Jove, nor to the promises he made me—and he bowed his head in confirmation; you bid me be ruled rather by the flight of wild-fowl. What care I whether they fly towards dawn or dark, and whether they be on my right hand or on my left? Let us put our trust rather in the counsel of great Jove, king of mortals and immortals. There is one omen, and one only—that a man should fight for his country. Why are you so fearful? Though we be all of us slain at the ships of the Argives you are not likely to be killed yourself, for you are not steadfast nor courageous. If you will not fight, or would talk others over from doing so, you shall fall forthwith before my spear."

251With these words he led the way, and the others followed after with a cry that rent the air. Then Jove the lord of thunder sent the blast of a mighty wind from the mountains of Ida, that bore the dust down towards the ships; he thus lulled the Achæans into security, and gave victory to Hector and to the Trojans, who, trusting to their own might and to the signs he had shown them, essayed to break through the great wall of the Achæans. They tore down the breastworks from the walls, and overthrew the battlements; they upheaved the buttresses, which the Achæans had set in front of the wall in order to support it; when they had pulled these down they made sure of breaking through the wall, but the Danaans still showed no sign of giving ground; they still fenced the battlements