Page:The Iliad of Homer (Butler).djvu/215

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BK. XII.]
195
THE BEAUTY OF SNOW

with their shields of ox-hide, and hurled their missiles down upon the foe as soon as any came below the wall.

265The two Ajaxes went about everywhere on the walls cheering on the Achæans, giving fair words to some while they spoke sharply to any one whom they saw to be remiss. "My friends," they cried, "Argives one and all—good bad and indifferent, for there was never fight yet, in which all were of equal prowess—there is now work enough, as you very well know, for all of you. See that you none of you turn in flight towards the ships, daunted by the shouting of the foe, but press forward and keep one another in heart, if it may so be that Olympian Jove the lord of lightning will vouchsafe us to repel our foes, and drive them back towards the city."

277Thus did the two go about shouting and cheering the Achæans on. As the flakes that fall thick upon a winter's day, when Jove is minded to snow and to display these his arrows to mankind—he lulls the wind to rest, and snows hour after hour till he has buried the tops of the high mountains, the headlands that jut into the sea, the grassy plains, and the tilled fields of men; the snow lies deep upon the forelands and havens of the grey sea, but the waves as they come rolling in stay it that it can come no further, though all else is wrapped as with a mantle so heavy are the heavens with snow—even thus thickly did the stones fall on one side and on the other, some thrown at the Trojans, and some by the Trojans at the Achæans; and the whole wall was in an uproar.

290Still the Trojans and brave Hector would not yet have broken down the gates and the great bar, had not Jove turned his son Sarpedon against the Argives as a lion against a herd of horned cattle. Before him he held his shield of hammered bronze, that the smith had beaten so fair and round, and had lined with ox hides which he had made fast with rivets of gold[1] all round the shield; this

  1. Or perhaps "had stitched with gold wire." See National Review, November 1896, p. 336.