The Iliad of Homer, translated into English blank verse

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THE ILIAD.

BOOK I.

O GODDESS ! sing the wrath of Peleus’ son,

Achilles; sing the deadly wrath that brought

Woes numberless upon the Greeks, and swept

To Hades many a valiant soul, and gave

Their limbs a prey to dogs and birds of air,— 5

For so had Jove appointed,—from the time

When the two chiefs, Atrides, king of men,

And great Achilles, parted first as foes.

  Which of the gods put strife between the chiefs,

That they should thus contend? Latona’s son 10

And Jove’s. Incensed against the king, he bade

A deadly pestilence appear among

The army, and the men were perishing.

For Atreus son with insult had received

Chryses the priest, who to the Grecian fleet 15

Came to redeem his daughter, offering

Uncounted ransom. In his hand he bore

The fillets of Apollo, archer-god,

Upon the golden sceptre, and he sued

To all the Greeks, but chiefly to the sons 20

Of Atreus, the two leaders of the host:—

  “Ye sons of Atreus, and ye other chiefs,

Well-greaved Achaians, may the gods who dwell Upon Olympus give you to o’erthrow The city of Priam, and in safety reach 25 Your homes; but give me my beloved child,

And take her ransom, honoring him who sends

His arrows far, Apollo, son of Jove.”

  Then all the other Greeks, applauding, bade

Revere the priest and take the liberal gifts 30

He offered, but the counsel did not please

Atrides Agamemnon; he dismissed

The priest with scorn, and added threatening words:—

  “Old man, let me not find thee loitering here,

Beside the roomy ships, or coming back 35

Hereafter, lest the fillet thou dost bear

And sceptre of thy god protect thee not.

This maiden I release not till old age

Shall overtake her in my Argive home,

Far from her native country, where her hand 40

Shall throw the shuttle and shall dress my couch.

Go, chafe me not, if thou wouldst safely go.”

  He spake; the aged man in fear obeyed

The mandate, and in silence walked apart,

Along the many-sounding ocean-side, 45

And fervently he prayed the monarch-god,

Apollo, golden-haired Latona’s son:—

  “Hear me, thou bearer of the silver bow,

Who guardest Chrysa, and the holy isle

Of Cilia, and art lord in Tenedos, 50

O Smintheus! if I ever helped to deck

Thy glorious temple, if I ever burned

Upon thy altar the fat thighs of goats

And bullocks, grant my prayer, and let thy shafts

Avenge upon the Greeks the tears I shed.” 55

  So spake he supplicating, and to him

Phœbus Apollo hearkened. Down he came,

Down from the summit of the Olympian mount,

Wrathful in heart; his shoulders bore the bow

And hollow quiver; there the arrows rang 60

Upon the shoulders of the angry god,

As on he moved. He came as comes the night,

And, seated from the ships aloof, sent forth

An arrow ; terrible was heard the clang

Of that resplendent bow. At first he smote 65

The mules and the swift dogs, and then on man

He turned the deadly arrow. All around

Glared evermore the frequent funeral piles.