The Iliad of Homer (Pope)/Book 2

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BOOK II

THE ARGUMENT

THE TRIAL OF THE ARMY AND CATALOGUE OF THE FORCES

Jupiter, in pursuance of the request of Thetis, sends a deceitful vision to Agamemnon, persuading him to lead the army to battle, in order to make the Greeks sensible of their want of Achilles. The general, who is deluded with the hopes of taking Troy without his assistance, but fears the army was discouraged by his absence and the late plague, as well as by length of time, contrives to make trial of their disposition by a stratagem. He first communicates his design to the princes in council, that he would propose a return to the soldiers, and that they should put a stop to them if the proposal was embraced. Then he assembles the whole host, and upon moving for a return to Greece, they unanimously agree to it, and run to prepare the ships. They are detained by the management of Ulysses, who chastises the insolence of Thersites. The assembly is recalled, several speeches made on the occasion, and at length the advice of Nestor followed, which was to make a general muster of the troops, and to divide them into their several nations, before they proceeded to battle. This gives occasion to the poet to enumerate all the forces of the Greeks and Trojans, in a large catalogue. The time employed in this book consists not entirely of one day. The scene lies in the Grecian camp and upon the sea-shore; toward the end it removes to Troy.

Now pleasing sleep had sealed each mortal eye;
Stretched in the tents the Grecian leaders lie,
The immortal slumbered on their thrones above;
All but the ever-wakeful eyes of Jove.
To honour Thetis' son he bends his care,
And plunge the Greeks in all the woes of war:
Then bids an empty phantom rise to sight,
And thus commands the vision of the night:[1]
"Fly hence, deluding Dream! and, light as air,
To Agamemnon's ample tent repair.
Bid him in arms draw forth the embattled train,
Lead all his Grecians to the dusty plain.
Declare; e'en now 'tis given him to destroy
The lofty towers of wide-extended Troy;
For now no more the gods with fate contend,
At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilion waits the impending fall."
Swift as the word the vain illusion fled,
Descends, and hovers o'er Atrides' head;
Clothed in the figure of the Pylian sage,
Renowned for wisdom, and revered for age;
Around his temples spreads his golden wing,
And thus the flattering dream deceives the king:
"Canst thou, with all a monarch's cares oppressed,
O Atreus' son! canst thou indulge thy rest?
Ill fits a chief who mighty nations guides,
Directs in council, and in war presides,
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.
Monarch, awake! 'tis Jove's command I bear;
Thou and thy glory claim his heavenly care.
In just array draw forth the embattled train,
Lead all thy Grecians to the dusty plain;
E'en now, O king! 'tis given thee to destroy
The lofty towers of wide-extended Troy.
For now no more the gods with fate contend,
At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilion waits the impending fall.
Awake, but, waking, this advice approve,
And trust the vision that descends from Jove."
The phantom said; then vanished from his sight,
Resolves to air, and mixes with the night.
A thousand schemes the monarch's mind employ;
Elate in thought, he sacks untaken Troy:
Vain as he was, and to the future blind;
Nor saw what Jove and secret fate designed;
What mighty toils to either host remain,
What scenes of grief, and numbers of the slain!
Eager he rises, and in fancy hears
The voice celestial murmuring in his ears.
First on his limbs a slender vest he drew,
Around him next the regal mantle threw,
The embroidered sandals on his feet were tied;
The starry falchion glittered at his side:
And last, his arm the massy sceptre loads,
Unstained, immortal, and the gift of gods.
Now rosy morn ascends the court of Jove,
Lifts up her light, and opens day above.
The king dispatched his heralds with commands
To range the camp and summon all the bands:
The gathering hosts the monarch's word obey;
While to the fleet Atrides bends his way.
In his black ship the Pylian prince he found;
There calls a senate of the peers around:
The assembly placed, the king of men expressed
The counsels labouring in his artful breast:
"Friends and confederates! with attentive ear
Receive my words, and credit what you hear.
Late as I slumbered in the shades of night,
A dream divine appeared before my sight;
Whose visionary form like Nestor came,
The same in habit, and in mien the same.
The heavenly phantom hovered o'er my head,
And, Dost thou sleep, O Atreus' son? he said,
Ill fits a chief who mighty nations guides,
Directs in council, and in war presides,
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.
Monarch, awake! 'tis Jove's command I bear,
Thou and thy glory claim his heavenly care;
In just array draw forth the embattled train,
And lead the Grecians to the dusty plain;
E'en now, O king! 'tis given thee to destroy
The lofty towers of wide-extended Troy;
For now no more the gods with fate contend,
At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilion waits the impending fall.
This hear observant, and the gods obey!
The vision spoke, and passed in air away.
Now, valiant chiefs! since heaven itself alarms,
Unite, and rouse the sons of Greece to arms.
But first, with caution, try what yet they dare,
Worn with nine years of unsuccessful war.
To move the troops to measure back the main,
Be mine; and yours the province to detain."
He spoke, and sat; when Nestor rising said,
Nestor, whom Pylos' sandy realms obeyed:
"Princes of Greece, your faithful ears incline,
Nor doubt the vision of the powers divine;
Sent by great Jove to him who rules the host,
Forbid it, heaven, this warning should be lost!
Then let us haste, obey the god's alarms,
And join to rouse the sons of Greece to arms."
Thus spoke the sage: the kings without delay
Dissolve the council, and their chief obey:
The sceptred rulers lead; the following host,
Poured forth by thousands, darkens all the coast.
As from some rocky cleft the shepherd sees
Clustering in heaps on heaps the driving bees,
Rolling and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms
With deeper murmurs and more hoarse alarms;
Dusky they spread, a close-embodied crowd,
And o'er the vale descends the living cloud.
So, from the tents and ships, a lengthening train
Spreads all the beach, and wide o'ershades the plain.
Along the region runs a deafening sound;
Beneath their footsteps groans the trembling ground.
Fame flies before, the messenger of Jove,
And shining soars, and claps her wings above.
Nine sacred heralds now proclaiming loud
The monarch's will, suspend the listening crowd.
Soon as the throngs in order ranged appear,
And fainter murmurs died upon the ear,
The king of kings his awful figure raised;
High in his hand the golden sceptre blazed:
The golden sceptre, of celestial frame,
By Vulcan formed, from Jove to Hermes came:
To Pelops he the immortal gift resigned;
The immortal gift great Pelops left behind,
In Atreus' hand, which not with Atreus ends;
To rich Thyestes next the prize descends;
And now, the mark of Agamemnon's reign,
Subjects all Argos, and controls the main.
On this bright sceptre now the king reclined,
And artful thus pronounced the speech designed:
"Ye sons of Mars! partake your leader's care,
Heroes of Greece, and brothers of the war!
Of partial Jove with justice I complain,
And heavenly oracles believed in vain.
A safe return was promised to our toils,
Renowned, triumphant, and enriched with spoils.
Now shameful flight alone can save the host,
Our blood, our treasure, and our glory lost.
So Jove decrees, resistless lord of all,
At whose command whole empires rise or fall:
He shakes the feeble props of human trust,
And towns and armies humbles to the dust.
What shame to Greece a fruitless war to wage,
Oh lasting shame in every future age!
Once great in arms, the common scorn we grow,
Repulsed and baffled by a feeble foe.
So small their number, that, if wars were ceased,
And Greece triumphant held a general feast,
All ranked by tens, whole decades, when they dine,
Must want a Trojan slave to pour the wine.
But other forces have our hopes o'erthrown,
And Troy prevails by armies not her own.
Now nine long years of mighty Jove are run,
Since first the labours of this war begun;
Our cordage torn, decayed our vessels lie,
And scarce ensure the wretched power to fly.
Haste, then, for ever leave the Trojan wall!
Our weeping wives, our tender children call:
Love, duty, safety, summon us away,
'Tis nature's voice, and nature we obey.
Our shattered barks may yet transport us o'er,
Safe and inglorious, to our native shore.
Fly, Grecians, fly! your sails and oars employ,
And dream no more of heaven-defended Troy."
His deep design unknown, the hosts approve
Atrides' speech; the mighty numbers move.
So roll the billows to the Icarian shore,
From east and south when winds begin to roar,
Burst their dark mansions in the clouds, and sweep
The whitening surface of the ruffled deep:
And as on corn when western gusts descend,
Before the blast the lofty harvests bend;
Thus o'er the field the moving host appears,
With nodding plumes and groves of waving spears.
The gathering murmur spreads, their trampling feet
Beat the loose sands, and thicken to the fleet.
With long-resounding cries they urge the train
To fit the ships, and launch into the main.
They toil, they sweat, thick clouds of dust arise,
The doubling clamours echo through the skies.
E'en then the Greeks had left the hostile plain,
And fate decreed the fall of Troy in vain;
But Jove's imperial queen their flight surveyed,
And sighing thus bespoke the blue-eyed Maid:
"Shall then the Grecians fly? O dire disgrace!
And leave unpunished this perfidious race?
Shall Troy, shall Priam, and the adulterous spouse,
In peace enjoy the fruits of broken vows?
And bravest chiefs, in Helen's quarrel slain,
Lie unavenged on yon detested plain?
No: let my Greeks, unmoved by vain alarms,
Once more refulgent shine in brazen arms;
Haste, goddess, haste! the flying host detain,
Nor let one sail be hoisted on the main."
Pallas obeys, and from Olympus' height
Swift to the ships precipitates her flight;
Ulysses, first in public cares, she found,
For prudent counsel like the gods renowned;
Oppressed with generous grief the hero stood,
Nor drew his sable vessels to the flood.
"And is it thus, divine Laërtes' son!
Thus fly the Greeks?" the martial Maid begun,
"Thus to their country bear their own disgrace,
And fame eternal leave to Priam's race?
Shall beauteous Helen still remain unfreed,
Still unrevenged a thousand heroes bleed?
Haste, generous Ithacus! prevent the shame,
Recall your armies, and your chiefs reclaim.
Your own resistless eloquence employ,
And to the immortals trust the fall of Troy."
The voice divine confessed the warlike Maid,
Ulysses heard, nor uninspired obeyed:
Then, meeting first Atrides, from his hand
Received the imperial sceptre of command.
Thus graced, attention and respect to gain,
He runs, he flies through all the Grecian train;
Each prince of name, or chief in arms approved,
He fired with praise, or with persuasion moved:
"Warriors like you, with strength and wisdom blest,
By brave examples should confirm the rest.
The monarch's will not yet revealed appears;
He tries our courage, but resents our fears.
The unwary Greeks his fury may provoke;
Not thus the king in secret council spoke.
Jove loves our chief, from Jove his honour springs,
Beware! for dreadful is the wrath of kings."
But if a clamorous vile plebeian rose,
Him with reproof he checked, or tamed with blows.
"Be still, thou slave, and to thy betters yield;
Unknown alike in council and in field:
Ye gods, what dastards would our host command,
Swept to the war, the lumber of a land?
Be silent, wretch, and think not here allowed
That worst of tyrants, an usurping crowd;
To one sole monarch Jove commits the sway;
His are the laws, and him let all obey."
With words like these the troops Ulysses ruled,
The loudest silenced, and the fiercest cooled.
Back to the assembly roll the thronging train,
Desert the ships, and pour upon the plain.
Murmuring they move, as when old ocean roars,
And heaves huge surges to the trembling shores:
The groaning banks are burst with bellowing sound,
The rocks remurmur, and the deeps rebound.
At length the tumult sinks, the noises cease,
And a still silence lulls the camp to peace.
Thersites only clamoured in the throng,
Loquacious, loud, and turbulent of tongue:
Awed by no shame, by no respect controlled,
In scandal busy, in reproaches bold;
With witty malice, studious to defame,
Scorn all his joy, and laughter all his aim.
But chief he gloried with licentious style
To lash the great, and monarchs to revile.
His figure such as might his soul proclaim:
One eye was blinking, and one leg was lame:
His mountain-shoulders half his breast o'erspread;
Thin hairs bestrewed his long misshapen head.
Spleen to mankind his envious heart possessed,
And much he hated all, but most the best.
Ulysses or Achilles still his theme;
But royal scandal his delight supreme.
Long had he lived the scorn of every Greek;
Vexed when he spoke, yet still they heard him speak.
Sharp was his voice; which, in the shrillest tone,
Thus with injurious taunts attacked the throne:
"Amidst the glories of so bright a reign,
What moves the great Atrides to complain?
'Tis thine whate'er the warrior's breast inflames,
The golden spoil, and thine the lovely dames.
With all the wealth our wars and blood bestow,
Thy tents are crowded, and thy chests o'erflow.
Thus, at full ease, in heaps of riches rolled,
What grieves the monarch? Is it thirst of gold?
Say, shall we march with our unconquered powers,
The Greeks and I, to Ilion's hostile towers,
And bring the race of royal bastards here,
For Troy to ransom at a price too dear?
But safer plunder thy own host supplies;
Say, wouldst thou seize some valiant leader's prize?
Or, if thy heart to generous love be led,
Some captive fair, to bless thy kingly bed?
Whate'er our master craves, submit we must,
Plagued with his pride, or punished for his lust.
O women of Achaia! men no more!
Hence let us fly, and let him waste his store
In love and pleasures on the Phrygian shore.
We may be wanted on some busy day,
When Hector comes: so great Achilles may:
From him be forced the prize we jointly gave,
From him, the fierce, the fearless, and the brave:
And durst he, as he ought, resent that wrong,
This mighty tyrant were no tyrant long."
Fierce from his seat, at this, Ulysses springs,
In generous vengeance of the king of kings.
With indignation sparkling in his eyes,
He views the wretch, and sternly thus replies:
"Peace, factious monster! born to vex the state,
With wrangling talents formed for foul debate:
Curb that impetuous tongue, nor, rashly vain
And singly mad, asperse the sovereign reign.
Have we not known thee, slave! of all our host,
The man who acts the least, upbraids the most?
Think not the Greeks to shameful flight to bring,
Nor let those lips profane the name of king.
For our return we trust the heavenly Powers;
Be that their care; to fight like men be ours.
But grant the host with wealth the general load,
Except detraction, what hast thou bestowed?
Suppose some hero should his spoils resign,
Art thou that hero, could those spoils be thine?
Gods! let me perish on this hateful shore,
And let these eyes behold my son no more;
If, on thy next offence, this hand forbear
To strip those arms thou ill deservest to wear,
Expel the council where our princes meet,
And send thee scourged and howling through the fleet."
He said, and cowering as the dastard bends,
The weighty sceptre on his back descends,
On the round bunch the bloody tumours rise;
The tears spring starting from his haggard eyes:
Trembling he sat, and, shrunk in abject fears,
From his vile visage wiped the scalding tears.
While to his neighbour each expressed his thought:
"Ye gods! what wonders has Ulysses wrought!
What fruits his conduct and his courage yield,
Great in the council, glorious in the field!
Generous he rises in the crown's defence,
To curb the factious tongue of insolence.
Such just examples on offenders shewn
Sedition silence, and assert the throne."
'Twas thus the general voice the hero praised,
Who, rising, high the imperial sceptre raised:
The blue-eyed Pallas, his celestial friend,
In form a herald, bade the crowds attend;
The expecting crowds in still attention hung,
To hear the wisdom of his heavenly tongue.
Then, deeply thoughtful, pausing ere he spoke,
His silence thus the prudent hero broke:
"Unhappy monarch! whom the Grecian race
With shame deserting, heap with vile disgrace.
Not such at Argos was their generous vow,
Once all their voice, but, ah! forgotten now:
Ne'er to return, was then the common cry,
Till Troy's proud structure should in ashes lie.
Behold them weeping for their native shore!
What could their wives or helpless children more?
What heart but melts to leave the tender train,
And, one short month, endure the wintry main?
Few leagues removed, we wish our peaceful seat,
When the ship tosses, and the tempests beat:
Then well may this long stay provoke their tears,
The tedious length of nine revolving years.
Not for their grief the Grecian host I blame;
But vanquished! baffled! oh, eternal shame!
Expect the time to Troy's destruction given,
And try the faith of Calchas and of heaven.
What passed at Aulis, Greece can witness bear,
And all who live to breathe this Phrygian air.
Beside a fountain's sacred brink we raised
Our verdant altars, and the victims blazed;
'Twas where the plane-tree spread its shades around—
The altars heaved; and from the crumbling ground
A mighty dragon shot, of dire portent;
From Jove himself the dreadful sign was sent;
Straight to the tree his sanguine spires he rolled,
And curled around in many a winding fold.
The topmost branch a mother-bird possessed;
Eight callow infants filled the mossy nest;
Herself the ninth: the serpent, as he hung,
Stretched his black jaws, and crashed the crying young;
While hovering near, with miserable moan,
The drooping mother wailed her children gone.
The mother last, as round the nest she flew,
Seized by the beating wing, the monster slew:
Nor long survived; to marble turned he stands
A lasting prodigy on Aulis' sands.
Such was the will of Jove; and hence we dare
Trust in his omen, and support the war.
For while around we gazed with wondering eyes,
And trembling sought the powers with sacrifice,
Full of his god, the reverend Calchas cried,
Ye Grecian warriors! lay your fears aside:
This wondrous signal Jove himself displays,
Of long, long labours, but eternal praise.
As many birds as by the snake were slain,
So many years the toils of Greece remain;
But wait the tenth, for Ilion's fall decreed:
Thus spoke the prophet, thus the fates succeed.
Obey, ye Grecians, with submission wait,
Nor let your flight avert the Trojan fate."
He said: the shores with loud applauses sound,
The hollow ships each deafening shout rebound.
Then Nestor thus: "These vain debates forbear:
Ye talk like children, not like heroes dare.
Where now are all your high resolves at last?
Your leagues concluded, your engagements past?
Vowed with libations and with victims then,
Now vanished like their smoke: the faith of men!
While useless words consume the unactive hours,
No wonder Troy so long resists our powers.
Rise, great Atrides! and with courage sway;
We march to war, if thou direct the way.
But leave the few that dare resist thy laws,
The mean deserters of the Grecian cause,
To grudge the conquests mighty Jove prepares,
And view with envy our successful wars.
On that great day when first the martial train,
Big with the fate of Ilion, ploughed the main,
Jove on the right a prosperous signal sent,
And thunder rolling shook the firmament.
Encouraged hence, maintain the glorious strife,
Till every soldier grasp a Phrygian wife,
Till Helen's woes at full revenged appear,
And Troy's proud matrons render tear for tear.
Before that day, if any Greek invite
His country's troops to base, inglorious flight,
Stand forth that Greek! and hoist his sail to fly;
And die the dastard first, who dreads to die.
But now, O monarch! all thy chiefs advise,
Nor what they offer, thou thyself despise.
Among those counsels, let not mine be vain;
In tribes and nations to divide thy train:
His separate troops let every leader call,
Each strengthen each, and all encourage all.
What chief, or soldier, of the numerous band,
Or bravely fights, or ill obeys command,
When thus distinct they war, shall soon be known,
And what the cause of Ilion not o'erthrown;
If fate resists, or if our arms are slow,
If gods above prevent, or men below."
To him the king: "How much thy years excel
In arts of council, and in speaking well!
Oh would the gods, in love to Greece, decree
But ten such sages as they grant in thee;
Such wisdom soon should Priam's force destroy,
And soon should fall the haughty towers of Troy!
But Jove forbids, who plunges those he hates
In fierce contention and in vain debates.
Now great Achilles from our aid withdraws,
By me provoked; a captive maid the cause:
If e'er as friends we join, the Trojan wall
Must shake, and heavy will the vengeance fall!
But now, ye warriors, take a short repast;
And, well refreshed, to bloody conflict haste.
His sharpened spear let every Grecian wield,
And every Grecian fix his brazen shield;
Let all excite the fiery steeds of war,
And all for combat fit the rattling car.
This day, this dreadful day, let each contend;
No rest, no respite, till the shades descend;
Till darkness, or till death shall cover all,
Let the war bleed, and let the mighty fall;
Till bathed in sweat be every manly breast,
With the huge shield each brawny arm depressed,
Each aching nerve refuse the lance to throw,
And each spent courser at the chariot blow.
Who dares, inglorious, in his ships to stay,
Who dares to tremble on this signal day,
That wretch, too mean to fall by martial power,
The birds shall mangle and the dogs devour."
The monarch spoke: and straight a murmur rose,
Loud as the surges when the tempest blows,
That dashed on broken rocks tumultuous roar,
And foam and thunder on the stony shore.
Straight to the tents the troops dispersing bend,
The fires are kindled, and the smokes ascend;
With hasty feasts they sacrifice, and pray
To avert the dangers of the doubtful day.
A steer of five years' age, large limbed, and fed,
To Jove's high altars Agamemnon led:
There bade the noblest of the Grecian peers,
And Nestor first, as most advanced in years.
Next came Idomeneus and Tydeus' son,
Ajax the less, and Ajax Telamon;
Then wise Ulysses in his rank was placed;
And Menelaüs came unhid, the last.
The chiefs surround the destined beast, and take
The sacred offering of the salted cake:
When thus the king prefers his solemn prayer:
"O thou! whose thunder rends the clouded air,
Who in the heaven of heavens hast fixed thy throne,
Supreme of gods! unbounded and alone!
Hear! and before the burning sun descends,
Before the night her gloomy veil extends,
Low in the dust be laid yon hostile spires,
Be Priam's palace sunk in Grecian fires,
In Hector's breast be plunged this shining sword,
And slaughtered heroes groan around their lord!"
Thus prayed the chief: his unavailing prayer
Great Jove refused, and tossed in empty air:
The god, averse, while yet the fumes arose,
Prepared new toils, and doubled woes on woes.
Their prayers performed, the chiefs the rites pursue,
The barley sprinkled, and the victim slew;
The limbs they sever from the enclosing hide,
The thighs, selected to the gods, divide;
On these, in double cauls involved with art,
The choicest morsels lie from every part.
From the cleft wood the crackling flames aspire,
While the fat victim feeds the sacred fire.
The thighs thus sacrificed and entrails dressed,
The assistants part, transfix, and roast the rest;
Then spread the tables, the repast prepare,
Each takes his seat, and each receives his share.
Soon as the rage of hunger was suppressed,
The generous Nestor thus the prince addressed:
"Now bid thy heralds sound the loud alarms,
And call the squadrons sheathed in brazen arms:
Now seize the occasion, now the troops survey,
And lead to war when heaven directs the way."
He said; the monarch issued his commands;
Straight the loud heralds call the gathering bands.
The chiefs enclose their king: the hosts divide,
In tribes and nations ranked on either side.
High in the midst the blue-eyed Virgin flies;
From rank to rank she darts her ardent eyes:
The dreadful ægis,[2] Jove's immortal shield,
Blazed on her arm, and lightened all the field:
Round the vast orb a hundred serpents rolled,
Formed the bright fringe, and seemed to burn in gold.
With this each Grecian's manly breast she warms,
Swells their bold hearts, and strings their nervous arms;
No more they sigh inglorious to return,
But breathe revenge, and for the combat burn.
As on some mountain, through the lofty grove,
The crackling flames ascend and blaze above,
The fires, expanding as the winds arise,
Shoot their long beams, and kindle half the skies,
So from the polished arms, and brazen shields,
A gleamy splendour flashed along the fields.
Not less their number than the embodied cranes,
Or milk-white swans in Asius' watery plains,
That, o'er the windings of Cäyster's springs,
Stretch their long necks, and clap their rustling wings;
Now tower aloft, and course in airy rounds;
Now light with noise; with noise the field resounds.
Thus numerous and confused, extending wide,
The legions crown Scamander's flowery side;
With rushing troops the plains are covered o'er,
And thundering footsteps shake the sounding shore;
Along the river's level meads they stand,
Thick as in spring the flowers adorn the land,
Or leaves the trees; or thick as insects play,
The wandering nation of a summer's day,
That, drawn by milky steams, at evening hours,
In gathered swarms surround the rural bowers;
From pail to pail with busy murmur run
The gilded legions, glittering in the sun.
So thronged, so close, the Grecian squadrons stood
In radiant arms, and thirst for Trojan blood.
Each leader now his scattered force conjoins
In close array, and forms the deepening lines.
Not with more ease the skilful shepherd swain
Collects his flock from thousands on the plain.
The king of kings, majestically tall,
Towers o'er his armies, and outshines them all:
Like some proud bull that round the pastures leads
His subject-herds, the monarch of the meads.
Great as the gods the exalted chief was seen,
His strength like Neptune, and like Mars his mien;
Jove o'er his eyes celestial glories spread,
And dawning conquest played around his head.
Say, Virgins, seated round the throne divine,
All-knowing goddesses! immortal Nine!
Since earth's wide regions, heaven's unmeasured height,
And hell's abyss, hide nothing from your sight—
We wretched mortals! lost in doubts below,
But guess by rumour, and but boast we know—
Oh, say what heroes, fired by thirst of fame,
Or urged by wrongs, to Troy's destruction came?
To count them all, demands a thousand tongues,
A throat of brass, and adamantine lungs,
Daughters of Jove, assist! inspired by you.
The mighty labour dauntless I pursue:
What crowded armies, from what climes, they bring,
Their names, their numbers, and their chiefs, I sing.

THE CATALOGUE OF THE SHIPS

The hardy warriors whom Bœotia bred,
Peneleus, Leitus, Prothoënor led:
With these Arcesilaus and Clonius stand,
Equal in arms, and equal in command.
These head the troops that rocky Aulis yields,
And Eteon's hills, and Hyrie's watery fields,
And Schœnos, Scolos, Græa near the main,
And Mycalessia's ample piny plain.
Those who in Peteon or Ilesion dwell,
Or Harma, where Apollo's prophet fell;
Heleon and Hylè, which the springs o'erflow;
And Medeon lofty, and Ocalea low;
Or in the meads of Haliartus stray,
Or Thespia, sacred to the god of day.
Onchestus, Neptune's celebrated groves;
Copæ, and Thisbè, famed for silver doves,
For flocks Erythræ, Glissa for the vine;
Platæa green, and Nisa the divine.
And they whom Thebès' well-built walls enclose,
Where Mydè, Eutresis, Coronè rose;
And Arnè rich, with purple harvests crowned;
And Anthedon, Bœotia's utmost bound.
Full fifty ships they send, and each conveys
Twice sixty warriors through the foaming seas.
To these succeed Aspledon's martial train,
Who plough the spacious Orchomenian plain.
Two valiant brothers rule the undaunted throng,
Iälmen and Ascalaphus the strong,
Sons of Astyochè, the heavenly fair,
Whose virgin charms subdued the god of war:
(In Actor's court as she retired to rest,
The strength of Mars the blushing maid compressed:)
Their troops in thirty sable vessels sweep,
With equal oars, the hoarse-resounding deep.
The Phocians next in forty barks repair,
Epistrophus and Schedius head the war;
From those rich regions where Cephissus leads
His silver current through the flowery meads;
From Panopëa, Chrysa the divine,
Where Anemoria's stately turrets shine,
Where Pytho, Daulis, Cyparissus stood,
And fair Lilæ views the rising flood.
These, ranged in order on the floating tide,
Close, on the left, the bold Bœotians' side.
Fierce Ajax led the Locrian squadrons on,
Ajax the less, Oïleus' valiant son;
Skilled to direct the flying dart aright;
Swift in pursuit, and active in the fight.
Him, as their chief, the chosen troops attend,
Which Bessa, Thronus, and rich Cynos send;
Opus, Calliarus, and Scarphe's bands;
And those who dwell where pleasing Augia stands,
And where Boägrius floats the lowly lands,
Or in fair Tarphè's sylvan seats reside;
In forty vessels cut the yielding tide.
Eubœa next her martial sons prepares,
And sends the brave Abantes to the wars;
Breathing revenge, in arms they take their way
From Chalcis' walls, and strong Eretria;
The Isteian fields for generous vines renowned,
The fair Carystos, and the Styrian ground;
Where Dios from her towers o'erlooks the plain,
And high Cerinthus views the neighbouring main,
Down their broad shoulders falls a length of hair;
Their hands dismiss not the long lance in air:
But with portended spears, in fighting fields,
Pierce the tough corselets and the brazen shields.
Twice twenty ships transport the warlike bands,
Which bold Elphenor, fierce in arms, commands.
Full fifty more from Athens stem the main,
Led by Menestheus through the liquid plain—
Athens the fair, where great Erectheus swayed,
That owed his nurture to the blue-eyed Maid,
But from the teeming furrow took his birth,
The mighty offspring of the foodful earth.
Him Pallas placed amidst her wealthy fane,
Adored with sacrifice and oxen slain;
Where as the years revolve her altars blaze,
And all the plains resound the goddess' praise.
No chief like thee, Menestheus! Greece could yield,
To marshal armies in the dusty field,
The extended wings of battle to display,
Or close the embodied host in firm array.
Nestor alone, improved by length of days,
For martial conduct bore an equal praise.
With these appear the Salaminian bands,
Whom the gigantic Telamon commands;
In twelve black ships to Troy they steer their course,
And with the great Athenians join their force.
Next move to war the generous Argive train
From high Trœzenè, and Maseta's plain,
And fair Ægina circled by the main:
Whom strong Tirynthè's lofty walls surround.
And Epidaure with viny harvests crowned:
And where fair Asinen and Hermion shew
Their cliffs above, and ample bay below.
These by the brave Euryalus were led,
Great Sthenelus, and greater Diomed,
But chief Tydides bore the sovereign sway;
In fourscore barks they plough the watery way.
The proud Mycenæ arms her martial powers,
Cleonè, Corinth, with imperial towers,
Fair Aræthyrea, Ornia's fruitful plain,
And Ægion, and Adrastus' ancient reign;
And those who dwell along the sandy shore,
And where Pellenè yields her fleecy store,
Where Helicè and Hyperesia lie,
And Gonoëssa's spires salute the sky.
Great Agamemnon rules the numerous band,
A hundred vessels in long order stand,
And crowded nations wait his dread command.
High on the deck the king of men appears,
And his refulgent arms in triumph wears;
Proud of his host, unrivalled in his reign,
In silent pomp he moves along the main.
His brother follows, and to vengeance warms
The hardy Spartans, exercised in arms:
Phares and Brysia's valiant troops, and those
Whom Lacedæmon's lofty hills enclose:
Or Messé's towers for silver doves renowned,
Amyclæ, Laäs, Augia's happy ground,
And those whom Œtylos' low walls contain,
And Helos, on the margin of the main:
These o'er the bending ocean, Helen's cause
In sixty ships with Menelaüs draws:
Eager and loud, from man to man he flies,
Revenge and fury flaming in his eyes;
While, vainly fond, in fancy oft he hears
The fair one's grief, and sees her falling tears.
In ninety sail, from Pylos' sandy coast,
Nestor the sage conducts his chosen host:
From Amphigenia's ever-fruitful land;
Where Æpy high, and little Pteleon stand;
Where beauteous Arenè her structures shows,
And Thryon's walls Alpheüs' streams enclose:
And Dorion, famed for Thamyris' disgrace,
Superior once of all the tuneful race,
Till, vain of mortals' empty praise, he strove
To match the seed of cloud-compelling Jove!
Too daring bard! whose unsuccessful pride
The immortal Muses in their art defied.
The avenging Muses of the light of day
Deprived his eyes, and snatched his voice away;
No more his heavenly voice was heard to sing;
His hand no more awaked the silver string.
Where under high Cyllenè, crowned with wood,
The shaded tomb of old Æpytus stood;
From Ripè, Stratie, Tegea's bordering towns,
The Phenean fields, and Orchomenian downs,
Where the fat herds in plenteous pasture rove;
And Stymphelus with her surrounding grove,
Parrhasia, on her snowy cliffs reclined,
And high Enispè shook by wintry wind,
And fair Mantinea's ever-pleasing site;
In sixty sail the Arcadian bands unite.
Bold Agapenor, glorious at their head,
(Ancæus' son) the mighty squadron led.
Their ships, supplied by Agamemnon's care,
Through roaring seas the wondering warriors bear;
The first to battle on the appointed plain,
But new to all the dangers of the main.[3]
Those, where fair Elis and Buprasium join;
Whom Hyrmin, here, and Myrsinus confine,
And bounded there, where o'er the valleys rose
The Olenian rock; and where Alisium flows;
Beneath four chiefs (a numerous army) came:
The strength and glory of the Epean name.
In separate squadrons these their train divide,
Each leads ten vessels through the yielding tide.
One was Amphimachus, and Thalpius one;
(Eurytus' this, and that Teätus' son;)
Diores sprung from Amarynceus' line;
And great Polyxenus, of force divine.
But those who view fair Elis o'er the seas
From the blest islands of the Echinades,
In forty vessels under Meges move,
Begot by Phyleus, the beloved of Jove.
To strong Dulichium from his sire he fled,
And thence to Troy his hardy warriors led.
Ulysses followed through the watery road,
A chief, in wisdom equal to a god.
With those whom Cephallenia's isle enclosed,
Or till their fields along the coast opposed;
Or where fair Ithaca o'erlooks the floods,
Where high Neritos shakes his waving woods,
Where Ægilipa's rugged sides are seen,
Crocylia rocky, and Zacynthus green,
These, in twelve galleys with vermilion prores,
Beneath his conduct sought the Phrygian shores.
Thoas came next, Andræmon's valiant son,
From Pleuron's walls and chalky Calydon,
And rough Pylenè, and the Olenian steep,
And Chalcis, beaten by the rolling deep.
He led the warriors from the Ætolian shore,
For now the sons of Œneus were no more!
The glories of the mighty race were fled!
Œneus himself, and Meleager dead!
To Thoas' care now trust the martial train:
His forty vessels follow through the main.
Next eighty barks the Cretan king commands,
Of Gnossus, Lyctus, and Gortyna's bands,
And those who dwell where Rhytion's domes arise,
Or white Lycastus glitters to the skies,
Or where by Phæstus silver Jardan runs;
Crete's hundred cities pour forth all her sons.
These marched, Idomeneus, beneath thy care,
And Merion, dreadful as the god of war.
Tlepolemus, the son of Hercules,
Led nine swift vessels through the foamy seas;
From Rhodes, with everlasting sunshine bright,
Jalyssus, Lindus, and Camirus white.
His captive mother fierce Alcides bore
From Ephyr's walls, and Sellè's winding shore,
Where mighty towns in ruins spread the plain,
And saw their blooming warriors early slain.
The hero, when to manly years he grew,
Alcides' uncle, old Licymnius, slew;
For this, constrained to quit his native place,
And shun the vengeance of the Herculean race,
A fleet he built, and with a numerous train
Of willing exiles, wandered o'er the main;
Where, many seas and many sufferings past,
On happy Rhodes the chief arrived at last:
There in three tribes divides his native band,
And rules them peaceful in a foreign land;
Increased and prospered in their new abodes
By mighty Jove, the sire of men and gods;
With joy they saw the growing empire rise,
And showers of wealth descending from the skies.
Three ships with Nireus sought the Trojan shore,
Nireus, whom Agläe to Charopus bore,
Nireus, in faultless shape, and blooming grace,
The loveliest youth of all the Grecian race;
Pelides only matched his early charms;
But few his troops, and small his strength in arms.
Next thirty galleys cleave the liquid plain,
Of those Calydnæ's sea-girt isles contain;
With them the youth of Nisyrus repair,
Casus the strong, and Crapathus the fair;
Cos, where Eurypylus possessed the sway,
Till great Alcides made the realms obey:
These Antiphus and bold Phidippus bring,
Sprung from the god by Thessalus the king.
Now, Muse, recount Pelasgic Argos' powers,
From Arlos, Alopè, and Trechin's towers;
From Phthia's spacious vales; and Hellas, blessed
With female beauty far beyond the rest.
Full fifty ships beneath Achilles' care
The Achaians, Myrmidons, Hellenians bear;
Thessalians all, though various in their name,
The same their nation, and their chief the same.
But now inglorious, stretched along the shore,
They hear the brazen voice of war no more;
No more the foe they face in dire array:
Close in his fleet their angry leader lay;
Since fair Briseïs from his arms was torn,
The noblest spoil from sacked Lyrnessus borne,
Then, when the chief the Theban walls o'erthrew,
And the bold sons of great Evenus slew.
There mourned Achilles, plunged in depth of care,
But soon to rise in slaughter, blood, and war.
To these the youth of Phylacè succeed,
Itona, famous for her fleecy breed,
And grassy Pteleon decked with cheerful greens,
The bowers of Ceres, and the sylvan scenes,
Sweet Pyrrhasus, with blooming flowerets crowned,
And Antron's watery dens, and caverned ground.
These owned as chief Protesilas the brave,
Who now lay silent in the gloomy grave:
The first who boldly touched the Trojan shore,
And dyed a Phrygian lance with Grecian gore;
There lies, far distant from his native plain;
Unfinished his proud palaces remain,
And his sad consort beats her breast in vain.
His troops in forty ships Podarces led,
Iphiclus' son, and brother to the dead;
Nor he unworthy to command the host;
Yet still they mourned their ancient leader lost.
The men who Glaphyra's fair soil partake,
Where hills encircle Bœbe's lowly lake,
Where Pheræ hears the neighbouring waters fall,
Or proud Ïolcus lifts her airy wall,
In ten black ships embarked for Ilion's shore,
With bold Eumelus, whom Alcestè[4] bore:
All Pelias' race Alcestè far outshined,
The grace and glory of the beauteous kind.
The troops Methonè, or Thaumacia yields,
Olizon's rocks, or Melibœa's fields,
With Philoctetes sailed, whose matchless art
From the tough bow directs the feathered dart.
Seven were his ships: each vessel fifty row,
Skilled in his science of the dart and bow.
But he lay raging on the Lemnian ground;
A poisonous Hydra gave the burning wound;
There groaned the chief in agonising pain,
Whom Greece at length shall wish, nor wish in vain.
His forces Medon led from Lemnos' shore,
Oïleus' son, whom beauteous Rhena bore.
The Œchalian race, in those high towers contained,
Where once Eurytus in proud triumph reigned,
Or where her humbler turrets Tricca rears,
Or where Ithomè, rough with rocks, appears;
In thirty sail the sparkling waves divide,
Which Podalirius and Machaon guide.
To these his skill their parent-god imparts,
Divine professors of the healing arts.
The bold Ormenian and Asterian bands
In forty barks Eurypylus commands,
Where Titan hides his hoary head in snow,
And where Hyperia's silver fountains flow.
Thy troops, Argissa, Polypœtes leads,
And Eleon, sheltered by Olympus' shades,
Gyrtonè's warriors; and where Orthè lies,
And Oloösson's chalky cliffs arise.
Sprung from Pirithoüs of immortal race,
The fruit of fair Hippodamè's embrace,
That day, when, hurled from Pelion's cloudy head,
To distant dens the shaggy Centaurs fled,
With Polypœtes joined in equal sway,
Leonteus leads, and forty ships obey.
In twenty sail the bold Perrhæbians came
From Cyphus; Guneus was their leader's name.
With these the Enians joined, and those who freeze
Where cold Dodona lifts her holy trees;
Or where the pleasing Titaresius glides,
And into Peneus rolls his easy tides;
Yet o'er the silver surface pure they flow,
The sacred stream unmixed with streams below,
Sacred and awful! From the dark abodes
Styx pours them forth, the dreadful oath of gods!
Last under Prothous the Magnesians stood,
Prothous the swift, of old Tenthredon's blood;
Who dwell where Pelion, crowned with piny boughs,
Obscures the glade, and nods his shaggy brows:
Or where through flowery Tempè Peneus strayed,
The region stretched beneath his mighty shade:
In forty sable barks they stemmed the main;
Such were the chiefs, and such the Grecian train.
Say next, O Muse! of all Achaïa breeds,
Who bravest fought, or reined the noblest steeds?
Eumelus' mares were foremost in the chase,
As eagles fleet, and of Pheretian race;
Bred where Pieria's fruitful fountains flow,
And trained by him who bears the silver bow.
Fierce in the fight, their nostrils breathed a flame,
Their height, their colour, and their age, the same;
O'er fields of death they whirl the rapid car,
And break the ranks, and thunder through the war.
Ajax in arms the first renown acquired,
While stern Achilles in his wrath retired;
His was the strength that mortal might exceeds,
And his the unrivalled race of heavenly steeds:
But Thetis' son now shines in arms no more;
His troops, neglected on the sandy shore,
In empty air their sportive javelins throw,
Or whirl the disk, or bend an idle bow:
Unstained with blood his covered chariots stand;
The immortal coursers graze along the strand;
But the brave chiefs the inglorious life deplored,
And, wandering o'er the camp, required their lord.
Now, like a deluge, covering all around,
The shining armies swept along the ground;
Swift as a flood of fire, when storms arise,
Floats the wide field, and blazes to the skies.
Earth groaned beneath them; as when angry Jove
Hurls down the forky lightning from above,
On Arimé when he the thunder throws,
And fires Typhœus with redoubled blows,
Where Typhon, pressed beneath the burning load,
Still feels the fury of the avenging god.
But various Iris, Jove's commands to bear,
Speeds on the wings of winds through liquid air;
In Priam's porch the Trojan chiefs she found,
The old consulting, and the youths around.
Polites' shape, the monarch's son, she chose,
Who from Æsetes' tomb observed the foes,
High on the mound; from whence in prospect lay
The fields, the tents, the navy, and the bay.
In this dissembled form she hastes to bring
The unwelcome message to the Phrygian king:
"Cease to consult, the time for action calls,
War, horrid war, approaches to your walls!
Assembled armies oft have I beheld,
But ne'er till now such numbers charged a field.
Thick as autumnal leaves, or driving sand,
The moving squadrons blacken all the strand.
Thou, godlike Hector! all thy force employ,
Assemble all the united bands of Troy;
In just array let every leader call
The foreign troops: this day demands them all."
The voice divine the mighty chief alarms;
The council breaks, the warriors rush to arms.
The gates unfolding pour forth all their train,
Nations on nations fill the dusky plain,
Men, steeds, and chariots, shake the trembling ground,
The tumult thickens, and the skies resound.
Amidst the plain in sight of Ilion stands
A rising mount, the work of human hands;
(This for Myrinnè's tomb the immortals know,
Though called Bateïa in the world below ;)
Beneath their chiefs in martial order here
The auxiliar troops and Trojan hosts appear.
The godlike Hector, high above the rest,
Shakes his huge spear, and nods his plumy crest:
In throngs around his native bands appear,
And groves of lances glitter in the air.
Divine Æneas brings the Dardan race,
Anchises' son, by Venus' stolen embrace,
Born in the shades of Ida's secret grove,
(A mortal mixing with the queen of love;)
Archilochus and Acamas divide
The warrior's toils, and combat by his side.
Who fair Zeleia's wealthy valleys till,
Fast by the foot of Ida's sacred hill;
Or drink, Æsepus, of thy sable flood;
Were led by Pandarus, of royal blood.
To whom his art Apollo deigned to shew.
Graced with the present of his shafts and bow.
From rich Apæsus and Adrestia's towers,
High Teree's summits, and Pityea's bowers;
From these the congregated troops obey
Young Amphius and Adrastus' equal sway;
Old Merops' sons; whom, skilled in fates to come,
The sire forewarned, and prophesied their doom:
Fate urged them on! the sire forewarned in vain,
They rushed to war, and perished on the plain.
From Practius' stream, Percotè's pasture lands,
And Sestos and Abydos' neighbouring strands,
From great Arisba's walls and Sellè's coast,
Asius Hyrtacides conducts his host:
High on his car he shakes the flowing reins,
His fiery coursers thunder o'er the plains.
The fierce Pelasgi next in war renowned,
March from Larissa's ever-fertile ground:
In equal arms their brother leaders shine,
Hippothous bold, and Pyleus the divine.
Next Acamas and Pyroüs lead their hosts
In dread array, from Thracia's wintry coasts;
Round the black realms where Hellespontus roars,
And Boreas beats the hoarse-resounding shores.
With great Euphemus the Ciconians move,
Sprung from Trœzenian Ceüs, loved by Jove.
Pyræchmes the Pæonian troops attend,
Skilled in the fight their crooked bows to bend;
From Axius' ample bed he leads them on,
Axius, that laves the distant Amydon,
Axius, that swells with all his neighbouring rills,
And wide around the floating region fills.
The Paphlagonians Pylæmenes rules,
Where rich Henetia breeds her savage mules,
Where Erythinus' rising cliffs are seen,
Thy groves of box, Cytorus! ever green;
And where Ægialus and Cromna lie,
And lofty Sesamus invades the sky;
And where Parthenius, rolled through banks of flowers,
Reflects her bordering palaces and bowers.
Here marched in arms the Halizonian band,
Whom Odius and Epistrophus command,
From those far regions where the sun refines
The ripening silver in Alybean mines.
There, mighty Chromis led the Mysian train,
And augur Ennomus, inspired in vain,
For stern Achilles lopped his sacred head,
Rolled down Scamander with the vulgar dead.
Phorcys and brave Ascanius here unite
The Ascanian Phrygians, eager for the fight.
Of those who round Mæonia's realms reside,
Or whom the vales in shade of Tmolus hide,
Mestles and Antiphus the charge partake;
Born on the banks of Gyges' silent lake.
There, from the fields where wild Mæander flows,
High Mycalè, and Latmos' shady brows,
And proud Miletus, came the Carian throngs,
With mingled clamours, and with barbarous tongues.
Amphimachus and Naustes guide the train,
Naustes the bold, Amphimachus the vain,
Who, tricked with gold, and glittering on his car,
Rode like a woman to the field of war.
Fool that he was! by fierce Achilles slain,
The river swept him to the briny main:
There whelmed with waves the gaudy warrior lies;
The valiant victor seized the golden prize.
The forces last in fair array succeed,
Which blameless Glaucus and Sarpedon lead;
The warlike bands that distant Lycia yields,
Where gulfy Xanthus foams along the fields.

  1. Compare the story in 1 Kings xxii.
  2. The symbol of the storm-cloud, and so proper to Jove, though carried by other gods. According to legend, it was made of the skin of the goat that suckled Jove. It was the primitive shield.
  3. The Arcadians being an inland people were unskilled in navigation, for which reason Agamemnon furnished them with shipping.
  4. Alcestè (Alcestis) died for her husband Admetus.