The Iliad of Homer (Pope)/Book 8
THE SECOND BATTLE, AND THE DISTRESS OF THE GREEKS
Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn,
When Jove convened the senate of the skies,
Where high Olympus' cloudy tops arise.
The sire of gods his awful silence broke;
The heavens attentive trembled as he spoke:
"Celestial states, immortal gods! give ear,
Hear our decree, and reverence what ye hear;
The fixed decree which not all heaven can move;
Thou, Fate, fulfil it, and ye, Powers, approve;
What god but enters yon forbidden field,
Who yields assistance, or but wills to yield;
Back to the skies with shame he shall be driven,
Gashed with dishonest wounds, the scorn of heaven:
Or far, oh far from steep Olympus thrown,
Low in the dark Tartarean gulf shall groan,
With burning chains fixed to the brazen floors,
And locked by hell's inexorable doors;
As deep beneath the infernal centre hurled,
As from that centre to the ethereal world.
Let him who tempts me, dread those dire abodes;
And know, the Almighty is the god of gods.
League all your forces, then, ye powers above,
Join all, and try the omnipotence of Jove:
Let down our golden everlasting chain,
Whose strong embrace holds heaven and earth and main:
Strive all, of mortal and immortal birth,
To drag, by this, the Thunderer down to earth,
Ye strive in vain! if I but stretch this hand,
I heave the gods, the ocean, and the land;
I fix the chain to great Olympus' height,
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight;
For such I reign, unbounded and above;
And such are men and gods, compared to Jove."
The Almighty spoke, nor durst the powers reply;
A reverent horror silenced all the sky;
Trembling they stood before their sovereign's look;
At length his best beloved, the power of wisdom, spoke:
"O first and greatest! God, by gods adored!
We own thy might, our father and our lord!
But, ah! permit to pity human state:
If not to help, at least lament their fate.
From fields forbidden we submiss refrain,
With arms unaiding mourn our Argives slain;
Yet grant my counsels still their breasts may move,
Or all must perish in the wrath of Jove."
The cloud-compelling god her suit approved,
And smiled superior on his best-beloved.
Then called his coursers, and his chariot took;
The steadfast firmament beneath them shook:
Rapt by the ethereal steeds the chariot rolled;
Brass were their hoofs, their curling manes of gold.
Of heaven's undrossy gold the god's array,
Refulgent, flashed intolerable day.
High on the throne he shines: his coursers fly
Between the extended earth and starry sky.
But when to Ida's topmost height he came,
Fair nurse of fountains, and of savage game,
Where, o'er her pointed summits proudly raised,
His fane breathed odours, and his altar blazed:
There, from his radiant car, the sacred sire
Of gods and men released the steeds of fire:
Blue ambient mists the immortal steeds embraced;
High on the cloudy point his seat he placed;
Thence his broad eye the subject world surveys,
The town, and tents, and navigable seas.
Now had the Grecians snatched a short repast,
And buckled on their shining arms with haste.
Troy roused as soon; for on this dreadful day
The fate of fathers, wives, and infants lay.
The gates unfolding pour forth all their train;
Squadrons on squadrons cloud the dusky plain:
Men, steeds, and chariots shake the trembling ground,
The tumult thickens, and the skies resound.
And now with shouts the shocking armies closed,
To lances lances, shields to shields opposed;
Host against host with shadowy legions drew,
The sounding darts in iron tempests flew;
Victors and vanquished join promiscuous cries,
Triumphant shouts and dying groans arise;
With streaming blood the slippery fields are dyed,
And slaughtered heroes swell the dreadful tide.
Long as the morning beams, increasing bright,
O'er heaven's clear azure spread the sacred light,
Commutual death the fate of war confounds,
Each adverse battle gored with equal wounds.
But when the sun the height of heaven ascends,
The sire of gods his golden scales suspends,
With equal hand; in these explored the fate
Of Greece and Troy, and poised the mighty weight.
Pressed with its load, the Grecian balance lies
Low sunk on earth, the Trojan strikes the skies.
Then Jove from Ida's top his horrors spreads;
The clouds burst dreadful o'er the Grecian heads;
Thick lightnings flash; the muttering thunder rolls;
Their strength he withers, and unmans their souls.
Before his wrath the trembling hosts retire,
The gods in terrors, and the skies on fire.
Nor great Idomeneus that sight could bear,
Nor each stern Ajax, thunderbolts of war;
Nor he, the king of men, the alarm sustained;
Nestor alone amidst the storm remained.
Unwilling he remained, for Paris' dart
Had pierced his courser in a mortal part;
Fixed in the forehead where the springing mane
Curled o'er the brow, it stung him to the brain;
Mad with his anguish, he begins to rear,
Paw with his hoofs aloft, and lash the air.
Scarce had his faulchion cut the reins, and freed
The incumbent chariot from the dying steed,
When dreadful Hector, thundering through the war,
Poured to the tumult on his whirling car.
That day had stretched beneath his matchless hand
The hoary monarch of the Pylian band,
But Diomed beheld; from forth the crowd
He rushed, and on Ulysses called aloud:
"Whither, oh whither does Ulysses run?
O flight unworthy great Laërtes' son!
Mixed with the vulgar shall thy fate be found,
Pierced in the back, a vile, dishonest wound?
Oh turn and save from Hector's direful rage
The glory of the Greeks, the Pylian sage."
His fruitless words are lost unheard in air;
Ulysses seeks the ships, and shelters there.
But bold Tydides to the rescue goes,
A single warrior 'midst a host of foes;
Before the coursers with a sudden spring
He leaped, and anxious thus bespoke the king:
"Great perils, father! wait the unequal fight;
These younger champions will oppress thy might.
Thy veins no more with ancient vigour glow,
Weak is thy servant, and thy coursers slow.
Then haste, ascend my seat, and from the car
Observe the steeds of Tros, renowned in war,
Practised alike to turn, to stop, to chase,
To dare the fight, or urge the rapid race:
These late obeyed Æneas' guiding rein;
Leave thou thy chariot to our faithful train:
With these against yon Trojans will we go,
Nor shall great Hector want an equal foe;
Fierce as he is, e'en he may learn to fear
The thirsty fury of my flying spear."
Thus said the chief; and Nestor, skilled in war,
Approves his counsel, and ascends the car:
The steeds he left, their trusty servants hold;
Eurymedon, and Sthenelus the bold.
The reverend charioteer directs the course,
And strains his aged arm to lash the horse.
Hector they face; unknowing how to fear,
Fierce he drove on: Tydides whirled his spear.
The spear with erring haste mistook its way,
But plunged in Eniopeus' bosom lay.
His opening hand in death forsakes the rein;
The steeds fly back: he falls, and spurns the plain.
Great Hector sorrows for his servant killed,
Yet unrevenged permits to press the field;
Till to supply his place and rule the car,
Rose Archeptolemus, the fierce in war.
And now had death and horror covered all;
Like timorous flocks the Trojans in their wall
Enclosed had bled: but Jove with awful sound
Rolled the big thunder o'er the vast profound:
Full in Tydides' face the lightning flew;
The ground before him flamed with sulphur blue:
The quivering steeds fell prostrate at the sight;
And Nestor's trembling hand confessed his fright:
He dropped the reins; and, shook with sacred dread,
Thus, turning, warned the intrepid Diomed:
"O chief! too daring in thy friend's defence,
Retire advised, and urge the chariot hence.
This day, averse, the sovereign of the skies
Assists great Hector, and our palm denies.
Some other sun may see the happier hour,
When Greece shall conquer by his heavenly power.
'Tis not in man his fixed decree to move:
The great will glory to submit to Jove."
"O reverend prince," Tydides thus replies,
"Thy years are awful, and thy words are wise.
But, ah what grief! should haughty Hector boast
I fled inglorious to the guarded coast.
Before that dire disgrace shall blast my fame,
O'erwhelm me, earth! and hide a warrior's shame."
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied:
" Gods! can thy courage fear the Phrygian's pride?
Hector may vaunt, but who shall heed the boast?
Not those who felt thy arm, the Dardan host,
Nor Troy, yet bleeding in her heroes lost;
Not e'en a Phrygian dame, who dreads the sword
That laid in dust her loved, lamented lord."
He said: and hasty o'er the gasping throng
Drives the swift steeds; the chariot smokes along.
The shouts of Trojans thicken in the wind;
The storm of hissing javelins pours behind,
Then with a voice that shakes the solid skies,
Pleased Hector braves the warrior as he flies:
"Go, mighty hero! graced above the rest
In seats of council and the sumptuous feast:
Now hope no more those honours from thy train;
Go, less than woman, in the form of man!
To scale our walls, to wrap our towers in flames,
To lead in exile the fair Phrygian dames,
Thy once proud hopes, presumptuous prince! are fled;
This arm shall reach thy heart, and stretch thee dead."
Now fears dissuade him, and now hopes invite,
To stop his coursers, and to stand the fight;
Thrice turned the chief, and thrice imperial Jove
On Ida's summit thundered from above.
Great Hector heard; he saw the flashing light,
The sign of conquest, and thus urged the fight:
"Hear every Trojan, Lycian, Dardan band,
All famed in war, and dreadful hand to hand,
Be mindful of the wreaths your arms have won,
Your great forefathers' glories, and your own.
Heard ye the voice of Jove? Success and fame
Await on Troy, on Greece eternal shame.
In vain they skulk behind their boasted wall,
Weak bulwarks, destined by this arm to fall.
High o'er their slighted trench our steeds shall bound,
And pass victorious o'er the levelled mound.
Soon as before yon hollow ships we stand,
Fight each with flames, and toss the blazing brand;
Till, their proud navy wrapt in smoke and fires,
All Greece, encompassed, in one blaze expires."
Furious he said: then, bending o'er the yoke,
Encouraged his proud steeds, while thus he spoke:
"Now Xanthus, Æthon, Lampus, urge the chase,
And thou, Podargus! prove thy generous race:
Be fleet, be fearless, this important day,
And all your master's well-spent care repay.
For this, high fed in plenteous stalls ye stand,
Served with pure wheat, and by a princess' hand;
For this, my spouse, of great Eëtion's line,
So oft has steeped the strengthening grain in wine.
Now swift pursue, now thunder uncontrolled;
Give me to seize rich Nestor's shield of gold;
From Tydeus' shoulders strip the costly load,
Vulcanian arms, the labour of a god:
These if we gain, then victory, ye powers!
This night, this glorious night, the fleet is ours."
That heard, deep anguish stung Saturnia's soul;
She shook her throne that shook the starry pole:
And thus to Neptune: "Thou, whose force can make
The steadfast earth from her foundations shake,
Seest thou the Greeks by fates unjust oppressed,
Nor swells thy heart in that immortal breast?
Yet Ægae, Helicé, thy power obey,
And gifts unceasing on thine altars lay.
Would all the deities of Greece combine,
In vain the gloomy Thunderer might repine;
Sole should he sit, with scarce a god to friend,
And see his Trojans to the shades descend:
Such be the scene from his Idæan bower;
Ungrateful prospect to the sullen power!"
Neptune with wrath rejects the rash design:
What rage, what madness, furious queen! is thine?
I war not with the highest. All above
Submit and tremble at the hand of Jove.
Now godlike Hector, to whose matchless might
Jove gave the glory of the destined fight,
Squadrons on squadrons drives, and fills the fields
With close-ranged chariots, and with thickened shields.
Where the deep trench in length extended lay,
Compacted troops stand wedged in firm array,
A dreadful front, they shake the bands, and threat
With long-destroying flames the hostile fleet.
The king of men, by Juno's self inspired,
Toiled through the tents, and all his army fired.
Swift as he moved, he lifted in his hand
His purple robe,bright ensign of command.
High on the midmost bark the king appeared;
There, from Ulysses' deck, his voice was heard:
To Ajax and Achilles reached the sound,
Whose distant ships the guarded navy bound.
"O Argives! shame of human race!" he cried—
The hollow vessels to his voice replied—
"Where now are all your glorious boasts of yore,
Your hasty triumphs on the Lemnian shore?
Each fearless hero dares a hundred foes,
While the feast lasts, and while the goblet flows;
But who to meet one martial man is found,
When the fight rages, and the flames surround?
O mighty Jove! oh, sire of the distressed!
Was ever king like me, like me oppressed?
With power immense, with justice armed in vain;
My glory ravished, and my people slain!
To thee my vows were breathed from every shore;
What altar smoked not with our victims' gore?
With fat of bulls I fed the constant flame,
And asked destruction to the Trojan name.
Now, gracious god! far humbler our demand;
Give these at least to 'scape from Hector's hand,
And save the relics of the Grecian land!"
Thus prayed the king, and heaven's great father heard
His vows, in bitterness of soul preferred;
The wrath appeased by happy signs declares,
And gives the people to their monarch's prayers.
His eagle, sacred bird of heaven! he sent,
A fawn his talons trussed, divine portent!
High o'er the wandering hosts he soared above,
Who paid their vows to Panomphæan Jove;
Then let the prey before his altar fall:
The Greeks beheld, and transport seized on all:
Encouraged by the sign, the troops revive,
And fierce on Troy with double fury drive.
Tydides first, of all the Grecian force,
O'er the broad ditch impelled his foaming horse,
Pierced the deep ranks, their strongest battle tore,
And dyed his javelin red with Trojan gore.
Young Agelaüs—Phradmon was his sire—
With flying coursers shunned his dreadful ire:
Struck through the back the Phrygian fell oppressed;
The dart drove on, and issued at his breast:
Headlong he quits the car; his arms resound;
His ponderous buckler thunders on the ground.
Forth rush a tide of Greeks, the passage freed;
The Atridæ first, the Ajaces next succeed:
Meriones, like Mars in arms renowned.
And godlike Idomen, now passed the mound;
Evæmon's son next issues to the foe,
And last, young Teucer with his bended bow.
Secure behind the Telamonian shield
The skilful archer wide surveyed the field,
With every shaft some hostile victim slew,
Then close beneath the seven-fold orb withdrew:
The conscious infant so, when fear alarms,
Retires for safety to the mother's arms.
Thus Ajax guards his brother in the field,
Moves as he moves, and turns the shining shield.
Who first by Teucer's mortal arrows bled?
Orsilochus; then fell Ormenus dead:
The godlike Lycophon next pressed the plain,
With Chromius, Dætor, Ophelestes slain:
Bold Hamopaön breathless sunk to ground;
The bloody pile great Melanippus crowned,
Heaps fell on heaps, sad trophies of his art,
A Trojan ghost attending every dart.
Great Agamemnon views with joyful eye
The ranks grow thinner as his arrows fly:
"Oh youth for ever dear!" the monarch cried,
"Thus, always thus, thy early worth be tried;
Thy brave example shall retrieve our host,
Thy country's saviour, and thy father's boast!
Sprung from an alien's bed thy sire to grace,
The vigorous offspring of a stolen embrace.
Proud of his boy, he owned the generous flame,
And the brave son repays his cares with fame.
Now hear a monarch's vow: If heaven's high powers
Give me to raze Troy's long-defended towers;
Whatever treasures Greece for me design,
The next rich honorary gift be thine:
Some golden tripod, or distinguished car,
With coursers dreadful in the ranks of war;
Or some fair captive whom thy eyes approve,
Shall recompense the warrior's toils with love."
To this the chief: "With praise the rest inspire,
Nor urge a soul already filled with fire.
What strength I have, be now in battle tried,
Till every shaft in Phrygian blood be dyed.
Since, rallying, from our wall we forced the foe,
Still aimed at Hector have I bent my bow;
Eight forky arrows from this hand have fled,
And eight bold heroes by their points lie dead:
But sure some god denies me to destroy
This fury of the field, this dog of Troy."
He said, and twanged the string. The weapon flies
At Hector's breast, and sings along the skies:
He missed the mark; but pierced Gorgythio's heart,
And drenched in royal blood the thirsty dart.
Fair Castianira, nymph of form divine,
This offspring added to king Priam's line.
As full-blown poppies overcharged with rain
Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain;
So sinks the youth: his beauteous head, depressed
Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
Another shaft the raging archer drew:
That other shaft with erring fury flew,
(From Hector Phœbus turned the flying wound,)
Yet fell not dry or guiltless to the ground:
Thy breast, brave Archeptolemus! it tore,
And dipped its feathers in no vulgar gore.
Headlong he falls: his sudden fall alarms
The steeds, that startle at his sounding arms.
Hector with grief his charioteer beheld
All pale and breathless on the sanguine field.
Then bids Cebriones direct the rein,
Quits his bright car, and issues on the plain.
Dreadful he shouts: from earth a stone he took,
And rushed on Teucer with the lifted rock.
The youth already strained the forceful yew;
The shaft already to his shoulder drew;
The feather in his hand, just winged for flight,
Touched where the neck and hollow chest unite;
There, where the juncture knits the channel bone,
The furious chief discharged the craggy stone;
The bow-string burst beneath the ponderous blow,
And his numbed hand dismissed his useless bow.
He fell; but Ajax his broad shield displayed,
And screened his brother with a mighty shade;
Till great Alastor and Mecistheus bore
The battered archer groaning to the shore.
Troy yet found grace before the Olympian sire;
He armed their hands, and filled their breasts with fire.
The Greeks, repulsed, retreat behind their wall,
Or in the trench on heaps confusedly fall.
First of the foe, great Hector marched along,
With terror clothed, and more than mortal strong.
As the bold hound that gives the lion chase,
With beating bosom, and with eager pace,
Hangs on his haunch, or fastens on his heels,
Guards as he turns, and circles as he wheels;
Thus oft the Grecians turned, but still they flew;
Thus following, Hector still the hindmost slew.
When, flying, they had passed the trench profound,
And many a chief lay gasping on the ground;
Before the ships a desperate stand they made,
And fired the troops, and called the gods to aid.
Fierce on his rattling chariot Hector came;
His eyes like Gorgon shot a sanguine flame
That withered all their host: like Mars he stood,
Dire as the monster, dreadful as the god!
Their strong distress the wife of Jove surveyed;
Then pensive thus to war's triumphant Maid:
"O daughter of that god, whose arm can wield
The avenging bolt, and shake the sable shield!
Now, in this moment of her last despair,
Shall wretched Greece no more confess our care,
Condemned to suffer the full force of fate,
And drain the dregs of heaven's relentless hate?
Gods! shall one raging hand thus level all?
What numbers fell! what numbers yet shall fall!
What Power divine shall Hector's wrath assuage?
Still swells the slaughter, and still grows the rage!"
So spoke the imperial regent of the skies;
To whom the goddess with the azure eyes:
"Long since had Hector stained these fields with gore,
Stretched by some Argive on his native shore:
But he above, the sire of heaven, withstands,
Mocks our attempts, and slights our just demands.
The stubborn god, inflexible and hard,
Forgets my service and deserved reward;
Saved I, for this, his favourite son, distressed
By stern Eurystheus, with long labour pressed?
He begged, with tears he begged, in deep dismay;
I shot from heaven, and gave his arm the day.
Oh had my wisdom known this dire event,
When to grim Pluto's gloomy gates he went;
The triple dog had never felt his chain,
Nor Styx been crossed, nor hell explored in vain.
Averse to me of all his heaven of gods,
At Thetis' suit the partial Thunderer nods.
To grace her gloomy, fierce, resenting son,
My hopes are frustrate, and my Greeks undone.
Some future day, perhaps, he may be moved
To call his blue-eyed Maid his best-beloved.
Haste, launch thy chariot, through yon ranks to ride;
Myself will arm, and thunder at thy side.
Then, goddess! say, shall Hector glory then,
That terror of the Greeks, that man of men,
When Juno's self, and Pallas shall appear,
All dreadful in the crimson walks of war?
What mighty Trojan then, on yonder shore,
Expiring, pale, and terrible no more,
Shall feast the fowls, and glut the dogs with gore?"
She ceased, and Juno reined the steeds with care,
Heaven's awful empress, Saturn's other heir:
Pallas, meanwhile, her various veil unbound,
With flowers adorned, with art immortal crowned;
The radiant robe her sacred fingers wove
Floats in rich waves, and spreads the court of Jove.
Her father's arms her mighty limbs invest,
His cuirass blazes on her ample breast.
The vigorous Power the trembling car ascends;
Shook by her arm, the massy javelin bends;
Huge, ponderous, strong, that, when her fury burns,
Proud tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o'erturns.
Saturnia lends the lash; the coursers fly;
Smooth glides the chariot through the liquid sky.
Heaven's gates spontaneous open to the powers,
Heaven's golden gates, kept by the winged Hours:
Commissioned in alternate watch they stand,
The sun's bright portals and the skies command;
Close or unfold the eternal gates of day,
Bar heaven with clouds, or roll those clouds away:
The sounding hinges ring, the clouds divide;
Prone down the steep of heaven their course they guide.
But Jove, incensed, from Ida's top surveyed,
And thus enjoined the many-coloured Maid:
"Thaumantia! mount the winds, and stop their ear;
Against the highest who shall wage the war?
If furious yet they dare the vain debate,
Thus have I spoke, and what I speak is fate.
Their coursers crushed beneath the wheels shall lie,
Their car in fragments scattered o'er the sky;
My lightning these rebellious shall confound,
And hurl them flaming, headlong to the ground,
Condemned for ten revolving years to weep
The wounds impressed by burning thunder deep.
So shall Minerva learn to fear our ire,
Nor dare to combat hers and nature's sire.
For Juno, headstrong and imperious still,
She claims some title to transgress our will."
Swift as the wind the various-coloured Maid
From Ida's top her golden wings displayed;
To great Olympus' shining gates she flies,
There meets the chariot rushing down the skies,
Restrains their progress from the bright abodes,
And speaks the mandate of the sire of gods:
"What frenzy, goddesses! what rage can move
Celestial minds to tempt the wrath of Jove?
Desist, obedient to his high command;
This is his word: and know his word shall stand.
His lightning your rebellion shall confound,
And hurl ye headlong, flaming to the ground:
Your horses crushed beneath the wheels shall lie,
Your car in fragments scattered o'er the sky;
Yourselves condemned ten rolling years to weep
The wounds impressed by burning thunder deep.
So shall Minerva learn to fear his ire,
Nor dare to combat hers and nature's sire.
For Juno, headstrong and imperious still,
She claims some title to transgress his will.
But thee, what desperate insolence has driven,
To lift thy lance against the king of heaven?"
Then, mounting on the pinions of the wind,
She flew; and Juno thus her rage resigned:
"O daughter of that god, whose arm can wield
The avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield!
No more let beings of superior birth
Contend with Jove for this low race of earth:
Triumphant now, now miserably slain,
They breathe or perish as the fates ordain.
But Jove's high counsels full effect shall find,
And, ever constant, ever rule mankind."
She spoke, and backward turned her steeds of light,
Adorned with manes of gold, and heavenly bright.
The Hours unloosed them, panting as they stood,
And heaped their mangers with ambrosial food.
There tied, they rest in high celestial stalls;
The chariot propped against the crystal walls.
The pensive goddesses, abashed, controlled,
Mix with the gods, and fill their seats of gold.
And now the Thunderer meditates his flight
From Ida's summits to the Olympian height.
Swifter than thought the wheels instinctive fly,
Flame through the vast of air, and reach the sky.
'Twas Neptune's charge his coursers to unbrace,
And fix the car on its immortal base;
There stood the chariot, beaming forth its rays,
Till with a snowy veil he screened the blaze.
He, whose all-conscious eyes the world behold,
The eternal Thunderer, sat throned in gold.
High heaven the footstool of his feet he makes,
And wide beneath him all Olympus shakes.
Trembling afar the offending Powers appeared,
Confused and silent, for his frown they feared.
He saw their soul, and thus his word imparts:
"Pallas and Juno! say, why heave your hearts?
Soon was your battle o'er: proud Troy retired
Before your face, and in your wrath expired.
But know, whoe'er almighty power withstand,
Unmatched our force, unconquered is our hand:
Who shall the sovereign of the skies control?
Not all the gods that crown the starry pole.
Your hearts shall tremble, if our arms we take,
And each immortal nerve with horror shake.
For thus I speak, and what I speak shall stand;
What power soe'er provokes our lifted hand,
On this our hill no more shall hold his place,
Cut off, and exiled from the ethereal race."
Juno and Pallas grieving hear the doom,
But feast their souls on Ilion's woes to come.
Though secret anger swelled Minerva's breast,
The prudent goddess yet her wrath repressed:
But Juno, impotent of rage, replies:
'What hast thou said, O tyrant of the skies!
Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne;
'Tis thine to punish; ours to grieve alone.
For Greece we grieve, abandoned by her fate
To drink the dregs of thy unmeasured hate:
From fields forbidden we submiss refrain,
With arms unaiding see our Argives slain;
Yet grant our counsels still their breasts may move,
Lest all should perish in the rage of Jove."
The goddess thus: and thus the god replies,
Who swells the clouds, and blackens all the skies:
"The morning sun, awaked by loud alarms,
Shall see the almighty Thunderer in arms.
What heaps of Argives then shall load the plain,
Those radiant eyes shall view, and view in vain.
Nor shall great Hector cease the rage of fight,
The navy flaming, and thy Greeks in flight,
E'en till the day, when certain fates ordain
That stern Achilles—his Patroclus slain—
Shall rise in vengeance, and lay waste the plain.
For such is fate, nor canst thou turn its course
With all thy rage, with all thy rebel force.
Fly, if thou wilt, to earth's remotest bound,
Where on her utmost verge the seas resound;
Where cursed Iäpetus and Saturn dwell,
Fast by the brink, within the steams of hell;
No sun e'er gilds the gloomy horrors there,
No cheerful gales refresh the lazy air:
There arm once more the bold Titanian band,
And arm in vain: for what I will shall stand."
Now deep in ocean sunk the lamp of light,
And drew behind the cloudy veil of night:
The conquering Trojans mourn his beams decayed;
The Greeks rejoicing bless the friendly shade.
The victors keep the field; and Hector calls
A martial council near the navy walls:
These to Scamander's bank apart he led,
Where thinly scattered lay the heaps of dead.
The assembled chiefs, descending on the ground,
Attend his order, and their prince surround.
A massy spear he bore of mighty strength,
Of full ten cubits was the lance's length;
The point was brass, refulgent to behold,
Fixed to the wood with circling rings of gold:
The noble Hector on this lance reclined,
And, bending forward, thus revealed his mind:
"Ye valiant Trojans, with attention hear!
Ye Dardan bands, and generous aids, give ear!
This day, we hoped, would wrap in conquering flame
Greece with her ships, and crown our toils with fame:
But darkness now, to save the cowards, falls,
And guards them trembling in their wooden walls.
Obey the night, and use her peaceful hours
Our steeds to forage, and refresh our powers.
Straight from the town be sheep and oxen sought,
And strengthening bread and generous wine be brought.
Wide o'er the field, high blazing to the sky,
Let numerous fires the absent sun supply,
The flaming piles with plenteous fuel raise,
Till the bright morn her purple beam displays:
Lest in the silence and the shades of night,
Greece on her sable ships attempt her flight.
Not unmolested let the wretches gain
Their lofty decks, or safely cleave the main:
Some hostile wound let every dart bestow,
Some lasting token of the Phrygian foe,
Wounds, that long hence may ask their spouses' care,
And warn their children from a Trojan war.
Now through the circuit of our Ilion wall
Let sacred heralds sound the solemn call;
To bid the sires with hoary honours crowned,
And beardless youths, our battlements surround.
Firm be the guard, while distant lie our powers,
And let the matrons hang with lights the towers;
Lest, under covert of the midnight shade,
The insidious foe the naked town invade.
Suffice, to-night, these orders to obey;
A nobler charge shall rouse the dawning day.
The gods, I trust, shall give to Hector's hand,
From these detested foes to free the land,
Who ploughed, with fates averse, the watery way;
For Trojan vultures a predestined prey.
Our common safety must be now the care;
But soon as morning paints the fields of air,
Sheathed in bright arms let every troop engage,
And the fired fleet behold the battle rage.
Then, then shall Hector and Tydides prove,
Whose fates are heaviest in the scale of Jove.
To-morrow's light—oh haste the glorious morn!—
Shall see his bloody spoils in triumph borne;
With this keen javelin shall his breast be gored,
And prostrate heroes bleed around their lord.
Certain as this, oh! might my days endure,
From age inglorious, and black death, secure;
So might my life and glory know no bound,
Like Pallas worshipped, like the sun renowned,
As the next dawn, the last they shall enjoy,
Shall crush the Greeks, and end the woes of Troy."
The leader spoke. From all his hosts around
Shouts of applause along the shores resound.
Each from the yoke the smoking steeds untied,
And fixed their headstalls to his chariot-side.
Fat sheep and oxen from the town are led,
With generous wine, and all-sustaining bread.
Full hecatombs lay burning on the shore;
The winds to heaven the curling vapours bore.
Ungrateful offering to the immortal powers!
Whose wrath hung heavy o'er the Trojan towers;
Nor Priam nor his sons obtained their grace;
Proud Troy they hated, and her guilty race.
The troops exulting sat in order round,
And beaming fires illumined all the ground.
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
O'er heaven's clear azure spreads her sacred light,
When not a breath disturbs the deep serene,
And not a cloud o'ercasts the solemn scene;
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumbered gild the glowing pole,
O'er the dark trees a yellower verdure shed,
And tip with silver every mountain's head;
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies:
The conscious swains, rejoicing in the sight,
Eye the blue vault, and bless the useful light.
So many flames before proud Ilion blaze,
And lighten glimmering Xanthus with their rays:
The long reflections of the distant fires
Gleam on the walls, and tremble on the spires.
A thousand piles the dusky horrors gild,
And shoot a shady lustre o'er the field.
Full fifty guards each flaming pile attend,
Whose umbered arms, by fits, thick flashes send.
Loud neigh the coursers o'er their heap of corn,
And ardent warriors wait the rising morn.
- The charioteer.
- Nestor was brought up at Gerenia, now Kitries, on the west coast of the Morea.
- Helicé and Ægæ were two cities in Achaia; in both of them were much-frequented temples of Neptune (Poseidon).
- As a signal, which would be seen farther than his voice could have been heard. Compare the scarlet cloak worn by a Roman general.
- The word means, "to whom belong all voices," i.e. all omens or indications of the future to be found in them, whether of men or of other creatures.
- Telamon. His mother was Hesione, a Trojan princess, who was made captive when Hercules and Telamon took Troy.
- Hector is meant. The goddess seems to shrink from directly predicting the death of a hero whom her father so manifestly favoured.