The noble Hector then to council call'd The Trojan leaders; from the ships apart He led them, by the eddying river's side, To a clear space of ground, from corpses free. They from their cars dismounting, to the words Of godlike Hector listen'd: in his hand His massive spear he held, twelve cubits long, Whose glitt'ring point flash'd bright, with hoop of gold Encircled round; on this he leant, and said, "Hear me, ye Trojans, Dardans, and Allies; I hop'd that to the breezy heights of Troy We might ere now in triumph have return'd, The Grecian ships and all the Greeks destroy'd: But night hath come too soon, and sav'd awhile The Grecian army and their stranded ships. Then yield we to the night; prepare the meal; Unyoke your horses, and before them place Their needful forage; from the city bring Oxen and sheep; the luscious wine provide; Bring bread from out our houses; and collect Good store of fuel, that the livelong night, E'en till the dawn of day, may broadly blaze Our num'rous watchfires, and illume the Heav'ns; Lest, e'en by night, the long-hair'd Greeks should seek O'er the broad bosom of the sea to fly, That so not unassail'd they may embark, Nor undisturb'd; but haply some may bear, E'en to their homes, the mem'ry of a wound Receiv'd from spear or arrow, as on board They leap'd in haste; and others too may fear To tempt with hostile arms the pow'r of Troy. Then let the sacred heralds' voice proclaim Throughout the city, that the stripling youths And hoary-headed sires allot themselves In sev'ral watches to the Heav'n-built tow'rs. Charge too the women, in their houses each, To kindle blazing fires; let careful watch Be set, lest, in the absence of the men, The town by secret ambush be surpris'd. Such, valiant Trojans, is th' advice I give; And what to-night your wisdom shall approve Will I, at morn, before the Trojans speak. Hopeful, to Jove I pray, and all the Gods, To chase from hence these fate-inflicted hounds, By fate sent hither on their dark-ribb'd ships. Now keep we through the night our watchful guard; And with the early dawn, equipp'd in arms, Upon their fleet our angry battle pour. Then shall I know if Tydeus' valiant son Back from the ships shall drive me to the walls, Or I, triumphant, bear his bloody spoils: To-morrow morn his courage will decide, If he indeed my onset will await. But ere to-morrow's sun be high in Heav'n, He, 'mid the foremost, if I augur right, Wounded and bleeding in the dust shall lie, And many a comrade round him. Would to Heav'n I were as sure to be from age and death Exempt, and held in honour as a God, Phoebus, or Pallas, as I am assur'd The coming day is fraught with ill to Greece."
Thus Hector spoke; the Trojans shouted loud: Then from the yoke the sweating steeds they loos'd, And tether'd each beside their sev'ral cars: Next from the city speedily they brought Oxen and sheep; the luscious wine procur'd; Brought bread from out their houses, and good store Of fuel gather'd; wafted from the plain, The winds to Heav'n the sav'ry odours bore. Full of proud hopes, upon the pass of war, All night they camp'd; and frequent blaz'd their fires.
As when in Heav'n, around the glitt'ring moon The stars shine bright amid the breathless air; And ev'ry crag, and ev'ry jutting peak Stands boldly forth, and ev'ry forest glade; Ev'n to the gates of Heav'n is open'd wide The boundless sky; shines each particular star Distinct; joy fills the gazing shepherd's heart. So bright, so thickly scatter'd o'er the plain, Before the walls of Troy, between the ships And Xanthus' stream, the Trojan watchfires blaz'd.
A thousand fires burnt brightly; and round each Sat fifty warriors in the ruddy glare; Champing the provender before them laid, Barley and rye, the tether'd horses stood Beside the cars, and waited for the morn.
THE EMBASSY TO ACHILLES.
Agamemnon, after the last day's defeat, proposes to the Greeks to quit the siege, and return to their country. Diomed opposes this, and Nestor seconds him, praising his wisdom and resolution. He orders the guard to be strengthened, and a council summoned to deliberate what meabures were to be followed in this emergency. Agamemnon pursues this advice, and Nestor farther prevails upon him to send ambassadors to Achilles in order to move him to a reconciliation. Ulysses and Ajax are make choice of, who are accompanied by old Phoenix. They make, each of them, very moving and pressing speeches, but are rejected with roughness by Achilles, who notwithstanding retains Phoenix in his tent. The ambassadors return unsuccessfully to the camp, and the troops betake themselves to sleep.
This book, and the next following, take up the space of one night, which is the twenty-seventh from the beginning of the poem. The scene lies on the sea-shore, the station of the Grecian ships.
Thus kept their watch, the Trojans; but the Greeks Dire Panic held, companion of chill Fear, Their bravest struck with grief unbearable. As when two stormy winds ruffle the sea, Boreas and Zephyr, from the hills of Thrace With sudden gust descending; the dark waves Rear high their angry crests, and toss on shore Masses of tangled weed; such stormy grief The breast of ev'ry Grecian warrior rent.
Atrides, heart-struck, wander'd to and fro, And to the clear-voic'd heralds gave command To call, but not with proclamation loud, Each sev'ral man to council; he himself Spar'd not his labour, mixing with the chiefs. Sadly they sat in council; Atreus' son, Weeping, arose; as some dark-water'd fount Pours o'er a craggy steep its gloomy stream; Then with deep groans th' assembled Greeks address'd: "O friends! the chiefs and councillors of Greece, Grievous, and all unlook'd for, is the blow Which Jove hath dealt me; by his promise led I hop'd to raze the strong-built walls of Troy, And home return in safety; but it seems He falsifies his word, and bids me now Return to Argos, frustrate of my hope, Dishonour'd, and with grievous loss of men. Such now appears th' o'er-ruling sov'reign will Of Saturn's son, who oft hath sunk the heads Of many a lofty city in the dust, And yet will sink; for mighty is his hand. Hear then my counsel; let us all agree Home to direct our course: since here in vain We strive to take the well-built walls of Troy."
The monarch spoke; they all in silence heard: In speechless sorrow long they sat: at length Rose valiant Diomed, and thus he spoke: "Atrides, I thy folly must confront, As is my right, in council: thou, O King! Be not offended: once, among the Greeks Thou heldest light my prowess, with the name Of coward branding me; how justly so Is known to all the Greeks, both young and old. On thee the deep-designing Saturn's son In diff'ring measure hath his gifts bestow'd: A throne he gives thee, higher far than all; But valour, noblest boon of Heav'n, denies. How canst thou hope the sons of Greece shall prove Such heartless dastards as thy words suppose? If homeward to return thy mind be fix'd, Depart; the way is open, and the ships, Which from Mycenae follow'd thee in crowds, Are close at hand, and ready to be launch'd. Yet will the other long-hair'd Greeks remain Till Priam's city fall: nay, though the rest Betake them to their ships, and sail for home, Yet I and Sthenelus, we two, will fight Till Troy be ours; for Heav'n is on our side."
Thus he; the sons of Greece, with loud applause, The speech of valiant Diomed confirm'd.
Then aged Nestor rose, and thus began: "Tydides, eminent thou art in war; And In the council thy compeers in age Must yield to thee; thy present words, no Greek Can censure, or gainsay; and yet the end Thou hast not reach'd, and object of debate. But thou art young, and for thine age mightst be My latest born; yet dost thou to the Kings Sage counsel give, and well in season speak. But now will I, that am thine elder far, Go fully through the whole; and none my words May disregard, not ev'n Atrides' self. Outcast from kindred, law, and hearth is he Whose soul delights in fierce internal strife. But yield we now to th' influence of night: Prepare the meal; and let the sev'ral guards Be posted by the ditch, without the wall. This duty on the younger men I lay: Then, Agamemnon, thou thy part perform; For thou art King supreme; the Elders all, As meet and seemly, to the feast invite: Thy tents are full of wine, which Grecian ships O'er the wide sea bring day by day from Thrace; Nor lack'st thou aught thy guests to entertain, And many own thy sway; when all are met, His counsel take, who gives the best advice; Great need we have of counsel wise and good, When close beside our ships the hostile fires Are burning: who can this unmov'd behold? This night our ruin or our safety sees."
He said; and they, assenting, heard his speech. Forth with their followers went th' appointed guards, The princely Thrasymedes, Nestor's son, Ascalaphus, and bold Ialmenus, Two valiant sons of Mars; Meriones, And Aphareus, and brave Deipyrus, And godlike Lycomedes, Creon's son. Sev'n were the leaders; and with each went forth A hundred gallant youths, with lances arm'd. Between the ditch and wall they took their post; There lit their fires, and there the meal prepar'd.
Then for th' assembled Elders in his tent An ample banquet Agamemnon spread; They on the viands, set before them, fell: The rage of thirst and hunger satisfied, The aged Nestor first his mind disclos'd He who, before, the sagest counsel gave, Now thus with prudent words began, and said:
"Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, With thee, Atrides, my discourse shall end, With thee begin: o'er many nations thou Hold'st sov'reign sway; since Jove to thee hath giv'n The sceptre, and the high prerogative, To be thy people's judge and counsellor, 'Tis thine to speak the word, 'tis thine to hear And to determine, when some other chief Suggestions offers in the gen'ral cause: What counsel shall prevail, depends on thee: Yet will I say what seems to me the best. Sounder opinion none can hold than this, Which I maintain, and ever have maintain'd, Ev'n from the day when thou, great King, didst bear The fair Briseis from Achilles' tent Despite his anger—not by my advice: I fain would have dissuaded thee, but thou, Following the dictates of thy wrathful pride, Didst to our bravest wrong, dishon'ring him Whom ev'n th' Immortals honour'd; for his prize Thou took'st and still retain'st; but let us now Consider, if ev'n yet, with costly gifts And soothing words, we may his wrath appease."
To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus: "Father, too truly thou recall'st my fault: I err'd, nor will deny it; as a host Is he whom Jove in honour holds, as now Achilles hon'ring, he confounds the Greeks, But if I err'd, by evil impulse led, Fain would I now conciliate him, and pay An ample penalty; before you all I pledge myself rich presents to bestow. Sev'n tripods will I give, untouch'd by fire; Of gold, ten talents, twenty caldrons bright, Twelve pow'rful horses, on the course renown'd, Who by their speed have many prizes won. Not empty-handed could that man be deem'd, Nor poor in gold, who but so much possess'd As by those horses has for me been won. Sev'n women too, well skill'd in household cares, Lesbians, whom I selected for myself, That day he captur'd Lesbos' goodly isle, In beauty far surpassing all their sex: These will I give; and with them will I send The fair Briseis, her whom from his tent I bore away; and add a solemn oath, I ne'er approach'd her bed, nor held with her Such intercourse as man with woman holds. All these shall now be his: but if the Gods Shall grant us Priam's city to destroy, Of gold and brass, when we divide the spoil, With countless heaps he shall a vessel freight, And twenty captives he himself shall choose, All only less than Argive Helen fair. And if it be our fate to see again The teeming soil of Argos, he shall be My son by marriage; and in honour held As is Orestes, who, my only son, Is rear'd at home in luxury and ease. Three daughters fair I have, Chrysothemis, Iphianassa, and Laodice; Of these, whiche'er he will, to Peleus' house, No portion ask'd for, he shall take to wife; And with her will I add such wedding gifts, As never man before to daughter gave. Sev'n prosp'rous towns besides; Cardamyle, And Enope, and Ira's grassy plains; And Pherae, and Antheia's pastures deep, AEpeia fair, and vine-clad Pedasus; All by the sea, by sandy Pylos' bounds. The dwellers there in flocks and herds are rich, And, as a God, shall honour him with gifts, And to his sceptre ample tribute pay. This will I do, so he his wrath remit: Then let him yield (Pluto alone remains Unbending and inexorable; and thence Of all the Gods is most abhorr'd of men), To me submitting, as in royal pow'r Superior far, and more advanc'd in age."
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied: "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, Atrides, not unworthy are the gifts, Which to Achilles thou design'st to send: Then to the tent of Peleus' son in haste Let us our chosen messengers despatch: Whom I shall choose, let them consent to go. Then first of all let Phoenix lead the way, Beloved of Jove; the mighty Ajax next: With them, Ulysses sage; and let them take, Of heralds, Hodius and Eurybates. Bring now the hallowing water for our hands; And bid be silent, while to Saturn's son, That he have mercy, we address our pray'r."
He said, and well his counsel pleas'd them all; The heralds pour'd the water on their hands; The youths, attending, crown'd the bowls with wine, And in due order serv'd the cups to all. Then, their libations made, when each with wine Had satisfied his soul, from out the tent Of Agamemnon, Atreus' son, they pass'd; And many a caution aged Nestor gave, With rapid glance to each, Ulysses chief, How best to soften Peleus' matchless son.
Beside the many-dashing ocean's shore They mov'd along; and many a pray'r address'd To Neptune, Ocean's Earth-surrounding God, That he to gentle counsels would incline The haughty soul of great AEacides. When to the ships and tents they came, where lay The warlike Myrmidons, their chief they found His spirit soothing with a sweet-ton'd lyre, Of curious work, with silver band adorn'd; Part of the spoil he took, when he destroy'd Eetion's wealthy town; on this he play'd, Soothing his soul, and sang of warriors' deeds. Before the chief, in silence and alone Patroclus sat, upon Achilles fix'd His eyes, awaiting till the song should cease. The envoys forward stepp'd, Ulysses first, And stood before him; from his couch, amaz'd, And holding still his lyre, Achilles sprang, Leaving the seat whereon they found him plac'd; And at their entrance rose Patroclus too: Waving his hand, Achilles, swift of foot, Addressed them: "Welcome, friends! as friends ye come: Some great occasion surely to my tent Hath brought the men who are, of all the Greeks, Despite my anger, dearest to my heart."
Thus as he spoke, he led them in, and plac'd On couches spread with, purple carpets o'er, Then thus address'd Patroclus at his side: "Son of Menoetius, set upon the board A larger bowl, and stronger mix the wine, And serve a cup to each: beneath my roof This night my dearest friends I entertain." He said; Patroclus his commands obey'd; And in the fire-light plac'd an ample tray, And on it laid of goat's flesh and of sheep's A saddle each; and with them, rich in fat, A chine of well-fed hog; Automedon Held fast, while great Achilles carv'd the joints. The meat, prepar'd, he fix'd upon the spits: Patroclus kindled then a blazing fire; And when the fire burnt hotly, and the flame Subsided, spread the glowing embers out, And hung the spits above; then sprinkled o'er The meat with salt, and lifted from the stand. The viands cook'd and plac'd upon the board, From baskets fair Patroclus portion'd out The bread to each; the meat Achilles shar'd. Facing the sage Ulysses, sat the host On th' other side the tent; and bade his friend, Patroclus, give the Gods their honours due: He in the fire the wonted off'rings burnt: They on the viands set before them fell. The rage of thirst and hunger satisfied, Ajax to Phoenix sign'd: Ulysses saw The sign, and rising, fill'd a cup with wine, And pledg'd Achilles thus: "To thee I drink, Achilles! nobly is thy table spread, As heretofore in Agamemnon's tent, So now in thine; abundant is the feast: But not the pleasures of the banquet now We have in hand: impending o'er our arms Grave cause of fear, illustrious chief, we see; Grave doubts, to save, or see destroy'd our ships, If thou, great warrior, put not forth thy might. For close beside the ships and wall are camp'd The haughty Trojans and renown'd allies: Their watch-fires frequent burn throughout the camp; And loud their boast that nought shall stay their hands, Until our dark-ribb'd ships be made their prey. Jove too for them, with fav'ring augury Sends forth his lightning; boastful of his strength, And firmly trusting in the aid of Jove, Hector, resistless, rages; nought he fears Or God or man, with martial fury fir'd. He prays, impatient, for th' approach of morn; Then, breaking through the lofty sterns, resolv'd To the devouring flames to give the ships, And slay the crews, bewilder'd in the smoke. And much my mind misgives me, lest the Gods His threats fulfil, and we be fated here To perish, far from Argos' grassy plains. Up then! if in their last extremity Thy spirit inclines, though late, to save the Greeks Sore press'd by Trojan arms: lest thou thyself Hereafter feel remorse; the evil done Is past all cure; then thou reflect betimes How from the Greeks to ward the day of doom. Dear friend, remember now thy father's words, The aged Peleus, when to Atreus' son He sent thee forth from Phthia, how he said, 'My son, the boon of strength, if so they will, Juno or Pallas have the pow'r to give; But thou thyself thy haughty spirit must curb. For better far is gentle courtesy: And cease from angry strife, that so the Greeks The more may honour thee, both young and old.' Such were the words thine aged father spoke, Which thou hast now forgotten; yet, e'en now, Pause for awhile, and let thine anger cool; And noble gifts, so thou thy wrath remit, From Agamemnon shalt thou bear away. Listen to me, while I recount the gifts Which in his tent he pledg'd him to bestow. Sev'n tripods promis'd he, untouch'd by fire, Of gold, ten talents, twenty caldrons bright, Twelve pow'rful horses, in the course renown'd. Who by their speed have many prizes won. Not empty-handed could that man be deem'd, Nor poor in gold, who but so much possess'd As by those horses has for him been won. Sev'n women too, well skill'd in household cares, Lesbians, whom he selected for himself, That day thou captur'dst Lesbos' goodly isle, In beauty far surpassing all their sex. These will he give; and with them will he send The fair Briseis, her whom from thy tent He bore away; and add a solemn oath, He ne'er approach'd her bed, nor held with her Such intercourse as man with woman holds. All these shall now be thine: but if the Gods Shall grant us Priam's city to destroy, Of gold and brass, when we divide the spoil, With countless heaps a vessel shalt thou freight, And twenty captives thou thyself shalt choose, All only less than Argive Helen fair. And if it be our fate to see again The teeming soil of Argos, thou mayst be His son by marriage, and in honour held As is Orestes, who, his only son, Is rear'd at home in luxury, and ease. Three daughters fair are his, Chrysothemis, Iphianassa, and Laodice; Of these whiche'er thou wilt, to Peleus' house, No portion ask'd for, thou shalt take to wife; And with her will he add such wedding gifts, As never man before to daughter gave. Sev'n prosp'rous towns besides; Cardamyle, And Enope, and Ira's grassy plains, And Pherae, and Antheia's pastures deep, AEpeia fair, and vine-clad Pedasus; All by the sea, by sandy Pylos' bounds. The dwellers there in flocks and herds are rich, And, as a God, will honour thee with gifts, And to thy sceptre ample tribute pay. All these he gives, so thou thy wrath remit. But if thou hold Atrides in such hate, Him and his gifts, yet let thy pity rest On all the other Greeks, thus sore bested; By whom thou shalt be honour'd as a God: For great the triumph that thou now mayst gain; E'en Hector's self is now within thy reach; For he is near at hand; and in his pride And martial fury deems that none, of all Our ships contain, can rival him in arms."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Heav'n-born Ulysses, sage in council, son Of great Laertes, I must frankly speak My mind at once, my fix'd resolve declare: That from henceforth I may not by the Greeks, By this man and by that, be importun'd. Him as the gates of hell my soul abhors, Whose outward words his secret thoughts belie, Hear then what seems to me the wisest course. On me nor Agamemnon, Atreus' son, Nor others shall prevail, since nought is gain'd By toil unceasing in the battle field. Who nobly fight, but share with those who skulk; Like honours gain the coward and the brave; Alike the idlers and the active die: And nought it profits me, though day by day In constant toil I set my life at stake; But as a bird, though ill she fare herself, Brings to her callow brood the food she takes, So I through many a sleepless night have lain, And many a bloody day have labour'd through, Engag'd in battle on your wives' behalf. Twelve cities have I taken with my ships; Eleven more by land, on Trojan soil: From all of these abundant stores of wealth I took, and all to Agamemnon gave; He, safe beside his ships, my spoils receiv'd, A few divided, but the most retain'd. To other chiefs and Kings he meted out Their sev'ral portions, and they hold them still; From me, from me alone of all the Greeks, He bore away, and keeps my cherish'd wife; Well! let him keep her, solace of his bed! But say then, why do Greeks with Trojans fight? Why hath Atrides brought this mighty host To Troy, if not in fair-hair'd Helen's cause? Of mortals are there none that love their wives, Save Atreus' sons alone? or do not all, Who boast the praise of sense and virtue, love And cherish each his own? as her I lov'd E'en from my soul, though captive of my spear. Now, since he once hath robb'd me, and deceiv'd, Let him not seek my aid; I know him now, And am not to be won; let him devise, With thee, Ulysses, and the other Kings, How best from hostile fires to save his ships. He hath completed many mighty works Without my aid; hath built a lofty wall, And dug a trench around it, wide and deep, And in the trench hath fix'd a palisade; Nor so the warrior-slayer Hector's might Can keep in check; while I was in the field, Not far without the walls would Hector range His line of battle, nor beyond the Oak And Scaean gates would venture; there indeed He once presum'd to meet me, hand to hand, And from my onset narrowly escap'd. But as with Hector now no more I fight, To-morrow morn, my off'rings made to Jove, And all the Gods, and freighted well my ships, And launch'd upon the main, thyself shall see, If that thou care to see, my vessels spread O'er the broad bosom of the Hellespont, My lusty crews plying the vig'rous oar; And if th' Earth-shaker send a fav'ring breeze, Three days will bear us home to Phthia's shore. There did I leave abundant store of wealth, When hitherward I took my luckless way; Thither from hence I bear, of ruddy gold, And brass, and women fair, and iron hoar The share assign'd me; but my chiefest prize The monarch Agamemnon, Atreus' son, Himself who gave, with insult takes away. To him then speak aloud the words I send, That all may know his crimes, if yet he hope Some other Greek by treach'rous wiles to cheat, Cloth'd as he is in shamelessness! my glance, All brazen as he is, he dare not meet. I share no more his counsels, nor his acts; He hath deceiv'd me once, and wrong'd; again He shall not cozen me! Of him, enough! I pass him by, whom Jove hath robb'd of sense. His gifts I loathe, and spurn; himself I hold At a hair's worth; and would he proffer me Tenfold or twentyfold of all he has, Or ever may be his; or all the gold Sent to Orchomenos or royal Thebes, Egyptian, treasurehouse of countless wealth, Who boasts her hundred gates, through each of which With horse and car two hundred warriors march: Nay, were his gifts in number as the sand, Or dust upon the plain, yet ne'er will I By Agamemnon be prevail'd upon, Till I have paid him back my heart's offence. Nor e'er of Agamemnon, Atreus' son, Will I a daughter wed; not were she fair As golden Venus, and in works renown'd As Pallas, blue-ey'd Maid, yet her e'en so I wed not; let him choose some other Greek, Some fitting match, of nobler blood than mine. But should the Gods in safety bring me home, At Peleus' hands I may receive a wife; And Greece can boast of many a lovely maid, In Hellas or in Phthia, daughters fair Of chiefs who hold their native fortresses: Of these, at will, a wife I may select: And ofttimes hath my warlike soul inclin'd To take a wedded wife, a fitting bride, And aged Peleus' wealth in peace enjoy. For not the stores which Troy, they say, contain'd In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece, Nor all the treasures which Apollo's shrine, The Archer-God, in rock-built Pythos holds, May weigh with life; of oxen and of sheep Successful forays may good store provide; And tripods may be gain'd, and noble steeds: But when the breath of man hath pass'd his lips, Nor strength nor foray can the loss repair. I by my Goddess-mother have been warn'd, The silver-footed Thetis, that o'er me A double chance of destiny impends: If here remaining, round the walls of Troy I wage the war, I ne'er shall see my home, But then undying glory shall be mine: If I return, and see my native land, My glory all is gone; but length of life Shall then be mine, and death be long deferr'd. If others ask'd my counsel, I should say, 'Homeward direct your course; of lofty Troy Ye see not yet the end; all-seeing Jove O'er her extends his hand; on him relying Her people all with confidence are fill'd.' Go then; my answer to the chiefs of Greece Speak boldly—such the privilege of age— Bid that some better counsel they devise To save their ships and men; their present scheme, My anger unappeas'd, avails them nought. But Phoenix here shall stay, and sleep to-night; And with the morrow he with me shall sail And seek our native land, if so he will: For not by force will I remove him hence."
He said; they all, confounded by his words, In silence heard; so sternly did he speak. At length, in tears, the aged Phoenix spoke, For greatly fear'd he for the ships of Greece: "If, great Achilles, on returning home Thy mind is set, nor canst thou be induc'd To save the ships from fire, so fierce thy wrath; How then, dear boy, can I remain behind, Alone? whom with thee aged Peleus sent, That day when he in Agamemnon's cause From Phthia sent thee, inexperienc'd yet In all the duties of confed'rate war, And sage debate, on which attends renown. Me then he sent, instructor of thy youth, To prompt thy language, and thine acts to guide. So not from thee, dear boy, can I consent To part, though Heav'n should undertake my age To prompt thy language, and thine acts to guide. So not from thee, dear boy, can I consent To part, though Heav'n should undertake my age To wipe away, and vig'rous youth restore, Such as I boasted, when from Greece I fled Before my angry sire, Amyntor, son Of Ormenus; a fair-hair'd concubine Cause of the quarrel; her my father lov'd, And by her love estrang'd, despis'd his wife, My mother; oft she pray'd me to seduce, To vex th' old man, my father's concubine; I yielded; he, suspecting, on my head A curse invok'd, and on the Furies call'd His curse to witness, that upon his knees No child, by me begotten, e'er should sit: His curse the Gods have heard, and ratified, Th' infernal King, and awful Proserpine. Then would I fain have slain him with the sword, Had not some God my rising fury quell'd, And set before my mind the public voice, The odium I should have to bear 'mid Greeks, If branded with the name of patricide. But longer in my angry father's house To dwell, my spirit brook'd not, though my friends And kinsmen all besought me to remain; And many a goodly sheep, and many a steer They slew, and many swine, with fat o'erlaid, They sing'd, and roasted o'er the burning coals; And drank in many a cup the old man's wine. Nine nights they kept me in continual watch, By turns relieving guards. The fires meanwhile Burnt constant: one beneath the porch that fac'd The well-fenc'd court; one in the vestibule Before my chamber door. The tenth dark night My chamber's closely-fitting doors I broke, And lightly vaulted o'er the court-yard fence, By guards alike and servant maids unmark'd. Through all the breadth of Hellas then I fled, Until at length to Phthia's fruitful soil, Mother of flocks, to Peleus' realm I came, Who kindly welcom'd me, and with such love As to his only son, his well-belov'd, A father shows, his gen'rous gifts bestow'd. He gave me wealth, he gave me ample rule; And on the bounds of Phthia bade me dwell, And o'er the Dolopes hold sov'reign sway. Thee too, Achilles, rival of the Gods, Such, as thou art I made thee; from my soul I lov'd thee; nor wouldst thou with others go Or to the meal, or in the house be fed, Till on my knee thou satt'st, and by my hand Thy food were cut, the cup were tender'd thee; And often, in thy childish helplessness. The bosom of my dress with wine was drench'd; Such care I had of thee, such pains I took, Rememb'ring that by Heav'n's decree, no son Of mine I e'er might see; then thee I made, Achilles, rival of the Gods, my son, That thou mightst be the guardian of mine age. But thou, Achilles, curb thy noble rage; A heart implacable beseems thee not. The Gods themselves, in virtue, honour, strength, Excelling thee, may yet be mollified; For they, when mortals have transgress'd, or fail'd To do aright, by sacrifice and pray'r, Libations and burnt-off'rings, may be sooth'd. Pray'rs are the daughters of immortal Jove; But halt, and wrinkled, and of feeble sight, They plod in Ate's track; while Ate, strong And swift of foot, outstrips their laggard pace, And, dealing woe to man, o'er all the earth Before them flies: they, following, heal her wounds. Him who with honour welcomes their approach, They greatly aid, and hear him when he prays; But who rejects, and sternly casts them off, To Saturn's son they go, and make their pray'r That Ate follow him and claim her dues. Then to the daughters of immortal Jove, Do thou, Achilles, show the like respect, That many another brave man's heart hath sway'd. If to thy tent no gifts Atrides brought, With promises of more, but still retain'd His vehement enmity, I could not ask That thou thy cherish'd anger shouldst discard, And aid the Greeks, how great so-e'er their need. But now large off'rings hath he giv'n, and more Hath promis'd; and, of all the Greeks, hath sent To pray thine aid, the men thou lov'st the best. Discredit not their mission, nor their words. Till now, I grant thee, none could blame thy wrath. In praise of men in ancient days renown'd, This have we heard, that how-so-e'er might rage Their hostile feuds, their anger might be still By gifts averted, and by words appeas'd. One case I bear in mind, in times long past, And not in later days; and here, 'mid friends, How all occurr'd, will I at length recite. Time was, that with AEtolia's warlike bands Round Calydon the Acarnanians fought With mutual slaughter; these to save the town, The Acarnanians burning to destroy. This curse of war the golden-throned Queen Diana sent, in anger that from her OEneus the first-fruits of his field withheld. The other Gods their hecatombs receiv'd; Diana's shrine alone no off'rings deck'd, Neglected, or o'erlook'd; the sin was great; And in her wrath the arrow-darting Queen A savage wild-boar sent, with gleaming tusks, Which OEneus' vineyard haunting, wrought him harm. There laid he prostrate many a stately tree, With root and branch, with blossom and with fruit. Him Meleager, son of OEneus, slew, With youths and dogs from all the neighbouring towns Collected; smaller force had not avail'd, So huge he was, so fierce; and many a youth Had by his tusks been laid upon the bier. A fierce contention then the Goddess rais'd, For the boar's head and bristly hide, between The Acarnanian and th' AEtolian bands. While warlike Meleager kept the field, So long the Acarnanians far'd but ill; Nor dar'd, despite the numbers of their host, Maintain their ground before the city walls. When he to anger yielded, which sometimes Swells in the bosom e'en of wisest men, Incens'd against his mother, he withdrew To Cleopatra fair, his wedded wife; (Marpessa her, Evenus' daughter, bore To Idas, strongest man of all who then Were living, who against Apollo's self For the neat-footed maiden bent his bow. Her parents call'd the child Alcyone, In mem'ry of the tears her mother shed, Rival of Alcyon's melancholy fate, When by far-darting Phoebus forc'd away). With her, retiring from the field, he nurs'd His wrath; resenting thus his mother's curse, Althaea; she her brother's death bore hard, And pray'd to Heav'n above, and with her hands Beating the solid earth, the nether pow'rs, Pluto and awful Proserpine, implor'd, Down on her knees, her bosom wet with tears, Death on her son invoking; from the depths Of Erebus Erinnys heard her pray'r, Gloom-haunting Goddess, dark and stern of heart. Soon round the gates the din of battle rose, The tow'rs by storm assaulted; then his aid Th' AEtonian Elders and the sacred priests With promises of great reward implor'd. A fruitful plot they bade him set apart, The richest land in lovely Calydon, Of fifty acres: half for vineyard meet, And half of fertile plain, for tillage clear'd. Upon the threshold of his lofty rooms Old OEneus stood, and at the portals clos'd He knock'd in vain, a suppliant to his son. His sisters and his brother join'd their pray'rs, But sterner his rejection of their suit; The friends he valued most, and lov'd the best, Yet they too fail'd his fix'd resolve to shake; Till to his very doors the war had reach'd, The foe upon the tow'rs, the town in flames: Then Meleager's beauteous wife, at length, In tears, beseeching him, the thousand ills Recall'd, which on a captur'd town attend; The slaughter'd men, the city burnt with fire, The helpless children and deep-bosom'd dames A prey to strangers. List'ning to the tale, His spirit was rous'd within him; and again He took the field, and donn'd his glitt'ring arms. Thus did his act from doom th' AEtolians save Spontaneous; yet he gain'd not, though he sav'd, The rich reward they once were pledg'd to give. But be not thou like him, nor let thy God Turn thitherward thy thoughts; our ships on fire, Thine aid will less be priz'd; come, take the gifts, And as a God be honour'd by the Greeks. If thou hereafter, unsolicited, The battle join, the Greeks thou mayst protect, But not an equal share of honour gain."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Phoenix, my second father, rev'rend sire, Such honours move me not; my honour comes From Jove, whose will it is that I should here Remain beside the ships, while I retain Breath in my lungs and vigour in my limbs. This too I say, and bear it in thy mind: Disturb me not with weeping and complaints, To do Atrides grace; if him thou love, My love for thee perchance may turn to hate: My friend should honour him who honours me. But come with me, and of my kingdom half, And equal honours shalt thou share with me. These shall our message bear; stay thou the while, And on soft couch repose; to-morrow morn Will we determine or to sail or stay."
He said, and with his eyebrows gave a sign In silence to Patroclus, to prepare A bed for Phoenix, that without delay The rest might leave the tent; then thus began Ajax, the godlike son of Telamon: "Ulysses sage, Laertes' high-born son, Depart we now; for this way our discourse Can lead to no result; behoves us bear Our tidings, all unwelcome as they are, Back to the chiefs awaiting our return. Achilles hath allow'd his noble heart To cherish rancour and malignant hate; Nor reeks he of his old companions' love, Wherewith we honour'd him above the rest. Relentless he! a son's or brother's death, By payment of a fine, may be aton'd; The slayer may remain in peace at home, The debt discharg'd; the other will forego, The forfeiture receiv'd, his just revenge; But thou maintain'st a stern, obdurate mood. And for a single girl! we offer sev'n, Surpassing fair, and other gifts to boot. We now bespeak thy courtesy; respect Thy hearth; remember that beneath thy roof We stand, deputed by the gen'ral voice Of all the host; and fain would claim to be, Of all the Greeks, thy best and dearest friends."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Illustrious Ajax, son of Telamon, Without offence hast thou thy message giv'n; But fury fills my soul, whene'er I think How Agamemnon, 'mid th' assembled Greeks, Insulting, held me forth to public scorn, As some dishonour'd, houseless vagabond. But go ye now, and bear my answer back: No more in bloody war will I engage, Till noble Hector, Priam's godlike son, O'er slaughter'd Greeks, your ships enwrapp'd in fire, Shall reach the quarters of the Myrmidons. Ere he assail my ship and tents, I think That Hector, valiant as he is, will pause." Thus he: they each the double goblet rais'd, And, to the Gods their due libations pour'd, Ulysses leading, to the ships return'd.
Meanwhile Patroclus bade th' attendant maids Prepare a bed for Phoenix; they obey'd, And quickly laid the bed with fleeces warm, And rugs, and linen light and fine o'erspread. There slept th' old man, and waited for the morn. Within the tent's recess Achilles slept; And by his side, from Lesbos captive brought, Daughter of Phorbas, Diomede fair; On th' other side Patroclus lay; with him The graceful Iphis, whom, when Scyros' isle He captur'd, and Enyes' rock-built fort, Achilles to his lov'd companion gave.
When to Atrides' tent the envoys came, The chiefs, uprising, pledg'd them one by one In golden goblets; then their tidings ask'd. First Agamemnon, King of men, enquir'd: "Tell me, renown'd Ulysses, pride of Greece, What says he: will he save our ships from fire, Or still, in wrathful mood, withhold his aid?"
To whom again Ulysses, stout of heart: "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, His anger is not quench'd, but fiercer still It glows; thy gifts and thee alike he spurns; He bids thee with the other chiefs concert The means thy people and thy ships to save; And menaces himself at early dawn To launch his well-trimm'd vessels on the main. Nay more, he counsels others, so he says, Homeward to turn, since here of lofty Troy We see not yet the end; all-seeing Jove O'er her extends his hand; on him relying, Her people all with confidence are fill'd. Such was his language; here before you stand Ajax and both the heralds, sage, grave men, Who with me went, and will confirm my words. Old Phoenix left we there, so will'd the chief, That with the morrow he with him may sail, And seek their native land, if so he will; For not by force will he remove him hence."
Ulysses thus; they all in silence heard, Amaz'd, so stern the message that he bore. Long time in silence sat the chiefs of Greece. Outspoke at length the valiant Diomed: "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, Would that thou ne'er hadst stoop'd with costly gifts To sue for aid from Peleus' matchless son; For he before was over-proud, and now Thine offers will have tenfold swoll'n his pride. But leave we him, according to his will, To go or stay: he then will join the fight, When his own spirit shall prompt, or Heav'n inspire. But hear ye all, and do as I advise: Refresh'd with food and wine (for therein lie Both strength and courage), turn we to our rest; And when the rosy-finger'd morn appears, Thyself among the foremost, with bold hearts, Before our ships both horse and foot array."
He said; and all the chiefs with loud applause His speech confirm'd; then, due libations pour'd, Each to his sev'ral tent they all withdrew; Then laid them down, and sought the boon of sleep.
THE NIGHT ADVENTURE OF DIOMED AND ULYSSES.
Upon the refusal of Achilles to return to the army, the distress of Agamemnon is described in the most lively manner. He takes no rest that night, but passes through the camp, awaking the leaders, and contriving all possible methods for the public safety. Menelaus, Nestor, Ulysses, and Diomed, are employed in raising the rest of the captains. They call a council of war, and determine to send scouts into the enemy's camp, to learn their posture, and discover their intentions. Diomed undertakes the hazardous enterprise, and makes choice of Ulysses for his companion. In their passage they surprise Dolon, whom Hector had sent on a like design to the camp of the Grecians. From him they are informed of the situation of the Trojans and auxiliary forces, and particularly of Rhesus, and the Thracians, who were lately arrived. They pass on with success; kill Rhesus with several of his officers, and seize the famous horses of that prince, with which they return in triumph to the camp.
The same night continues; the scene lies in the two camps.
In night-long slumbers lay the other chiefs Of all the Greeks, by gentle sleep subdued; But not on Agamemnon, Atreus' son, By various cares oppress'd, sweet slumber fell. As when from Jove, the fair-hair'd Juno's Lord, Flashes the lightning, bringing in its train Tempestuous storm of mingled rain and hail Or snow, by winter sprinkled o'er the fields; Or op'ning wide the rav'nous jaws of war; So Agamemnon from his inmost heart Pour'd forth in groans his multitudinous grief, His spirit within him sinking. On the plain He look'd, and there, alarm'd, the watchfires saw, Which, far advanc'd before the walls of Troy, Blaz'd numberless; and thence of pipes and flutes He heard the sound, and busy hum of men. Upon the ships he look'd, and men of Greece, And by the roots his hair in handfuls tore To Jove on high; deep groan'd his mighty heart. Thus as he mus'd, the wisest course appear'd, With Nestor, son of Neleus, to confer, If they some scheme in council might devise To ward destruction from the Grecian host. He rose, and o'er his body drew his vest, And underneath his well-turn'd feet he bound His sandals fair; then o'er his shoulders threw, Down reaching to his feet, a lion's skin, Tawny and vast; then grasp'd his pond'rous spear.
On Menelaus weigh'd an equal dread; Nor on his eyes that night had slumber sat, Lest ill befall the Greeks; who, in his cause, Crossing the wat'ry waste, had come to Troy, And bold defiance to the Trojans giv'n. Round his broad chest a panther's skin he threw; Then on his head his brazen helmet plac'd, And in his brawny hand a lance he bore. To meet his brother went he forth, of Greece The mighty monarch, as a God rever'd. Him by the ship he found, in act to arm; And welcome was his presence to the King.
Then valiant Menelaus first began: "Why thus in arms, good brother? seek'st thou one The Trojan camp to spy? I greatly fear That none will undertake the task, alone To spy the movements of the hostile camp In the dark night: stout-hearted he must be."
To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus: "Great need, my noble brother, have we both Of sagest counsels, if we hope the Greeks And Grecian ships from ruin to preserve, Since turn'd against us is the mind of Jove. To Hector's off'rings most his soul inclines; For never have I seen, or heard men tell, How in one day one man has wrought such loss As Hector, dear to Jove, yet not the son Of God or Goddess, on the Greeks has wrought. Such deeds hath he achiev'd, such havoc made, As we shall long in bitter mem'ry keep. Haste thou amid the ships, and hither bring Idomeneus and Ajax; I the while Will Nestor rouse, and urge that he with us The outposts visit, and instruct the guard. To him they best will listen; for his son Commands the watch; with him Meriones, The follower of the King Idomeneus: To them by pref'rence hath this charge been giv'n."
He said: and Menelaus answer'd thus: "What wouldst thou have me do then? here remain With them, and wait thy coming, or to them Thy message give, and follow in thy steps?"
Him answer'd Agamemnon, King of men: "Remain thou here, lest haply we might fail To meet; for in the camp are many paths. But thou, where'er thou go'st, each sev'ral man Address, and ask to rise; to each his name And patronymic giving; pay to each All due respect; nor bear thee haughtily; We like the rest must share the load of toil. Which Jove assigns to all of mortal birth."
His brother thus with counsels wise dismiss'd, The King to aged Nestor took his way: Him by his tent and dark-ribb'd ship he found On a soft couch; beside him lay his arms, His shield, two lances, and a glitt'ring helm: There lay the rich-wrought belt the old man wore, When to the battle, arm'd, he led his troops; For nought to age's weakness would he yield. Raising his head, and on his elbow propp'd, He question'd thus Atrides: "Who art thou, That wand'rest through th' encampment thus alone, In the dark night, when other mortals sleep? Seek'st thou some mule broke loose, or comrade lost? Speak, nor in silence come; what wouldst thou here?"
To whom thus Agamemnon, King of men: "O Nestor! son of Neleus, pride of Greece, Know me for Agamemnon, Atreus' son, On whom hath Jove, beyond the lot of men, Laid grief that ne'er shall end, while I retain Breath in my lungs, and vigour in my limbs. I wander thus, because these eyes of mine Sweet slumber visits not, by cares of war Oppress'd, and harass'd by the woes of Greece. Much for the Greeks I fear; nor keeps my mind Its wonted firmess; I am ill at ease; And leaps my troubled heart as tho' 'twould burst My bosom's bounds; my limbs beneath me shake. But if thou wilt, since thou too know'st not sleep, Together to the outposts let us go, And see if there, by toil and sleep o'erpow'r'd, The guard repose, neglectful of their watch. The foe is close at hand; nor are we sure He may not hazard e'en a night attack."
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied; "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, Not all the hopes that Hector entertains Shall by the Lord of counsel be fulfill'd; For him are toil and danger yet in store, If but Achilles of his wrath repent. Gladly will I attend thee; others too, Tydides, spearman bold, Ulysses sage, Ajax the swift, and Phyleus' noble son, Should all be summon'd; and 'twere well that one Across the camp should run, to call in haste The godlike Ajax, and Idomeneus; Theirs are the farthest ships, nor near at hand. But, dear to me as Menelaus is, And highly honour'd, I must blame, that thus (Though thou shouldst take offence, I needs must say) He sleeps, and leaves the toil to thee alone. With all the chiefs he should be busied now, Imploring aid, in this our utmost need."
To whom thus Agamemnon, King of men: "For other times, old man, reserve thy blame; Sometimes, I own, he lags behind, nor takes His share of labour; not from indolence, Or want of sense; but still regarding me; Waiting from me an impulse to receive. But now, before me he was up, and came To visit me; and I have sent him on To call those very men whom thou hast nam'd. Come then; for we, beside the gates, and guard Shall find them; there my orders were to meet."
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied; "Then none can blame him; nor can any Greek Justly refuse his summons to obey."
He said, and round his body wrapped his vest; Then on his feet his sandals fair he bound, And o'er his shoulders clasp'd a purple cloak, Doubled, with ample folds, and downy pile; Then took his spear, with point of sharpen'd brass, And through the camp prepar'd to take his way. Gerenian Nestor from his slumbers first Ulysses, sage as Jove in council, rous'd, Loud shouting; soon the voice his senses reach'd; Forth from his tent he came, and thus he spoke: "What cause so urgent leads you, through the camp, In the dark night to wander thus alone?"
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied: "Ulysses sage, Laertes' godlike son, Be not offended; such the stress that now Weighs down our army; come thou then with us, And others let us call; with whom 'tis meet That we should counsel take, to fight or fly."
He said; Ulysses to the tent return'd; Then, his broad shield across his shoulders thrown, Came forth again, and with them took his way. To Diomed, the son of Tydeus, next They went; and him they found beside his arms, Without his tent; his comrades slept around, Their heads upon their bucklers laid; their spears Stood upright, on the butts; the burnish'd brass Like Heav'n's own lightning, flashing far around. Stretch'd on a wild bull's hide the chief repos'd, A gay-wrought carpet roll'd beneath his head. Gerenian Nestor close behind him stood, And touched him with his foot, and thus in tone Reproachful spoke: "Arouse thee, Tydeus' son! Why sleep'st thou thus all night? or know'st thou not That on the very margin of the plain, And close beside the ships the Trojans lie, And little space between the camps is left?"
Quick rous'd from sleep, thus answer'd Diomed: "Beshrew thy heart, old man! no labour seems For thee too hard; are there not younger men To run about the camp, and summon all The sev'ral chiefs? thou dost too much, old man."
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied: "True, friend, and full of wisdom are thy words; Good sons indeed I have, and followers brave And many, who might well my message bear; But great is now the stress that lies on Greece; For on a razor's edge is balanc'd now, To all the Greeks, the chance of life or death. Do thou then go (for thou my younger art), And if thou pity me, thyself arouse Ajax the swift, and Phyleus' noble son." He said; the warrior round his shoulders threw, Down reaching to his feet, a lion's hide, Tawny and dark; and took his pond'rous spear. He went, arous'd, and with him brought the chiefs.
When to the guard they came, not sunk in sleep Found they the leaders; but on wakeful watch Intent, and all alert beside their arms. As round a sheepfold keep their anxious watch The dogs, who in the neighbouring thicket hear Some beast, that, bold in search of prey, has come Down from the mountain; loud the clamours rise Of men and dogs; all sleep is banish'd thence; So from their eyes was banish'd sleep, who watch'd Through that disastrous night; still plainward turning At ev'ry movement in the Trojan camp. The old man saw, well-pleas'd; and thus address'd With cheering words the captains of the guard: "Watch ever thus, good youths; nor be surpris'd By slumber, lest the foe a triumph gain."
This said, he cross'd the ditch, and with him went The Grecian leaders, to the council call'd: With them, admitted to the conf'rence, went Meriones, and Nestor's noble son. The deep-dug ditch they cross'd, and sat them down Upon an open space, from corpses clear; Where Hector from the slaughter of the Greeks Turn'd back, when Ev'ning spread her veil around: There sat they down, and there the conf'rence held. Gerenian Nestor first took up the word: "O friends! is any here with heart so bold Who dares, self-confident, the Trojan camp To enter? there some straggler he might take, Or in the camp itself some tidings gain, What are their secret counsels; if they mean Here by the ships to hold their ground, or back, Sated with vict'ry, to the town retire. This could he learn, and hither scatheless bring His tidings, high as Heav'n in all men's mouths Would be his praise, and ample his reward. For ev'ry captain of a ship should give A coal-black ewe, and at her foot a lamb, A prize beyond compare; and high should be His place at banquets and at solemn feasts."
He said; but all the chiefs in silence heard; Then rose the valiant Diomed, and said: "Nestor, that heart is mine; I dare alone Enter the hostile camp, so close at hand; Yet were one comrade giv'n me, I should go With more of comfort, more of confidence. Where two combine, one before other sees The better course; and ev'n though one alone The readiest way discover, yet would be His judgment slower, his decision less."
He said, and many chiefs to Diomed Proffer'd companionship; stood forth at once, With him to penetrate the Trojan camp, The two Ajaces, ministers of Mars; Stood forth Meriones, and eagerly Stood forth the son of Nestor; Atreus' son, The royal Menelaus, spearman bold, And stout Ulysses, whose enduring heart For ev'ry deed of valour was prepar'd. Rose Agamemnon, King of men, and said: "Tydides, comrade dearest to my soul, Choose thou thine own companion, whom thou wilt; Of all the many here that proffer aid Him whom thou deem'st the best; nor from respect To persons leave the better man behind, And take the worse; nor def'rence show to rank, Not though the purest royal blood were his."
In fear for Menelaus thus he spoke: Then answer'd valiant Diomed, and said; "If my companion I may freely choose, How can I pass the sage Ulysses by? Of ready wit, and dauntless courage, prov'd In ev'ry danger; and to Pallas dear. I should not fear, by him accompanied, To pass through fire, and safely both return; So far in prudence he surpasses all."
Whom answer'd thus Ulysses, stout of heart: "Tydides, nor exaggerated praise Bestow on me, nor censure; for thou speak'st To those who know me all for what I am. But go we; night wanes fast, the morn is near: The stars are high in Heav'n; and of the night Two thirds are spent, one third alone remains."
He said; and both prepar'd to don their arms. The youthful warrior Thrasymedes gave To Diomed a two-edg'd sword (his own Had in the ship been left) and ample shield; Then on his brows a leathern headpiece plac'd, Without or peak or plume; a simple casque, Such as is worn by youths to guard their head. A bow, and well-fill'd quiver, and a sword, Meriones to sage Ulysses gave; And on his brows a leathern headpiece plac'd, Well wrought within, with num'rous straps secur'd, And on th' outside, with wild boars' gleaming tusks Profusely garnish'd, scatter'd here and there By skilful hand; the midst with felt was lin'd; This from Amyntor, son of Ormenus, Autolycus from Eleon bore away, Spoil of his pillag'd house; Autolycus Gave to Amphidamas, Cytheran chief, Who in Scandea dwelt; Amphidamas To Molus, pledge of friendship; he again Gave to his son, Meriones, from whom It now encircled sage Ulysses' brow. Thus with accoutrements and arms supplied, They left their brother chiefs, and took their way. Then close beside their path, by Pallas sent, Rose, on the right, a heron; through the gloom They saw it not indeed, but heard the cry. The fav'ring sign with joy Ulysses hail'd, And thus to Pallas pray'd: "Hear me, thou child Of aegis-bearing Jove, who still hast stood In ev'ry peril at my side, whose eye My ev'ry movement sees; now, Goddess, now Befriend me; grant that safe, with triumph crown'd, We may return, some great exploit achiev'd, Such as the Trojans long may bear in mind."
Him following, thus the brave Tydides pray'd: "My voice too, child of Jove, undaunted, hear; And be with me, as with my father erst, The godlike Tydeus, when to Thebes he went, An envoy, in advance; and left behind, Upon Asopus' banks the mail-clad Greeks. Smooth was the message which to Thebes he bore; But great, his mission ended, were the deeds That with thine aid he wrought; for, Goddess, thou Wast with him, and thine arm was his defence: So be thou now with me, and me defend. Then on thine altar will I sacrifice A yearling heifer, broad of brow, untam'd, Whereon no yoke hath mortal ever laid: Her will I give, and tip her horns with gold."
Thus as they pray'd, their pray'r the Goddess heard; Then, their devotions ended, on they far'd Through the deep dead of night, like lions twain, 'Mid slaughter, corpses, arms, and blacken'd gore.
Nor, in the Trojan camp, did Hector leave The chiefs to rest; but all to conf'rence call'd, The leaders and the councillors of Troy; To whom his prudent speech he thus address'd: "Who is there here, that for a rich reward A noble work will undertake? A car And two strong-collar'd horses, best of all That can be found within the Grecian lines, Shall he receive, who, to his endless praise, Shall dare approach the ships; and learn if still They keep their wonted watch, or, by our arms Subdued and vanquished, meditate retreat, And, worn with toil, the nightly watch neglect." Thus Hector spoke; but all in silence heard.
There was one Dolon in the Trojan camp, The herald's son, Eumedes; rich in gold And brass; not fair of face, but swift of foot; Amid five sisters he the only son; Who thus to Hector and the Trojans spoke:
"Hector, with dauntless courage I will dare Approach the ships, and bring thee tidings sure; But hold thou forth thy royal staff, and swear That I the horses and the brass-bound car Shall have, the boast of Peleus' matchless son: Not vain shall be my errand, nor deceive Thy hopes; right through the camp I mean to pass To Agamemnon's tent, where all the chiefs Debate in council, or to fight or fly."
He said; and Hector took his royal staff, And swore to him: "Be witness Jove himself, The Lord of thunder, that no Trojan man, Thyself except, shall e'er those horses drive; For thee they are reserv'd, a glorious prize."
Thus Hector swore; though unfulfill'd the oath. The hope to Dolon fresh assurance gave. Forthwith, his bow across his shoulders slung, A grisly wolf-skin o'er it, on his head A cap of marten's fur, and in his hand A jav'lin, from the camp he took his way, Straight to the Grecian ships; but never thence Destin'd to bring th' expected tidings back.
The crowd of men and horses left behind, Briskly he mov'd along; Ulysses first Mark'd his approach, and to Tydides said: "See, from the camp where some one this way comes, With what intent I know not; if to play The spy about the ships, or rob the dead. Turn we aside, and let him pass us by A little way; we then with sudden rush May seize him; or if he outstrip us both By speed of foot, may urge him tow'rd the ships, Driving him still before us with our spears, And from, the city cutting off his flight." Thus saying, 'mid the dead, beside the road They crouch'd; he, all unconscious, hasten'd by. But when such space was interpos'd as leave Between the sluggish oxen and themselves  A team of mules (so much the faster they Through the stiff fallow drag the jointed plough), They rush'd upon him; at the sound he stopp'd, Deeming that from the Trojan camp they came, By Hector sent, to order his return. Within a spear's length when they came, or less, For foes he knew them, and to night address'd His active limbs; they rush'd in hot pursuit. And as two hounds, well practis'd in the chase, With glist'ning fangs, unflagging, strain to catch, In woodland glade, some pricket deer, or hare, That flies before them, screaming; so those two, Tydides and Ulysses, stout of heart, With fiery zeal, unflagging, strain'd to catch The flying Dolon, from the camp cut off; But when the fugitive approach'd the ships, Close by the guard, fresh vigour Pallas gave To Diomed, lest haply from the walls Some other might anticipate his blow, And he himself but second honours gain. Tydides then with threat'ning gesture cried, "Stop, or I hurl my spear; and small thy chance, If I assail thee, of escape from death." He said, and threw his spear; but by design It struck him not; above his shoulder flew The polish'd lance, and quiver'd in the ground. Sudden he stopp'd, with panic paralys'd: His teeth all chatt'ring, pale with fear he stood, With falt'ring accents; panting, they came up And seiz'd him in their grasp; he thus, in tears: "Spare but my life; my life I can redeem; For ample stores I have of gold, and brass, And well-wrought iron; and of these my sire Would pay a gen'rous ransom, could he learn That in the Grecian ships I yet surviv'd."
To whom Ulysses, deep-designing, thus: "Be of good cheer; nor let the fear of death Disturb thy mind; but tell me truly this; How is 't that tow'rd the ships thou com'st alone, In the still night, when other mortals sleep? Com'st thou perchance for plunder of the dead? Or seek'st upon our ships to play the spy, By Hector sent? or of thine own accord?"
Then Dolon thus—his knees with terror shook— "With much persuasion, of my better mind Hector beguil'd me, off'ring as my prize Achilles' horses and his brass-bound car; Through the dark night he sent me, and enjoin'd, Ent'ring your hostile camp, to learn if still Ye keep your wonted watch, or by our arms Subdued and vanquish'd, meditate retreat, And worn with toil, your nightly watch neglect."
To whom Ulysses thus with scornful smile: "High soar'd thy hopes indeed, that thought to win The horses of Achilles; hard are they For mortal man to harness or control, Save for Achilles' self, the Goddess-born. But tell me truly this; when here thou cam'st, Where left'st thou Hector, guardian chief of Troy? Where are his warlike arms? his horses where? Where lie the rest? and where are plac'd their guards? What are their secret counsels? do they mean Here by the ships to keep their ground, or back, Sated with vict'ry, to the town return?"
Whom Dolon answer'd thus, Eumedes' son: "Thy questions all true answers shall receive; Hector, with those who share his counsels, sits In conf'rence, far apart, near Ilus' tomb; But for the guards thou speak'st of, noble chief, Not one is station'd to protect the camp. Around the Trojan fires indeed, perforce, A watch is kept; and they, among themselves, Due caution exercise: but, for th' Allies, They sleep, and to the Trojans leave the watch, Since nor their children nor their wives are near."
To whom in answer sage Ulysses thus: "Say now, where sleep they? with the Trojans mix'd, Or separate? explain, that I may know."
Whom answer'd Dolon thus, Eumedes' son: "To this too will I give ye answer true; Next to the sea the Carian forces lie; The Paeon archers and the Leleges, The Caucons, and the bold Pelasgians next; On Thymbra's side the Lycians' lot has fall'n, The Mysians brave, the Phrygian cavalry, And the Maeonians with their horsehair plumes. But why of these enquire? if ye intend An inroad on the camp, apart from all, New come, the farthest off, the Thracians lie: Rhesus their King, the son of Eioneus, Sleeps in the midst; no steeds that e'er I saw For size and beauty can with his compare: Whiter than snow, and swifter than the wind. With gold and silver is his chariot wrought, His armour golden, of gigantic size, A marvel to behold! it seems not meet For mortal man, but for th' immortal Gods. But take me now in safety to the ships; Or leave me here in fetters bound, that so, Ere ye return, ye may approve my words, And see if I have told you true, or no."
To whom thus Diomed with stern regard: "Dolon, though good thy tidings, hope not thou, Once in our hands, to 'scape the doom of death; For if we now should let thee go, again In after times thou mightst our ships approach, As secret spy, or open enemy: But if beneath my hands thou lose thy life, No farther trouble shalt thou cause the Greeks." He said; and as the suppliant sought in vain To touch his beard, imploring, through his throat, Both tendons sev'ring, drove his trenchant blade: Ev'n while he spoke, his head was roll'd in dust. The cap of marten fur from off his head They took, the wolf-skin, and the bow unstrung, And jav'lin; these Ulysses held aloft, And thus to Pallas pray'd, who gave the spoil: "Receive, great Goddess, these our gifts; to thee, Of all th' Immortals on Olympus' height, Our off'rings first we give; conduct us now, The Thracian camp and Thracian steeds to gain."
Thus as he spoke, amid the tamarisk scrub Far off he threw the trophies; then with reeds, And twigs new broken from the tamarisk boughs, He set a mark, lest in the gloom of night Returning, they might haply miss the spot. Then on they pass'd thro' arms and blacken'd gore, And reach'd the confines of the Thracian camp. There found they all by sleep subdued; their arms Beside them on the ground, in order due, In triple rows; and by the side of each, Harness'd and yok'd, his horses ready stood. Surrounded by his warriors, Rhesus slept; Beside him stood his coursers fleet, their reins Suspended to the chariot's topmost rail: Ulysses mark'd him as he lay, and said, "This is the man, Tydides, these the steeds, To us by Dolon, whom we slew, describ'd. Now then, put forth thy might; beseems it not To stand thus idly with thine arms in hand: Loose thou the horses; or do thou the men Despatch, and to my care the horses leave."
He said: and Pallas vigour new inspir'd, That right and left he smote; dire were the groans Of slaughter'd men; the earth was red with blood; And as a lion on th' untended flock Of sheep or goats with savage onslaught springs, Ev'n so Tydides on the Thracians sprang, Till twelve were slain; and as Tydides' sword Gave each to death, Ulysses by the feet Drew each aside; reflecting, that perchance The horses, startled, might refuse to pass The corpses; for as yet they knew them not. But when Tydides saw the sleeping King, A thirteenth victim to his sword was giv'n, Painfully breathing; for by Pallas' art, He saw that night, as in an evil dream, The son of OEneus standing o'er his head. Meanwhile Ulysses sage the horses loos'd; He gather'd up the reins, and with his bow (For whip was none at hand) he drove them forth; Then softly whistling to Tydides gave A signal; he, the while, remain'd behind, Musing what bolder deed he yet might do; Whether the seat, whereon the arms were laid, To draw away, or, lifted high in air, To bear it off in triumph on the car; Or on the Thracians farther loss inflict; But while he mus'd, beside him Pallas stood, And said, "Bethink thee, Tydeus' son, betimes Of thy return, lest, if some other God Should wake the Trojans, thou shouldst need to fly."
She said; the heav'nly voice he recogniz'd, And mounted straight the car; Ulysses touch'd The horses with his bow; and, urg'd to speed, They tow'rd the ships their rapid course pursued.
Nor idle watch Apollo kept, who saw Tydides o'er the plain by Pallas led; With anger fill'd, the Trojan camp he sought; And Rhesus' kinsman, good Hippocoon, The Thracian councillor, from sleep arous'd; Awaking, when the vacant space he view'd, Where late had stood the horses; and his friends Gasping in death, and welt'ring in their blood, He groan'd as on his comrade's name he call'd: Then loud the clamour rose, and wild uproar, Unspeakable, of Trojans thronging round; They marvell'd at the deeds; but marvell'd more How they who wrought them had escap'd unscath'd.
Meantime arriv'd where Hector's scout they slew, Ulysses, lov'd of Heav'n, a moment check'd His eager steeds; Tydides from the car Leap'd to the ground, and in Ulysses' hand The bloody trophies plac'd; then mounted quick, And tow'rd the ships, their destin'd goal, urg'd on The fiery horses; nothing loth, they flew. Nestor first heard the sound, and cried, "O friends, The leaders and the councillors of Greece, Am I deceiv'd, or is it true? methinks The sound of horses, hurrying, strikes mine ear; Grant Heav'n, Ulysses and brave Diomed May bring those horses from the Trojan camp; Yet much I fear our bravest may have met With some disaster 'mid the crowd of foes."
He scarce had ended, when themselves appear'd, And from the car descended: welcom'd back With cordial grasp of hands, and friendly words. Gerenian Nestor first, enquiring, said: "Tell me, renown'd Ulysses, pride of Greece, Whence come these horses? from the Trojan camp? Or hath some God, that met you by the way, Bestow'd them, radiant as the beams of light? Among the Trojans day by day I move; 'Tis not my wont; old warrior though I be, To lag behind; but horses such as these I never saw; some God hath giv'n them, sure; For Jove, the Cloud-compeller, loves you both, And Pallas, child of aegis-bearing Jove."
To whom again the sage Ulysses thus: "O Nestor, son of Neleus, pride of Greece, Had they so will'd, the Gods, so great their pow'r, E'en better horses could have giv'n than these; But these, old man, are Thracians, newly come; Whose King the valiant Diomed hath slain, And with him twelve, the best of all his band. A scout too have we slain, by Hector sent, And by the Trojan chiefs, to spy our camp."
He said, and o'er the ditch the horses drove, Exulting in their prize; and with him went The other chiefs, rejoicing, through the camp. Arriv'd at Diomed's well-order'd tent, First with strong halters to the rack, where stood, High-fed with corn, his own swift-footed steeds, The horses they secur'd; Ulysses then The bloody spoils of Dolon stow'd away In the ship's stern, till fitting sacrifice To Pallas might be offer'd; to the sea Descending then, they wash'd away the sweat, Which on their necks, and thighs, and knees had dried; The sweat wash'd off, and in the ocean waves Themselves refresh'd, they sought the polish'd bath; Then, by the bath restor'd, and all their limbs Anointed freely with the lissom oil, Sat down to breakfast; and from flowing bowls In Pallas' honour pour'd the luscious wine.
THE THIRD BATTLE, AND THE ACTS OF AGAMEMNON.
Agamemnon, having armed himself, leads the Grecians to battle; Hector prepares the Trojans to receive them; while Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva, give the signals of war. Agamemnon bears all before him; and Hector is commanded by Jupiter (who sends Iris for that purpose) to decline the engagement, till the king should be wounded, and retire from the field. He then makes a great slaughter of the enemy; Ulysses and Diomed put a stop to him for a time; but the latter, being wounded by Paris, is obliged to desert his companion, who is encompassed by the Trojans, wounded, and in the utmost danger, till Menelaus and Ajax rescue him. Hector comes against Ajax, but that hero alone opposes multitudes and rallies the Greeks. In the meantime Machaon, in the other wing of the army, is pierced with an arrow by Paris, and carried from the fight in Nestor's chariot. Achilles (who overlooked the action from his ship) sends Patroclus to inquire which of the Greeks was wounded in that manner. Nestor entertains him in his tent with an account of the accidents of the day, and a long recital of some former wars which he had remembered, tending to put Patroclus upon persuading Achilles to fight for his countrymen, or at least to permit him to do it clad in Achilles' armour. Patroclus in his return meets Eurypylus also wounded, and assists in that distress.
This book opens with the eight-and-twentieth day of the poem; and the same day, with its various actions and adventures, is extended through the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and part of the eighteenth books. The scene lies in the field near the monument of Ilus.
Now rose Aurora from Tithonus' bed, To mortals and Immortals bringing light; When to the ships of Greece came Discord down, Despatch'd from Jove, with dire portents of war. Upon Ulysses' lofty ship she stood, The midmost, thence to shout to either side, Or to the tents of Ajax Telamon, Or of Achilles, who at each extreme, Confiding in their strength, had moor'd their ships. There stood the Goddess, and in accents loud And dread she call'd, and fix'd in ev'ry breast The fierce resolve to wage unwearied war; And dearer to their hearts than thoughts of home Or wish'd return, became the battle-field.
Atrides, loudly shouting, call'd the Greeks To arms: himself his flashing armour donn'd. First on his legs the well-wrought greaves he fix'd, Fasten'd with silver clasps; his ample chest A breastplate guarded, giv'n by Cinyras In pledge of friendship; for in Cyprus' isle He heard the rumour of the glorious fleet About to sail for Troy; and sought with gifts To win the favour of the mighty King. Ten bands were there inwrought of dusky bronze, Twelve of pure gold, twice ten of shining tin: Of bronze six dragons upwards tow'rds the neck Their length extended, three on either side: In colour like the bow, which Saturn's son Plac'd in the clouds, a sign to mortal men: Then o'er his shoulder threw his sword; bright flash'd The golden studs; the silver scabbard shone, With golden baldrick fitted; next his shield He took, full-siz'd, well-wrought, well-prov'd in fight; Around it ran ten circling rims of brass; With twenty bosses round of burnish'd tin, And, in the centre, one of dusky bronze. A Gorgon's head, with aspect terrible, Was wrought, with Fear and Flight encircled round: Depending from a silver belt it hung; And on the belt a dragon, wrought in bronze, Twin'd his lithe folds, and turn'd on ev'ry side, Sprung from a single neck, his triple head. Then on his brow his lofty helm he plac'd, Four-crested, double-peak'd, with horsehair plumes, That nodded,-fearful, from the warrior's head. Then took two weighty lances, tipp'd with brass, Which fiercely flash'd against the face of Heav'n: Pallas and Juno thund'ring from on high In honour of Mycenae's wealthy lord.
Forthwith they order'd, each his charioteer, To stay his car beside the ditch; themselves, On foot, in arms accoutred, sallied forth, And loud, ere early dawn, the clamour rose. Advanc'd before the cars, they lin'd the ditch; Follow'd the cars, a little space between: But Jove with dire confusion fill'd their ranks, Who sent from Heav'n a show'r of blood-stain'd rain. In sign of many a warrior's coming doom, Soon to the viewless shades untimely sent. Meanwhile upon the slope, beneath the plain, The Trojan chiefs were gather'd; Hector's self, Polydamas, AEneas, as a God In rev'rence held; Antenor's three brave sons, Agenor's godlike presence, Polybus, And, heav'nly fair, the youthful Acamas. In front was seen the broad circumference Of Hector's shield; and as amid the clouds Shines forth the fiery dog-star, bright and clear, Anon beneath the cloudy veil conceal'd; So now in front was Hector seen, and now Pass'd to the rear, exhorting; all in brass, His burnish'd arms like Jove's own lightning flash'd.
As in the corn-land of some wealthy Lord The rival bands of reapers mow the swathe, Barley or wheat; and fast the trusses fall; So Greeks and Trojans mow'd th' opposing ranks; Nor these admitted thought of faint retreat, But still made even head; while those, like wolves, Rush'd to the onset; Discord, Goddess dire, Beheld, rejoicing; of the heav'nly pow'rs She only mingled with the combatants; The others all were absent; they, serene, Repos'd in gorgeous palaces, for each Amid Olympus' deep recesses built. Yet all the cloud-girt son of Saturn blam'd, Who will'd the vict'ry to the arms of Troy. He heeded not their anger; but withdrawn Apart from all, in pride of conscious strength, Survey'd the walls of Troy, the ships of Greece, The flash of arms, the slayers and the slain.
While yet 'twas morn, and wax'd the youthful day, Thick flew the shafts, and fast the people fell On either side: but when the hour was come When woodmen, in the forest's deep recess, Prepare their food, and wearied with the toil Of felling loftiest trees, with aching arms Turn with keen relish to their midday meal; Then Grecian valour broke th' opposing ranks, As each along the line encourag'd each; First sprang the monarch Agamemnon forth, And brave Bienor slew, his people's guard; And, with the chief, his friend and charioteer, Oileus; he, down-leaping from the car, Stood forth defiant; but between his brows The monarch's spear was thrust; nor aught avail'd The brass-bound helm, to stay the weapon's point; Through helm and bone it pass'd, and all the brain Was shatter'd; forward as he rush'd, he fell. Them left he there, their bare breasts gleaming white, Stripp'd of their arms; and hasten'd in pursuit Of Antiphus and Isus, Priam's sons, A bastard one, and one legitimate, Both on one car; the bastard held the reins: Beside him stood the gallant Antiphus. Them, as they fed their flocks on Ida's heights, Achilles once had captive made, and bound With willow saplings, till for ransom freed. The mighty monarch, Agamemnon, drove Through Isus' breast his spear; his weighty sword Descended on the head of Antiphus Beside the ear, and hurl'd him from his car; These of their armour he despoil'd in haste, Known to him both; for he had seen them oft Beside the ships, when thither captive brought From Ida by Achilles, swift of foot. As when a lion in their lair hath seiz'd The helpless offspring of a mountain doe, And breaks their bones with ease, and with strong teeth Crushes their tender life; nor can their dam, Though close at hand she be, avail them aught; For she herself by deadly terror seiz'd, Through the thick coppice and the forest flies, Panting, and bath'd in sweat, the monster's rush; So dar'd no Trojan give those brethren aid, Themselves in terror of the warlike Greeks. Peisander next, and bold Hippolochus, Sons of Antimachus ('twas he who chief, Seduc'd by Paris' gold and splendid gifts, Advis'd the restitution to refuse Of Helen to her Lord), the King assail'd; Both on one car; but from their hands had dropp'd The broider'd reins; bewilder'd there they stood; While, with a lion's bound, upon them sprang The son of Atreus; suppliant, in the car, They clasp'd his knees; "Give quarter, Atreus' son, Redeem our lives; our sire Antimachus Possesses goodly store of brass and gold, And well-wrought iron; and of these he fain Would pay a noble ransom, could he hear That in the Grecian ships we yet surviv'd."
Thus they, with gentle words, and tears, imploring; But all ungentle was the voice they heard In answer; "If indeed ye be the sons Of that Antimachus, who counsel gave, When noble Menelaus came to Troy With sage Ulysses, as ambassadors, To slay them both, nor suffer their return, Pay now the forfeit of your father's guilt." He said, and with a spear-thrust through his breast Peisander dash'd to earth; backward he fell. Down leap'd Hippolochus; but Atreus' son Severing his hands and neck, amid the throng Sent whirling like a bowl the gory head. These left he there; and where the thickest throng Maintain'd the tug of war, thither he flew, And with him eager hosts of well-greav'd Greeks. Soon on the Trojans' flight enforc'd they hung, Destroying; foot on foot, and horse on horse; While from the plain thick clouds of dust arose Beneath the armed hoofs of clatt'ring steeds; And on the monarch Agamemnon press'd, Still slaying, urging still the Greeks to arms. As when amid a densely timber'd wood Light the devouring flames, by eddying winds Hither and thither borne, fast falls the copse Prostrate beneath the fire's impetuous course; So thickly fell the flying Trojans' heads Beneath the might of Agamemnon's arm; And here and there, athwart the pass of war, Was many an empty car at random whirl'd By strong-neck'd steeds, of guiding hands bereft; Stretch'd on the plain they lay, more welcome sight To carrion birds than to their widow'd wives. But Hector, from the fray and din of war, And dust, and blood, and carnage, Jove withdrew. Still on Atrides press'd, the Greek pursuit With eager shouts exciting; past the tomb Of Ilus, ancient son of Dardanus, And tow'rd the fig-tree, midway o'er the plain, Straining to gain the town, the Trojans fled; While loudly shouting, his unconquer'd hands With carnage dyed, Atrides urg'd their flight. But when the Scaean gates and oak were reach'd, They made a stand, and fac'd the foe's assault. Some o'er the open plain were yet dispers'd; As heifers, by a lion scatter'd wide, At dead of night; all fly; on one descends The doom of death; her with his pow'rful teeth He seizes, and, her neck first broken, rends, And on her entrails gorging, laps her blood. So these the monarch Agamemnon chas'd, Slaying the hindmost; they in terror fled: Some headlong, backward some, Atrides' hand Hurl'd from their chariot many a warrior bold; So forward and so fierce he bore his spear. But as he near'd the city, and stood beneath The lofty wall, the Sire of Gods and men From Heav'n descended; on the topmost height Of Ida's spring-abounding hill he sat: And while his hand the lightning grasp'd, he thus To golden-winged Iris gave command:
"Haste thee, swift Iris, and to Hector bear From me this message; bid him, that as long As Agamemnon in the van appears, Raging, and dealing death among the ranks, He from the battle keep himself aloof, But urge the rest undaunted to maintain The stubborn fight; but should Atrides, struck By spear or arrow, to his car withdraw, He shall from me receive such pow'r to slay, As to the ships shall bear him, ere the sun Decline, and Darkness spread her hallowing shade."
Thus he; to Troy, obedient to his word, From Ida's heights swift-footed Iris sped: Amid the horses and the well-fram'd cars The godlike Hector, Priam's son, she found, And stood beside him, and address'd him thus:
"Hector, thou son of Priam, sage as Jove In council, he the Universal Lord Sends thee by me this message; that as long As Agamemnon in the van appears, Raging, and dealing death amid the ranks, Thou from the battle keep thyself aloof, But urge the rest undaunted to maintain The stubborn fight; but should Atrides, struck By spear or arrow, to his car withdraw, Thou shalt from him receive such pow'r to slay As to the ships shall bear thee, ere the sun Decline, and Darkness spread her hallowing shade."
Swift-footed Iris said, and disappear'd; But from his chariot Hector leap'd to earth, Hither and thither passing through the ranks, With brandish'd jav'lins urging to the fight. Loud, at his bidding, rose the battle-cry; Back roll'd the tide; again they fac'd the Greeks: On th' other side the Greeks their masses form'd, In line of battle rang'd; opposed they stood; And in the front, to none content to cede The foremost place, was Agamemnon seen.
Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell, Of all the Trojans and their fam'd Allies, Who first oppos'd to Agamemnon stood. Iphidamas, Antenor's gallant son, Stalwart and brave; in fertile Thracia bred, Mother of flocks; him, in his infant years, His grandsire Cisseus, fair Theano's sire, In his own palace rear'd; and when he reach'd The perfect measure of his glorious youth, Still in his house retain'd him, and to wife Gave him his daughter; but when tidings came Of Grecian warfare, from the marriage straight Embarking, with twelve beaked ships he sailed, That owned his sway; these on Percote's shore He left; and came himself on foot to Troy; Who now confronted Atreus' godlike son.
When near they drew, Atrides miss'd his aim, His spear diverging; then Iphidamas Beneath the breastplate, striking on his belt, Strove with strong hand to drive the weapon home: Yet could not pierce the belt's close-plaited work; The point, encounter'd by the silver fold, Was bent, like lead; then with his pow'rful hand The monarch Agamemnon seiz'd the spear, And tow'rd him drew, and with a lion's strength Wrench'd from his foeman's grasp; then on his neck Let fall his sword, and slack'd his limbs in death. There, falling in his country's cause, he slept The iron sleep of death; unhappy he, Far from his virgin-bride, yet unpossess'd, Though bought with costly presents; first he gave A hundred steers; and promis'd thousands more Of sheep and goats from out his countless flocks. Him Agamemnon of his arms despoil'd, And to the crowd of Greeks the trophies bore. But when Antenor's eldest-born beheld, Coon, th' observ'd of all men, bitt'rest grief His eyes o'ershadow'd, for his brother's fate; And, unperceiv'd by Atreus' godlike son, Standing aside, he struck him with his spear, Through the mid arm, beneath the elbow's bend; And drove right through the weapon's glitt'ring point. Writh'd with the pain the mighty King of men; Yet from the combat flinch'd he not, nor quail'd: But grasping firm his weather-toughen'd spear On Coon rush'd, as by the feet he drew His father's son, Iphidamas, away, Invoking all the bravest to his aid; And as he drew the body tow'rd the crowd, Beneath the bossy shield the monarch thrust His brass-clad spear, and slack'd his limbs in death; Then near approaching, ev'n upon the corpse Of dead Iphidamas, struck off his head: So by Atrides' hand, Antenor's sons, Their doom accomplish'd, to the shades were sent. Then through the crowded ranks, with spear and sword, And massive stones, he held his furious course, While the hot blood was welling from his arm; But when the wound was dry, and stanch'd the blood, Keen anguish then Atrides' might subdued. As when a woman in her labour-throes Sharp pangs encompass, by Lucina sent, Who rules o'er child-birth travail, ev'n so keen The pangs that then Atrides' might subdued. Mounting his car he bade his charioteer Drive to the ships; for sore his spirit was pain'd; But loud and clear he shouted to the Greeks: "O friends, the chiefs and councillors of Greece, Yours be it now our sea-borne ships to guard: Since Jove, the Lord of counsel, through the day Wills not that I the battle should maintain."
He said: and swiftly to the ships were driv'n His sleek-skinn'd coursers; nothing loth they flew; With foam their chests were fleck'd, with dust their flanks, As from the field their wounded Lord they bore: But Hector, as he saw the King retire, To Trojans and to Lycians call'd aloud:
"Trojans and Lycians, and ye Dardans fam'd In close encounter, quit ye now like men; Put forth your wonted valour; from the field Their bravest has withdrawn, and Jove on me Great glory hath shed; now headlong on the Greeks Urge your swift steeds, and endless honour gain."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast: And as a hunter cheers his sharp-fang'd hounds On forest boar or lion; on the Greeks So cheer'd the valiant Trojans Priam's son, Illustrious Hector, stern as blood-stain'd Mars. Bent on high deeds, himself in front advanc'd, Fell on the masses as a whirlwind falls, Lashing with furious sweep the dark-blue sea.
Say then, who first, who last, by Hector's hand, Whom Jove had will'd to crown with honour, died. Assaeus first, and then Autonous, Opites, and Opheltius, Dolops, son Of Clytus, and AEsumnus, Agelas And Orus, and brave Hipponous; All these the chiefs of Greece; the nameless crowd He scatter'd next; as when the west wind drives The clouds, and battles with the hurricane, Before the clearing blast of Notus driv'n; The big waves heave and roll, and high aloft, The gale, careering, flings the ocean spray; So thick and furious fell on hostile heads The might of Hector. Now had fearful deeds Been done, and Greeks beside their ships had fall'n In shameful rout, had not Ulysses thus To Diomed, the son of Tydeus, call'd:
"Why, son of Tydeus, should we thus relax Our warlike courage? come, stand by me now, True friend! if Hector of the glancing helm Our ships should capture, great were our disgrace."
Whom answer'd thus the valiant Diomed: "Beside thee will I stand, and still endure; But brief will be the term of our success, Since Jove, the Cloud-compeller, not to us, But to the Trojans, wills the victory."
He said, and from his car Thymbraeus hurl'd, Through the left breast transfix'd: Ulysses' hand His charioteer, the brave Molion, slew. These left they there, no more to share the fight; Then turning, spread confusion 'mid the crowd: As turn two boars upon the hunter's pack With desp'rate courage, turning so to bay, Those two, the Trojans scatt'ring, gave the Greeks, From Hector flying, time again to breathe. A car they seiz'd which bore two valiant chiefs, Sons of Percotian Merops; he, o'er all In lore prophetic skill'd, would fain at home Have kept them from the life-destroying war: But they, by adverse fate impell'd to seek Their doom of death, his warning voice despis'd. These two, of strength and life at once bereft, The son of Tydeus, valiant Diomed, Stripp'd of their armour; while Ulysses slew Hippodamus, and bold Hyperochus. Thus Jove, from Ida's height beholding, held His even scale, each party slaught'ring each. Then with his spear Tydides through the loins Agastrophus, the son of Paeon, smote; No car had he at hand, whereto to fly: But, ill-advis'd, had in th' attendants' charge His horses left far off; while he himself Rush'd 'mid the throng on foot, and met his doom. Hector's quick glance athwart the files beheld, And to the rescue, with a shout, he sprang, The Trojan columns following; not unmov'd The valiant Diomed his coming saw, And thus bespoke Ulysses at his side: "On us this plague, this mighty Hector, falls: Yet stand we firm, and boldly meet the shock." He said, and, poising, hurl'd his pond'rous spear, And not in vain; on Hector's head it struck His helmet's crest, but, brass encount'ring brass, Himself it reach'd not; for the visor'd helm, Apollo's gift, three-plated, stay'd its force. Yet backward Hector sprang amid the crowd, And on his knees he dropp'd, his stalwart hand Propp'd on the ground; while darkness veil'd his eyes. But ere Tydides, following up his spear, Attain'd from far the spot whereon he fell, Hector reviv'd, and mounting quick his car, Drove 'mid the crowd, and 'scap'd the doom of death Then thus, with threat'ning spear, Tydides cried: "Yet once again, vile hound, hast thou escap'd; Thy doom was nigh; but thee thy God hath sav'd, Phoebus, to whom, amid the clash of spears, Well mayst thou pray! We yet shall meet again; When I shall end thee, if a guardian God I too may claim; meanwhile from thee I turn, And others seek on whom my hap may light."