"Hector, I know thee, how unapt thou art To hearken to advice; because the Gods Have giv'n thee to excel in warlike might, Thou deemest thyself, in counsel too, supreme; Yet every gift thou canst not so combine: To one the Gods have granted warlike might, To one the dance, to one the lyre and song; While in another's breast all-seeing Jove Hath plac'd the spirit of wisdom, and a mind Discerning, for the common good of all: By him are states preserv'd; and he himself Best knows the value of the precious gift. Then hear what seems to me the wisest course. On ev'ry side the circling ring of war Is blazing all around thee; and, thou seest, Our valiant Trojans, since the wall they scal'd, Or stand aloof, or scatter'd 'mid the ships Outnumber'd, with superior forces strive. Then thou, retiring, hither call the chiefs; Here take we counsel fully, if to fall Upon their well-mann'd ships, should Heaven vouchsafe The needful strength, or, scatheless yet, withdraw; For much I fear they soon will pay us back Their debt of yesterday; since in their ranks One yet remains insatiate of the fight, And he, methinks, not long will stand aloof."
Thus he: the prudent counsel Hector pleas'd; Down from his chariot with his arms he leap'd, And to Polydamas his speech address'd:
"Polydamas, detain thou here the chiefs; Thither will I, and meet the front of war, And, giv'n my orders, quickly here return."
He said; and, like a snow-clad mountain high, Uprose; and loudly shouting, in hot haste Flew through the Trojan and Confed'rate host. At sound of Hector's voice, round Panthous' son, Polydamas, were gather'd all the chiefs. But 'mid the foremost combatants he sought If haply he might find Deiphobus, And royal Helenus, and Adamas, And gallant Asius, son of Hyrtacus. These found he not unscath'd by wounds or death; For some beside the ships of Greece had paid, By Grecian hands, the forfeit of their lives, While others wounded lay within the wall. But, to the leftward of the bloody fray, The godlike Paris, fair-hair'd Helen's Lord, Cheering his comrades to the fight, he found, And with reproachful words address'd him thus:
"Thou wretched Paris, fair in outward form, Thou slave of woman, manhood's counterfeit, Where is Deiphobus, and where the might Of royal Helenus? where Adamas, The son of Asius? where too Asius, son Of Hyrtacus? and where Othryoneus? Now from its summit totters to the fall Our lofty Ilium; now thy doom is sure."
To whom the godlike Paris thus replied: "Hector, since blameless I incur thy blame, Ne'er have I less withdrawn me from the fight, And me not wholly vile my mother bore; For since thou gav'st command to attack the ships, We here against the Greeks unflinching war Have wag'd; our comrades, whom thou seek'st, are slain: Only Deiphobus hath left the field, And Helenus; both wounded by the spear, Both through the hand; but Jove their life hath spar'd. But thou, where'er thy courage bids, lead on: We shall be prompt to follow; to our pow'r Thou shalt in us no lack of valour find; Beyond his pow'r the bravest cannot fight."
Wrought on his brother's mind the hero's words: Together both they bent their steps, where rag'd The fiercest conflict; there Cebriones, Phalces, Orthaeus, brave Polydamas, Palmys, and godlike Polyphetes' might, And Morys, and Ascanius fought; these two Hippotion's sons; from rich Ascania's plains They, as reliefs, but yestermorn had come; Impell'd by Jove, they sought the battle field. Onward they dash'd, impetuous as the rush Of the fierce whirlwind, which with lightning charg'd, From Father Jove sweeps downward o'er the plain: As with loud roar it mingles with the sea, The many-dashing ocean's billows boil, Upheaving, foam-white-crested, wave on wave; So, rank on rank, the Trojans, closely mass'd, In arms all glitt'ring, with their chiefs advanc'd; Hector, the son of Priam, led them on, In combat terrible as blood-stain'd Mars: Before his breast his shield's broad orb he bore, Of hides close join'd, with brazen plates o'erlaid; The gleaming helmet nodded o'er his brow. He, with proud step, protected by his shield, On ev'ry side the hostile ranks survey'd, If signs of yielding he might trace; but they Unshaken stood; and with like haughty mien, Ajax at Hector thus defiance hurl'd:
"Draw nearer, mighty chief; why seek to scare Our valiant Greeks? we boast ourselves of war Not wholly unskill'd, though now the hand of Jove Lies heavy on us with the scourge of Heav'n. Thou hop'st, forsooth, our vessels to destroy; But stalwart arms for their defence we boast. Long ere that day shall your proud city fall, Tak'n and destroy'd by our victorious hands. Not far the hour, when thou thyself in flight To Jove and all the Gods shalt make thy pray'r, That swifter than the falcon's wing thy steeds May bear thee o'er the dusty plain to Troy."
Thus as he spoke, upon his right appear'd An eagle, soaring high; the crowd of Greeks The fav'ring omen saw, and shouted loud: Then noble Hector thus: "What words are these, Ajax, thou babbling braggart, vain of speech! For would to Heav'n I were as well assur'd I were the son of aegis-bearing Jove, Born of imperial Juno, and myself In equal honour with Apollo held Or blue-ey'd Pallas, as I am assur'd This day is fraught with ill to all the Greeks: Thou 'mid the rest shalt perish, if thou dare My spear encounter, which thy dainty skin Shall rend; and slain beside the ships, thy flesh Shall glut the dogs and carrion birds of Troy."
He said, and led them on; with eager cheers They followed; shouted loud the hindmost throng. On th' other side the Greeks return'd the shout: Of all the Trojans' bravest they, unmov'd, The onset bore; their mingled clamours rose To Heav'n, and reach'd the glorious light of Jove.
JUNO DECEIVES JUPITER BY THE GIRDLE OF VENUS.
Nestor, sitting at the table with Machaon, is alarmed with the increasing clamour of the war, and hastens to Agamemnon; on his way he meets that prince with Diomed and Ulysses, whom he informs of the extremity of the danger. Agamemnon proposes to make their escape by night, which Ulysses withstands; to which Diomed adds his advice, that, wounded as they were, they should go forth and encourage the army with their presence; which advice is pursued. Juno, seeing the partiality of Jupiter to the Trojans, forms a design to overreach him; she sets off her charms with the utmost care, and (the more surely to enchant him) obtains the magic girdle of Venus. She then applies herself to the god of Sleep, and with some difficulty persuades him to seal the eyes of Jupiter; this done, she goes to Mount Ida, where the god at first sight, is ravished with her beauty, sinks in her embraces, and is laid asleep. Neptune takes advantage of his slumber, and succours the Greeks; Hector is struck to the ground with a prodigious stone by Ajax, and carried off from the battle; several actions succeed; till the Trojans, much distressed, are obliged to give way; the lesser Ajax signalizes himself in a particular manner.
Nor did the battle-din not reach the ears Of Nestor, o'er the wine-cup; and his speech He thus address'd to AEsculapius' son:
"Say, good Machaon, what these sounds may mean; For louder swells the tumult round the ships. But sit thou here, and drink the ruddy wine, Till fair-hair'd Hecamede shall prepare The gentle bath, and wash thy gory wounds; While I go forth, and all around survey."
He said, and from the wall a buckler took, Well-wrought, with brass resplendent, which his son, Brave Thrasymedes, in the tent had left, While with his father's shield himself was girt; A sturdy spear too, tipp'd with brass, he took: Without the tent he stood; and there his eyes A woful sight beheld; the Greeks in flight, The haughty Trojans pressing on their rout Confus'd; the Greeks' protecting wall o'erthrown. As heaves the darkling sea with silent swell, Expectant of the boist'rous gale's approach; Nor onward either way is pour'd its flood, Until it feel th' impelling blast from Heav'n; So stood th' old man, his mind perplex'd with doubt, To mingle in the throng, or counsel seek Of mighty Agamemnon, Atreus' son. Thus as he mused, the better course appear'd, To seek Atrides; fiercely fought the rest With mutual slaughter; loud their armour rang With thrusts of swords and double-pointed spears. There Nestor met, advancing from the ships, The Heav'n-born Kings, Ulysses, Diomed, And Agamemnon, son of Atreus, all By wounds disabled; for the ships were beach'd Upon the shore, beside the hoary sea, Far from the battle; higher, tow'rd the plain The foremost had been drawn, and with a wall Their sterns surrounded; for the spacious beach Could not contain them, and in narrow bounds Were pent their multitudes; so high on land They drew, and rang'd them side by side, and fill'd, Within the headlands, all the wide-mouth'd bay. Thus they, their steps supporting on their spears, Together came, spectators of the fight; Deep sorrow fill'd their breasts; them Nestor met, The fear increasing, which their souls possess'd. To whom the monarch Agamemnon thus:
"O Nestor, son of Neleus, pride of Greece, Why com'st thou here, and leav'st the battle-field? Greatly I fear that noble Hector now His menace will fulfil, who made his boast Before th' assembled Trojans, that to Troy He never would return, until our ships The flames had master'd, and ourselves the sword. Such was his threat, and now he makes it good. Heav'n! can it be that I of other Greeks, As of Achilles, have incurr'd the wrath, Who thence refuse to battle for the ships?"
To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied: "Such are indeed our prospects; Jove on high Could to our fortunes give no diff'rent turn. The wall is raz'd, wherein our trust we plac'd To guard, impregnable, ourselves and ships; And now around the ships their war they wage, Unceasing, unabated; none might tell By closest scrutiny, which way are driv'n The routed Greeks, so intermix'd they fall Promiscuous; and the cry ascends to Heav'n. But come, discuss we what may best be done, If judgment aught may profit us; ourselves To mingle in the fray I counsel not; It were not well for wounded men to fight."
Whom answer'd Agamemnon, King of men: "Nestor, since to the ships the war is brought, Nor hath the wall avail'd to stay their course, Nor yet the deep-dug trench, on which we Greeks Much toil bestow'd, and which we vainly hop'd Might guard, impregnable, ourselves and ships; Seems it the will of Saturn's mighty son That, far from Argos, from our native land, We all should here in nameless graves be laid. I knew when once he lov'd to aid the Greeks; But now I see that to the blessed Gods Our foes he equals, and our strength confounds. Hear then my counsel; let us all agree The ships that nearest to the sea are beach'd To launch upon the main, till nightfall there To ride at anchor: if that e'en by night The Trojans may suspend their fierce assault; Then may we launch in safety all the fleet. No shame it is to fly, although by night, Impending evil; better so to fly Than by the threaten'd danger be o'erta'en."
To whom, with scornful glance, Ulysses sage: "What words have pass'd the barrier of thy lips, Thou son of Atreus? counsellor of ill! Would thou hadst been of some ignoble band The leader, not the chief of such a host As ours, on whom, from youth to latest age, Jove hath the gift bestow'd, to bear the brunt Of hardy war, till ev'ry man be slain. And think'st thou so to leave the lofty walls Of Troy, the object of our painful toil? Be silent, that no other Greek may hear Words, which no man might trust his tongue to speak, Who nobler counsels understands, and wields A royal sceptre, and th' allegiance claims Of numbers, such as those that own thy sway. Thy counsels all I utterly condemn; Who, 'mid the close and clamour of the fight, Wouldst have us launch our ships, and give the foe, Already too triumphant, cause renew'd For boasting; then were death our certain lot; For, if the ships he launch'd, not long will Greeks Sustain the war, but with reverted eyes Shrink from the fight; to such pernicious end Would lead thy baneful counsels, mighty chief."
Whom answer'd Agamemnon, King of men: "Ulysses, thy rebuke hath wrung my soul; Yet never meant I, that against their will The sons of Greece should launch their well found ships: But if there be who better counsel knows, Or young or old, his words would please me well."
Then rose the valiant Diomed, and said: "The man is near at hand, nor far to seek, If ye will hear, nor take offence, that I, The youngest of you all, presume to speak. Yet of a noble sire I boast me sprung, Tydeus, who sleeps beneath the Theban soil: To Portheus three brave sons were born, who dwelt In Pleuron and in lofty Calydon, Agrius, and Melas; bravest of them all, My father's father, OEneus, was the third. He there remain'd; my father, wand'ring long, To Argos came; such was the will of Jove And of th' Immortals all; he there espous'd Adrastus' daughter; own'd a wealthy house, With fertile corn-lands round, and orchards stor'd With goodly fruit-trees; num'rous flocks he had, And all the Greeks in feats of arms excell'd. Hear ye the words I speak, for they are true: And if my speech be wise, despise it not, As of one worthless, or ignobly born. Though wounded, to the battle I advise That we perforce repair; yet not ourselves To join the combat, or confront the spears, Lest wounds to wounds be added; but to rouse The spirits of some, who, zealous heretofore, How stand aloof, nor mingle in the fray."
He said, and they, his words approving, went, By Agamemnon led, the King of men. Nor careless was the watch by Neptune kept: With them, in likeness of an aged man, He went, and Agamemnon, Atreus' son, By the right hand he took, and thus address'd:
"O son of Atreus, great is now the joy With which Achilles' savage breast is fill'd, Who sees the slaughter and the rout of Greeks: For nought he has of heart, no, not a whit: But perish he, accursed of the Gods! Nor deem thou that to thee the blessed Gods Are wholly hostile; yet again the chiefs And councillors of Troy shall scour in flight The dusty plain; and from the ships and tents Thine eyes shall see them to the city fly."
He said; and loudly shouting, onward rush'd. As of nine thousand or ten thousand men, In deadly combat meeting, is the shout; Such was the sound which from his ample chest Th' Earth-shaker sent; and ev'ry Greek inspir'd With stern resolve to wage unflinching war.
Standing on high Olympus' topmost peak, The golden-throned Juno downward look'd, And, busied in the glory-giving strife, Her husband's brother and her own she saw, Saw, and rejoic'd; next, seated on the crest Of spring-abounding Ida, Jove she saw, Sight hateful in her eyes! then ponder'd deep The stag-ey'd Queen, how best she might beguile The wakeful mind of aegis-bearing Jove; And, musing, this appear'd the readiest mode: Herself with art adorning, to repair To Ida; there, with fondest blandishment And female charm, her husband to enfold In love's embrace; and gentle, careless sleep Around his eyelids and his senses pour. Her chamber straight she sought, by Vulcan built, Her son; by whom were to the door-posts hung Close-fitting doors, with secret keys secur'd, That, save herself, no God might enter in. There enter'd she, and clos'd the shining doors; And with ambrosia first her lovely skin She purified, with fragrant oil anointing, Ambrosial, breathing forth such odours sweet, That, wav'd above the brazen floor of Jove, All earth and Heav'n were with the fragrance fill'd; O'er her fair skin this precious oil she spread; Comb'd out her flowing locks, and with her hand Wreath'd the thick masses of the glossy hair, Immortal, bright, that crown'd th' imperial head. A robe ambrosial then, by Pallas wrought, She donn'd, in many a curious pattern trac'd, With golden brooch beneath her breast confin'd. Her zone, from which a hundred tassels hung, She girt about her; and, in three bright drops, Her glitt'ring gems suspended from her ears; And all around her grace and beauty shone. Then o'er her head th' imperial Goddess threw A beauteous veil, new-wrought, as sunlight white; And on her well-turn'd feet her sandals bound. Her dress completed, from her chamber forth She issued, and from th' other Gods apart She call'd to Venus, and address'd her thus: "Say, wilt thou grant, dear child, the boon I ask? Or wilt thou say me nay, in wrath that I Espouse the Greek, as thou the Trojan cause?"
To whom the laughter-loving Venus thus: "Daughter of Saturn, Juno, mighty Queen, Tell me thy wish; to grant it if my pow'r May aught avail, thy pleasure shall be done."
To whom great Juno thus, with artful speech: "Give me the loveliness, and pow'r to charm, Whereby thou reign'st o'er Gods and men supreme. For to the bounteous Earth's extremest bounds I go, to visit old Oceanus, The sire of Gods, and Tethys, who of yore From Rhaea took me, when all-seeing Jove Hurl'd Saturn down below the earth and seas, And nurs'd me in their home with tend'rest care; I go to visit them, and reconcile A lengthen'd feud; for since some cause of wrath Has come between them, they from rites of love And from the marriage-bed have long abstain'd: Could I unite them by persuasive words, And to their former intercourse restore, Their love and rev'rence were for ever mine."
Whom answer'd thus the laughter-loving Queen: "I ought not, and I cannot, say thee nay, Who liest encircled by the arms of Jove."
Thus Venus spoke; and from her bosom loos'd Her broider'd cestus, wrought with ev'ry charm To win the heart; there Love, there young Desire, There fond Discourse, and there Persuasion dwelt, Which oft enthralls the mind of wisest men. This in her hand she plac'd, as thus she spoke: "Take thou from me, and in thy bosom hide, This broider'd cestus; and, whate'er thy wish, Thou shalt not here ungratified return."
Thus Venus; smil'd the stag-ey'd Queen of Heav'n, And, smiling, in her bosom hid the gift. Then Venus to her father's house return'd; But Juno down from high Olympus sped; O'er sweet Emathia, and Pieria's range, O'er snowy mountains of horse-breeding Thrace, Their topmost heights, she soar'd, nor touch'd the earth. From Athos then she cross'd the swelling sea, Until to Lemnos, godlike Thoas' seat, She came; there met she Sleep, twin-born with Death, Whom, as his hand she clasp'd, she thus address'd:
"Sleep, universal King of Gods and men, If ever thou hast listen'd to my voice, Grant me the boon which now I ask, and win My ceaseless favour in all time to come. When Jove thou seest in my embraces lock'd, Do thou his piercing eyes in slumber seal. Rich guerdon shall be thine; a gorgeous throne, Immortal, golden; which my skilful son, Vulcan, shall deftly frame; beneath, a stool Whereon at feasts thy feet may softly rest."
Whom answer'd thus the gentle God of Sleep: "Daughter of Saturn, Juno, mighty Queen, On any other of th' immortal Gods I can with ease exert my slumb'rous pow'r; Even to the stream of old Oceanus, Prime origin of all; but Saturn's son, Imperial Jove, I dare not so approach, Nor sink in sleep, save by his own desire. Already once, obeying thy command, A fearful warning I receiv'd, that day When from the capture and the sack of Troy That mighty warrior, son of Jove, set sail; For, circumfus'd around, with sweet constraint I bound the sense of aegis-bearing Jove, While thou, with ill-design, rousing the force Of winds tempestuous o'er the stormy sea, Didst cast him forth on Coos' thriving isle, Far from his friends; then Jove, awaking, pour'd His wrath, promiscuous, on th' assembled Gods; Me chief his anger sought; and from on high Had hurl'd me, plung'd beneath th' unfathom'd sea, But Night, the vanquisher of Gods and men, Her fugitive received me; he his wrath Repress'd, unwilling to invade the claims Of holy Night; and now thou fain wouldst urge That I another reckless deed essay."
Whom answer'd thus the stag-ey'd Queen of Heav'n: "Why, Sleep, with thoughts like these perplex thy mind Think'st thou that Jove as ardently desires To aid the men of Troy, as fiercely burn'd His anger on his valiant son's behalf? Grant my request; and of the Graces one, The youngest and the fairest, have to wife, Pasithea, whom thy love hath long pursued."
Thus promis'd Juno; Sleep, rejoicing, heard, And answer'd thus: "Swear then the awful oath. Inviolable, by the stream of Styx, Thy one hand laid upon the fruitful earth, The other resting on the sparkling sea; That all the Gods who in the nether realms With Saturn dwell, may of our solemn bond Be witnesses, that of the Graces one, The youngest, fairest, I shall have to wife, Pasithea, whom my love hath long pursued."
He said: nor did the white-arm'd Queen refuse; She took the oath requir'd; and call'd by name On all the Titans, sub-Tartarean Gods: Then, sworn and ratified the oath, they pass'd From Lemnos, and from Imbros, veil'd in cloud, Skimming their airy way; on Lectum first, In spring-abounding Ida, nurse of beasts, The sea they left, and journey'd o'er the land, While wav'd beneath their feet the lofty woods. There Sleep, ere yet he met the eye of Jove, Remain'd; and, mounted on a lofty pine, The tallest growth of Ida, that on high Flung through the desert air its boughs to Heav'n, Amid the pine's close branches lay ensconc'd; Like to a mountain bird of shrillest note, Whom Gods the Chalcis, men the night-hawk call. Juno meanwhile to Ida's summit sped, To Gargarus; the Cloud-compeller saw; He saw, and sudden passion fir'd his soul, As when, their parents' eyes eluding, first They tasted of the secret joys of love. He rose to meet her, and address'd her thus:
"From high Olympus, Juno, whither bound, And how, to Ida hast thou come in haste? For horses here or chariot hast thou none."
To whom thus Juno with deceitful speech Replied: "To fertile earth's extremest bounds I go, to visit old Oceanus, The sire of Gods, and Tethys, who of yore Receiv'd, and nurtur'd me with tend'rest care. I go to visit them, and reconcile A lengthen'd feud; for since some cause of wrath Has come between them, they from rites of love And from the marriage-bed have long abstain'd. Meanwhile at spring-abounding Ida's foot My horses wait me, that o'er land and sea Alike my chariot bear; on thine account From high Olympus hither have I come, Lest it displease thee, if, to thee unknown, I sought the Ocean's deeply-flowing stream." To whom the Cloud-compeller thus replied: "Juno, thy visit yet awhile defer; And let us now in love's delights indulge: For never yet did such a flood of love For Goddess or for mortal fill my soul; Not for Ixion's beauteous wife, who bore Pirithous, sage in council as the Gods; Nor the neat-footed maiden Danae, Acrisius' daughter, her who Perseus bore, Th' observ'd of all; nor noble Phoenix' child, Who bore me Minos, and the godlike might Of Rhadamanthus; nor for Semele, Nor for Alcmena fair, of whom was born In Thebes the mighty warrior Hercules, As Bacchus, joy of men, of Semele: No, nor for Ceres, golden-tressed Queen, Nor for Latona bright, nor for thyself, As now with fond desire for thee I burn."
To whom thus Juno with deceitful speech: "What words, dread son of Saturn, dost thou speak? If here on Ida, in the face of day, We celebrate the mystic rites of love. How if some other of th' immortal Gods Should find us sleeping, and 'mid all the Gods Should spread the tale abroad? I could not then Straight to thy house, for very shame, return. But if indeed such passion fill thy soul, Thou hast thy secret chamber, built for thee By Vulcan, with close-fitting doors secur'd; Thither, if such thy pleasure, go we now."
To whom the Cloud-compeller thus replied: "Juno, nor fear the eye of God or man; For all around us I will throw such veil Of golden cloud, that not the sun himself With sharpest beam of light may pierce it through."
Thus saying, in his arms he clasp'd his wife; The teeming earth beneath them caus'd to spring The tender grass, and lotus dew-besprent, Crocus and hyacinth, a fragrant couch, Profuse and soft, upspringing from the earth. There lay they, all around them spread a veil Of golden cloud, whence heav'nly dews distill'd. There on the topmost height of Gargarus, By sleep and love subdued, th' immortal Sire, Clasp'd in his arms his wife, repos'd in peace.
Then Sleep arose, and to the Grecian ships In haste repairing, to th' Earth-shaking King His tidings bore; and standing at his side Thus to the God his winged words address'd:
"Now, Neptune, to the Greeks thy ready aid Afford, that short-liv'd triumph they may gain, While slumber holds the eyes of Jove; for I In sweet unconsciousness have drown'd his sense, Beguil'd by Juno, in whose arms he lies."
He said, and vanish'd 'mid the tribes of men: But fir'd with keener zeal to aid the Greeks, Neptune sprang forth in front, and call'd aloud:
"Again, ye Greeks, shall our remissness yield The victory to Hector, Priam's son, To seize our ships, and endless glory gain? Such is his boast and menace, since in wrath Achilles still beside his ships remains. Yet him we scarce should miss, if we, the rest, But firmly stood for mutual defence. Hear then my counsel: let us all agree, Girt with our best and broadest shields, our heads With flashing helmets guarded, in our hands Grasping our longest spears, to dare the fight. Myself will lead you on; and Priam's son, Though bold he be, will fear with me to cope. And if, among our bravest, any bear Too small a buckler, with some meaner man Let him exchange, and don the larger shield."
He said, and they assenting heard his speech. The Kings themselves, Ulysses, Diomed, And mighty Agamemnon, Atreus' son, Though sorely wounded, yet the troops array'd; Thro'out the ranks they pass'd, and chang'd the arms; The bravest donn'd the best, the worse the worst. When with their dazzling armour all were girt, Forward they mov'd; th' Earth-shaker led them on: In his broad hand an awful sword he bore, Long-bladed, vivid as the lightning's flash: Yet in the deadly strife he might not join, But kindled terror in the minds of men.
Hector meantime the Trojan troops array'd. Then fiercer grew, and more intense the strain Of furious fight, when Ocean's dark-hair'd King And Priam's noble son were met in arms, And aided, this the Trojans, that the Greeks. High tow'rd the tents uprose the surging sea, As with loud clamour met th' opposing hosts. Less loud the roar of Ocean's wave, that driv'n By stormy Boreas, breaks upon the beach; Less loud the crackling of the flames that rage In the deep forest of some mountain glen; Less loud the wind, to wildest fury rous'd, Howls in the branches of the lofty oaks; Than rose the cry of Trojans and of Greeks, As each, with furious shout, encounter'd each. At Ajax first, who straight before him stood, Great Hector threw his spear, nor miss'd his aim, Where the two belts, the one which bore his shield, His silver-studded sword the other, met Across his breast; these two his life preserv'd. Hector was wroth, that from his stalwart hand The spear had flown in vain; and back he sprang For safety to his comrades' shelt'ring ranks: But mighty Ajax Telamon upheav'd A pond'rous stone, of many, all around That scatter'd lay beneath the warriors' feet, And serv'd to prop the ships; with one of these, As Hector backward stepp'd, above the shield He smote him on the breast, below the throat. With whirling motion, circling as it flew, The mass he hurl'd. As by the bolt of Heav'n Uprooted, prostrate lies some forest oak; The sulph'rous vapour taints the air; appall'd, Bereft of strength, the near beholder stands, And awestruck hears the thunder-peal of Jove; So in the dust the might of Hector lay: Dropp'd from his hand the spear; the shield and helm Fell with him; loud his polished armour rang. On rush'd, with joyous shout, the sons of Greece, In hope to seize the spoil; thick flew the spears: Yet none might reach or wound the fallen chief; For gather'd close around, the bravest all, Valiant AEneas, and Polydamas, Godlike Agenor, and the Lycian chief Sarpedon, and the noble Glaucus stood. Nor did the rest not aid; their shields' broad orbs Before him still they held, while in their arms His comrades bore him from the battle-field, To where, with charioteer and well-wrought car, Beyond the fight, his flying coursers stood, Which bore him, deeply groaning, tow'rd the town. But when the ford was reach'd of Xanthus' stream, Broad-flowing, eddying, by immortal Jove Begotten, on the ground they laid him down, And dash'd the cooling water on his brow: Reviv'd, he lifted up awhile his eyes; Then on his knees half rising, he disgorg'd The clotted blood; but backward to the earth, Still by the blow subdu'd, again he fell, And darkling shades of night his eyes o'erspread.
Onward, with zeal redoubled, press'd the Greeks, When Hector from the field they saw withdrawn. Foremost of all, Oileus' active son, With sudden spring assailing, Satnius slew: Him a fair Naiad nymph to OEnops bore, Who by the banks of Satnois kept his herds. Him then, approaching near, Oileus' son Thrust through the flank: he fell, and o'er his corpse Trojans and Greeks in stubborn fight engag'd. But Panthous' son a swift avenger came, Polydamas, with brandish'd spear, and struck Through the right shoulder Prothoenor, son Of Areilycus; right through was driv'n The sturdy spear; he, rolling in the dust, Clutch'd with his palms the ground; then, shouting loud, Thus with triumphant boast Polydamas:
"From the strong hand of Panthous' noble son Methinks that not in vain the spear has flown: A Greek now bears it off; and he, perchance, May use it as a staff to Pluto's realm."
Thus he; the Greeks with pain his vaunting heard; But chief it rous'd the spirit within the breast Of Ajax Telamon, whom close beside The dead had fall'n; he at Polydamas, Retreating, hurl'd in haste his glitt'ring spear; He, springing sideways, 'scap'd the stroke of fate; But young Archilochus, Antenor's son, Receiv'd the spear, for Heav'n had will'd his death: The spine it struck, the topmost joint, where met The head and neck, and both the tendons broke; Forward he fell; and ere or knee or leg, His head, and mouth, and nostrils struck the ground.
Then Ajax, in his turn, exulting, thus: "Say now, Polydamas, and tell me true, May this be deem'd for Prothoenor's death A full equivalent? no common man He seems, and born of no ignoble race; Valiant Antenor's brother, or perchance His son; the likeness speaks him near akin."
Thus he, though well he knew; then bitter grief Possess'd the Trojans' souls; but Acamas, Guarding his brother's body, with his spear Slew the Boeotian Promachus, who fain Would by the feet have drawn away the dead: Then Acamas, exulting, cried aloud:
"Ye wretched Greeks, in boasting measureless! Not ours alone the labour and the loss Of battle; ye too have your share of death. Behold where lies your Promachus, subdued Beneath my spear; not long unpaid the debt Due for my brother's blood! 'Tis well for him Who leaves a brother to avenge his fate."
Thus he; the Greeks with pain his vaunting heard; But chief it rous'd the spirit within the breast Of Peneleus; on Acamas he sprang, Who waited not th' encounter; next he slew Ilioneus, the son of Phorbas, Lord Of num'rous flocks, of all the Trojans most Belov'd of Hermes, who his wealth increas'd. To him Ilioneus, an only son, His mother bore; who now, beneath the brow And through the socket of the eye was struck, Thrusting the eyeball out; for through the eye, And backward through the head, the spear was driv'n: With hands extended, down to earth he sank; But Peneleus his weighty sword let fall Full on his neck; the sever'd head and helm Together fell, remaining still infix'd The sturdy spear; then he, the gory head Uplifting, to the Trojans vaunting cried:
"Go now, ye Trojans! bid that in the house Of brave Ilioneus his parents raise The voice of wailing for their gallant son; As neither shall the wife of Promachus, The son of Alegenor, with glad smile Her husband's coming hail, when home from Troy We sons of Greece, with vict'ry crown'd, return."
Thus as he spoke, pale fear possess'd them all, Each looking round to seek escape from death.
Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell, Who, when th' Earth-shaker turn'd the tide of war, First bore away his foeman's bloody spoils?
Great Ajax Telamon first Hyrtius smote, The son of Gyrtius, who to battle led The warlike Mysians; next Antilochus From Mermerus and Phalces stripp'd their arms; Meriones Hippotion gave to death, And Morys; Teucer Periphetes slew, And Prothoon; Menelaus, through the flank Smote Hyperenor; as the grinding spear Drain'd all his vitals, through the gaping wound His spirit escap'd, and darkness clos'd his eyes. But chiefest slaughter of the Trojans wrought Oileus' active son; of all the Greeks No foot so swift as his, when Jove had fill'd Their souls with fear, to chase the flying foe.
THE FIFTH BATTLE, AT THE SHIPS; AND THE ACTS OF AJAX.
Jupiter, awaking, sees the Trojans repulsed from the trenches, Hector in a swoon, and Neptune at the head of the Greeks; he is highly incensed at the artifice of Juno, who appeases him by her submissions; she is then sent to Iris and Apollo. Juno, repairing to the assembly of the gods, attempts with extraordinary address to incense them against Jupiter; in particular she touches Mars with a violent resentment; he is ready to take arms, but is prevented by Minerva. Iris and Apollo obey the orders of Jupiter; Iris commands Neptune to leave the battle, to which, after much reluctance and passion, he consents. Apollo reinspires Hector with vigour, brings him back to the battle, marches before him with his aegis, and turns the fortune of the fight. He breaks down the first part of the Grecian wall; the Trojans rush in, and attempt to fire the first line of the fleet, but are yet repelled by the greater Ajax with a prodigious slaughter.
Now when the Trojans had recross'd the trench And palisades, and in their headlong flight Many had fall'n by Grecian swords, the rest, Routed, and pale with fear, made head awhile Beside their cars; then Jove on Ida's height At golden-throned Juno's side awoke; Rising, he saw the Trojans and the Greeks, Those in confusion, while behind them press'd The Greeks, triumphant, Neptune in their midst: He saw too Hector stretch'd upon the plain, His comrades standing round; senseless he lay, Drawing short breath, blood gushing from his mouth; For by no feeble hand the blow was dealt.
Pitying, the Sire of Gods and men beheld, And thus, with sternest glance, to Juno spoke: "This, Juno, is thy work! thy wicked wiles Have Hector quell'd, and Trojans driv'n to flight: Nor know I but thyself mayst reap the fruit, By shameful scourging, of thy vile deceit. Hast thou forgotten how in former times I hung thee from on high, and to thy feet Attach'd two pond'rous anvils, and thy hands With golden fetters bound, which none might break? There didst thou hang amid the clouds of Heav'n; Through all Olympus' breadth the Gods were wroth; Yet dar'd not one approach to set thee free. If any so had ventur'd, him had I Hurl'd from Heav'n's threshold till to earth he fell, With little left of life. Yet was not quench'd My wrath on godlike Hercules' account, Whom thou, with Boreas, o'er the wat'ry waste With fell intent didst send; and tempest-toss'd, Cast him ashore on Coos' fruitful isle. I rescued him from thence, and brought him back, After long toil, to Argos' grassy plains. This to thy mind I bring, that thou mayst learn To cease thy treach'rous wiles, nor hope to gain By all thy lavish'd blandishments of love, Wherewith thou hast deceived me, and betray'd."
He said; and terror seiz'd the stag-ey'd Queen; Who thus with winged words address'd her Lord:
"By Earth I swear, and yon broad Heav'n above, And Stygian stream beneath, the weightiest oath Of solemn pow'r to bind the blessed Gods; By thine own sacred head, our nuptial bed, Whose holy tie I never could forswear; That not by my suggestion and advice Earth-shaking Neptune on the Trojan host, And Hector, pours his wrath, and aids the Greeks; In this he but obeys his own desire, Who looks with pity on the Grecian host Beside their ships o'erborne; and could my words Prevail, my counsel were to shape his course, O cloud-girt King, obedient to thy will."
She said; the Sire of Gods and men, well pleas'd, Her answer heard, and thus with gracious smile:
"If, stag-ey'd Queen, in synod of the Gods Thy counsels shall indeed with mine agree, Neptune, how strong soe'er his wish, must change His course, obedient to thy will and mine; And if in all sincerity thou speak, Go to th' assembled Gods, and hither send Iris, and Phoebus of the silver bow; That she may to the Grecian camp repair, And bid that Neptune from the battle-field Withdraw, and to his own domain retire; While Phoebus Hector to the fight restores, Inspiring new-born vigour, and allaying The mortal pains which bow his spirit down: Then, heartless fear infusing in the Greeks, Put them to flight, that flying they may fall Beside Achilles' ships; his comrade then, Patroclus, he shall send to battle forth To be by Hector slain, in front of Troy; Yet not to fall till many valiant youths Have felt his prowess; and, amid the rest, My son, Sarpedon; by his comrade's death Enrag'd, Achilles Hector shall subdue; Thenceforth my counsel is, that from the ships The Trojan force shall still be backward driv'n, Until at length, by Pallas' deep designs, The Greeks possess the lofty walls of Troy. Yet will not I my anger intermit, Nor suffer other of th' immortal Gods To aid the Greeks, till Peleus' son behold His wish accomplish'd, and the boon obtain'd I promis'd once, and with a nod confirm'd, That day when sea-born Thetis clasp'd my knees, And pray'd me to avenge her warrior son."
Thus he; the white-arm'd Queen of Heav'n submiss His mandate heard; and from th' Idaean mount With rapid flight to high Olympus sped. Swift as the mind of man, who many a land Hath travell'd o'er, and with reflective thought Recalls, "here was I such a day, or here," And in a moment many a scene surveys; So Juno sped o'er intervening space; Olympus' heights she reach'd, and in the house Of Jove appear'd amid th' assembled Gods. They at her coming rose, with golden cups Greeting their Queen's approach; the rest she pass'd, And from the hand of fair-fac'd Themis took The proffer'd cup, who first had run to meet, And thus with winged words address'd the Queen: "Juno, why com'st thou hither? and with looks Of one distraught with, fear? hath Saturn's son, Thy mighty Lord, thus sore affrighted thee?" To whom the white-arm'd Goddess, Juno, thus:
"Forbear thy questions, Themis; well thou know'st How haughty and imperious is his mind; Thou for the Gods in haste prepare the feast; Then shalt thou learn, amid th' Immortals all, What evil he designs; nor all, I ween, His counsels will approve, or men, or Gods, Though now in blissful ignorance they feast."
She said, and sat; the Gods, oppress'd with care, Her farther speech awaited; on her lips There dwelt indeed a smile, but not a ray Pass'd o'er her dark'ning brow, as thus her wrath Amid th' assembled Gods found vent in words:
"Fools are we all, who madly strive with Jove, Or hope, by access to his throne, to sway, By word or deed, his course; from all apart, He all our counsels heeds not, but derides; And boasts o'er all th' immortal Gods to reign In unapproach'd pre-eminence of pow'r. Prepare then each his sev'ral woe to bear; On Mars e'en now, methinks, the blow hath fall'n; Since in the fight, the man he loves the best, And boasts his son, Ascalaphus, is slain." She said; and Mars, enrag'd, his brawny thigh Smote with his hands, and thus, lamenting, spoke:
"Blame not, ye Gods, who on Olympus dwell, That to the Grecian ships I haste, to avenge My slaughter'd son, though blasted by Heav'n's fire 'Twere mine 'mid corpses, blood, and dust to lie."
He said, and gave command to Fear and Flight To yoke his ear; and donn'd his glitt'ring arms. Then from the throne of Jove had heavier wrath And deeper vengeance on th' Immortals fall'n, But Pallas, in alarm for all the Gods, Quitting in haste the throne whereon she sat, Sprang past the vestibule, and from his head The helmet lifted, from his arm the shield; Took from his sturdy hand, and rear'd upright, The brazen spear; then with reproachful words She thus assail'd th' impetuous God of War;
"Frantic, and passion-maddened, thou art lost! Hast thou no ears to hear! or are thy mind And sense of rev'rence utterly destroyed? Or heard'st thou not what white-arm'd Juno spoke, Fresh from the presence of Olympian Jove? Wouldst thou, thine evil destiny fulfill'd, By hard constraint, despite thy grief, be driv'n Back to Olympus; and to all the rest Confusion and disaster with thee bring? At once from valiant Trojans and from Greeks His thoughts would be diverted, and his wrath Embroil Olympus, and on all alike, Guilty or not, his anger would be pour'd. Waive then thy vengeance for thy gallant son; Others as brave of heart, as strong of arm, Have fall'n, and yet must fall; and vain th' attempt To watch at once o'er all the race of men."
Thus saying, to his seat again she forc'd Th' impetuous Mars: meanwhile, without the house, Juno, by Jove's command, Apollo call'd, And Iris, messenger from God to God; And thus to both her winged words address'd:
"Jove bids you with all speed to Ida haste; And when, arriv'd, before his face ye stand, Whate'er he orders, that observe and do."
Thus Juno spoke, and to her throne return'd; While they to spring-abounding Ida's heights, Wild nurse of forest beasts, pursued their way; Th' all-seeing son of Saturn there they found Upon the topmost crag of Gargarus, An incense-breathing cloud around him spread. Before the face of cloud-compelling Jove They stood; well-pleas'd he witness'd their approach In swift obedience to his consort's words, And thus to Iris first his speech address'd:
"Haste thee, swift Iris, and to Ocean's King My message bear, nor misreporting aught, Nor aught omitting; from the battle-field Bid him retire, and join th' assembled Gods, Or to his own domain of sea withdraw. If my commands he heed not, nor obey, Let him consider in his inmost soul If, mighty though he be, he dare await My hostile coming; mightier far than him, His elder born; nor may his spirit aspire To rival me, whom all regard with awe."
He said; swift-footed Iris, at the word, From Ida's heights to sacred Ilium sped. Swift as the snow-flakes from the clouds descend, Or wintry hail before the driving blast Of Boreas, ether-born; so swift to Earth Descended Iris; by his side she stood, And with these words th' Earth-shaking God address'd: "A message, dark-hair'd Circler of the Earth, To thee I bring from AEgis-bearing Jove. He bids thee straightway from the battle-field Retire, and either join th' assembled Gods, Or to thine own domain of sea withdraw. If his commands thou heed not, nor obey, Hither he menaces himself to come, And fight against thee; but he warns thee first, Beware his arm, as mightier far than thee, Thine elder born; nor may thy spirit aspire To rival him, whom all regard with awe."
To whom in tow'ring wrath th' Earth-shaking God: "By Heav'n, though great he be, he yet presumes Somewhat too far, if me, his equal born, He seeks by force to baffle of my will. We were three brethren, all of Rhaea born To Saturn; Jove and I, and Pluto third, Who o'er the nether regions holds his sway. Threefold was our partition; each obtain'd His meed of honour due; the hoary Sea By lot my habitation was assign'd; The realms of Darkness fell to Pluto's share; Broad Heav'n, amid the sky and clouds, to Jove; But Earth, and high Olympus, are to all A common heritage; nor will I walk To please the will of Jove; though great he be, With his own third contented let him rest: Nor let him think that I, as wholly vile, Shall quail before his arm; his lofty words Were better to his daughters and his sons Address'd, his own begotten; who perforce Must listen to his mandates, and obey."
To whom swift-footed Iris thus replied: "Is this, then, dark-hair'd Circler of the Earth, The message, stern and haughty, which to Jove Thou bidd'st me bear? perchance thine angry mood May bend to better counsels; noblest minds Are easiest bent; and o'er superior age Thou know'st th' avenging Furies ever watch."
To whom Earth-shaking Neptune thus replied: "Immortal Iris, weighty are thy words, And in good season spoken; and 'tis well When envoys are by sound discretion led. Yet are my heart and mind with grief oppress'd, When me, his equal both by birth and fate, He seeks with haughty words to overbear. I yield, but with indignant sense of wrong. This too I say, nor shall my threat be vain: Let him remember, if in my despite, 'Gainst Pallas', Juno's, Hermes', Vulcan's will, He spare to overthrow proud Ilium's tow'rs, And crown with victory the Grecian arms, The feud between us never can be heal'd."
Th' Earth-shaker said, and from the field withdrew Beneath the ocean wave, the warrior Greeks His loss deploring; to Apollo then The Cloud-compeller thus his speech address'd:
"Go straight to Hector of the brazen helm, Good Phoebus; for beneath the ocean wave Th' Earth-shaker hath withdrawn, escaping thus My high displeasure; had he dar'd resist, The tumult of our strife had reach'd the Gods Who in the nether realms with Saturn dwell. Yet thus 'tis better, both for me and him, That, though indignant, to my will he yields; For to compel him were no easy task. Take thou, and wave on high thy tassell'd shield, The Grecian warriors daunting: thou thyself, Far-darting King, thy special care bestow On noble Hector; so restore his strength And vigour, that in panic to their ships, And the broad Hellespont, the Greeks be driv'n. Then will I so by word and deed contrive That they may gain fresh respite from their toil."
He said, nor did Apollo not obey His Sire's commands; from Ida's heights he flew, Like to a falcon, swooping on a dove, Swiftest of birds; then Priam's son he found, The godlike Hector, stretch'd at length no more, But sitting, now to consciousness restor'd, With recognition looking on his friends; The cold sweat dried, nor gasping now for breath, Since by the will of AEgis-bearing Jove To life new waken'd; close beside him stood The Far-destroyer, and address'd him thus: "Hector, thou son of Priam, why apart From all thy comrades art thou sitting here, Feeble and faint? What trouble weighs thee down?"
To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm With falt'ring voice: "Who art thou, Prince of Gods, Who thus enquirest of me? know'st thou not How a huge stone, by mighty Ajax hurl'd, As on his comrades by the Grecian ships I dealt destruction, struck me on the breast, Dash'd to the earth, and all my vigour quell'd? I deem'd in sooth this day my soul, expir'd, Should see the dead, and Pluto's shadowy realm."
To whom again the far-destroying King: "Be of good cheer; from Saturn's son I come From Ida's height to be thy guide and guard; Phoebus Apollo, of the golden sword, I, who of old have thy protector been, Thee and thy city guarding. Rise then straight; Summon thy num'rous horsemen; bid them drive Their flying cars to assail the Grecian ships: I go before: and will thy horses' way Make plain and smooth, and daunt the warrior Greeks."
His words fresh vigour in the chief infus'd. As some proud steed, at well-fill'd manger fed, His halter broken, neighing, scours the plain, And revels in the widely-flowing stream To bathe his sides; then tossing high his head, While o'er his shoulders streams his ample mane, Light-borne on active limbs, in conscious pride, To the wide pastures of the mares he flies; So vig'rous, Hector plied his active limbs, His horsemen summoning at Heav'n's command.
As when a rustic crowd of men and dogs Have chas'd an antler'd stag, or mountain goat, That 'mid the crags and thick o'ershadowing wood Hath refuge found, and baffled their pursuit: If, by the tumult rous'd, a lion stand, With bristling mane, before them, back they turn, Check'd in their mid career; ev'n so the Greeks, Who late in eager throngs were pressing on, Thrusting with swords and double-pointed spears, When Hector moving through the ranks they saw, Recoil'd, and to their feet their courage fell. To whom thus Thoas spoke, Andraemon's son, AEtolia's bravest warrior, skill'd to throw The jav'lin, dauntless in the stubborn fight; By few surpass'd in speech, when in debate In full assembly Grecian youths contend. He thus with prudent speech began, and said:
"Great is the marvel which our eyes behold, That Hector see again to life restor'd, Escap'd the death we hop'd him to have met Beneath the hands of Ajax Telamon. Some God hath been his guard, and Hector sav'd, Whose arm hath slack'd the knees of many a Greek: So will he now; for not without the aid Of Jove, the Lord of thunder, doth he stand So boldly forth, so eager for the fight. Hear, then, and all by my advice be rul'd: Back to the ships dismiss the gen'ral crowd; While of our army we, the foremost men, Stand fast, and meeting him with levell'd spears, Hold him in check; and he, though brave, may fear To throw himself amid our serried ranks."
He said: they heard, and all obey'd his words: The mighty Ajax, and Idomeneus The King, and Teucer, and Meriones, And Meges, bold as Mars, with all their best, Their stedfast battle rang'd, to wait th' assault Of Hector and his Trojans; while behind, Th' unwarlike many to the ships retir'd. The Trojan mass came on, by Hector led With haughty stride; before him Phoebus went, His shoulders veil'd in cloud; his arm sustain'd The awful AEgis, dread to look on, hung With shaggy tassels round and dazzling bright; Which Vulcan, skilful workman, gave to Jove, To scatter terror 'mid the souls of men. This on his arm, the Trojan troops he led. Firm stood the mass of Greeks; from either side Shrill clamours rose; and fast from many a string The arrows flew, and many a jav'lin, hurl'd By vig'rous arms; some buried in the flesh Of stalwart youths, and many, ere they reach'd Their living mark, fell midway on the plain, Fix'd in the ground, in vain athirst for blood. While Phoebus motionless his AEgis held, Thick flew the shafts, and fast the people fell On either side; but when he turn'd its flash Full in the faces of the astonish'd Greeks, And shouted loud, their spirits within them quail'd, Their fiery courage borne in mind no more. As when two beasts of prey, at dead of night. With sudden onset scatter wide a herd Of oxen, or a num'rous flock of sheep, Their keepers absent; so unnerv'd by fear The Greeks dispers'd; such panic 'mid their ranks, That vict'ry so might crown the Trojan arms, Apollo sent; and as the masses broke, Each Trojan slew his man; by Hector's hand Fell Stichius and Arcesilas; the one, The leader of Boeotia's brass-clad host, The other, brave Menestheus' trusted friend. AEneas Medon slew, and Iasus; Medon, the great Oileus' bastard son, Brother of Ajax; he in Phylace, Far from his native home, was driv'n to dwell; Since one to Eriopis near akin, His sire Oileus' wife, his hand had slain: And Iasus, th' Athenian chief, was deem'd The son of Sphelus, son of Bucolus. Polydamas amid the foremost ranks Mecistes slew, Polites Echius, Agenor Olonius; while from Paris' hand An arrow, 'mid the crowd of fugitives Shot from behind, beneath the shoulder struck Deiocus, and through his chest was driv'n: These while the Trojans of their arms despoil'd, Through ditch and palisades promiscuous dash'd The flying Greeks, and gain'd, hard-press'd, the wall; While loudly Hector to the Trojans call'd To assail the ships, and leave the bloody spoils: "Whom I elsewhere, and from the ships aloof Shall find, my hand shall doom him on the spot; For him no fun'ral pyre his kin shall light, Or male or female; but before the wall Our city's dogs his mangled flesh shall tear."
He said; and on his horses' shoulder point Let fall the lash, and loudly through the ranks Call'd on the Trojans; they, with answ'ring shout And noise unspeakable, urg'd on with him Their harness'd steeds; Apollo, in the van, Trod down with ease th' embankment of the ditch, And fill'd it in; and o'er it bridg'd a way Level and wide, far as a jav'lin's flight Hurl'd by an arm that proves its utmost strength. O'er this their columns pass'd; Apollo bore His AEgis o'er them, and cast down the wall; Easy, as when a child upon the beach, In wanton play, with hands and feet o'erthrows The mound of sand, which late in play he rais'd; So, Phoebus, thou, the Grecian toil and pains Confounding, sentest panic through their souls. Thus hemm'd beside the ships they made their stand, While each exhorted each, and all, with hands Outstretch'd, to ev'ry God address'd their pray'r: And chief, Gerenian Nestor, prop of Greece, With hands uplifted tow'rd the starry Heav'n:
"O Father Jove! if any e'er to Thee On corn-clad plains of Argos burnt the fat Of bulls and sheep, and offer'd up his pray'r For safe return; and thine assenting nod Confirm'd thy promise; O remember now His pray'r; stave off the pitiless day of doom, Nor let the Greeks to Trojan arms succumb."
Thus Nestor pray'd; loud thunder'd from on high The Lord of counsel, as he heard the pray'r Of Neleus' aged son; with double zeal, The Trojans, as the mind of Jove they knew, Press'd on the Greeks, with warlike ardour fir'd. As o'er the bulwarks of a ship pour down The mighty billows of the wide-path'd sea, Driv'n by the blast, that tosses high the waves, So down the wall, with shouts, the Trojans pour'd; The cars admitted, by the ships they fought With double-pointed spears, and hand to hand; These on their chariots, on the lofty decks Of their dark vessels those, with pond'rous spars Which on the ships were stor'd for naval war, Compact and strong, their heads encas'd in brass.
While yet beyond the ships, about the wall The Greeks and Trojans fought, Patroclus still Within the tent of brave Eurypylus Remaining, with his converse sooth'd the chief, And healing unguents to his wound applied, Of pow'r to charm away the bitter pains; But when the Trojans pouring o'er the wall, And routed Greeks in panic flight he saw, Deeply he groan'd, and smiting on his thigh With either palm, in anguish thus he spoke:
"Eurypylus, how great soe'er thy need, I can no longer stay; so fierce the storm Of battle rages; but th' attendants' care Will all thy wants supply; while I in haste Achilles seek, and urge him to the war; Who knows but Heav'n may grant me to succeed? For great is oft a friend's persuasive pow'r." He said, and quickly on his errand sped.
Meanwhile the Greeks, in firm array, endur'd The onset of the Trojans; nor could these The assailants, though in numbers less, repel; Nor those again the Grecian masses break, And force their passage through the ships and tents, As by a rule, in cunning workman's hand, Who all his art by Pallas' aid has learnt, A vessel's plank is smooth and even laid, So level lay the balance of the fight. Others round other ships maintain'd the war, But Hector that of Ajax sought alone. For that one ship they two unwearied toil'd; Nor Hector Ajax from his post could move, And burn the ship with fire; nor he repel The foe who came protected by a God. Then noble Ajax with his jav'lin smote Caletor, son of Clytius, through the breast, As tow'rd the ship a blazing torch he bore; Thund'ring he fell, and dropp'd his hand the torch. But Hector, when his eyes his kinsman saw By the dark vessel, prostrate in the dust, On Trojans and on Lycians call'd aloud:
"Trojans and Lycians, and ye Dardans, fam'd In close encounter, in this press of war Slack not your efforts; haste to save the son Of Clytius, nor let Greeks his arms possess, Who 'mid their throng of ships has nobly fall'n." At Ajax, as he spoke, his gleaming spear He threw, but miss'd his aim; yet Lycophron, His comrade, of Cythera, Mastor's son (Who flying from Cythera's lovely isle With guilt of bloodshed, near to Ajax dwelt), Standing beside the chief, above the ear He struck, and pierc'd the brain: from the tall prow Backwards he fell, his limbs relax'd in death. Then Ajax, shudd'ring, on his brother call'd:
"Good Teucer, we have lost a faithful friend, The son of Mastor, our Cytheran guest, Whom as a father all rever'd; who now Lies slain by noble Hector. Where are then Thine arrows, swift-wing'd messengers of fate, And where thy trusty bow, Apollo's gift?"
Thus Ajax; Teucer heard, and ran in haste, And stood beside him, with his bended bow, And well-stor'd quiver: on the Trojans fast He pour'd his shafts; and struck Pisenor's son, Clitus, the comrade of Polydamas, The noble son of Panthous; he the reins Held in his hand, and all his care bestow'd To guide his horses; for, where'er the throng Was thickest, there in Hector's cause, and Troy's, He still was found; but o'er him hung the doom Which none might turn aside; for from behind The fateful arrow struck him through the neck; Down from the car he fell; swerving aside, The startled horses whirl'd the empty car. Them first the King Polydamas beheld, And stay'd their course; to Protiaon's son, Astynous, then he gave them, with command To keep good watch, and still be near at hand; Then 'mid the foremost join'd again the fray. Again at Hector of the brazen helm An arrow Teucer aim'd; and had the shaft The life of Hector quench'd in mid career, Not long the fight had rag'd around the ships: But Jove's all-seeing eye beheld, who watch'd O'er Hector's life, and Teucer's hopes deceiv'd. The bow's well-twisted string he snapp'd in twain, As Teucer drew; the brass-tipp'd arrow flew Wide of the mark, and dropp'd his hand the bow. Then to his brother, all aghast, he cried: "O Heav'n, some God our best-laid schemes of war Confounds, who from my hand hath, wrench'd the bow, And snapp'd the newly-twisted string, which I But late attach'd, my swift-wing'd shafts to bear."
Whom answer'd thus great Ajax Telamon: "O friend, leave there thine arrows and thy bow, Marr'd by some God who grudges our renown; But take in hand thy pond'rous spear, and cast Thy shield about thy shoulders, and thyself Stand forth, and urge the rest, to face the foe. Let us not tamely yield, if yield we must, Our well-built ships, but nobly dare the fight."
"Thus Ajax spoke; and Teucer in the tent Bestowed his bow, and o'er his shoulders threw His fourfold shield; and on his firm-set head A helm he plac'd, well-wrought, with horsehair plume, That nodded, fearful, o'er his brow; his hand Grasp'd the firm spear, with sharpen'd point of brass: Then ran, and swiftly stood by Ajax' side. Hector meanwhile, who saw the weapon marr'd, To Trojans and to Lycians call'd aloud:
"Trojans and Lycians, and ye Dardans fam'd In close encounter, quit ye now like men; Against the ships your wonted valour show. E'en now, before our eyes, hath Jove destroy'd A chieftain's weapon. Easy 'tis to trace O'er human wars th' o'erruling hand of Jove, To whom he gives the prize of victory, And whom, withholding aid, he minishes, As now the Greeks, while we his favour gain. Pour then your force united on the ships; And if there be among you, who this day Shall meet his doom, by sword or arrow slain, E'en let him die! a glorious death is his Who for his country falls; and dying, leaves Preserv'd from danger, children, wife, and home, His heritage uninjur'd, when the Greeks Embarking hence shall take their homeward way."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast. Ajax, on th' other side, address'd the Greeks:
"Shame on ye, Greeks! this very hour decides If we must perish, or be sav'd, and ward Destruction from our ships; and can ye hope That each, if Hector of the glancing helm Shall burn our ships, on foot can reach his home? Or hear ye not, how, burning to destroy Our vessels, Hector cheers his forces on? Not to the dance, but to the fight he calls; Nor better counsel can for us be found, Than in close fight with heart and hand to join. 'Twere better far at once to die, than live Hemm'd in and straiten'd thus, in dire distress, Close to our ships, by meaner men beset."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast. Then Hector Schedius, Perimedes' son, The Thracian leader, slew; on th' other side Ajax the captain of the foot o'ercame, Laodamas, Antenor's noble son; While of his arms Polydamas despoil'd Cyllenian Otus, friend of Phyleus' son, The proud Epeians' leader; Meges saw, And rush'd upon him; but Polydamas, Stooping, the blow evaded; him he miss'd; For Phoebus will'd not Panthous' son should fall In the front rank contending; but the spear Smote Croesmus through the breast; thund'ring he fell, And from his corpse the victor stripp'd his arms. Him Dolops, son of Lampus, spearman skill'd, Well train'd in ev'ry point of war, assail'd (The son of Lampus he, the prince of men, Son of Laomedon); from close at hand Forward he sprang, and thrust at Meges' shield; But him the solid corslet which he wore, With breast and back-piece fitted, sav'd from harm:* The corslet Phyleus brought from Ephyra, By Selles' stream; Euphetes, King of men, Bestow'd it as a friendly gift, to wear In battle for a guard from hostile spears; Which from destruction now preserv'd his son. Next Meges struck, with keen-edg'd spear, the crown Of Dolops' brass-bound, horsehair-crested helm, Sev'ring the horsehair plume, which, brilliant late With crimson dye, now lay defil'd in dust. Yet fought he on, and still for vict'ry hop'd; But warlike Menelaus to the aid Of Meges came; of Dolops unobserv'd He stood, and from behind his shoulder pierc'd; The point, its course pursuing, through his breast Was driv'n, and headlong on his face he fell. Forthwith, advanc'd the two to seize the spoils; But loudly Hector on his kinsmen call'd; On all, but chief on Icetaon's son, The valiant Melanippus; he erewhile, In far Percote, ere the foes appear'd, Pastur'd his herds; but when the ships of Greece Approach'd the shore, to Ilium back he came; There, 'mid the Trojans eminent, he dwelt In Priam's house, belov'd as Priam's son. Him Hector call'd by name, and thus address'd:
"Why, Melanippus, stand we idly thus? Doth not thy slaughter'd kinsmen touch thy heart? See how they rush on Dolops' arms to seize; Then on! no distant war must now be wag'd, But hand to hand, till or the Greeks be slain, Or lofty Troy, with all her children, fall."
He said, and led the way; him follow'd straight The godlike chief; great Ajax Telamon Meanwhile the Greeks encourag'd to the fight, And cried, "Brave comrades, quit ye now like men; Bear a stout heart; and in the stubborn fight Let each to other mutual succour give; By mutual succour more are sav'd than fall; In timid flight nor fame nor safety lies."
He said; and pond'ring well his words, they stood, Firm in defence; as with a wall of brass The ships they guarded; though against them Jove Led on the Trojans; Menelaus then With stirring words Antilochus address'd: "Antilochus, than thou, of all the Greeks Is none more active, or more light of foot; None stronger hurls the spear; then from the crowd Spring forth, and aim to reach some Trojan's life."
Thus saying, he withdrew; fir'd by his words, Forth sprang the youth, and pois'd his glitt'ring spear, Glancing around him; back the Trojans drew Before his aim; nor flew the spear in vain; But through the breast it pierc'd, as on he came, Brave Melanippus, Icetaon's son. Thund'ring he fell, and loud his armour rang. Forth sprang Antilochus, as springs a hound Upon a fawn, which from its lair disturb'd A hunter's shaft has struck, and quell'd its pow'rs; So, Melanippus, sprang to seize thy spoils The stout Antilochus; but not unmark'd Of Hector's eye, who, hast'ning through the press, Advanc'd to meet him; waited not th' attack, Bold warrior as he was, Antilochus, But trembling fled: as when a beast of prey, Conscious of evil deed, amid the herd The guardian dog or herdsman's self has slain, And flies, ere yet th' avenging crowd collect; So fled the son of Nestor; onward press'd, By Hector led, the Trojans; loud their shouts, As on the Greeks their murd'rous shafts they pour'd: Yet turn'd he, when his comrades' ranks he reach'd. Then on the ships, as rav'ning lions, fell The Trojans: they but work'd the will of Jove, Who still their courage rais'd, and quell'd the Greeks; Of vict'ry these debarr'd, and those inspir'd; For so he will'd, that Hector, Priam's son, Should wrap in fire the beaked ships of Greece, And Thetis to the uttermost obtain Her over-bold petition; yet did Jove, The Lord of counsel, wait but to behold The flames ascending from the blazing ships: For from that hour the Trojans, backward driv'n, Should to the Greeks the final triumph leave. With such design, to seize the ships, he fir'd Th' already burning zeal of Priam's son; Fiercely he rag'd, as terrible as Mars With brandish'd spear; or as a raging fire 'Mid the dense thickets on the mountain side. The foam was on his lips; bright flash'd his eyes Beneath his awful brows, and terribly Above his temples wav'd amid the fray The helm of Hector; Jove himself from Heav'n. His guardian hand extending, him alone With glory crowning 'mid the host of men; But short his term of glory: for the day Was fast approaching, when, with Pallas' aid, The might of Peleus' son should work his doom. Oft he essay'd to break the ranks, where'er The densest and throng noblest arms he saw; But strenuous though his efforts, all were vain: They, mass'd in close array, his charge withstood; Firm as a craggy rock, upstanding high, Close by the hoary sea, which meets unmov'd The boist'rous currents of the whistling winds, And the big waves that bellow round its base; So stood unmov'd the Greeks, and undismay'd. At length, all blazing in his arms, he sprang Upon the mass; so plunging down, as when On some tall vessel, from beneath the clouds A giant billow, tempest-nurs'd, descends; The deck is drench'd in foam; the stormy wind Howls in the shrouds; th' affrighted seamen quail In fear, but little way from death remov'd; So quail'd the spirit in ev'ry Grecian breast.
As when a rav'ning lion on a herd Of heifers falls, which on some marshy mead Feed numberless, beneath the care of one, Unskill'd from beasts of prey to guard his charge; And while beside the front or rear he walks, The lion on th' unguarded centre springs, Seizes on one, and scatters all the rest; So Hector, led by Jove, in wild alarm Scatter'd the Grecians all; but one alone, Brave Periphetes, of Mycenae, slew; The son of Copreus, whom Eurystheus sent His envoy to the might of Hercules; Far nobler than the father was the son; In speed of foot, in warlike might, in mind, In all, among Mycenians foremost he; Who now on Hector fresh renown conferr'd; For, backward as he stepp'd, against the rim Of the broad shield which for defence he bore, Down reaching to his feet, he tripp'd, and thus Entangled, backward fell; and as he fell, Around his temples clatter'd loud his helm. Hector beheld, and o'er him stood in haste, And with his spear transfix'd his breast, and slew Before his comrades' eyes; yet dar'd not one, Though grieving for their comrade's loss, advance To rescue; such of Hector was their awe. They fronted now the ships; the leading prows Which first were drawn on shore, still barr'd their way; Yet on they stream'd; and from the foremost ships, Now hardly press'd, the Greeks perforce retir'd; But closely mass'd before the tents they stood, Not scatter'd o'er the camp; by shame restrain'd, And fear; and loudly each exhorted each. Gerenian Nestor chief, the prop of Greece, Thus by their fathers singly each adjur'd: "Quit ye like men, dear friends; and think it shame To forfeit now the praise of other men; Let each man now his children and his wife, His fortunes and his parents, bear in mind; And not the living only, but the dead; For them, the absent, I, your suppliant, pray, That firm ye stand, and scorn disgraceful flight."
His words fresh courage rous'd in ev'ry breast; And from their eyeballs Pallas purg'd away The film of darkness; and on ev'ry side, Both tow'rd the ships and tow'rd the level fight, Clear light diffus'd; there Hector they discern'd, And all his comrades, those who stood aloof, And those who near the ships maintain'd the war. Then was not Ajax' mighty soul content To stand where stood the other sons of Greece; Along the vessels' lofty decks he mov'd With haughty stride; a pond'rous boarding-pike, Well polish'd, and with rivets well secur'd, Of two and twenty cubits' length, he bore, As one well-skill'd in feats of horsemanship, Who from a troop of horses on the plain Has parted four, and down the crowded road, While men and women all in wonder gaze, Drives tow'rd the city; and with force untir'd From one to other springs, as on they fly; O'er many a vessel's deck so Ajax pass'd With lofty stride, and voice that reach'd to Heav'n, As loudly shouting on the Greeks he call'd To save their ships and tents: nor Hector stay'd Amid the closely buckler'd Trojan ranks; But, as upon a flock of birds, that feed Beside a river's bank, or geese, or cranes, Or long-neck'd swans, a fiery eagle swoops; So on the dark-prow'd ship with furious rush Swept Hector down; him Jove with mighty hand Sustain'd, and with him forward urg'd the crowd. Fierce round the ships again the battle rag'd; Well might ye deem no previous toil had worn Their strength, who in that dread encounter met; With edge so keen, and stubborn will they fought. But varying far their hopes and fears: the Greeks Of safety and escape from death despair'd; While high the hopes in ev'ry Trojan's breast, To burn the ships, and slay the warlike Greeks; So minded each, oppos'd in arms they stood.
On a swift-sailing vessel's stern, that bore Protesilaus to the coast of Troy, But to his native country bore not thence, Hector had laid his hand; around that ship Trojans and Greeks in mutual slaughter join'd. The arrow's or the jav'lin's distant flight They waited not, but, fir'd with equal rage, Fought hand to hand, with axe and hatchet keen, And mighty swords, and double-pointed spears. Many a fair-hilted blade, with iron bound, Dropp'd from the hands, or from the sever'd arms, Of warrior chiefs; the dark earth ran with blood: Yet loos'd not Hector of the stern his hold, But grasp'd the poop, and on the Trojans call'd;
"Bring fire, and all together loud and clear Your war-cry raise; this day will Jove repay Our labours all, with capture of those ships, Which hither came, against the will of Heav'n, And which on us unnumber'd ills have brought, By our own Elders' fault, who me, desiring Ev'n at their vessels' sterns to urge the war, Withheld, and to the town the troops confin'd. But Jove all-seeing, if he then o'errul'd Our better mind, himself is now our aid."
Thus he: they onward press'd with added zeal; Nor Ajax yet endur'd, by hostile spears Now sorely gall'd; yet but a little space, Back to the helmsman's sev'n-foot board he mov'd, Expecting death; and left the lofty deck, Where long he stood on guard; but still his spear The Trojans kept aloof, whoe'er essay'd Amid the ships to launch th' unwearied flames; And, loudly shouting, to the Greeks he call'd:
"Friends, Grecian heroes, ministers of Mars, Quit ye like men! dear friends, remember now Your wonted valour! think ye in your rear To find supporting forces, or some fort Whose walls may give you refuge from your foe? No city is nigh, whose well-appointed tow'rs, Mann'd by a friendly race, may give us aid; But here, upon the well-arm'd Trojans' soil, And only resting on the sea, we lie Far from our country; not in faint retreat, But in our own good arms, our safety lies."
He said; and with his sharp-edg'd spear his words He follow'd up; if any Trojan dar'd, By Hector's call inspir'd, with fiery brand To assail the ships, him with his ponderous spear Would Ajax meet; and thus before the ships Twelve warriors, hand to hand, his prowess felt.
THE SIXTH BATTLE; THE ACTS AND DEATH OF PATROCLUS.
Patroclus (in pursuance of the request of Nestor in the eleventh book) entreats Achilles to suffer him to go to the assistance of the Greeks with Achilles' troops and armour. He agrees to it, but at the same time charges him to content himself with rescuing the fleet, without farther pursuit of the enemy. The armour, horses, soldiers, and officers of Achilles are described. Achilles offers a libation for the success of his friend, after which Patroclus leads the Myrmidons to battle. The Trojans, at the sight of Patroclus in Achilles' armour, taking him for that hero, are cast into the utmost consternation: he beats them off from the vessels, Hector himself flies, Sarpedon is killed, though Jupiter was averse to his fate. Several other particulars of the battle are described; in the heat of which, Patroclus, neglecting the orders of Achilles, pursues the foe to the walls of Troy; where Apollo repulses and disarms him, Euphorbus wounds him, and Hector kills him: which concludes the book.
Thus round the well-mann'd ship they wag'd the war: Meanwhile by Peleus' son Patroclus stood, Weeping hot tears; as some dark-water'd fount Pours o'er a craggy rock its gloomy stream; Achilles, swift of foot, with pity saw, And to his friend these winged words address'd:
"Why weeps Patroclus, like an infant girl, That prays her mother, by whose side she runs, To take her up; and, clinging to her gown, Impedes her way, and still with tearful eyes Looks in her face, until she take her up? Ev'n as that girl, Patroclus, such art thou, Shedding soft tears: hast thou some tidings brought Touching the gen'ral weal, or me alone? Or have some evil news from Phthia come, Known but to thee? Menoetius, Actor's son, Yet surely lives; and 'mid his Myrmidons Lives aged Peleus, son of AEacus: Their deaths indeed might well demand our tears: Or weep'st thou for the Greeks, who round their ships By death their former insolence repay? Speak out, that I may know thy cause of grief."
To whom, with bitter groans, Patroclus thus: "O son of Peleus, noblest of the Greeks, Achilles, be not wroth! such weight of woe The Grecian camp oppresses; in their ships They who were late their bravest and their best, Sore wounded all by spear or arrow lie; The valiant son of Tydeus, Diomed, Pierc'd by a shaft, Ulysses by a spear, And Agamemnon's self; Eurypylus By a sharp arrow through the thigh transfix'd; For these, the large resources of their art The leeches ply, and on their wounds attend; While thou, Achilles, still remain'st unmov'd. Oh, be it never mine to nurse such hate As thou retain'st, inflexibly severe! Who e'er may hope in future days by thee To profit, if thou now forbear to save The Greeks from shame and loss? Unfeeling man! Sure Peleus, horseman brave, was ne'er thy sire, Nor Thetis bore thee; from the cold grey sea And craggy rocks thou hadst thy birth; so hard And stubborn is thy soul. But if the fear Of evil prophesied thyself restrain, Or message by thy Goddess-mother brought From Jove, yet send me forth with all thy force Of Myrmidons, to be the saving light Of Greece; and let me to the battle bear Thy glitt'ring arms, if so the men of Troy, Scar'd by thy likeness, may forsake the field, And breathing-time afford the sons of Greece, Toil-worn; for little pause has yet been theirs. Fresh and unwearied, we may drive with ease To their own city, from our ships and tents, The Trojans, worn and battle-wearied men."
Thus pray'd he, all unwisely; for the pray'r He utter'd, to himself was fraught with death; To whom, much griev'd, Achilles, swift of foot: "Heav'n-born Patroclus, oh, what words are these! Of prophecy I reck not, though I know; Nor message hath my mother brought from Jove; But it afflicts my soul; when one I see That basely robs his equal of his prize, His lawful prize, by highest valour won; Such grief is mine, such wrong have I sustain'd. Her, whom the sons of Greece on me bestow'd, Prize of my spear, the well-wall'd city storm'd, The mighty Agamemnon, Atreus' son, Hath borne by force away, as from the hands Of some dishonour'd, houseless vagabond. But let the past be past; I never meant My wrath should have no end; yet had not thought My anger to abate, till my own ships Should hear the war-cry, and the battle bear, But go, and in my well-known armour clad, Lead forth the valiant Myrmidons to war, Since the dark cloud of Trojans circles round The ships in force; and on the shingly beach, Pent up in narrow limits, lie the Greeks; And all the city hath pour'd its numbers forth In hope undoubting; for they see no more My helm among them flashing; else in flight Their dead would choke the streams, if but to me Great Agamemnon bore a kindly mind: But round the camp the battle now is wag'd. No more the hands of valiant Diomed, The Greeks protecting, hurl his fiery spear; Nor hear I now, from his detested lips, The shout of Agamemnon; all around Is heard the warrior-slayer Hector's voice, Cheering his Trojans; with triumphant cries They, from the vanquish'd Greeks, hold all the plain. Nathless do thou, Patroclus, in defence Fall boldly on, lest they with blazing fire Our ships destroy, and hinder our retreat. But hear, and ponder well the end of all I have to say, and so for me obtain Honour and glory in the eyes of Greece; And that the beauteous maiden to my arms They may restore, with costly gifts to boot. The ships reliev'd, return forthwith; and though The Thund'rer, Juno's Lord, should crown thine arms With triumph, be not rash, apart from me, In combat with the warlike sons of Troy; (So should my name in less repute be held;) Nor, in the keen excitement of the fight And slaughter of the Trojans, lead thy troops On tow'rd the city, lest thou find thyself By some one of th' immortal Gods oppos'd; For the far-darting Phoebus loves them well; But when in safety thou hast plac'd the ships, Delay not to return, and leave the rest To battle on the plain: for would to Jove, To Pallas and Apollo, that not one, Or Greek or Trojan, might escape from death, Save only thou and I; that so we two Alone might raze the sacred tow'rs of Troy."
Such converse held they; while by hostile spears Hard press'd, no longer Ajax might endure; At once by Jove's high will and Trojan foes O'ermaster'd; loud beneath repeated blows Clatter'd around his brow the glitt'ring helm, As on the well-wrought crest the weapons fell; And his left arm grew faint, that long had borne The burthen of his shield; yet nought avail'd The press of spears to drive him from his post; Lab'ring he drew his breath, his ev'ry limb With sweat was reeking; breathing space was none; Blow follow'd blow; and ills were heap'd on ill.
Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell, How first the fire assail'd the Grecian ships.
Hector approach'd, and on the ashen spear Of Ajax, close behind the head, let fall His mighty sword; right through he clove the wood; And in his hand the son of Telamon The headless shaft held bootless; far away, Loud ringing, fell to earth the brazen point. Ajax, dismayed, perceived the hand of Heaven, And knew that Jove the Thunderer had decreed To thwart his hopes, and victory give to Troy. Slow he retir'd; and to the vessel they The blazing torch applied; high rose the flame Unquenchable, and wrapp'd the poop in fire. The son of Peleus saw, and with his palm Smote on his thigh, and to Patroclus call'd: "Up, nobly born Patroclus, car-borne chief! Up, for I see above the ships ascend The hostile fires; and lest they seize the ships, And hinder our retreat, do thou in haste Thine armour don, while I arouse the troops."
He said: his dazzling arms Patroclus donn'd: First on his legs the well-wrought greaves he fix'd, Fasten'd with silver clasps; his ample chest The breastplate of Achilles, swift of foot, Star-spangled, richly wrought, defended well; Around his shoulders slung, his sword he bore, Brass-bladed, silver-studded; next his shield Weighty and strong; and on his firm-set head A helm he wore, well-wrought, with horsehair plume That nodded, fearful, o'er his brow; his hand Grasp'd two stout spears, familiar to his hold. One spear Achilles had, long, pond'rous, tough; But this he touch'd not; none of all the Greeks, None, save Achilles' self, that spear could poise; The far-fam'd Pelian ash, which to his sire, On Pelion's summit fell'd, to be the bane Of mightiest chiefs, the Centaur Chiron gave. Then to Automedon he gave command To yoke the horses: him he honour'd most, Next to Achilles' self; the trustiest he In battle to await his chief's behest. The flying steeds he harness'd to the car, Xanthus and Balius, fleeter than the winds; Whom, grazing in the marsh by ocean's stream, Podarge, swift of foot, to Zephyr bore: And by their side the matchless Pedasus, Whom from the capture of Eetion's town Achilles bore away; a mortal horse, But with immortal coursers meet to vie.
Meantime Achilles, through their several tents, Summon'd to arms the warlike Myrmidons. They all, like rav'ning wolves, of courage high, That on the mountain side have hunted down An antler'd stag, and batten'd on his flesh: Their chaps all dyed with blood, in troops they go, With their lean tongues from some black-water'd fount To lap the surface of the dark cool wave, Their jaws with blood yet reeking, unsubdued Their courage, and their bellies gorg'd with flesh; So round Pelides' valiant follower throng'd The chiefs and rulers of the Myrmidons. Achilles in the midst to charioteers And buckler'd warriors issued his commands. Fifty swift ships Achilles, dear to Jove, Led to the coast of Troy; and rang'd in each Fifty brave comrades mann'd the rowers' seats. O'er these five chiefs, on whom he most relied, He plac'd, himself the Sov'reign Lord of all. One band Menestheus led, with glancing mail, Son of Sperchius, Heav'n-descended stream; Him Peleus' daughter, Polydora fair, A mortal in a God's embrace compress'd, To stout Sperchius bore; but, by repute, To Boras, Perieres' son, who her In public, and with ample dow'r, espous'd. The brave Eudorus led the second band, Whom Phylas' daughter, Polymele fair, To Hermes bore; the maid he saw, and lov'd, Amid the virgins, mingling in the dance Of golden-shafted Dian, Huntress-Queen; He to her chamber access found, and gain'd By stealth her bed; a valiant son she bore, Eudorus, swift of foot, in battle strong. But when her infant, by Lucina's aid, Was brought to light, and saw the face of day, Her to his home, with ample dow'r enrich'd, Echecles, son of Actor, bore away; While him the aged Phylas kept, and nurs'd With tender care, and cherish'd—as his own. The brave Peisander, son of Maemalus, The third commanded; of the Myrmidons, Next to Pelides' friend, the noblest spear. The fourth, the aged warrior Phoenix led; The fifth, Alcimedon, Laerces' son: These in their order due Achilles first Array'd, and next with stirring words address'd:
"Ye Myrmidons, forget not now the vaunts Which, while my wrath endur'd, ye largely pour'd Upon the Trojans; me ye freely blam'd; 'Ill-omen'd son of Peleus, sure in wrath Thou wast conceiv'd, implacable, who here In idleness enforc'd thy comrades keep'st! 'Twere better far our homeward way to take, If such pernicious rancour fill thy soul!' Thus ye reproach'd me oft! Lo! now ye have The great occasion which your souls desir'd! Then on, and with brave hearts the Trojans meet!"