To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm With stern regard: "Polydamas, thy words Are such as grate unkindly on mine ear, Who fain wouldst have us to the walls retire. What? have ye not already long enough Been coop'd within the tow'rs? the wealth of Troy, Its brass, its gold, were once the common theme Of ev'ry tongue; our hoarded treasures now Are gone, to Phrygian and Maeonian shores For sale exported, costly merchandise, Since on our city fell the wrath of Jove. And now, when deep-designing Saturn's son Such glory gives me as to gain the ships, And, crowded by the sea, hem in the Greeks, Fool! put not thou these timid counsels forth, Which none will follow, nor will I allow. But hear ye all, and do as I advise: Share now the meal, by ranks, throughout the host; Then set your watch, and each keep careful guard; And whom his spoils o'erload, if such there be, Let him divide them with the gen'ral crowd; Better that they should hold them than the Greeks: And with the morn, in arms, beside the ships, Will we again awake the furious war. But if indeed Achilles by the ships Hath reappear'd, himself, if so he choose, Shall be the suff'rer; from the perilous strife I will not shrink, but his encounter meet: So he, or I, shall gain immortal fame; Impartial Mars hath oft the slayer slain."
Thus Hector spoke; the Trojans cheer'd aloud: Fools, and by Pallas of their sense bereft, Who all applauded Hector's ill advice, None the sage counsel of Polydamas! Then through the camp they shar'd the ev'ning meal.
Meantime the Greeks all night with tears and groans Bewail'd Patroclus: on his comrade's breast Achilles laid his murder-dealing hands, And led with bitter groans the loud lament. As when the hunters, in the forest's depth, Have robb'd a bearded lion of his cubs; Too late arriving, he with anger chafes; Then follows, if perchance he may o'ertake, Through many a mountain glen, the hunters' steps, With grief and fury fill'd; so Peleus' son, With bitter groans, the Myrmidons address'd:
"Vain was, alas! the promise which I gave, Seeking the brave Menoetius to console, To bring to Opus back his gallant son, Rich with his share of spoil from Troy o'erthrown; But Jove fulfils not all that man designs: For us hath fate decreed, that here in Troy We two one soil should redden with our blood; Nor me, returning to my native land, Shall aged Peleus in his halls receive, Nor Thetis; here must earth retain my bones. But since, Patroclus, I am doom'd on earth Behind thee to remain, thy fun'ral rites I will not celebrate, till Hector's arms, And head, thy haughty slayer's, here I bring; And on thy pyre twelve noble sons of Troy Will sacrifice, in vengeance of thy death. Thou by our beaked ships till then must lie; And weeping o'er thee shall deep-bosom'd dames, Trojan and Dardan, mourn both night and day; The prizes of our toil, when wealthy towns Before our valour and our spears have fall'n."
He said, and bade his comrades on the fire An ample tripod place, without delay To cleanse Patroclus from the bloody gore: They on the burning fire the tripod plac'd, With water fill'd, and kindled wood beneath. Around the bellying tripod rose the flames, Heating the bath; within the glitt'ring brass Soon as the water boil'd, they wash'd the corpse, With lissom oils anointing, and the wounds With fragrant ointments fill'd, of nine years old; Then in fine linen they the body wrapp'd From head to feet, and laid it on a couch. And cover'd over with a fair white sheet. All night around Achilles swift of foot The Myrmidons with tears Patroclus mourn'd.
To Juno then, his sister and his wife, Thus Saturn's son: "At length thou hast thy will, Imperial Juno, who hast stirr'd to war Achilles swift of foot; well might one deem These long-hair'd Greeks from thee deriv'd their birth."
To whom in answer thus the stag-ey'd Queen: "What words, dread son of Saturn, dost thou speak? E'en man, though mortal, and inferior far To us in wisdom, might so much effect Against his fellow-man; then how should I, By double title chief of Goddesses, First by my birth, and next because thy wife I boast me, thine, o'er all the Gods supreme, Not work my vengeance on the Trojan race?"
Such, converse while they held, to Vulcan's house, Immortal, starlike bright, among the Gods Unrivall'd, all of brass, by Vulcan's self Constructed, sped the silver-footed Queen. Him swelt'ring at his forge she found, intent On forming twenty tripods, which should stand The wall surrounding of his well-built house; With golden wheels beneath he furnish'd each, And to th' assembly of the Gods endued With pow'r to move spontaneous, and return, A marvel to behold! thus far his work He had completed; but not yet had fix'd The rich-wrought handles; these his labour now Engag'd, to fit them, and to rivet fast. While thus he exercis'd his practis'd skill, The silver-footed Queen approach'd the house. Charis, the skilful artist's wedded wife, Beheld her coming, and advanc'd to meet; And, as her hand she clasp'd, address'd her thus:
"Say, Thetis of the flowing robe, belov'd And honour'd, whence this visit to our house, An unaccustom'd guest? but come thou in, That I may welcome thee with honour due."
Thus, as she spoke, the Goddess led her in, And on a seat with silver studs adorn'd, Fair, richly wrought, a footstool at her feet, She bade her sit; then thus to Vulcan call'd: "Haste hither, Vulcan; Thetis asks thine aid."
Whom answer'd thus the skill'd artificer: "An honour'd and a venerated guest Our house contains; who sav'd me once from woe, When by my mother's act from Heav'n I fell, Who, for that I was crippled in my feet, Deem'd it not shame to hide me: hard had then My fortune been, had not Eurynome And Thetis in their bosoms shelter'd me; Eurynome, from old Oceanus Who drew her birth, the ever-circling flood. Nine years with them I dwelt, and many a work I fashion'd there of metal, clasps, and chains Of spiral coil, rich cups, and collars fair, Hid in a cave profound; where th' ocean stream With ceaseless murmur foam'd and moan'd around; Unknown to God or man, but to those two Who sav'd me, Thetis and Eurynome. Now to my house hath fair-hair'd Thetis come; To her, my life preserv'd its tribute owes: Then thou the hospitable rites perform. While I my bellows and my tools lay by."
He said, and from the anvil rear'd upright His massive strength; and as he limp'd along, His tottering knees were bow'd beneath his weight. The bellows from the fire he next withdrew, And in a silver casket plac'd his tools; Then with a sponge his brows and lusty arms He wip'd, and sturdy neck and hairy chest. He donn'd his robe, and took his weighty staff; Then through the door with halting step he pass'd; There waited on their King the attendant maids; In form as living maids, but wrought in gold; Instinct with consciousness, with voice endued, And strength, and skill from heav'nly teachers drawn. These waited, duteous, at the Monarch's side, His steps supporting; he, with halting gait, Pass'd to a gorgeous chair by Thetis' side, And, as her hand he clasp'd, address'd her thus:
"Say, Thetis of the flowing robe, belov'd And honour'd, whence this visit to our house. An unaccustom'd guest? say what thy will, And, if within my pow'r, esteem it done."
To whom in answer Thetis, weeping, thus: "Vulcan, of all the Goddesses who dwell On high Olympus, lives there one whose soul Hath borne such weight of woe, so many griefs, As Saturn's son hath heap'd on me alone? Me, whom he chose from all the sea-born nymphs, And gave to Peleus, son of AEacus, His subject; I endur'd a mortal's bed, Though sore against my will; he now, bent down By feeble age, lies helpless in his house. Now adds he farther grief; he granted me To bear, and rear, a son, of heroes chief; Like a young tree he throve; I tended him, In a rich vineyard as the choicest plant: Till in the beaked ships I sent him forth To war with Troy; him ne'er shall I receive, Returning home, in aged Peleus' house. E'en while he lives, and sees the light of day, He lives in sorrow; nor, to soothe his grief, My presence can avail; a girl, his prize, Selected for him by the sons of Greece, Great Agamemnon wrested from his arms: In grief and rage he pin'd his soul away; Then by the Trojans were the Greeks hemm'd in Beside their ships, and from within their camp No outlet found; the Grecian Elders then Implor'd his aid, and promis'd costly gifts. With his own hand to save them he refus'd; But, in his armour clad, to battle sent His friend Patroclus, with a num'rous band. All day they fought before the Scaean* gates; And in that day had Ilium been destroy'd, But in the van, Menoetius' noble son. After great deeds achiev'd, Apollo slew, And crown'd with glory Hector, Priam's son. Therefore a suppliant to thy knees I come, If to my son, to early death condemn'd, Thou wilt accord the boon of shield and helm, And well-wrought greaves with silver clasps secur'd, And breastplate; for his own, his faithful friend, By Trojan hands subdued, hath lost; and he, O'erwhelm'd with grief, lies prostrate on the earth."
Whom answer'd thus the skill'd artificer: "Take comfort, nor let this disturb thy mind; Would that as surely, when his hour shall come, I could defend him from the stroke of death, As I can undertake that his shall be Such arms as they shall marvel who behold."
He left her thus, and to his forge return'd; The bellows then directing to the fire, He bade them work; through twenty pipes at once Forthwith they pour'd their diverse-temper'd blasts; Now briskly seconding his eager haste, Now at his will, and as the work requir'd. The stubborn brass, and tin, and precious gold, And silver, first he melted in the fire, Then on its stand his weighty anvil plac'd; And with one hand the hammer's pond'rous weight He wielded, while the other grasp'd the tongs.
And first a shield he fashion'd, vast and strong, With rich adornment; circled with a rim, Threefold, bright-gleaming, whence a silver belt Depended; of five folds the shield was form'd; And on its surface many a rare design Of curious art his practis'd skill had wrought.
Thereon were figur'd earth, and sky, and sea, The ever-circling sun, and full-orb'd moon, And all the signs that crown the vault of Heav'n; Pleiads and Hyads, and Orion's might, And Arctos, call'd the Wain, who wheels on high His circling course, and on Orion waits; Sole star that never bathes in th' ocean wave.
And two fair populous towns were sculptur'd there; In one were marriage pomp and revelry. And brides, in gay procession, through the streets With blazing torches from their chambers borne, While frequent rose the hymeneal song. Youths whirl'd around in joyous dance, with sound Of flute and harp; and, standing at their doors, Admiring women on the pageant gaz'd.
Meanwhile a busy throng the forum fill'd: There between two a fierce contention rose, About a death-fine; to the public one Appeal'd, asserting to have paid the whole; While one denied that he had aught receiv'd. Both were desirous that before the Judge The issue should be tried; with noisy shouts Their several partisans encourag'd each. The heralds still'd the tumult of the crowd: On polish'd chairs, in solemn circle, sat The rev'rend Elders; in their hands they held The loud-voic'd heralds' sceptres; waving these, They heard th' alternate pleadings; in the midst Two talents lay of gold, which he should take Who should before them prove his righteous cause.
Before the second town two armies lay, In arms refulgent; to destroy the town Th' assailants threaten'd, or among themselves Of all the wealth within the city stor'd An equal half, as ransom, to divide. The terms rejecting, the defenders mann'd A secret ambush; on the walls they plac'd Women and children muster'd for defence, And men by age enfeebled; forth they went, By Mars and Pallas led; these, wrought in gold, In golden arms array'd, above the crowd For beauty and stature, as befitting Gods, Conspicuous shone; of lesser height the rest. But when the destin'd ambuscade was reach'd, Beside the river, where the shepherds drove Their flocks and herds to water, down they lay, In glitt'ring arms accoutred; and apart They plac'd two spies, to notify betimes Th' approach of flocks of sheep and lowing herds. These, in two shepherds' charge, ere long appear'd, Who, unsuspecting as they mov'd along, Enjoy'd the music of their past'ral pipes. They on the booty, from afar discern'd, Sprang from their ambuscade; and cutting off The herds, and fleecy flocks, their guardians slew. Their comrades heard the tumult, where they sat Before their sacred altars, and forthwith Sprang on their cars, and with fast-stepping steeds Pursued the plund'rers, and o'ertook them soon. There on the river's bank they met in arms, And each at other hurl'd their brazen spears. And there were figur'd Strife, and Tumult wild, And deadly Fate, who in her iron grasp One newly-wounded, one unwounded bore, While by the feet from out the press she dragg'd Another slain: about her shoulders hung A garment crimson'd with the blood of men. Like living men they seem'd to move, to fight, To drag away the bodies of the slain.
And there was grav'n a wide-extended plain Of fallow land, rich, fertile, mellow soil, Thrice plough'd; where many ploughmen up and down Their teams were driving; and as each attain'd The limit of the field, would one advance, And tender him a cup of gen'rous wine: Then would he turn, and to the end again Along the furrow cheerly drive his plough. And still behind them darker show'd the soil, The true presentment of a new-plough'd field, Though wrought in gold; a miracle of art.
There too was grav'n a corn-field, rich in grain, Where with sharp sickles reapers plied their task, And thick, in even swathe, the trusses fell; The binders, following close, the bundles tied: Three were the binders; and behind them boys In close attendance waiting, in their arms Gather'd the bundles, and in order pil'd. Amid them, staff in hand, in silence stood The King, rejoicing in the plenteous swathe. A little way remov'd, the heralds slew A sturdy ox, and now beneath an oak Prepar'd the feast; while women mix'd, hard by, White barley porridge for the lab'rers' meal.
And, with rich clusters laden, there was grav'n A vineyard fair, all gold; of glossy black The bunches were, on silver poles sustain'd; Around, a darksome trench; beyond, a fence Was wrought, of shining tin; and through it led One only path, by which the bearers pass'd, Who gather'd in the vineyard's bounteous store. There maids and youths, in joyous spirits bright, In woven baskets bore the luscious fruit. A boy, amid them, from a clear-ton'd harp Drew lovely music; well his liquid voice The strings accompanied; they all with dance And song harmonious join'd, and joyous shouts, As the gay bevy lightly tripp'd along.
Of straight-horn'd cattle too a herd was grav'n; Of gold and tin the heifers all were wrought: They to the pasture, from the cattle-yard, With gentle lowings, by a babbling stream, Where quiv'ring reed-beds rustled, slowly mov'd. Four golden shepherds walk'd beside the herd, By nine swift dogs attended; then amid The foremost heifers sprang two lions fierce Upon the lordly bull: he, bellowing loud, Was dragg'd along, by dogs and youths pursued. The tough bull's-hide they tore, and gorging lapp'd Th' intestines and dark blood; with vain attempt The herdsmen following closely, to the attack Cheer'd their swift dogs; these shunn'd the lions' jaws, And close around them baying, held aloof.
And there the skilful artist's hand had trac'd A pastaro broad, with fleecy flocks o'erspread, In a fair glade, with fold, and tents, and pens.
There, too, the skilful artist's hand had wrought With curious workmanship, a mazy dance, Like that which Daedalus in Cnossus erst At fair-hair'd Ariadne's bidding fram'd. There, laying each on other's wrists their hand, Bright youths and many-suitor'd maidens danc'd: In fair white linen these; in tunics those, Well woven, shining soft with fragrant oils; These with fair coronets were crown'd, while those With golden swords from silver belts were girt. Now whirl'd they round with nimble practis'd feet, Easy, as when a potter, seated, turns A wheel, new fashion'd by his skilful hand, And spins it round, to prove if true it run; Now featly mov'd in well-beseeming ranks. A num'rous crowd, around, the lovely dance Survey'd, delighted; while an honour'd Bard Sang, as he struck the lyre, and to the strain Two tumblers, in the midst, were whirling round.
About the margin of the massive shield Was wrought the mighty strength of th' ocean stream.
The shield completed, vast and strong, he forg'd A breastplate, dazzling bright as flame of fire; And next, a weighty helmet for his head, Fair, richly wrought, with crest of gold above; Then last, well-fitting greaves of pliant tin.
The skill'd artificer his works complete Before Achilles' Goddess-mother laid: She, like a falcon, from the snow-clad heights Of huge Olympus, darted swiftly down, Charg'd with the glitt'ring arms by Vulcan wrought.
THE RECONCILIATION OF ACHILLES AND AGAMEMNON.
Thetis brings to her son the armour made by Vulcan. She preserves the body of his friend from corruption, and commands him to assemble the army, to declare his resentment at an end. Agamemnon and Achilles are solemnly reconciled: the speeches, presents, and ceremonies on that occasion. Achilles is with great difficulty persuaded to refrain from the battle till the troops have refreshed themselves, by the advice of Ulysses. The presents are conveyed to the tent of Achilles: where Briseis laments over the body of Patroclus. The hero obstinately refuses all repast, and gives himself up to lamentations for his friend. Minerva descends to strengthen him, by the order of Jupiter. He arms for the fight; his appearance described. He addresses himself to his horses, and reproaches them with the death of Patroclus. One of them is miraculously endued with voice, and inspired to prophesy his fate; but the hero, not astonished by that prodigy, rushes with fury to the combat.
The thirtieth day. The scene is on the sea-shore.
Now morn in saffron robe, from th' ocean stream Ascending, light diffus'd o'er Gods and men; As Thetis, to the ships returning, bore The gift of Vulcan; there her son she found, Who o'er Patroclus hung in bitter grief; Around him mourn'd his comrades; in the midst She stood, and clasp'd his hand, as thus she spoke:
"Leave we, my son, though deep our grief, the dead; Here let him lie, since Heav'n hath doom'd his fall; But thou these arms receive, by Vulcan sent, Fairer than e'er on mortal breast were borne." The arms before Achilles, as she spoke, The Goddess laid; loud rang the wondrous work. With awe the Myrmidons beheld; nor dar'd Affront the sight: but as Achilles gaz'd, More fiery burn'd his wrath; beneath his brows His eyes like lightning flash'd; with fierce delight He seiz'd the glorious gift: and when his soul Had feasted on the miracle of art, To Thetis thus his winged words address'd:
"Mother, the God hath giv'n me arms indeed, Worthy a God, and such as mortal man Could never forge; I go to arm me straight; Yet fear I for Menoetius' noble son, Lest in his spear-inflicted wounds the flies May gender worms, and desecrate the dead, And, life extinct, corruption reach his flesh."
Whom answer'd thus the silver-footed Queen: "Let not such fears, my son, disturb thy mind: I will myself the swarms of flies disperse, That on the flesh of slaughter'd warriors prey: And should he here remain a year complete, Still should his flesh be firm and fresh as now: But thou to council call the chiefs of Greece; Against the monarch Agamemnon there, The leader of the host, abjure thy wrath; Then arm thee quickly, and put on thy might."
Her words with dauntless courage fill'd his breast. She in Patroclus' nostrils, to preserve His flesh, red nectar and ambrosia pour'd.
Along the ocean beach Achilles pass'd, And loudly shouting, call'd on all the chiefs; Then all who heretofore remain'd on board, The steersmen, who the vessels' rudders hold, The very stewards that serv'd the daily bread, All to th' assembly throng'd, when reappear'd Achilles, from the fight so long withdrawn. Two noble chiefs, two ministers of Mars, Ulysses sage, and valiant Diomed, Appear'd, yet crippled by their grievous wounds, Their halting steps supporting with their spears, And on the foremost seats their places took. Next follow'd Agamemnon, King of men, He also wounded; for Antenor's son, Coon, had stabb'd him in the stubborn fight. When all the Greeks were closely throng'd around, Up rose Achilles swift of foot, and said:
"Great son of Atreus, what hath been the gain To thee or me, since heart-consuming strife Hath fiercely rag'd between us, for a girl, Who would to Heav'n had died by Dian's shafts That day when from Lyrnessus' captur'd town I bore her off? so had not many a Greek Bitten the bloody dust, by hostile hands Subdued, while I in anger stood aloof. Great was the gain to Troy; but Greeks, methinks, Will long retain the mem'ry of our feud. Yet pass we that; and though our hearts be sore, Still let us school our angry spirits down. My wrath I here abjure; it is not meet It burn for ever unappeas'd; do thou Muster to battle straight the long-hair'd Greeks; That, to the Trojans once again oppos'd, I may make trial if beside the ships They dare this night remain; but he, I ween, Will gladly rest his limbs, who safe shall fly, My spear escaping, from the battle-field."
He said: the well-greav'd Greeks rejoic'd to hear His wrath abjur'd by Peleus' godlike son; And from his seat, not standing in the midst, Thus to th' assembly Agamemnon spoke: "Friends, Grecian Heroes, Ministers of Mars, When one stands up to speak, 'tis meet for all To lend a patient ear, nor interrupt; For e'en to practis'd speakers hard the task: But, in this vast assembly, who can speak That all may hear? the clearest voice must fail. To Peleus' son, Achilles, I my mind Will frankly open; ye among yourselves Impart the words I speak, that all may know. Oft hath this matter been by Greeks discuss'd, And I their frequent censure have incurr'd: Yet was not I the cause; but Jove, and Fate, And gloomy Erinnys, who combin'd to throw A strong delusion o'er my mind, that day I robb'd Achilles of his lawful prize. What could I do? a Goddess all o'er-rul'd, Daughter of Jove, dread Ate, baleful pow'r, Misleading all; with lightest step she moves, Not on the earth, but o'er the heads of men, With blighting touch; and many hath caus'd to err. E'en Jove, the wisest deem'd of Gods and men, In error she involv'd, when Juno's art By female stratagem the God deceiv'd, When in well-girdled Thebes Alcmena lay In travail of the might of Hercules. In boastful tone amid the Gods he spoke: 'Hear all ye Gods, and all ye Goddesses, The words I speak, the promptings of my soul. This day Lucina shall to light bring forth A child, the future Lord of all around, Of mortal men, who trace to me their blood.' Whom answer'd Juno thus, with deep deceit: 'Thou dost but feign, nor wilt fulfil thy word: Come now, Olympian, swear a solemn oath That he shall be the Lord of all around, Who on this day shall be of woman born, Of mortal men, who trace to thee their blood.' She said, and Jove, the snare unseeing, swore A solemn oath; but found his error soon. Down from Olympus' height she sped in haste To Argos of Achaia; for the wife Of Sthenelus, the son of Perseus, there, She knew, was sev'n months pregnant of a son; Whom, though untimely born, she brought to light, Staying meanwhile Alcmena's labour-pangs, To Saturn's son herself the tidings brought, And thus address'd him: 'Jove, the lightning's Lord, I bring thee news; this day a mighty man, By thee ordain'd to be the Argives' King, Is born, Eurystheus, son of Sthenelus, The son of Perseus, issue of thy blood; Well worthy he to be the Argives' King.' She said: keen sorrow deeply pierc'd his soul; Then Ate by the glossy locks he seiz'd In mighty wrath; and swore a solemn oath, That to Olympus and the starry Heav'n She never should return, who all misleads. His arm then whirling, from the starry Heav'n He flung her down, to vex th' affairs of men. Yet oft her fraud remember'd he with groans, When by Eurystheus' hard commands he saw Condemn'd to servile tasks his noble son. So, oft as Hector of the glancing helm Beside the ships the Greeks to slaughter gave, Back to my mind my former error came. I err'd, for Jove my judgment took away; But friendly reconcilement now I seek, And tender costly presents; then thyself Uprouse thee, and excite the rest to arms. While I prepare the gifts, whate'er of late  The sage Ulysses promis'd in thy tent: Or, if thou wilt, though eager for the fray, Remain thou here awhile, till from my ship My followers bring the gifts; that thou mayst see I make my offerings with no niggard hand."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles swift of foot: "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, The gifts thou deem'st befitting, 'tis for thee To give, or to withhold; but now at once Prepare we for the battle; 'tis not meet On trivial pretexts here to waste our time, Or idly loiter; much remains to do: Again be seen Achilles in the van, Scatt'ring with brazen spear the Trojan ranks; And ye, forget not man with man to fight."
To whom in answer sage Ulysses thus: "Brave as thou art, Achilles, godlike chief, Yet fasting lead not forth the sons of Greece To fight the Trojans; for no little time Will last the struggle, when the serried ranks Are once engag'd in conflict, and the Gods With equal courage either side inspire: But bid them, by the ships, of food and wine (Wherein are strength and courage) first partake; For none throughout the day till set of sun, Fasting from food, may bear the toils of war; His spirit may still be eager for the fray; Yet are his limbs by slow degrees weigh'd down, Himself by thirst and hunger worn, his knees Unable, as he moves, to bear his weight. But he who, first with food and wine refresh'd, All day maintains the combat with the foe, His spirit retains unbroken, and his limbs Unwearied, till both armies quit the field. Disperse then now the crowd, and bid prepare The morning meal; meantime to public view Let Agamemnon, King of men, display His costly gifts; that all the Greeks may see, And that thy heart within thee melt with joy: And there in full assembly let him swear A solemn oath, that he hath ne'er approach'd The fair Briseis' bed, nor held with her Such intercourse as man with woman holds. Be thou propitious, and accept his oath. Then at a sumptuous banquet in his tent Let him receive thee; that thine honour due May nothing lack; and so, Atrides, thou Shalt stand in sight of all men clear of blame; For none can wonder that insulting speech Should rouse the anger of a sceptred King."
To whom thus Agamemnon, King of men: "Son of Laertes, I accept thy speech With cordial welcome: all that thou hast said Is well and wisely spoken; for the oath, I am prepar'd, with willing mind, to swear; Nor in the sight of Heav'n will be forsworn. Let then Achilles here awhile remain, Though eager for the fray; ye too remain, Until the presents from my tent be brought, And we our solemn compact ratify. Then this command upon thyself I lay: That thou the noblest youths of all the Greeks Select, and bid them from my vessel bear The gifts, which, to Achilles yesternight We promis'd, and withal the women bring; And let Talthybius through the host seek out A boar, for sacrifice to Jove and Sol."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles swift of foot: "Most mighty Agamemnon, King of men, These matters to some future time were best Deferr'd, some hour of respite from the fight, Of rage less fiercely burning in my breast; But slaughter'd now they lie, whom Priam's son, Hector, hath slain, by Jove to vict'ry led. Ye bid us take our food; if I might rule, I would to battle lead the sons of Greece, Unfed, and fasting; and at set of sun, Our shame aveng'd, an ample feast prepare; Till then, nor food nor drink shall pass my lips, My comrade slain; who pierc'd with mortal wounds, Turn'd tow'rd the doorway, lies within my tent, His mourning friends around; while there he lies, No thought have I for these or aught beside, Save carnage, blood, and groans of dying men."
To whom Ulysses, sage in council, thus: "O son of Peleus, noblest of the Greeks, How far, Achilles, thou surpassest me In deeds of arms, I know: but thou must yield To me in counsel, for my years are more, And my experience greater far than thine: Then to my words incline a patient ear. Men soonest weary of battle, where the sword The bloodiest harvest reaps; the lightest crop Of slaughter is where Jove inclines the scale, Dispenser, at his will, of human wars. The Greeks by fasting cannot mourn their dead; For day by day successive numbers fall; Where were the respite then from ceaseless fast? Behoves us bury out of sight our dead, Steeling our hearts, and weeping but a day; And we, the rest, whom cruel war has spar'd, Should first with food and wine recruit out strength; Then, girding on our arms, the livelong day Maintain the war, unwearied; then let none Require a farther summons to the field; (And woe to him who loit'ring by the ships That summons hears;) but with united force Against the Trojans wake the furious war."
He said, and call'd on noble Nestor's sons, On Meges, Phyleus' son, Meriones, Thoas, and Lycomedes, Creon's son, And Melanippus; they together sought The mighty monarch Agamemnon's tent. Soon as the word was giv'n, the work was done; Sev'n tripods brought they out, the promis'd gifts; Twelve horses, twenty caldrons glitt'ring bright; Sev'n women too, well skill'd in household cares, With whom, the eighth, the fair Briseis came. Ulysses led the way, and with him brought Ten talents full of gold; th' attendant youths The other presents bore, and in the midst Display'd before th' assembly: then uprose The monarch Agamemnon; by his side, With voice of godlike pow'r, Talthybius stood, Holding the victim: then Atrides drew The dagger, ever hanging at his side, Close by the scabbard of his mighty sword, And from the victim's head the bristles shore. With hands uplifted then to Jove he pray'd; While all around the Greeks in silence stood, List'ning, decorous, to the monarch's words, As looking up to Heav'n he made his pray'r:
"Be witness, Jove, thou highest, first of Gods, And Sun, and Earth, and ye who vengeance wreak Beneath the earth on souls of men forsworn, Furies! that never, or to love unchaste Soliciting, or otherwise, my hand Hath fair Briseis touch'd; but in my tent Still pure and undefil'd hath she remain'd: And if in this I be forsworn, may Heav'n With all the plagues afflict me, due to those Who sin by perjur'd oaths against the Gods."
Thus as he spoke, across the victim's throat He drew the pitiless blade; Talthybius then To hoary Ocean's depths the carcase threw, Food for the fishes; then Achilles rose, And thus before th' assembled Greeks he spoke:
"O Father Jove, how dost thou lead astray Our human judgments! ne'er had Atreus' son My bosom fill'd with wrath, nor from my arms, To his own loss, against my will had torn The girl I lov'd, but that the will of Jove To death predestin'd many a valiant Greek. Now to the meal; anon renew the war."
This said, th' assembly he dismiss'd in haste, The crowd dispersing to their sev'ral ships; Upon the gifts the warlike Myrmidons Bestow'd their care, and bore them to the ships; Of Peleus' godlike son; within the tent They laid them down, and there the women plac'd, While to the drove the followers led the steeds. Briseis, fair as golden Venus, saw Patroclus lying, pierc'd with mortal wounds, Within the tent; and with a bitter cry, She flung her down upon the corpse, and tore Her breast, her delicate neck, and beauteous cheeks; And, weeping, thus the lovely woman wail'd:
"Patroclus, dearly lov'd of this sad heart! When last I left this tent, I left thee full Of healthy life; returning now, I find Only thy lifeless corpse, thou Prince of men! So sorrow still, on sorrow heap'd, I bear. The husband of my youth, to whom my sire And honour'd mother gave me, I beheld Slain with the sword before the city walls: Three brothers, whom with me one mother bore, My dearly lov'd ones, all were doom'd to death: Nor wouldst thou, when Achilles swift of foot My husband slew, and royal Mynes' town In ruin laid, allow my tears to flow; But thou wouldst make me (such was still thy speech) The wedded wife of Peleus' godlike son: Thou wouldst to Phthia bear me in thy ship, And there, thyself, amid the Myrmidons, Wouldst give my marriage feast; then, unconsol'd, I weep thy death, my ever-gentle friend!"
Weeping, she spoke; the women join'd her wail: Patroclus' death the pretext for their tears, But each in secret wept her private griefs.
Around Achilles throng'd the elder men, Urging to eat; but he, with groans, refus'd: "I pray you, would you show your love, dear friends, Ask me not now with food or drink to appease Hunger or thirst; a load of bitter grief Weighs heavy on my soul; till set of sun Fasting will I remain, and still endure."
The other monarchs at his word withdrew: The two Atridae, and Ulysses sage, And Nestor and Idomeneus remain'd, And aged Phoenix, to divert his grief; But comfort none, save in the bloody jaws Of battle would he take; by mem'ry stirr'd, He heav'd a deep-drawn sigh, as thus he spoke:
"How oft hast thou, ill-fated, dearest friend, Here in this tent with eager zeal prepar'd The tempting meal, whene'er the sons of Greece In haste would arm them for the bloody fray! Now liest thou there, while I, for love of thee, From food and drink, before me plac'd, refrain: For ne'er shall I again such sorrow know, Not though I heard of aged Peleus' death, Who now in Phthia mourns, with tender tears, His absent son; he on a foreign shore Is warring in that hateful Helen's cause: No, nor of his, who now in Scyros' isle Is growing up, if yet indeed he live, Young Neoptolemus, my godlike son. My hope had been indeed, that here in Troy, Far from the plains of Argos, I alone Was doom'd to die; and that to Phthia thou, Return'd in safety, mightst my son convey From Scyros home, and show him all my wealth, My spoils, my slaves, my lofty, spacious house. For Peleus or to death, methinks, e'en now Hath yielded, or not far from death remov'd, Lives on in sorrow, bow'd by gloomy age, Expecting day by day the messenger Who bears the mournful tidings of my death."
Weeping, Achilles spoke; and with him wept The Elders; each to fond remembrance mov'd Of all that in his home himself had left. The son of Saturn, pitying, saw their grief, And Pallas thus with winged words address'd: "My child, dost thou a hero's cause forsake, Or does Achilles claim no more thy care, Who sits in sorrow by the high-prow'd ships, Mourning his comrade slain? the others all Partake the meal, while he from food abstains: Then haste thee, and, with hunger lest he faint, Drop nectar and ambrosia on his breast."
His words fresh impulse gave to Pallas' zeal: Down, like the long-wing'd falcon, shrill of voice, Thro' the clear sky she swoop'd: and while the Greeks Arm'd for the fight, Achilles she approach'd, And nectar and ambrosia on his breast Distill'd, lest hunger should his strength subdue; Back to her mighty Father's ample house Returning, as from out the ships they pour'd. Thick as the snow-flakes that from Heav'n descend, Before the sky-born Boreas' chilling blast; So thick, outpouring from the ships, the stream Of helmets polish'd bright, and bossy shields, And breastplates firmly brac'd, and ashen spears: Their brightness flash'd to Heav'n; and laugh'd the Earth Beneath the brazen glare; loud rang the tramp Of armed men: Achilles in the midst, The godlike chief, in dazzling arms array'd. His teeth were gnashing audibly; his eye Blaz'd with, the light of fire; but in his heart Was grief unbearable; with furious wrath He burn'd against the Trojans, as he donn'd The heav'nly gifts, the work of Vulcan's hand. First on his legs the well-wrought greaves he fix'd, Fasten'd with silver clasps; his breastplate next Around his chest; and o'er his shoulders flung His silver-studded sword, with blade of brass; Then took his vast and weighty shield, whence gleam'd A light refulgent as the full-orb'd moon; Or as to seamen o'er the wave is borne The watchfire's light, which, high among the hills, Some shepherd kindles in his lonely fold: As they, reluctant, by the stormy winds, Far from their friends are o'er the waters driv'n; So from Achilles' shield, bright, richly wrought, The light was thrown. The weighty helm he rais'd, And plac'd it on his head; the plumed helm Shone like a star; and wav'd the hairs of gold. Thick-set by Vulcan in the gleaming crest. Then all the arms Achilles prov'd, to know If well they fitted to his graceful limbs: Like wings, they seem'd to lift him from the ground. Last, from its case he drew his father's spear, Long, pond'rous, tough; not one of all the Greeks, None, save Achilles' self, could poise that spear; The far-fam'd Pelian ash, which to his sire, On Pelion's summit fell'd, to be the bane Of mighty chiefs, the Centaur Chiron gave. With care Automedon and Alcimus The horses yok'd, with collars fair attach'd: Plac'd in their mouths the bits, and pass'd the reins Back to the well-built car: Automedon Sprang on the car, with shining lash in hand: Behind, Achilles came, array'd for war, In arms all glitt'ring as the gorgeous sun, And loudly to his father's steeds he call'd: "Xanthus and Balius, noble progeny Of swift Podarge, now in other sort Back to the Grecian ranks in safety bear, When he shall quit the field, your charioteer; Nor leave him, as ye left Patroclus, slain."
To whom in answer from beneath the yoke Xanthus, the noble horse, with glancing feet: Bowing his head the while, till all his mane Down from th' yokeband streaming, reach'd the ground; By Juno, white-arm'd Queen, with speech endued:
"Yes, great Achilles, we this day again Will bear thee safely; but thy day of doom Is nigh at hand; nor we shall cause thy death, But Heav'n's high will, and Fate's imperious pow'r. By no default of ours, nor lack of speed, The Trojans stripp'd Patroclus of his arms: The mighty God, fair-hair'd Latona's son, Achiev'd his death, and Hector's vict'ry gain'd. Our speed of foot may vie with Zephyr's breeze, Deem'd swiftest of the winds; but thou art doom'd To die, by force combin'd of God and man."
He said; his farther speech the Furies stay'd. To whom in wrath Achilles swift of foot; "Xanthus, why thus predict my coming fate? It ill beseems thee! well I know myself That I am fated here in Troy to die, Far from my home and parents; yet withal I cease not, till these Trojans from the field Before me fly." He said, and to the front, His war-cry shouting, urg'd his fiery steeds.
THE BATTLE OF THE GODS, AND THE ACTS OF ACHILLES.
Jupiter, upon Achilles' return to the battle, calls a council of the gods and permits them to assist either party. The terrors of the combat described when the deities are engaged. Apollo encourages AEneas to meet Achilles. After a long conversation, these two heroes encounter; but AEneas is preserved by the assistance of Neptune. Achilles falls upon the rest of the Trojans, and is upon the point of killing Hector, but Apollo conveys him away in a cloud. Achilles pursues the Trojans with a great slaughter.
The same day continues. The scene is in the field before Troy.
Round thee, Achilles, eager for the fray, Stood thus accoutred, by their beaked ships, The sons of Greece; the Trojan host, oppos'd, Stood on the sloping margin of the plain. Then Jove to Themis gave command to call The Gods to council from the lofty height Of many-ridg'd Olympus; to the house Of Jove she summon'd them from ev'ry side. Thence of the Rivers, save Oceanus, Not one was absent; nor of Nymphs, who haunt Clear fount, or shady grove, or grassy mead. They, at the Cloud-compeller's house arriv'd, Within the polish'd corridor reclin'd, Which Vulcan's cunning hand for Jove had built. There were they gather'd in th' abode of Jove: Nor did th' Earth-shaking Neptune slight the call, But came from ocean's depths, and in the midst He sat, and thus the will of Jove enquir'd:
"Why, Lord of lightning, hast thou summon'd here The Gods to council? dost thou aught devise Touching the Greeks and Trojans? who e'en now Kindle anew, it seems, the blaze of war."
To whom the Cloud-compeller, answ'ring, thus: "The purpose, Neptune, well thou know'st thyself For which I call'd ye; true, they needs must die, But still they claim my care; yet here will I Upon Olympus' lofty ridge remain, And view, serene, the combat; you, the rest, Go, as you list, to Trojans or to Greeks, And at your pleasure either party aid. For if we leave Achilles thus alone To fight against the Trojans, not an hour Will they before the son of Peleus stand. They dreaded him before; but now, I fear, Since rous'd to fury by his comrade's death, He e'en in fate's despite may storm the wall."
Thus Saturn's son, and quenchless battle rous'd: The Gods, divided, hasten'd to the war: Juno and Pallas to the ships of Greece, With them th' Earth-shaker, and the helpful God, Hermes, for cunning subtleties unmatch'd; And Vulcan too, exulting in his strength, Yet halting, and on feeble limbs sustain'd. Mars of the glancing helm took part with Troy, And golden Phoebus with his locks unshorn, Latona too, and Dian, Archer-Queen, Xanthus, and Venus, laughter-loving dame.
While from the fight of men the Gods abstain'd, High rose the Grecian vaunts, as, long withdrawn, Achilles on the field again appear'd: And ev'ry Trojan's limbs with terror quak'd, Trembling, as Peleus' godlike son they saw, In arms all-glitt'ring, fierce as blood-stain'd Mars. But when th' Immortals mingled in the throng, Then furious wax'd the spirit-stirring strife; Then Pallas rais'd her war-cry, standing now Beside the deep-dug trench, without the wall, Now shouting loud along the sounding beach. On th' other side, as with the tempest's roar, Mars to the Trojans shouted loud; one while From Ilium's topmost height; anon again From the fair hill, o'erhanging Simois' stream. Thus, either side exciting to the fray, Th' immortal Gods unchain'd the angry war. Thunder'd on high the Sire of Gods and men With awful din; while Neptune shook beneath The boundless earth, and lofty mountain tops. The spring-abounding Ida quak'd and rock'd From her firm basis to her loftiest peak, And Troy's proud city, and the ships of Greece. Pluto, th' infernal monarch, heard alarm'd, And, springing from his throne, cried out in fear, Lest Neptune, breaking through the solid earth, To mortals and Immortals should lay bare His dark and drear abode, of Gods abhorr'd. Such was the shock when Gods in battle met; For there to royal Neptune stood oppos'd Phoebus Apollo with his arrows keen; The blue-ey'd Pallas to the God of War; To Juno, Dian, heav'nly Archeress, Sister of Phoebus, golden-shafted Queen. Stout Hermes, helpful God, Latona fac'd; While Vulcan met the mighty rolling stream, Xanthus by Gods, by men Scamander call'd. Thus Gods encounter'd Gods: Achilles' soul Meantime was burning 'mid the throng to meet Hector, the son of Priam; with whose blood He long'd to glut th' insatiate Lord of War. Apollo then, the spirit-stirring God, AEneas mov'd Achilles to confront, And fill'd with courage high; and thus, the voice Assuming of Lycaon, Priam's son, Apollo, son of Jove, the chief address'd:
"AEneas, prince and councillor of Troy, Where are the vaunts, which o'er the wine-cup late Thou mad'st amid th' assembled chiefs of Troy, That hand to hand thou wouldst Achilles meet?"
To whom AEneas thus in answer spoke: "Why, son of Priam, urge me to contend, Against my will, with Peleus' mighty son? Not for the first time should I now engage Achilles swift of foot: I met him once, And fled before his spear, on Ida's hill, When on our herds he fell; Lyrnessus then He raz'd, and Pedasus; me Jove preserv'd, With strength, endowing, and with speed of foot. Else had I fall'n beneath Achilles' hand, By Pallas aided; who before him moves, Light of his life, and guides his brazen spear Trojans and Leleges alike to slay. 'Tis not in mortal man with him to fight, Whom still some God attends, and guards from harm; And, e'en unaided, to the mark his spear Unerring flies, uncheck'd until it pierce A warrior's breast; yet if the Gods the scale Impartial held, all brass-clad as he is, O'er me no easy triumph should he gain."
To whom the King Apollo, son of Jove: "Brave chief, do thou too to th' immortal Gods Address thy pray'r; men say that thou art sprung From Venus, child of Jove; his mother owns A humbler origin; one born to Jove, The other to the aged Ocean God. On then with dauntless spear, nor be dismay'd By his high tone and vaunting menaces."
His words with courage fill'd the hero's breast, And on he sprang, in dazzling arms arrayed; But not unmark'd of white-arm'd Juno pass'd, To meet Achilles, through the press of men, Who thus address'd the Gods, to council call'd:
"Neptune and Pallas both, bethink ye well What now should be our course; AEneas comes, In dazzling arms array'd, to meet in fight The son of Peleus; Phoebus sends him forth. Say, then, shall we, encount'ring, to retreat Perforce constrain him? or shall one of us Beside Achilles stand, and give him strength That he may nothing lack; and know himself By all the mightiest of th' immortal Gods Belov'd, and those how pow'rless, by whose aid The Trojans yet maintain defensive war? Therefore, to join the battle, came we all From high Olympus, that in this day's fight No ill befall him; though the time shall come For him to meet the doom, by fate decreed, When at his birth his thread of life was spun. But if Achilles from a voice divine Receive not this assurance, he may well Be struck with fear, if haply to some God He find himself oppos'd: 'tis hard for man To meet, in presence visible, a God."
To whom Earth-shaking Neptune thus replied: "Juno, thine anger carry not too far; It ill beseems thee. Not with my consent Shall we, the stronger far, provoke to arms The other Gods; but rather, from the field Retiring, let us from on high survey, To mortals left, the turmoil of the war. Should Mars or Phoebus then begin the fight, Or stay Achilles, and his arm restrain, Then in the contest we too may engage; And soon, methinks, will they be fain to join, Driv'n from the field, the Synod of the Gods, Subdued perforce by our victorious hands."
The dark-hair'd monarch spoke; and led the way To the high wall, by Trojans built of old, With Pallas' aid, for godlike Hercules; Within whose circle he might safety seek, When from the beach the monster of the deep Might chase him toward the plain; there Neptune sat, And with him, the other Gods, a veil of cloud Impenetrable around their shoulders spread. On th' other side, upon the fair hill's brow, Phoebus with Mars the fort-destroyer sat. On either side they sat, each facing each With hostile counsels; yet reluctant both To take th' initiative of ruthless war; Till Jove, enthron'd on high, the signal gave. Then all the plain, with men and horses throng'd, The brazen gleam illumin'd; rang the earth Beneath their feet, as to the battle-shock They rush'd; but in the midst, both hosts between, Eager for fight, stood forth two warriors bold, Proudly pre-eminent; Anchises' son AEneas, and Achilles' godlike might.
AEneas first with threat'ning mien advanc'd, Nodding his pond'rous helm; before his breast His shield he bore, and pois'd his brazen spear. Him met Achilles from th' opposing ranks; Fierce as a rav'ning lion, whom to slay Pour forth the stalwart youths, th' united strength Of the rous'd village; he unheeding moves At first; but wounded by a jav'lin thrown By some bold youth, he turns, with gaping jaws, And frothing fangs, collecting for the spring, His breast too narrow for his mighty heart; And with his tail he lashes both his flanks And sides, as though to rouse his utmost rage; Then on, in pride of strength, with glaring eyes He dashes, if some hunter he may slay, Or in the foremost rank himself be slain. So mov'd his dauntless spirit Peleus' son AEneas to confront; when near they came, Thus first Achilles, swift of foot, began:
"AEneas, why so far before the ranks Advanc'd? dost thou presume with me to fight? Perchance expecting that the throne of Troy And Priam's royal honours may be thine. E'en if thou slay me, deem not to obtain Such boon from Priam; valiant sons are his, And he not weak, but bears a constant mind. Or have the Trojans set apart for thee Some favour'd spot, the fairest of the land, Orchard or corn-land, shouldst thou work my death; Which thou shalt find, I trust, too hard a task? Already hast thou fled before my spear; Hast thou forgotten how amid thy herds Alone I found thee, and with flying foot Pursued thee down the steep of Ida's hill? Nor didst thou dare to turn, or pause in flight. Thou to Lyrnessus fledd'st; Lyrnessus I, With Pallas' aid and Jove's, assail'd and took: Their women thence, their days of freedom lost, I bore away, my captives; thee from death, Jove and the other Gods defended then; But will not now bestow, though such thy hope, Their succour; then I warn thee, while 'tis time, Ere ill betide thee, to the gen'ral throng That thou withdraw, nor stand to me oppos'd: After th' event may e'en a fool be wise."
To whom in answer thus AEneas spoke: "Achilles, think not me, as though a fool, To daunt with lofty speech; I too could well With cutting words, and insult, answer thee. Each other's race and parents well we know From tales of ancient days; although by sight Nor mine to thee, nor thine to me are known. To noble Peleus thou, 'tis said, wast born Of Thetis, fair-hair'd daughter of the sea; Of great Anchises, Heav'n-descended chief, I boast me sprung, to him by Venus borne. Of these shall one or other have this day To mourn their son; since not with empty words Shall thou and I from mortal combat part. But if thou farther wouldst enquire, and learn The race I spring from, not unknown to men, By Dardanus, of cloud-compelling Jove Begotten, was Dardania peopled first, Ere sacred Ilium, populous city of men, Was founded on the plain; as yet they dwelt On spring-abounding Ida's lowest spurs. To Dardanus was Erichthonius born, Great King, the wealthiest of the sons of men; For him were pastur'd in the marshy mead, Rejoicing with their foals, three thousand mares; Them Boreas, in the pasture where they fed, Beheld, enamour'd; and amid the herd In likeness of a coal-black steed appear'd; Twelve foals, by him conceiving, they produc'd. These, o'er the teeming corn-fields as they flew, Skimm'd o'er the standing ears, nor broke the haulm; And, o'er wide Ocean's bosom as they flew, Skimm'd o'er the topmost spray of th' hoary sea Again, to Erichthonius Tros was born, The King of Troy; three noble sons were his, Ilus, Assaracus, and Ganymede; The fairest he of all the sons of men; Him, for his beauty, bore the Gods away, To minister as cup-bearer to Jove, And dwell amid th' Immortals: Ilus next Begot a noble son, Laomedon; Tithonus he, and Priam; Clytius, Lampus and Icetaon, plant of Mars; Capys, begotten of Assaracus, Begot Anchises, and Anchises me: To Priam godlike Hector owes his birth. Such is my race, and such the blood I boast; But Jove, at will, to mortals valour gives Or minishes; for he is Lord of all. Then cease we now, like babbling fools, to prate Here in the centre of the coming fight. Terms of reproach we both might find, whose weight Would sink a galley of a hundred oars; For glibly runs the tongue, and can at will Give utt'rance to discourse in ev'ry vein; Wide is the range of language; and such words As one may speak, another may return. What need that we should insults interchange? Like women, who some paltry quarrel wage, Scolding and brawling in the public street, And in opprobrious terms their anger vent, Some true, some false; for so their rage suggests. With words thou shalt not turn me from the field, Till we have met in arms; then try we now Each other's prowess with our brazen spears."
He said, and hurl'd against the mighty shield His brazen spear; loud rang the weapon's point; And at arm's length Achilles held the shield With his broad hand, in fear that through its folds AEneas' spear would easy passage find; Blind fool! forgetful that the glorious gifts Bestow'd by Gods, are not with ease o'ercome, Nor yield before th' assaults of mortal men.
So broke not through AEneas' sturdy spear, Stay'd by the golden plate, the gift of Heav'n; Yet through two plates it pass'd, but three remain'd, For five were in the shield by Vulcan wrought; Two were of brass, the inner two of tin, And one of gold, which stay'd the brazen spear.
Achilles threw in turn his pond'rous spear. And struck the circle of AEneas' shield Near the first rim, where thinnest lay the brass, And thinnest too th' o'erlying hide; right through The Pelian shaft was driv'n; wide gap'd the shield. AEneas crouch'd, in fear, as o'er his head He held his shield; the eager weapon pass'd Through both the circles of his ample shield, And in the ground, behind him, quiv'ring, stood. Escap'd the pond'rous weapon, sharpest pain Flashing across his eyes, in fear he stood, So close the spear had pass'd him; onward then, Drawing his trenchant blade, Achilles rush'd, With fearful shout; a rocky fragment then AEneas lifted up, a mighty mass, Which scarce two men, as men are now, could bear, But he, unaided, lifted it with ease. Then had AEneas, with the massive stone, Or on the helmet, or the shield, his death Averting, struck Achilles; and himself Had by the sword of Peleus' son been slain, Had not th' Earth-shaking God his peril seen, And to th' Immortals thus address'd his speech: "Oh, woe is me for great AEneas' sake, Who, by Achilles slain, must visit soon The viewless shades; insensate, who relied On Phoebus' words; yet nought shall he avail From death to save him. Yet oh why should he, Blameless himself, the guilt of others rue? Who still his grateful sacrifice hath paid To all the Gods in wide-spread Heav'n who dwell. Let us then interpose to guard his life; Lest, if Achilles slay him, Saturn's son Be mov'd to anger; for his destiny Would have him live; lest, heirless, from the earth Should perish quite the race of Dardanus; By Saturn's son the best-belov'd of all His sons, to him by mortal women born. For Jove the race of Priam hath abhorr'd; But o'er the Trojans shall AEneas reign, And his sons' sons, through ages yet unborn."
Whom answer'd thus the stag-ey'd Queen of Heav'n: "Neptune, do thou determine for thyself AEneas to withdraw, or leave to fall, Good as he is, beneath Achilles' sword; But we before th' immortal Gods are bound, Both I and Pallas, by repeated oaths, Ne'er from his doom one Trojan life to save, Though to devouring flames a prey, all Troy Were blazing, kindled by the valiant Greeks."
Th' Earth-shaker heard; and thro' the fight he pass'd, And through the throng of spears, until he came Where great Achilles and AEneas stood. Around the eyes of Peleus' son he spread A veil of mist; then from AEneas' shield The brass-tipp'd spear withdrawing, laid it down Before Achilles' feet; and lifting up AEneas, bore him high above the ground. O'er many a rank of warriors and of cars AEneas flew, supported by the God; Till to the field's extremest verge he came, Where stood the Caucons, arming for the war. There to AEneas, standing by his side, Th' Earth-shaker thus his winged words address'd: "AEneas, say what God has mov'd thee thus Against Achilles, reckless, to contend, Thy stronger far, and dearer to the Gods? If e'er he cross thy path, do thou retire, Lest, e'en despite of fate, thou find thy death. But when Achilles hath to fate succumb'd, Then, fearless, with the foremost join the fray: No other Greek shall bear away thy spoils."
Thus plainly warn'd, AEneas there he left. Then from Achilles' eyes he purg'd the film: Astonish'd, he with eyes wide open gaz'd, As thus he commun'd with his mighty heart:
"O Heav'n, what marvel do mine eyes behold? My spear before me laid, and vanish'd he At whom I hurl'd it with intent to slay! Then is AEneas of th' immortal Gods In truth belov'd, though vain I deem'd his boast. A curse go with him! yet methinks not soon Will he again presume to prove my might, Who gladly now in flight escapes from death. Then, to the valiant Greeks my orders giv'n. Let me some other Trojan's mettle prove." Then tow'rd the ranks he sprang, each sev'ral man Exhorting: "From the Trojans, valiant Greeks, No longer stand aloof; but man to man Confront the foe, and nobly dare the fight. 'Twere hard for me, brave warrior though I be, To face such numbers, and to fight with all: Not Mars, nor Pallas, though immortal Gods, Could face, and vanquish, such a mighty mass. But what my single arm, and feet, and strength May profit, not a jot will I relax; Right through the ranks I mean to force my way; And small shall be that Trojan's cause for joy, Who comes within the compass of my spear."
Thus he, exhorting; Hector cheering on Meanwhile the Trojans, with assurance giv'n That he himself Achilles would confront.
"Ye valiant Trojans, fear not Peleus' son; I too in words could with the Gods contend, Though not in arms; so much the stronger they. Not all his words Achilles shall make good; Fulfilling some, in others he shall fail, His course midway arrested. Him will I Encounter, though his hands were hands of fire, Of fire his hands, his strength as burnish'd steel."
Thus he, exhorting; with uplifted spears Advanc'd the Trojans; from the mingling hosts Loud rose the clamour; then at Hector's side Apollo stood, and thus address'd the chief: "Hector, forbear Achilles to defy; And 'mid the crowd withdraw thee from the fray; Lest with the spear he slay thee, thrown from far, Or with the sword in combat hand to hand."
He said; and troubled by the heav'nly voice, Hector amid the throng of men withdrew.
Then, girt with might, amid the Trojans sprang, With fearful shouts, Achilles; first he slew Otryntes' son, Iphition, valiant chief Of num'rous warriors; him a Naiad nymph, In Hyde's fertile vale, beneath the feet Of snow-clad Tmolus, to Otryntes bore; At him, as on he rush'd, Achilles hurl'd, And through his forehead drove his glitt'ring spear; The head was cleft in twain; thund'ring he fell, And o'er him thus Achilles made his boast:
"Son of Otryntes, lie thou there, of men The most vain-glorious; here thou find'st thy death, Far from thy place of birth, beside the lake Gygaean; there hadst thou thine heritage Of old, beside the fish-abounding stream Of Hyllus, and by Hermus' eddying flood."
Thus he, exulting: o'er Iphition's eyes Were spread the shades of death; his mangled corpse Was crush'd beneath the Grecian chariot wheels, In the first shock. Demoleon next he smote, A helpful aid in war, Antenor's son, Pierc'd thro' the temples, thro' the brass-bound helm; Nor check'd the brazen helm the spear, whose point Went crashing through the bone, that all the brain Was shatter'd; onward as he rush'd, he fell. Then through the neck Hippodamas he smote, Flying before him, mounted on his car. Deep groan'd he, breathing out his soul, as groans A bull, by sturdy youths to th' altar dragg'd Of Neptune, King divine of Helice; Th' Earth-shaking God, well pleas'd, the gift receives; E'en with such groans his noble spirit fled. The godlike Polydore he next assail'd, The son of Priam; him his aged sire Would fain have kept at home, of all his sons At once the youngest and the best-belov'd; Among them all for speed of foot unmatch'd; Whose youthful folly, in the foremost ranks His speed displaying, cost him now his life. Him, as he darted by, Achilles' spear Struck through the centre of the back, where met The golden clasps that held the glitt'ring belt, And where the breastplate form'd a double guard: Right through his body pass'd the weapon's point; Groaning, he fell upon his knees; dark clouds O'erspread his eyes; supporting with his hand His wounded bowels, on the ground he writh'd. When Hector saw his brother Polydore Writhing in death, a mist o'erspread his eyes Nor longer could he bear to stand aloof, But sprang to meet Achilles, flashing fire, His keen spear brandishing; at sight of him Up leap'd Achilles, and exulting cried:
"Lo, here the man who most hath wrung my soul, Who slew my lov'd companion: now, methinks, Upon the pass of war not long shall we Stand separate, nor each the other shun."
Then, with stern glance, to godlike Hector thus: "Draw near, and quickly meet thy doom of death."
To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm, Unterrified: "Achilles, think not me, As though a fool and ignorant of war, To daunt with lofty speech; I too could well With cutting words and insult answer thee. I know thee strong and valiant; and I know Myself to thee inferior; but th' event Is with the Gods; and I, if such their will, The weaker, with my spear may reach thy life: My point too hath, ere now, its sharpness prov'd."
He said, and, poising, hurl'd his pond'rous spear, Which from Achilles Pallas turn'd aside With lightest breath; and back to Hector sent, And laid before his feet; intent to slay, Onward Achilles rush'd, with fearful shout; But Phoebus Hector from the field convey'd, (As Gods can only,) veil'd in thickest cloud. Thrice Peleus' godlike son, with brazen spear, His onset made; thrice struck the misty cloud; But when, with pow'r as of a God, he made His fourth essay, in fury thus he 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."
He said, and drove through Dryops' neck his spear, And stretch'd him at his feet, and pass'd him by. Next with his spear he struck below the knee Philetor's son, Demuchus, stout and tall, And check'd his forward course; then rushing on Dealt with his mighty sword the mortal blow. The sons of Bias next, Laogonus And Dardanus, he hurl'd from off their car, One with the spear, and one by sword-stroke slain. Tros too he slew, Alastor's son, who came To meet him, and embrace his knees, and pray To spare his life, in pity of his youth: Little he knew how vain would be his pray'r; For not of temper soft, nor mild of mood Was he, but sternly fierce; and as he knelt And clasp'd his knees, and would his pray'r prefer, Achilles clove him with his mighty sword, Gash'd through the liver; as from out the wound His liver dropp'd, the dark blood gushing forth His bosom fill'd, and darkness clos'd his eyes, As ebb'd his life away. Then through the ear Mulius he thrust; at th' other ear came forth The brazen point. Echeclus next he met, Son of Agenor, and his hilted sword Full on the centre of his head let fall. The hot blood dy'd the blade; the darkling shades Of death, and rig'rous fate, his eyes o'erspread. Next, where the tendons bind the elbow-joint, The brazen spear transfix'd Deucalion's arm; With death in prospect, and disabled arm He stood, till on his neck Achilles' sword Descending, shar'd, and flung afar, both head And helmet; from the spine's dissever'd joints The marrow flow'd, as stretch'd in dust he lay. The noble son of Peireus next he slew, Rigmus, who came from Thracia's fertile plains; Him through the waist he struck, the brazen spear Plung'd in his bowels; from the car he fell; And as Areithous, his charioteer, His horses turn'd, Achilles through the neck His sharp spear thrusting, hurl'd him to the ground, The startled steeds in wild confusion thrown.
As rage the fires amid the wooded glen Of some parch'd mountain's side, and fiercely burns The copse-wood dry, while eddying here and there The flames are whirl'd before the gusty wind; So fierce Achilles raged, on ev'ry side Pursuing, slaught'ring; reek'd the earth with blood. As when upon a well-roll'd threshing-floor, Two sturdy-fronted steers, together yok'd, Tread the white barley out; beneath their feet Fast flies the grain out-trodden from the husk; So by Achilles driv'n, his flying steeds His chariot bore, o'er bodies of the slain And broken bucklers trampling; all beneath Was plash'd with blood the axle, and the rails Around the car, as from the horses' feet And from the felloes of the wheels were thrown The bloody gouts; and onward still he press'd, Panting for added triumphs, deeply dyed With gore and carnage his unconquer'd hands.
THE BATTLE IN THE RIVER SCAMANDER.
The Trojans fly before Achilles, some towards the town, others to the river Scamander; he falls upon the latter with great slaughter, takes twelve captives alive, to sacrifice to the shade of Patroclus; and kills Lycaon and Asteropaeus. Scamander attacks him with all his waves; Neptune and Pallas assist the hero; Simois joins Scamander; at length Vulcan, by the instigation of Juno, almost dries up the river. This combat ended, the other gods engage each other. Meanwhile Achilles continues the slaughter, and drives the rest into Troy; Agenor only makes a stand, and is conveyed away in a cloud by Apollo: who (to delude Achilles) takes upon him Agenor's shape, and while he pursues him in that disguise, gives the Trojans an opportunity of retiring into their city.
The same day continues. The scene is on the banks and in the stream of Scamander.
But when they came to eddying Xanthus' ford, Fair-flowing stream, born of immortal Jove, Achilles cut in twain the flying host; Part driving tow'rd the city, o'er the plain, Where on the former day the routed Greeks, When Hector rag'd victorious, fled amain. On, terror-struck, they rush'd; but Juno spread, To baffle their retreat, before their path, Clouds and thick darkness: half the fugitives In the deep river's silv'ry eddies plung'd: With clamour loud they fell: the torrent roar'd; The banks around re-echoed; here and there, They, with the eddies wildly struggling, swam. As when, pursued by fire, a hov'ring swarm Of locusts riverward direct their flight, And, as th' insatiate flames advance, they cow'r Amid the waters; so a mingled mass Of men and horses, by Achilles driv'n, The deeply-whirling stream, of Xanthus chok'd. His spear amid the tamarisks on the bank The hero left; on savage deeds intent, Arm'd with his sword alone, a God in pow'r, He sprang amid the torrent; right and left He smote; then fearful rose the groans of men Slain with the sword; the stream ran red with blood. As fishes, flying from a dolphin, crowd The shoal recesses of some open bay, In fear, for whom he catches he devours; So crouch'd the Trojans in the mighty stream Beneath the banks; and when at length his hand Wearied of slaughter, from the stream, alive, He dragg'd twelve youths, whose forfeit lives should be The bloody fine for slain Patroclus paid. Helpless from fear, as fawns, he brought them forth; Their hands secur'd behind them with the belts Which o'er their shirts of twisted mail they wore, And bade his comrades lead them to the ships. Then on again he dash'd, athirst for blood; And first encounter'd, flying from the stream, Lycaon, Priam's son; him once before He by a nightly onslaught had surpris'd, And from his father's vineyard captive borne: Where, as he cut, to form his chariot rail, A fig-tree's tender shoots, unlook'd-for ill O'ertook him in the form of Peleus' son. Thence in his ship to Lemnos' thriving isle He bore him, ransom'd there by Jason's son. His Imbrian host, Eetion, set him free With lib'ral gifts, and to Arisba sent: Escaping thence, he reach'd his native home. Twelve days save one, rejoicing, with his friends He spent, return'd from Lemnos: fate, the twelfth, Again consign'd him to Achilles' hands, From him, reluctant, to receive his death. Him when Achilles, swift of foot, beheld, No spear in hand, of helm and shield bereft, All flung in haste away, as from the stream, Reeking with sweat, and faint with toil, he fled, He commun'd, wrathful, with his mighty heart:
"Ye Gods, what marvel do mine eyes behold! Methinks the valiant Trojans slain by me Ere long will from the realms of darkness rise; Since, death escaping, but to slav'ry sold In Lemnos' isle, this fellow hath return'd, Despite the hoary sea's impediment, Which many a man against his will hath stay'd: Now shall he taste my spear, that I may see If thence too he return, or if the earth May keep him safe, which e'en the strongest holds."
Thus, as he stood, he mus'd; but all aghast Approach'd Lycaon; and would fain have clasp'd The Hero's knees; for longingly he sought Escape from bitter death and evil fate. Achilles rais'd his spear, in act to strike; He, stooping, ran beneath, and clasp'd his knees; Above his back the murd'rous weapon pass'd, And in the earth was fix'd: one suppliant hand Achilles' knees embrac'd; the other held, With unrelaxing grasp, the pointed spear; As he with winged words, imploring, spoke:
"I clasp thy knees, Achilles! look then down With pity on my woes; and recognize, Illustrious chief, a suppliant's sacred claim: For in thy tent I first broke bread, that day, When, in my father's fruitful vineyard seiz'd, Thy captive I became, to slav'ry sold, Far from my sire and friends, in Lemnos' isle. A hundred oxen were my ransom then; At thrice so much I now would buy my life. This day is but the twelfth, since, sorely tried By lengthen'd suffering, back to Troy I came. Now to thy hands once more my cruel fate Consigns me; surely by the wrath of Jove Pursued, who gives me to thy pow'r again. Me, doom'd to early death, my mother bore, Old Altes' daughter, fair Laothoe; Altes, who rul'd the warlike Leleges, In lofty Pedasus, by Satnois' stream. His child of Priam's many wives was one; Two sons she bore, and both by thee must die. Already one, the godlike Polydore, Amid the foremost ranks thy spear hath slain; And now my doom hath found me; for from thee, Since evil fate hath plac'd me in thy hands, I may not hope to fly; yet hear but this, And weigh it in thy mind, to spare my life: I come not of that womb which Hector bore, Who slew thy comrade, gentle, kind, and brave."
Thus Priam's noble son, imploring, spoke; But stern the answer fell upon his ear:
"Thou fool! no more to me of ransom prate! Before Patroclus met the doom of death, To spare the Trojans still my soul inclin'd; And many captives, ta'en alive, I sold; But from henceforth, before the walls of Troy, Not one of all the Trojans, whom the Gods May to my hands deliver, least of all A son of Priam, shall escape the death. Thou too, my friend, must die: why vainly wail? Dead is Patroclus too, thy better far. Me too thou see'st, how stalwart, tall, and fair, Of noble sire, and Goddess-mother born: Yet must I yield to death and stubborn fate, Whene'er, at morn, or noon, or eve, the spear Or arrow from the bow may reach my life."
He said; and sank Lycaon's limbs and heart; He loos'd the spear, and sat, with both his hands Uprais'd, imploring; but Achilles drew, And on his neck beside the collar-bone Let fall his trenchant sword; the two-edg'd blade Was buried deep; prone on the earth he lay; Forth gush'd the crimson blood, and dyed the ground.
Him, dragging by the feet, Achilles threw In the mid stream, and thus with vaunting speech:
"Lie there amid the fishes, who shall cleanse, But not with kindly thought, thy gory wounds: O'er thee, extended on thy bier, shall rise No mother's wail; Scamander's eddying stream Shall to the sea's broad bosom roll thee down; And, springing through the darkly rippling wave, Fishes shall rise, and banquet on thy flesh. On now the work of death! till, flying ye, And slaught'ring I, we reach the city wall. Nor this fair-flowing, silver-eddying stream, Shall aught avail ye, though to him ye pay In sacrifice the blood of countless bulls, And living horses in his waters sink. Ye all shall perish, till Patroclus' death Be fully aveng'd, and slaughter of the Greeks, Whom, in my absence, by the ships ye slew." He said: the mighty River at his words Indignant chaf'd, and ponder'd in his mind How best to check Achilles' warlike toil, And from destruction guard the Trojan host.
Meantime Achilles with his pond'rous spear Asteropaeus, son of Pelegon, Assail'd with deadly purpose; Pelegon To broadly-flowing Axius ow'd his birth, The River-God commingling with the blood Of Periboea, daughter eldest born Of Acessamenus: on him he sprang; He, from the river rising, stood oppos'd. Two lances in his hand; his courage rous'd By Xanthus, who, indignant, saw his stream Polluted by the blood of slaughter'd youths, By fierce Achilles' hand, unpitying, slain. When near the warriors, each to other, came, Achilles, swift of foot, took up the word: "What man, and whence art thou, who dar'st to stand Oppos'd to me? of most unhappy sires The children they, who my encounter meet!"
To whom th' illustrious son of Pelegon: "Great son of Peleus, why enquire my race? From far Paeonia's fertile fields I come, The leader of the long-spear'd Paeon host. Ten days have pass'd since I to Ilium came. From widely-flowing Axius my descent, Axius, the purest stream on earth that flows. He Pelegon begot, the spear-renown'd; Of Pelegon I boast me sprung; and now Address thee, brave Achilles, to the fight."
Threat'ning he spoke: Achilles rais'd on high The Pelian spear; but, ambidexter, he From either hand at once a jav'lin launch'd. One struck, but pierc'd not through, the mighty shield, Stay'd by the golden plate, the gift of Heav'n; Achilles' right fore-arm the other graz'd: Forth gush'd the crimson blood; but, glancing by And vainly longing for the taste of flesh, The point behind him in the earth was fix'd. Then at Asteropaeus in his turn With deadly intent the son of Peleus threw His straight-directed spear; his mark he miss'd, But struck the lofty bank, where, deep infix'd To half its length, the Pelian ash remain'd. Then from beside his thigh Achilles drew His trenchant blade, and, furious, onward rush'd; While from the cliff Asteropaeus strove In vain, with stalwart hand, to wrench the spear. Three times he shook it with impetuous force, Three times relax'd his grasp; a fourth attempt He made to bend and break the sturdy shaft; But him, preventing, Peleus' godlike son With deadly stroke across the belly smote, And gush'd his bowels forth; upon the ground Gasping he lay, and darkness seal'd his eyes. Then on his breast Achilles sprang, and stripp'd His armour off, and thus with vaunting speech: "So lie thou there! 'tis hard for thee to fight, Though river-born, against the progeny Of mighty Jove; a widely-flowing stream Thou claim'st as author of thy parentage; My high descent from Jove himself I boast. My father Peleus, son of AEacus, Reigns o'er the num'rous race of Myrmidons; The son of Jove himself was AEacus. High o'er all rivers, that to th' ocean flow, Is Jove exalted; and in like degree Superior is his race in pow'r to theirs. A mighty River hast thou here at hand, If that might aught avail thee; but his pow'r Is impotent to strive with Saturn's son. With him, not Achelous, King of streams, Presumes to vie; nor e'en the mighty strength Of deeply-flowing, wide Oceanus; From whom all rivers, all the boundless sea, All fountains, all deep wells derive their source; Yet him appals the lightning bolt of Jove, And thunder, pealing from the vault of Heav'n." He said, and from the cliff withdrew his spear. Him left he lifeless there upon the sand Extended; o'er him the dark waters wash'd, And eels and fishes, thronging, gnaw'd his flesh. Then 'mid the Paeons' plumed host he rush'd, Who fled along the eddying stream, when him, Their bravest in the stubborn fight, they saw Slain by the sword and arm of Peleus' son. Thersilochus and Mydon then he slew, Mnesus and Thrasius and Astypylus, AEnius and Ophelestes; and yet more Had been the slaughter by Achilles wrought, But from his eddying depths, in human form, With wrathful tone the mighty River spoke:
"In strength, Achilles, and in deeds of arms, All mortals thou surpassest; for the Gods Themselves attend thee, and protect from harm; If Saturn's son have given thee utterly The Trojans to destroy, yet, ere thou slay, Far from my waters drive them o'er the plain; For now my lovely stream is fill'd with dead; Nor can I pour my current to the sea, With floating corpses chok'd, whilst thou pursuest The work of death, insatiate: stay thy hand! With horror I behold thee, mighty chief!"
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Be it as thou wilt, Scamander, Heav'n-born stream; Yet cease I not to slay until I drive These vaunting Trojans to their walls, and prove The force of Hector, if, in single fight, I be by him, or he by me, subdued."
He said, and fiercely on the Trojans rush'd, A God in might! to Phoebus then his speech The deeply-eddying River thus address'd:
"God of the silver bow, great son of Jove, Obey'st thou thus the will of Saturn's son, Who charg'd thee by the Trojans still to stand, And aid their cause, till ev'ning's late approach Should cast its shadows o'er the fertile earth?"
Thus as he spoke, from off the lofty bank Achilles springing in mid current plung'd; Then high the swelling stream, tumultuous, rose In all its angry flood; and with a roar As of a bellowing bull, cast forth to land The num'rous corpses by Achilles slain; And many living, in his cavern'd bed, Conceal'd behind the whirling waters sav'd. Fierce, round Achilles, rose the boiling wave, And on his shield descending, drove him down; Nor might he keep his foothold; but he grasp'd A lofty elm, well-grown, which from the cliff Uprooted, all the bank had torn away, And with its tangled branches check'd the flow Of the fair river, which with all its length It bridg'd across; then, springing from the deep, Swiftly he fled in terror o'er the plain. Nor ceas'd the mighty River, but pursued, With darkly-ruffling crest, intent to stay Achilles' course, and save the Trojan host. Far as a jav'lin's flight he rush'd, in speed Like the dark hunter eagle, strongest deem'd, And swiftest wing'd of all the feather'd race. So on he sped; loud rattled on his breast His brazen armour, as before the God, Cow'ring, he fled; the God behind him still With thund'ring sound pursued. As when a man From some dark-water'd spring through trenches leads, 'Mid plants and gardens, th' irrigating stream, And, spade in hand, th' appointed channel clears: Down flows the stream anon, its pebbly bed Disturbing; fast it flows with bubbling sound, Down the steep slope, o'ertaking him who leads. Achilles so th' advancing wave o'ertook, Though great his speed; but man must yield to Gods, Oft as Achilles, swift of foot, essay'd To turn and stand, and know if all the Gods, Who dwell in Heav'n, were leagued to daunt his soul So oft the Heav'n-born River's mighty wave Above his shoulders dash'd; in deep distress He sprang on high; then rush'd the flood below, And bore him off his legs, and wore away The soil beneath his feet; then, groaning, thus, As up to Heav'n he look'd, Achilles cried: "O Father Jove, will none of all the Gods In pity save me from this angry flood? Content, thereafter, would I meet my fate. Of all the pow'rs of Heav'n, my mother most Hath wrong'd me, who hath buoy'd me up with hope Delusive, that, before the walls of Troy, I should by Phoebus' swift-wing'd arrows fall. Would that by Hector's hand 'twere mine to die, The bravest of their brave! a warrior so Were by a warrior slain! now am I doom'd Ignobly here to sink, the mighty flood O'erwhelming me, like some poor shepherd lad, Borne down in crossing by a wintry brook."
He said; and quickly, cloth'd in mortal form, Neptune and Pallas at his side appear'd; With cheering words they took him by the hand, And thus th' Earth-shaking God his speech began:
"Achilles, fear not thou, nor be dismay'd; Such pow'rful aid, by Jove's consent, we bring, Pallas and I, from Heav'n; 'tis not decreed That thou shouldst by the River be o'erwhelm'd; He shall retire ere long, and thou shalt see; And more, if thou wilt hear, we undertake That from the war thine arm shall not be stay'd, Till thou shalt drive beneath the walls of Troy The crowd of flying Trojans; thou thyself Shalt Hector slay, and safe regain the ships: Such high renown we give thee to achieve."
They to the other Gods, this said, return'd; He, greatly strengthen'd by the voice divine, Press'd onwards to the plain; the plain he found All flooded o'er; and, floating, armour fair, And many a corpse of men in battle slain; Yet onward, lifting high his feet, he press'd Right tow'rd the stream; nor could the mighty stream Check his advance, such vigour Pallas gave; Nor did Scamander yet his fury stay, But fiercer rose his rage; and rearing high His crested wave, to Simois thus he cried:
"Dear brother, aid me with united force This mortal's course to check; he, unrestrain'd, Will royal Priam's city soon destroy, Nor will the Trojans his assault endure. Haste to the rescue then, and from their source Fill all thy stream, and all thy channels swell; Rouse thy big waves, and roll a torrent down Of logs and stones, to whelm this man of might, Who triumphs now, and bears him as a God. Nought shall his strength or beauty then avail, Or gallant arms, beneath the waters sunk, Deep buried in the mud: himself will I In sand imbed, and o'er his corpse a pile Of shingly gravel heap; nor shall the Greeks Be able to collect his bones, encas'd By me so deep in slime. His monument They here may raise; but when they celebrate His fun'ral rites, no mound will he require."
He said; and on Achilles, from on high Came boiling, rushing down, with thund'ring roar, With foam and blood and corpses intermix'd. High rose the Heav'n-born River's darkling wave, And bore Achilles downward; then in fear Lest the broad waters of the eddying stream Should quite o'erwhelm him, Juno cried aloud, And Vulcan thus, her son, in haste address'd:
"Up, Vulcan; up, my son; for we had deem'd That eddying Xanthus stood to thee oppos'd: Haste thee to aid; thy fiery strength display; While from the sea I call the stormy blast Of Zephyr and brisk Notus, who shall drive The raging flames ahead, and burn alike The Trojans and their arms: do thou the while Burn down the trees on Xanthus' banks; himself Assail with fire, nor by his honey'd words Nor by his menaces be turn'd aside; Nor, till thou hear my voice, restrain thy pow'r; Then stay the raging flames' unwearied course."
Thus Juno spoke; and Vulcan straight prepar'd The heav'nly fire; and first upon the plain The flames he kindled, and the dead consum'd, Who lay, promiscuous, by Achilles slain: The plain was dried, and stay'd the wat'ry flood. As when the breath of Boreas quickly dries In Autumn-time a newly-water'd field, The tiller's heart rejoicing: so was dried The spacious plain; then he, the dead consum'd, Against the river turn'd the fiery glare: Burnt were the willows, elms, and tamarisk shrubs, The lotus, and the reeds, and galingal, Which by the lovely river grew profuse. The eels and fishes, 'mid the eddying whirl, 'Mid the clear wave were hurrying here and there, In dire distress from Vulcan's fiery breath: Scorch'd by the flames, the mighty River spoke:
"Vulcan, no God against thy pow'r can stand, Nor with thy fiery flames will I contend; Restrain thy wrath; though Peleus' godlike son Should from their city drive the Trojans straight, With rival parties what concern have I?"
All scorch'd he spoke; his fair stream bubbling up, As when a caldron on a blazing fire, Fill'd with the melting fat of well-fed swine, Boils up within, and bubbles all around, With well-dried wood beneath, so bubbling up The waters of the lovely River boil'd: Nor onward would he flow, but check'd his course, By the hot blast o'er-borne, and fiery strength Of skilful Vulcan; and to Juno thus, Imploring, he his winged words address'd:
"Juno, what cause impels thy son, my stream, O'er all the rest, to visit with his wrath? E'en less than others who the Trojans aid, Have I offended; yet at thy command Will I withdraw; but bid that he too cease; And this I swear, no Trojan more to save, Though to devouring flames a prey, all Troy Were blazing, kindled by the valiant Greeks."
This when the white-arm'd Goddess Juno heard, To Vulcan straight she thus address'd her speech: "Vulcan, my glorious son, restrain thy hand: In mortal men's behalf, it is not meet To press thus hardly an Immortal God."
She said, and Vulcan stay'd his fiery strength, And, back returning, in his wonted bed Flow'd the fair River. Xanthus thus subdued, These two their warfare ceas'd, by Juno check'd, Despite her wrath; but 'mid the other Gods Arose contention fierce, and discord dire, Their warring passions rous'd on either side. With fearful crash they met: the broad Earth groan'd; Loud rang the Heav'n as with a trumpet's sound: Jove, on Olympus' height, the tumult heard, And in his heart he laugh'd a joyous laugh, To see the Gods in angry battle met. Not long they stood aloof, led on by Mars The buckler-breaker, who to Pallas first, Poising his spear, his bitter speech address'd:
"What dost thou here, thou saucy jade, to war The Gods exciting, overbold of mood, Led by thy haughty spirit? dost thou forget How thou the son of Tydeus, Diomed, Didst urge against me, and with visible spear Direct his aim, and aid to wound my flesh? For all I suffer'd then, thou now shalt pay."
Thus as he spoke, he struck the tassell'd shield, Awful to view, which not the lightning bolt Of Jove himself could pierce: the blood-stain'd Mars Against it thrust in vain his pond'rous spear. The Goddess stoop'd, and in her ample hand Took up a stone, that lay upon the plain, Dark, rugged, vast, which men of elder days Had set to mark the limits of their land. Full on the neck of Mars she hurl'd the mass, His limbs relaxing: o'er sev'n hundred feet Prostrate he lay, his hair defil'd with dust: Loud rang his armour; and with scornful smile Pallas address'd him thus with vaunting speech: