"Fool, hast thou yet to learn how mightier far My strength than thine, that me thou dar'st to meet? Bear thus the burthen of thy mother's curse, Who works thee harm, in wrath that thou the Greeks Deserting, aid'st the haughty Trojans' cause."
She said, and turn'd away her piercing glance: Him, deeply groaning, scarce to life restor'd, Jove's daughter Venus taking by the hand, Led from the field; which when the white-arm'd Queen Beheld, in haste to Pallas thus she cried: "O Heav'n, brave child of aegis-bearing Jove, Undaunted! lo again this saucy jade Amid the press, the bane of mortals, Mars Leads from the field; but haste thee in pursuit."
Thus Juno: Pallas hasten'd in pursuit Well pleas'd; and Venus with her pow'rful hand Assailing, struck upon the breast; at once The Goddess' courage and her limbs gave way. There on the ground the two together lay, While Pallas o'er them thus with vaunting speech:
"Would all were such, who aid the Trojan cause, Whene'er they meet in fight the warlike Greeks, As valiant and as stout as Venus proves, Who brings her aid to Mars, confronting me; Then had our warlike labours long been o'er, And Ilium's strong-built citadel overthrown."
Thus Pallas spoke: the white-arm'd Goddess smil'd, And to Apollo thus th' Earth-shaker spoke:
"Phoebus, why stand we idly thus aloof? The war begun by others, 'tis not meet; And shame it were, that to Olympus' height And to the brazen-floor'd abode of Jove We two without a contest should return. Thou then begin, as younger: 'twere not well For me, in age and practice more advanc'd. Feeble of soul, how senseless is thy heart! Hast thou forgotten all the cruel wrongs We two, alone of all th' Immortals, bore, When here, in Ilium, for a year, we serv'd, By Jove's command, the proud Laomedon, For promis'd hire; and he our tasks assign'd? His fortress, and a wall both broad and fair I built, the town's impregnable defence; While thou didst on his plodding herds attend, In many-crested Ida's woody glens. But when the joyous seasons, in their course, Had brought our labour's term, the haughty King Denied our guerdon, and with threats dismiss'd. Bound hand and foot, he threaten'd thee to send And sell to slav'ry in the distant isles, And with the sword cut off the ears of both. So in indignant sorrow we return'd, Robb'd of the hire he promis'd, but denied. For this thy favour dost thou show to Troy; And dost not rather join thy force to ours, That down upon their knees the Trojans all Should perish, with their babes and matrons chaste."
Whom answer'd thus the far-destroying King: "Earth-shaking God, I should not gain with thee The esteem of wise, if I with thee should fight For mortal men; poor wretches, who like leaves Flourish awhile, and eat the fruits of earth, But, sapless, soon decay: from combat then Refrain we, and to others leave the strife."
He turn'd, thus saying: for he deem'd it shame His father's brother to assail in arms; But him his sister, Goddess of the chase, Rebuk'd, and thus with scornful speech address'd:
"Fliest thou, Apollo? and to Neptune leav'st The easy victory and baseless fame? Why o'er thy shoulder hangs thine idle bow? Ne'er in our father's halls again, as erst Among th' Immortals, let me hear thee boast How thou with Neptune wouldst in arms contend."
Thus she; Apollo answer'd not a word; But Jove's imperial consort, fill'd with wrath, Assail'd with bitter words the Archer-Queen.
"How canst thou dare, thou saucy minx, to stand  Oppos'd to me, too great for thine assault, Despite thy bow? though Jove hath giv'n thee pow'r O'er feeble women, whom thou wilt, to slay, E'en as a lion; better were't for thee To chase the mountain beasts and flying hinds, Than thy superiors thus to meet in arms, But since thou dar'st confront me, thou shalt know And feel how far my might surpasses thine."
She said; and with the left hand both the wrists Of Dian grasping, with her ample right The bow and quiver from her shoulders tore; And with them, as she turn'd away her head, With scornful laughter buffeted her ears: The arrows keen were scatter'd on the ground: Weeping, the Goddess fled; as flies a dove The hawk's pursuit, and in a hollow rock Finds refuge, doom'd not yet to fall a prey; So, weeping, Dian fled, and left her bow.
Them Hermes to Latona thus: "With thee I strive not; shame it were to meet in fight A consort of the cloud-compelling Jove. Freely amid th' Immortals make thy boast, That by thy prowess thou hast vanquish'd me."
Thus he: Latona gather'd up the bow, And fallen arrows, scatter'd here and there Amid the whirling dust; then, these regain'd, Following her daughter, from the field withdrew. Meanwhile to high Olympus fled the Maid, And to the brazen-floor'd abode of Jove. There, weeping, on her father's knees she sat, While quiver'd round her form th' ambrosial robe. The son of Saturn tow'rds him drew his child, And thus, with gracious smile, enquiry made: "Which of the heav'nly pow'rs hath wrong'd thee thus My child, as guilty of some open shame?"
To whom the bright-crown'd Goddess of the chase: "Thy wife, my father, white-arm'd Juno; she Hath dealt thus rudely with me; she, from whom All jars and strife among the Gods proceed."
Such converse while they held, the gates of Troy Apollo enter'd, for the well-built wall Alarm'd, lest e'en against the will of fate The Greeks that day should raze it to the ground. The other Gods were to Olympus gone, Triumphant these, and those in angry mood, And took their seats before the cloud-girt Sire. But on the Trojans pressing, Peleus' son Horses and men alike, promiscuous, slew. As in a city, which the Gods in wrath Have fir'd, whose volleying smoke ascends to Heav'n, On all her people grievous toil is cast, On many, harm and loss; such toil, such loss Achilles wrought amid the Trojan host.
Upon a lofty tow'r, the work of Gods, The aged Priam stood, and thence beheld By fierce Achilles driven in flight confused, Their courage quite subdued, the Trojan host: Then, groaning, from the tow'r he hasten'd down, And to the warders cried along the wall:
"Stand to the gates, and hold them open'd wide, That in the crowd of fugitives may pour, And refuge find; for close upon their flight Achilles hangs; disaster now is near. But while our friends, receiv'd within the walls, Find time to breathe again, replace in haste The closely-fitting portals; for I fear That man of blood may e'en the city storm."
He said; the gates they open'd, and drew back The solid bars; the portals, op'ning wide, Let in the light; but in the vacant space Apollo stood, the Trojan host to save. The flyers, parch'd with thirst and dust-begrim'd, Straight for the city and the lofty wall Made from the plain; Achilles, spear in hand, Press'd hotly on the rearmost; for his soul With rage was fill'd, and madd'ning lust of fame. And now the lofty-gated city of Troy The sons of Greece had won; but Phoebus rous'd Agenor's spirit, a valiant youth and strong, Son of Antenor; he his bosom fill'd With dauntless courage, and beside him stood To turn aside the heavy hand of death, As, veil'd in cloud, against the oak he lean'd. He, when Achilles' awful form he knew, Yet firmly stood, though much perplex'd in mind, As thus he commun'd with his mighty heart:
"Oh woe is me! should I attempt to fly Before Achilles' might, where fly the rest Across the plain, disorder'd, he would soon O'ertake me, and in flight ignoble slay. Or should I leave the others to their fate, Scatter'd by Peleus' son; and from the wall And o'er the plain of Troy direct my flight, Far as the foot of Ida's hill, and there Lie hid in thickest covert; and at eve, Refresh'd by bathing in the cooling stream, And purg'd the sweat, retrace my steps to Troy? Yet why, my soul, admit such thoughts as these? For should he mark me flying from the town, And overtake me by his speed of foot, No hope were left me of escape from death. So far his strength exceeds the strength of man. But how if boldly I await him here Before the wall? his flesh is not to wounds Impervious: but a single life is his, Nor is he more, they say, than mortal man, Though Jove assists him, and his triumph wills."
He said, and stood collected, to await Achilles' onset; and his manly heart, With courage fill'd, was eager for the fray. As when a panther from the thicket's depth Comes forth to meet the hunter, undismay'd, Nor turn'd to flight by baying of the hounds; Nor, wounded or by jav'lin or by sword, Or by the spear transfix'd, remits her rage, But fights, until she reach her foe, or die; Agenor so, Antenor's godlike son, Disdain'd to fly, ere prove Achilles' might. Before his breast his shield's broad orb he bore, And pois'd his spear, as thus he call'd aloud:
"Thy hope, renown'd Achilles, was this day The valiant Trojans' city to destroy; Unconscious of the toils, the woes, that ye Around her walls await ye! for within Are warriors brave and num'rous, who will fight In her defence, for parents, children, wives. Thou too, Achilles, here shalt meet thy doom, All-pow'rful as thou art, and warrior bold."
He said, and threw with stalwart hand the spear; Achilles' leg he struck, below the knee, Nor miss'd his aim; and loudly rang the greaves Of new-wrought tin; but back the brazen point Rebounded, nor the heav'nly armour pierc'd. In turn Achilles on Agenor sprang: But Phoebus robb'd him of his hop'd-for prize, Who, veil'd in thickest cloud, convey'd away Antenor's son, and from the battle bore To rest in peace; while he by guile withdrew The son of Peleus from the flying crowd: For in Agenor's very likeness clad, Before him stood the far-destroying King: Then fled, Achilles hast'ning in pursuit. He o'er the fertile plain with flying foot Pursu'd; beside Scamander's eddying stream Apollo turn'd, and still but little space Before him flying, subtly lur'd him on, Each moment hoping to attain his prize. Meantime the gen'ral crowd, in panic flight, With eager haste the city's refuge sought, And all the town with fugitives was fill'd. Nor did they dare without the walls to stand For mutual aid; nor halt to know what friends Were safe, who left upon the battle-field; But through the gates pour'd in the hurrying mass Who to their active limbs their safety ow'd.
THE DEATH OF HECTOR.
The Trojans being safe within the walls, Hector only stays to oppose Achilles. Priam is struck at his approach, and tries to persuade his son to re-enter the town. Hecuba joins his entreaties, but in vain. Hector consults within himself what measures to take; but, at the advance of Achilles, his resolution fails him, and he flies: Achilles pursues him thrice round the walls of Troy. The gods debate concerning the fate of Hector; at length Minerva descends to the aid of Achilles. She deludes Hector in the shape of Deiphobus; he stands the combat, and is slain. Achilles drags the dead body at his chariot, in the sight of Priam and Hecuba. Their lamentations, tears, and despair. Their cries reach the ears of Andromache, who, ignorant of this, was retired into the inner part of the palace; she mounts up to the walls, and beholds her dead husband. She swoons at the spectacle. Her excess of grief and lamentation.
The thirtieth day still continues. The scene lies under the walls, and on the battlements of Troy.
Thus they from panic flight, like timorous fawns. Within the walls escaping, dried their sweat, And drank, and quench'd their thirst, reclining safe On the fair battlements; but nearer drew, With slanted shields, the Greeks; yet Hector still In front of Ilium and the Scaean gate, Stay'd by his evil doom, remain'd without; Then Phoebus thus to Peleus' godlike son: "Achilles, why with active feet pursue, Thou mortal, me Immortal? know'st thou not My Godhead, that so hot thy fury burns? Or heed'st thou not that all the Trojan host Whom thou hast scar'd, while thou art here withdrawn, Within the walls a refuge safe have found? On me thy sword is vain! I know not death!"
Enrag'd, Achilles, swift of foot, replied: "Deep is the injury, far-darting King, Most hostile of the Gods, that at thy hand I bear, who here hast lur'd me from the walls, Which many a Trojan else had fail'd to reach, Ere by my hand they bit the bloody dust. Me of immortal honour thou hast robb'd, And them, thyself from vengeance safe, hast sav'd. Had I the pow'r, that vengeance thou shouldst feel."
Thus saying, and on mightiest deeds intent, He turn'd him city-ward, with fiery speed; As when a horse, contending for the prize, Whirls the swift car, and stretches o'er the plain, E'en so, with active limbs, Achilles rac'd.
Him first the aged Priam's eyes discern'd, Scouring the plain, in arms all dazzling bright, Like to th' autumnal star, whose brilliant ray Shines eminent amid the depth of night, Whom men the dog-star of Orion call; The brightest he, but sign to mortal man Of evil augury, and fiery heat: So shone the brass upon the warrior's breast.
The old man groan'd aloud, and lifting high His hands, he beat his head, and with loud voice Call'd on his son, imploring; he, unmov'd, Held post before the gates, awaiting there Achilles' fierce encounter; him his sire, With hands outstretch'd and piteous tone, address'd:
"Hector, my son, await not here alone That warrior's charge, lest thou to fate succumb, Beneath Pelides' arm, thy better far! Accurs'd be he! would that th' immortal Gods So favour'd him as I! then should his corpse Soon to the vultures and the dogs be giv'n! (So should my heart a load of anguish lose) By whom I am of many sons bereav'd, Many and brave, whom he has slain, or sold To distant isles in slav'ry; and e'en now, Within the city walls I look in vain For two, Lycaon brave, and Polydore, My gallant sons, by fair Laothoe: If haply yet they live, with brass and gold Their ransom shall be paid; good store of these We can command; for with his daughter fair A wealthy dowry aged Altes gave. But to the viewless shades should they have gone, Deep were their mother's sorrow and my own; But of the gen'ral public, well I know Far lighter were the grief, than if they heard That thou hadst fall'n beneath Achilles' hand. Then enter now, my son, the city gates, And of the women and the men of Troy, Be still the guardian; nor to Peleus' son, With thine own life, immortal glory give. Look too on me with pity; me, on whom, E'en on the threshold of mine age, hath Jove A bitter burthen cast, condemn'd to see My sons struck down, my daughters dragg'd away In servile bonds; our chambers' sanctity Invaded; and our babes by hostile hands Dash'd to the ground; and by ferocious Greeks Enslav'd the widows of my slaughter'd sons. On me at last the rav'ning dogs shall feed, When by some foeman's hand, by sword or lance, My soul shall from my body be divorc'd; Those very dogs which I myself have bred, Fed at my table, guardians of my gate, Shall lap my blood, and over-gorg'd shall lie E'en on my threshold. That a youth should fall Victim, to Mars, beneath a foeman's spear, May well beseem his years; and if he fall With honour, though he die, yet glorious he! But when the hoary head and hoary beard, And naked corpse to rav'ning dogs are giv'n, No sadder sight can wretched mortals see."
The old man spoke, and from, his head he tore The hoary hair; yet Hector firm remain'd. Then to the front his mother rush'd, in tears, Her bosom bare, with either hand her breast Sustaining, and with tears address'd him thus: "Hector, my child, thy mother's breast revere; And on this bosom if thine infant woes Have e'er been hush'd, bear now in mind, dear child, The debt thou ow'st; and from within the walls Ward off this fearful man, nor in the field Encounter; curs'd be he! should he prevail, And slay thee, not upon the fun'ral bed, My child, my own, the offspring of my womb, Shall I deplore thee, nor thy widow'd wife, But far away, beside the Grecian ships, Thy corpse shall to the rav'ning dogs be giv'n."
Thus they, with tears and earnest pray'rs imploring, Address'd their son; yet Hector firm remain'd, Waiting th' approach of Peleus' godlike son. As when a snake upon the mountain side, With deadly venom charg'd, beside his hole, Awaits the traveller, and fill'd with rage, Coil'd round his hole, his baleful glances darts; So fill'd with dauntless courage Hector stood, Scorning retreat, his gleaming buckler propp'd Against the jutting tow'r; then, deeply mov'd, Thus with his warlike soul communion held:
"Oh woe is me! if I should enter now The city gates, I should the just reproach Encounter of Polydamas, who first His counsel gave within the walls to lead The Trojan forces, on that fatal night When great Achilles in the field appear'd. I heeded not his counsel; would I had! Now, since my folly hath the people slain, I well might blush to meet the Trojan men, And long-rob'd dames of Troy, lest some might say, To me inferior far, 'This woful loss To Hector's blind self-confidence we owe.' Thus shall they say; for me, 'twere better far, Or from Achilles, slain in open fight, Back to return in triumph, or myself To perish nobly in my country's cause. What if my bossy shield I lay aside, And stubborn helmet, and my pond'rous spear Propping against the wall, go forth to meet Th' unmatch'd Achilles? What if I engage That Helen's self, and with her all the spoil, And all that Paris in his hollow ships Brought here to Troy, whence first this war arose, Should be restor'd; and to the Greeks be paid An ample tribute from the city's stores, Her secret treasures; and hereafter bind The Trojans by their Elders' solemn oaths Nought to withhold, but fairly to divide Whate'er of wealth our much-loved city holds? But wherefore entertain such thoughts, my soul? Should I so meet him, what if he should show Nor pity nor remorse, but slay me there, Defenceless as a woman, and unarm'd? Not this the time, nor he the man, with whom By forest oak or rock, like youth and maid, To hold light talk, as youth and maid might hold. Better to dare the fight, and know at once To whom the vict'ry is decreed by Heav'n."
Thus, as he stood, he mus'd; but near approach'd Achilles, terrible as plumed Mars; From his right shoulder brandishing aloft The ashen spear of Peleus, while around Flash'd his bright armour, dazzling as the glare Of burning fire, or of the rising sun. Hector beheld, and trembled at the sight; Nor dar'd he there await th' attack, but left The gates behind, and, terror-stricken, fled. Forward, with flying foot, Pelides rush'd. As when a falcon, bird of swiftest flight, From some high mountain-top, on tim'rous dove Swoops fiercely down; she, from beneath, in fear, Evades the stroke; he, dashing through the brake, Shrill-shrieking, pounces on his destin'd prey; So, wing'd with desp'rate hate, Achilles flew, So Hector, flying from his keen pursuit, Beneath the walls his active sinews plied. They by the watch-tow'r, and beneath the wall Where stood the wind-beat fig-tree, rac'd amain Along the public road, until they reach'd The fairly-flowing fount whence issu'd forth, From double source, Scamander's eddying streams. One with hot current flows, and from beneath, As from a furnace, clouds of steam arise; 'Mid summer's heat the other rises cold As hail, or snow, or water crystalliz'd; Beside the fountains stood the washing-troughs Of well-wrought stone, where erst the wives of Troy And daughters fair their choicest garments wash'd, In peaceful times, ere came the sons of Greece. There rac'd they, one in flight, and one pursuing; Good he who fled, but better who pursu'd, With fiery speed; for on that race was stak'd No common victim, no ignoble ox: The prize at stake was mighty Hector's life. As when the solid-footed horses fly Around the course, contending for the prize, Tripod, or woman of her lord bereft; So rac'd they thrice around the walls of Troy With active feet; and all the Gods beheld. Then thus began the Sire of Gods and men: "A woful sight mine eyes behold; a man I love in flight around the walls! my heart For Hector grieves, who, now upon the crown Of deeply-furrow'd Ida, now again On Ilium's heights, with fat of choicest bulls Hath pil'd mine altar; whom around the walls, With flying speed Achilles now pursues. Give me your counsel, Gods, and say, from death If we shall rescue him, or must he die, Brave as he is, beneath Pelides' hand?"
To whom the blue-ey'd Goddess, Pallas, thus: "O Father, lightning-flashing, cloud-girt King, What words are these? wouldst thou a mortal man, Long doom'd by fate, again from death preserve? Do as thou wilt, but not with our consent."
To whom the Cloud-compeller thus replied: "Be of good cheer, my child! unwillingly I speak, yet both thy wishes to oppose: Have then thy will, and draw not back thy hand."
His words fresh impulse gave to Pallas' zeal, And from Olympus' heights in haste she sped.
Meanwhile on Hector, with untiring hate. The swift Achilles press'd: as when a hound, Through glen and tangled brake, pursues a fawn, Rous'd from its lair upon the mountain side; And if awhile it should evade pursuit, Low crouching in the copse, yet quests he back, Searching unwearied, till he find the trace; So Hector sought to baffle, but in vain, The keen pursuit of Peleus' active son. Oft as he sought the shelter of the gates Beneath the well-built tow'rs, if haply thence His comrades' weapons might some aid afford; So oft his foeman, with superior speed, Would cut him off, and turn him to the plain. He tow'rd the city still essay'd his flight; And as in dreams, when one pursues in vain, One seeks in vain to fly, the other seeks As vainly to pursue; so could not now Achilles reach, nor Hector quit, his foe. Yet how should Hector now the doom of death Have 'scap'd, had not Apollo once again, And for the last time, to his rescue come, And giv'n him strength and suppleness of limb?
Then to the crowd Achilles with his head Made sign that none at Hector should presume To cast a spear, lest one might wound, and so The greater glory obtain, while he himself Must be contented with the second place. But when the fourth time in their rapid course The founts were reach'd, th' Eternal Father hung His golden scales aloft, and plac'd in each The lots of doom, for great Achilles one, For Hector one, and held them by the midst: Down sank the scale, weighted with Hector's death, Down to the shades, and Phoebus left his side.
Then to Pelides came the blue-ey'd Maid, And stood beside him, and bespoke him thus: "Achilles, lov'd of Heav'n, I trust that now To thee and me great glory shall accrue In Hector's fall, insatiate of the fight. Escape he cannot now, though at the feet Of aegis-bearing Jove, on his behalf, With earnest pray'r Apollo prostrate fall. But stay thou here and take thy breath, while I Persuade him to return and dare the fight."
So Pallas spoke; and he with joy obeying, Stood leaning on his brass-barb'd ashen spear. The Goddess left him there, and went (the form And voice assuming of Deiphobus) In search of godlike Hector; him she found, And standing near, with winged words address'd:
"Sorely, good brother, hast thou been bested By fierce Achilles, who around the walls Hath chas'd thee with swift foot; now stand we both For mutual succour, and his onset wait."
To whom great Hector of the glancing helm: "Deiphobus, of all my brothers, sons Of Hecuba and Priam, thou hast been Still dearest to my heart; and now the more I honour thee who dar'st on my behalf, Seeing my peril, from within the walls To sally forth, while others skulk behind."
To whom the blue-ey'd Goddess thus replied: "With many pray'rs, good brother, both our sire And honour'd mother, and our comrades all Successively implored me to remain; Such fear is fall'n on all; but in my soul On thine account too deep a grief I felt. Now, forward boldly! spare we not our spears; Make trial if Achilles to the ships From both of us our bloody spoils can bear, Or by thine arm himself may be subdued."
Thus Pallas lur'd him on with treach'rous wile; But when the two were met, and close at hand, First spoke great Hector of the glancing helm:
"No more before thee, Peleus' son, I fly: Thrice have I fled around the walls, nor dar'd Await thine onset; now my spirit is rous'd To stand before thee, to be slain, or slay. But let us first th' immortal Gods invoke; The surest witnesses and guardians they Of compacts: at my hand no foul disgrace Shalt thou sustain, if Jove with victory Shall crown my firm endurance, and thy life To me be forfeit; of thine armour stripp'd I promise thee, Achilles, to the Greeks Thy body to restore; do thou the like."
With fierce regard Achilles answer'd thus: "Hector, thou object of my deadly hate, Talk not to me of compacts; as 'tween men And lions no firm concord can exist, Nor wolves and lambs in harmony unite, But ceaseless enmity between them dwells: So not in friendly terms, nor compact firm, Can thou and I unite, till one of us Glut with his blood the mail-clad warrior Mars. Mind thee of all thy fence; behoves thee now To prove a spearman skill'd, and warrior brave. For thee escape is none; now, by my spear, Hath Pallas doom'd thy death; my comrades' blood, Which thou hast shed, shall all be now aveng'd."
He said, and poising, hurl'd his weighty spear; But Hector saw, and shunn'd the blow; he stoop'd, And o'er his shoulder flew the brass-tipp'd spear, And in the ground was fix'd; but Pallas drew The weapon forth, and to Achilles' hand, All unobserv'd of Hector, gave it back. Then Hector thus to Peleus' matchless son:
"Thine aim has fail'd; nor truly has my fate, Thou godlike son of Peleus, been to thee From Heav'n reveal'd; such was indeed thy boast; But flippant was thy speech, and subtly fram'd To scare me with big words, and make me prove False to my wonted prowess and renown. Not in my back will I receive thy spear, But through my breast, confronting thee, if Jove Have to thine arm indeed such triumph giv'n. Now, if thou canst, my spear in turn elude; May it be deeply buried in thy flesh! For lighter were to Troy the load of war, If thou, the greatest of her foes, wert slain."
He said, and poising, hurl'd his pond'rous spear; Nor miss'd his aim; full in the midst he struck Pelides' shield; but glancing from the shield The weapon bounded off. Hector was griev'd, That thus his spear had bootless left his hand. He stood aghast; no second spear was nigh: And loudly on Deiphobus he call'd A spear to bring; but he was far away. Then Hector knew that he was dup'd, and cried, "Oh Heav'n! the Gods above have doom'd my death! I deem'd indeed that brave Deiphobus Was near at hand; but he within the walls Is safe, and I by Pallas am betray'd. Now is my death at hand, nor far away: Escape is none; since so hath Jove decreed, And Jove's far-darting son, who heretofore Have been my guards; my fate hath found me now. Yet not without a struggle let me die, Nor all inglorious; but let some great act, Which future days may hear of, mark my fall."
Thus as he spoke, his sharp-edged sword he drew, Pond'rous and vast, suspended at his side; Collected for the spring, and forward dash'd: As when an eagle, bird of loftiest flight, Through the dark clouds swoops downward on the plain, To seize some tender lamb, or cow'ring hare; So Hector rush'd, and wav'd his sharp-edg'd sword. Achilles' wrath was rous'd: with fury wild His soul was fill'd: before his breast he bore His well-wrought shield; and fiercely on his brow Nodded the four-plum'd helm, as on the breeze Floated the golden hairs, with which the crest By Vulcan's hand was thickly interlac'd; And as amid the stars' unnumber'd host, When twilight yields to night, one star appears, Hesper, the brightest star that shines in Heav'n, Gleam'd the sharp-pointed lance, which in his right Achilles pois'd, on godlike Hector's doom Intent, and scanning eagerly to see Where from attack his body least was fenc'd. All else the glitt'ring armour guarded well, Which Hector from Patroclus' corpse had stripp'd; One chink appear'd, just where the collar-bone The neck and shoulder parts, beside the throat, Where lies expos'd the swiftest road of death. There levell'd he, as Hector onward rush'd; Right through the yielding neck the lance was driv'n, But sever'd not the windpipe, nor destroy'd His pow'r of speech; prone in the dust he fell; And o'er him, vaunting, thus Achilles spoke:
"Hector, Patroclus stripping of his arms, Thy hope was that thyself wast safe; and I, Not present, brought no terror to thy soul: Fool! in the hollow ships I yet remain'd, I, his avenger, mightier far than he; I, who am now thy conqu'ror. By the dogs And vultures shall thy corpse be foully torn, While him the Greeks with fun'ral rites shall grace."
Whom answer'd Hector of the glancing helm, Prostrate and helpless: "By thy soul, thy knees, Thy parents' heads, Achilles, I beseech, Let not my corpse by Grecian dogs be torn. Accept the ample stores of brass and gold, Which as my ransom by my honour'd sire And mother shall be paid thee; but my corpse Restore, that so the men and wives of Troy May deck with honours due my fun'ral pyre."
To whom, with fierce aspect, Achilles thus: "Knee me no knees, vile hound! nor prate to me Of parents! such my hatred, that almost I could persuade myself to tear and eat Thy mangled flesh; such wrongs I have to avenge, He lives not, who can save thee from the dogs; Not though with ransom ten and twenty fold He here should stand, and yet should promise more; No, not though Priam's royal self should sue To be allow'd for gold to ransom thee; No, not e'en so, thy mother shall obtain To lay thee out upon the couch, and mourn O'er thee, her offspring; but on all thy limbs Shall dogs and carrion vultures make their feast."
To whom thus Hector of the glancing helm, Dying: "I know thee well; nor did I hope To change thy purpose; iron is thy soul. But see that on thy head I bring not down The wrath of Heav'n, when by the Scaean gate The hand of Paris, with Apollo's aid, Brave warrior as thou art, shall strike thee down."
E'en as he spoke, his eyes were clos'd in death; And to the viewless shades his spirit fled, Mourning his fate, his youth and vigour lost.
To him, though dead, Achilles thus replied: "Die thou! my fate I then shall meet, whene'er Jove and th' immortal Gods shall so decree."
He said, and from the corpse his spear withdrew, And laid aside; then stripp'd the armour off, With, blood besmear'd; the Greeks around him throng'd, Gazing on Hector's noble form and face, And none approach'd that did not add a wound: And one to other look'd, and said, "Good faith, Hector is easier far to handle now, Then when erewhile he wrapp'd our ships in fire." Thus would they say, then stab the dead anew.
But when the son of Peleus, swift of foot, Had stripp'd the armour from the corpse, he rose, And, standing, thus th' assembled Greeks address'd: "O friends, the chiefs and councillors of Greece, Since Heav'n hath granted us this man to slay, Whose single arm hath wrought us more of ill Than all the rest combin'd, advance we now Before the city in arms, and trial make What is the mind of Troy; if, Hector slain, They from the citadel intend retreat, Or still, despite their loss, their ground maintain. But wherefore entertain such thoughts, my soul? Beside the ships, unwept, unburied, lies Patroclus: whom I never can forget, While number'd with the living, and my limbs Have pow'r to move; in Hades though the dead May be forgotten, yet e'en there will I The mem'ry of my lov'd companion keep. Now to the ships return we, sons of Greece, Glad paeans singing! with us he shall go; Great glory is ours, the godlike Hector slain, The pride of Troy, and as a God rever'd."
He said, and foully Hector's corpse misus'd; Of either foot he pierc'd the tendon through, That from the ancle passes to the heel, And to his chariot bound with leathern thongs, Leaving the head to trail along the ground; Then mounted, with the captur'd arms, his car, And urg'd his horses; nothing loth, they flew. A cloud of dust the trailing body rais'd: Loose hung his glossy hair; and in the dust Was laid that noble head, so graceful once; Now to foul insult doom'd by Jove's decree, In his own country, by a foeman's hand. So lay the head of Hector; at the sight His aged mother tore her hair, and far From off her head the glitt'ring veil she threw, And with loud cries her slaughter'd son bewail'd. Piteous, his father groan'd; and all around Was heard the voice of wailing and of woe. Such was the cry, as if the beetling height Of Ilium all were smould'ring in the fire. Scarce in his anguish could the crowd restrain The old man from issuing through the Dardan gates; Low in the dust he roll'd, imploring all, Entreating by his name each sev'ral man: "Forbear, my friends; though sorrowing, stay me not; Leave me to reach alone the Grecian ships, And there implore this man of violence, This haughty chief, if haply he my years May rev'rence, and have pity on my age. For he too has a father, like to me; Peleus, by whom he was begot, and bred, The bane of Troy; and, most of all, to me The cause of endless grief, who by his hand Have been of many stalwart sons bereft. Yet all, though griev'd for all, I less lament, Than one, whose loss will sink me to the grave, Hector! oh would to Heav'n that in mine arms He could have died; with mourning then and tears We might have satisfied our grief, both she Who bore him, hapless mother, and myself."
Weeping, he spoke; and with him wept the crowd: Then, 'mid the women, Hecuba pour'd forth Her vehement grief: "My child, oh whither now, Heart-stricken, shall I go, of thee bereft, Of thee, who wast to me by night and day A glory and a boast; the strength of all The men of Troy, and women? as a God They worshipp'd thee: for in thy life thou wast The glory of all; but fate hath found thee now."
Weeping, she spoke; but nought as yet was known To Hector's wife; to her no messenger Had brought the tidings, that without the walls Remained her husband; in her house withdrawn A web she wove, all purple, double woof, With varied flow'rs in rich embroidery, And to her neat-hair'd maidens gave command To place the largest caldrons on the fire, That with warm baths, returning from the fight, Hector might be refresh'd; unconscious she, That by Achilles' hand, with Pallas' aid, Far from the bath, was godlike Hector slain. The sounds of wailing reach'd her from the tow'r; Totter'd her limbs, the distaff left her hand, And to her neat-hair'd maidens thus she spoke: "Haste, follow me, some two, that I may know What mean these sounds; my honour'd mother's voice I hear; and in my breast my beating heart Leaps to my mouth; my limbs refuse to move; Some evil, sure, on Priam's house impends. Be unfulfill'd my words! yet much I fear Lest my brave Hector be cut off alone, By great Achilles, from the walls of Troy, Chas'd to the plain, the desp'rate courage quench'd, Which ever led him from the gen'ral ranks Far in advance, and bade him yield to none."
Then from the house she rush'd, like one distract, With beating heart; and with her went her maids. But when she reach'd the tow'r, where stood the crowd, And mounted on the wall, she look'd around, And saw the body which with insult foul The flying steeds were dragging towards the ships; Then sudden darkness overspread her eyes; Backward she fell, and gasp'd her spirit away. Far off were flung th' adornments of her head, The net, the fillet, and the woven bands; The nuptial veil by golden Venus giv'n, That day when Hector of the glancing helm Led from Eetion's house his wealthy bride. The sisters of her husband round her press'd, And held, as in the deadly swoon she lay. But when her breath and spirit return'd again, With sudden burst of anguish thus she cried: "Hector, oh woe is me! to misery We both were born alike; thou here in Troy In Priam's royal palace; I in Thebes, By wooded Placos, in Eetion's house, Who nurs'd my infancy; unhappy he, Unhappier I! would I had ne'er been born! Now thou beneath the depths of earth art gone, Gone to the viewless shades; and me hast left A widow in thy house, in deepest woe; Our child, an infant still, thy child and mine, Ill-fated parents both! nor thou to him, Hector, shalt be a guard, nor he to thee: For though he 'scape this tearful war with Greece, Yet nought for him remains but ceaseless woe, And strangers on his heritage shall seize. No young companions own the orphan boy: With downcast eyes, and cheeks bedew'd with tears, His father's friends approaching, pinch'd with want, He hangs upon the skirt of one, of one He plucks the cloak; perchance in pity some May at their tables let him sip the cup, Moisten his lips, but scarce his palate touch; While youths, with both surviving parents bless'd, May drive him from their feast with blows and taunts, 'Begone! thy father sits not at our board:' Then weeping, to his widow'd mother's arms He flies, that orphan boy, Astyanax, Who on his father's knees erewhile was fed On choicest marrow, and the fat of lambs; And, when in sleep his childish play was hush'd, Was lull'd to slumber in his nurse's arms On softest couch, by all delights surrounded. But grief, his father lost, awaits him now, Astyanax, of Trojans so surnam'd, Since thou alone wast Troy's defence and guard. But now on thee, beside the beaked ships, Far from thy parents, when the rav'ning dogs Have had their fill, the wriggling worms shall feed; On thee, all naked; while within thy house Lies store of raiment, rich and rare, the work Of women's hands; these will I burn with fire; Not for thy need—thou ne'er shalt wear them more,— But for thine honour in the sight of Troy."
Weeping she spoke; the women join'd her wail.
FUNERAL GAMES IN HONOUR OF PATROCLUS.
Achilles and the Myrmidons do honour to the body of Patroclus. After the funeral feast he retires to the sea-shore, where, falling asleep, the ghost of his friend appears to him, and demands the rites of burial: the next morning the soldiers are sent with mules and waggons to fetch wood for the pyre. The funeral procession, and the offering their hair to the dead. Achilles sacrifices several animals, and lastly, twelve Trojan captives, at the pile; then sets fire to it. He pays libations to the winds, which (at the instance of Iris) rise, and raise the flame. When the pile has burned all night, they gather the bones, place them in an urn of gold, and raise the tomb. Achilles institutes the funeral games: the chariot-race, the fight of the caestus, the wrestling, the footrace, the single combat, the discus, the shooting with arrows, the darting the javelin: the various descriptions of which, and the various success of the several antagonists, make the greatest part of the book.
In this book ends the thirtieth day: the night following, the ghost of Patroclus appears to Achilles: the one-and-thirtieth day is employed in felling the timber for the pile; the two-and-thirtieth in burning it; and the three-and-thirtieth in the games. The scene is generally on the sea-shore.
Thus they throughout the city made their moan; But when the Greeks had come where lay their ships By the broad Hellespont, their sev'ral ways They each pursu'd, dispersing; yet not so Achilles let his Myrmidons disperse, But thus his warlike comrades he address'd:
"My faithful comrades, valiant Myrmidons, Loose we not yet our horses from the cars; But for Patroclus mourn, approaching near, With horse and car; such tribute claim the dead; Then, free indulgence to our sorrows giv'n, Loose we the steeds, and share the ev'ning meal."
He said; and they with mingled voices rais'd The solemn dirge; Achilles led the strain; Thrice round the dead they drove their sleek-skinn'd steeds, Mourning, with hearts by Thetis grief-inspir'd; With tears the sands, with tears the warriors' arms, Were wet; so mighty was the chief they mourn'd. Then on his comrade's breast Achilles laid His blood-stain'd hands, and thus began the wail:
"All hail, Patroclus, though in Pluto's realm; All that I promis'd, lo! I now perform; That on the corpse of Hector, hither dragg'd, Our dogs should feed; and that twelve noble youths, The sons of Troy, before thy fun'ral pyre, My hand, in vengeance for thy death, should slay."
He said, and foully Hector's corpse misus'd, Flung prostrate in the dust, beside the couch Where lay Menoetius' son. His comrades then Their glitt'ring armour doff'd, of polish'd brass, And loos'd their neighing steeds; then round the ship Of Peleus' son in countless numbers sat, While he th' abundant fun'ral feast dispens'd. There many a steer lay stretch'd beneath the knife, And many a sheep, and many a bleating goat, And many a white-tusk'd porker, rich in fat, There lay extended, singeing o'er the fire; And blood, in torrents, flow'd around the corpse. To Agamemnon then the Kings of Greece The royal son of Peleus, swift of foot, Conducted; yet with him they scarce prevail'd; So fierce his anger for his comrade's death. But when to Agamemnon's tent they came, He to the clear-voic'd heralds gave command An ample tripod on the fire to place; If haply Peleus' son he might persuade To wash away the bloody stains of war: But sternly he, and with an oath refus'd.
"No, by great Jove I swear, of all the Gods Highest and mightiest, water shall not touch This head of mine, till on the fun'ral pyre I see the body of Patroclus laid, And build his tomb, and cut my votive hair; For while I live and move 'mid mortal men, No second grief like this can pierce my soul. Observe we now the mournful fun'ral feast; But thou, great Agamemnon, King of men, Send forth at early dawn, and to the camp Bring store of fuel, and all else prepare, That with provision meet the dead may pass Down to the realms of night; so shall the fire From out our sight consume our mighty dead, And to their wonted tasks the troops return."
He said; they listen'd, and his words obey'd; Then busily the ev'ning meal prepar'd, And shar'd the social feast; nor lack'd there aught. The rage of thirst and hunger satisfied, Each to their sev'ral tents the rest repair'd; But on the many-dashing ocean's shore Pelides lay, amid his Myrmidons, With bitter groans; in a clear space he lay, Where broke the waves, continuous, on the beach. There, circumfus'd around him, gentle sleep, Lulling the sorrows of his heart to rest, O'ercame his senses; for the hot pursuit Of Hector round the breezy heights of Troy His active limbs had wearied: as he slept, Sudden appear'd Patroclus' mournful shade, His very self; his height, and beauteous eyes, And voice; the very garb he wont to wear: Above his head it stood, and thus it spoke:
"Sleep'st thou, Achilles, mindless of thy friend, Neglecting, not the living, but the dead? Hasten, my fun'ral rites, that I may pass Through Hades' gloomy gates; ere those be done, The spirits and spectres of departed men Drive me far from them, nor allow to cross Th' abhorred river; but forlorn and sad I wander through the wide-spread realms of night. And give me now thy hand, whereon to weep; For never more, when laid upon the pyre, Shall I return from Hades; never more, Apart from all our comrades, shall we two, As friends, sweet counsel take; for me, stern Death, The common lot of man, has op'd his mouth; Thou too, Achilles, rival of the Gods, Art destin'd here beneath the walls of Troy To meet thy doom; yet one thing must I add, And make, if thou wilt grant it, one request. Let not my bones be laid apart from thine, Achilles, but together, as our youth Was spent together in thy father's house, Since first my sire Menoetius me a boy From Opus brought, a luckless homicide, Who of Amphidamas, by evil chance, Had slain the son, disputing o'er the dice: Me noble Peleus in his house receiv'd, And kindly nurs'd, and thine attendant nam'd; So in one urn be now our bones enclos'd, The golden vase, thy Goddess-mother's gift."
Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift of foot: "Why art thou here, lov'd being? why on me These sev'ral charges lay? whate'er thou bidd'st Will I perform, and all thy mind fulfil; But draw thou near; and in one short embrace, Let us, while yet we may, our grief indulge."
Thus as he spoke, he spread his longing arms, But nought he clasp'd; and with a wailing cry, Vanish'd, like smoke, the spirit beneath the earth. Up sprang Achilles, all amaz'd, and smote His hands together, and lamenting cried:
"O Heav'n, there are then, in the realms below, Spirits and spectres, unsubstantial all; For through the night Patroclus' shade hath stood, Weeping and wailing, at my side, and told His bidding; th' image of himself it seem'd."
He said; his words the gen'ral grief arous'd: To them, as round the piteous dead they mourn'd, Appear'd the rosy-finger'd morn; and straight, From all the camp, by Agamemnon sent, Went forth, in search of fuel, men and mules, Led by a valiant chief, Meriones, The follower of renown'd Idomeneus. Their felling axes in their hands they bore, And twisted ropes; their mules before them driv'n; Now up, now down, now sideways, now aslope, They journey'd on; but when they reach'd the foot Of spring-abounding Ida, they began With axes keen to hew the lofty oaks; They, loudly crashing, fell: the wood they clove, And bound it to the mules; these took their way Through the thick brushwood, hurrying to the plain. The axe-men too, so bade Meriones, The follower of renown'd Idomeneus, Were laden all with logs, which on the beach They laid in order, where a lofty mound, In mem'ry of Patroclus and himself, Achilles had design'd. When all the store Of wood was duly laid, the rest remain'd In masses seated; but Achilles bade The warlike Myrmidons their armour don, And harness each his horses to his car; They rose and donn'd their arms, and on the cars Warriors and charioteers their places took.
First came the horse, and then a cloud of foot, Unnumber'd; in the midst Patroclus came, Borne by his comrades; all the corpse with hair They cover'd o'er, which from their heads they shore. Behind, Achilles held his head, and mourn'd The noble friend whom to the tomb he bore. Then on the spot by Peleus' son assign'd, They laid him down, and pil'd the wood on high. Then a fresh thought Achilles' mind conceiv'd: Standing apart, the yellow locks he shore, Which as an off'ring to Sperchius' stream, He nurs'd in rich profusion; sorrowing then Look'd o'er the dark-blue sea, as thus lie spoke:
"Sperchius, all in vain to thee his pray'r My father Peleus made, and vow'd that I, Return'd in safety to my native land, To thee should dedicate my hair, and pay A solemn hecatomb, with sacrifice Of fifty rams, unblemish'd, to the springs Where on thy consecrated soil is plac'd Thine incense-honour'd altar; so he vow'd; But thou the boon withhold'st; since I no more My native land may see, the hair he vow'd, To brave Patroclus thus I dedicate."
He said, and on his comrade's hand he laid The locks; his act the gen'ral grief arous'd; And now the setting sun had found them still Indulging o'er the dead; but Peleus' son Approaching, thus to Agamemnon spoke:
"Atrides, for to thee the people pay Readiest obedience, mourning too prolong'd May weary; thou then from the pyre the rest Disperse, and bid prepare the morning meal; Ours be the farther charge, to whom the dead Was chiefly dear; yet let the chiefs remain."
The monarch Agamemnon heard, and straight Dispers'd the crowd amid their sev'ral ships. Th' appointed band remain'd, and pil'd the wood. A hundred feet each way they built the pyre, And on the summit, sorrowing, laid the dead. Then many a sheep and many a slow-paced ox They flay'd and dress'd around the fun'ral pyre; Of all the beasts Achilles took the fat, And cover'd o'er the corpse from head to foot, And heap'd the slaughter'd carcases around; Then jars of honey plac'd, and fragrant oils, Resting upon the couch; next, groaning loud, Four pow'rful horses on the pyre he threw; Then, of nine dogs that at their master's board Had fed, he slaughter'd two upon his pyre; Last, with the sword, by evil counsel sway'd, Twelve noble youths he slew, the sons of Troy. The fire's devouring might he then applied, And, groaning, on his lov'd companion call'd:
"All hail, Patroclus, though in Pluto's realm! All that I promis'd, lo! I now perform: On twelve brave sons of Trojan sires, with thee, The flames shall feed; but Hector, Priam's son, Not to the fire, but to the dogs I give."
Such was Achilles' threat, but him the dogs Molested not; for Venus, night and day Daughter of Jove, the rav'ning dogs restrain'd; And all the corpse o'erlaid with roseate oil, Ambrosial, that though dragg'd along the earth, The noble dead might not receive a wound. Apollo too a cloudy veil from Heav'n Spread o'er the plain, and cover'd all the space Where lay the dead, nor let the blazing sun The flesh upon his limbs and muscles parch.
Yet burnt not up Patroclus' fun'ral pyre; Then a fresh thought Achilles' mind conceiv'd: Standing apart, on both the "Winds he call'd, Boreas and Zephyrus, and added vows Of costly sacrifice; and pouring forth Libations from a golden goblet, pray'd Their presence, that the wood might haste to burn, And with the fire consume the dead; his pray'r Swift Iris heard, and bore it to the Winds. They in the hall of gusty Zephyrus Were gather'd round the feast; in haste appearing, Swift Iris on the stony threshold stood. They saw, and rising all, besought her each To sit beside him; she with their requests Refus'd compliance, and address'd them thus:
"No seat for me; for I o'er th' ocean stream From hence am bound to AEthiopia's shore, To share the sacred feast, and hecatombs, Which there they offer to th' immortal Gods; But, Boreas, thee, and loud-voic'd Zephyrus, With vows of sacrifice, Achilles calls To fan the fun'ral pyre, whereon is laid Patroclus, mourn'd by all the host of Greece."
She said, and vanish'd; they, with rushing sound, Rose, and before them drove the hurrying clouds: Soon o'er the sea they swept; the stirring breeze Ruffled the waves; the fertile shores of Troy They reach'd, and falling on the fun'ral pyre, Loud roar'd the crackling flames; they all night long With current brisk together fann'd the fire. All night Achilles from a golden bowl Drew forth, and, in his hand a double cup, The wine outpouring, moisten'd all the earth, Still calling on his lost Patroclus' shade. As mourns a father o'er a youthful son, Whose early death hath wrung his parents' hearts; So mourn'd Achilles o'er his friend's remains, Prostrate beside the pyre, and groan'd aloud. But when the star of Lucifer appear'd, The harbinger of light, whom following close Spreads o'er the sea the saffron-robed morn, Then pal'd the smould'ring fire, and sank the flame; And o'er the Thracian sea, that groan'd and heav'd Beneath their passage, home the Winds return'd; And weary, from the pyre a space withdrawn, Achilles lay, o'ercome by gentle sleep.
Anon, awaken'd by the tramp and din Of crowds that follow'd Atreus' royal son, He sat upright, and thus address'd his speech:
"Thou son of Atreus, and ye chiefs of Greece, Far as the flames extended, quench we first With ruddy wine the embers of the pyre; And of Menoetius' son, Patroclus, next With care distinguishing, collect the bones; Nor are they hard to know; for in the midst He lay, while round the edges of the pyre, Horses and men commix'd, the rest were burnt. Let these, between a double layer of fat Enclos'd, and in a golden urn remain, Till I myself shall in the tomb be laid; And o'er them build a mound, not over-large, But of proportions meet; in days to come, Ye Greeks, who after me shall here remain, Complete the work, and build it broad and high."
Thus spoke Achilles; they his words obey'd: Far as the flames had reach'd, and thickly strown The embers lay, they quench'd with ruddy wine; Then tearfully their gentle comrade's bones Collected, and with double layers of fat Enclos'd, and in a golden urn encas'd; Then in the tent they laid them, overspread With veil of linen fair; then meting out Th' allotted space, the deep foundations laid Around the pyre, and o'er them heap'd the earth. Their task accomplished, all had now withdrawn; But Peleus' son the vast assembly stay'd, And bade them sit; then, prizes of the games, Tripods and caldrons from the tents he brought, And noble steeds, and mules, and sturdy steers, And women fair of form, and iron hoar.
First, for the contest of the flying cars The prizes he display'd: a woman fair, Well skill'd in household cares; a tripod vast, Two-handled, two and twenty measures round; These both were for the victor: for the next, A mare, unbroken, six years old, in foal Of a mule colt; the third, a caldron bright, Capacious of four measures, white and pure, By fire as yet untarnish'd; for the fourth, Of gold two talents; for the fifth, a vase With double cup, untouch'd by fire, he gave. Then, standing up, he thus address'd the Greeks:
"Thou son of Atreus, and ye well-greav'd Greeks, Before ye are the prizes, which await The contest of the cars; but if, ye Greeks, For any other cause these games were held, I to my tent should bear the foremost prize; For well ye know how far my steeds excel, Steeds of immortal race, which Neptune gave To Peleus, he to me, his son, transferr'd. But from the present strife we stand aloof, My horses and myself; they now have lost The daring courage and the gentle hand Of him who drove them, and with water pure Wash'd oft their manes, and bath'd with fragrant oil. For him they stand and mourn, with drooping heads Down to the ground, their hearts with sorrow fill'd; But ye in order range yourselves, who boast Your well-built chariots and your horses' speed."
He said: up sprang the eager charioteers; The first of all, Eumelus, King of men, Son of Admetus, matchless charioteer; Next, Tydeus' son, the valiant Diomed, With Trojan horses, from AEneas won, When by Apollo's aid himself escap'd; Then Heav'n-born Menelaus, Atreus' son, Two flying coursers harness'd to his car; His own, Podargus, had for yokefellow AEthe, a mare by Agamemnon lent: Her, Echepolus to Atrides gave, Anchises' son, that to the wars of Troy He might not be compell'd, but safe at home Enjoy his ease; for Jove had bless'd his store With ample wealth, in Sicyon's wide domain. Her now he yok'd, impatient for the course. The fourth, Antilochus, the gallant son Of Nestor, son of Neleus, mighty chief, Harness'd his sleek-skinn'd steeds; of Pylian race Were they who bore his car; to him, his sire Sage counsel pour'd in understanding ears:
"Antilochus, though young in years thou art, Yet Jove and Neptune love thee, and have well Instructed thee in horsemanship; of me Thou need'st no counsel; skill'd around the goal To whirl the chariot; but thou hast, of all, The slowest horses: whence I augur ill. But though their horses have the speed of thine, In skill not one of them surpasses thee. Then thou, dear boy, exert thine ev'ry art, That so thou mayst not fail to gain a prize. By skill, far more than strength, the woodman fells The sturdy oak; by skill the steersman guides His flying ship across the dark-blue sea, Though shatter'd by the blast; 'twixt charioteer And charioteer 'tis skill that draws the line. One, vainly trusting to his coursers' speed, Drives reckless here and there; o'er all the course, His horses, unrestrain'd, at random run. Another, with inferior horses far, But better skill'd, still fixing on the goal His eye, turns closely round, nor overlooks The moment when to draw the rein; but holds His steady course, and on the leader waits. A mark I give thee now, thou canst not miss: There stands a wither'd trunk, some six feet high, Of oak, or pine, unrotted by the rain; On either side have two white stones been plac'd, Where meet two roads; and all around there lies A smooth and level course; here stood perchance The tomb of one who died long years ago; Or former generations here have plac'd, As now Achilles hath decreed, a goal. There drive, as only not to graze the post; And leaning o'er the wicker body, leave Close on the left the stones; thine offside horse Then urge with voice and whip, and slack his rein, And let the nearside horse so closely graze, As that thy nave may seem to touch, the goal: But yet beware, lest, striking on the stone, Thy steeds thou injure, and thy chariot break, A source of triumph to thy rivals all, Of shame to thee; but thou sage caution use; For, following, if thou make the turn the first, Not one of all shall pass thee, or o'ertake; Not though Arion's self were in the car, Adrastus' flying steed, of heav'nly race, Nor those which here Laomedon possess'd."
This said, and to his son his counsels giv'n, The aged Nestor to his seat withdrew. Fifth in the lists Meriones appear'd. They mounted on their cars, and cast their lots: Achilles shook the helmet; first leaped forth The lot of Nestor's son, Antilochus; Next came the King Eumelus; after whom The valiant Menelaus, Atreus' son; The fourth, Meriones; and last of all, But ablest far, Tydides drew his place. They stood in line; Achilles pointed out, Ear on the level plain, the distant goal; And there in charge the godlike Phoenix plac'd, His father's ancient follower, to observe The course assign'd, and true report to make. Then all at once their whips they rais'd, and urg'd By rein, and hand, and voice, their eager steeds. They from the ships pursued their rapid course Athwart the distant plain; beneath their chests Rose like a cloud, or hurricane, the dust; Loose floated on the breeze their ample manes; The cars now skimm'd along the fertile ground, Now bounded high in air; the charioteers Stood up aloft, and ev'ry bosom beat With hope of vict'ry; each with eager shout Cheering his steeds, that scour'd the dusty plain. But when, the farthest limits of the course Attain'd, they turn'd beside the hoary sea, Strain'd to their utmost speed, were plainly seen The qualities of each; then in the front Appear'd Eumelus' flying mares, and next The Trojan horses of Tydides came: Nor these were far behind, but following close They seem'd in act to leap upon the car. Eumelus, on his neck and shoulders broad, Felt their warm breath; for o'er him, as they flew, Their heads were downward bent; and now, perchance, Had he or pass'd, or made an even race, But that, incens'd with valiant Diomed, Apollo wrested from his hands the whip. Then tears of anger from his eyelids fell, As gaining more and more the mares he saw, While, urg'd no more, his horses slack'd their speed. But Pallas mark'd Apollo's treach'rous wile; And hasting to the chief, restor'd his whip, And to his horses strength and courage gave. The Goddess then Admetus' son pursued, And snapp'd his chariot yoke; the mares, releas'd, Swerv'd from the track; the pole upon the ground Lay loosen'd from the car; and he himself Beside the wheel was from the chariot hurl'd. From elbows, mouth, and nose, the skin was torn; His forehead crush'd and batter'd in; his eyes Were fill'd with tears, and mute his cheerful voice. Tydides turn'd aside, and far ahead Of all the rest, pass'd on; for Pallas gave His horses courage, and his triumph will'd. Next him, the fair-hair'd Menelaus came, The son of Atreus; but Antilochus Thus to his father's horses call'd aloud:
"Forward, and stretch ye to your utmost speed; I ask you not with those of Diomed In vain to strive, whom Pallas hath endued With added swiftness, and his triumph will'd; But haste ye, and o'ertake Atrides' car, Nor be by AEthe, by a mare, disgrac'd. Why, my brave horses, why be left behind? This too I warn ye, and will make it good: No more at Nestor's hand shall ye receive Your provender, but with the sword be slain, If by your faults a lower prize be ours; Then rouse ye now, and put forth all your speed, And I will so contrive, as not to fail Of slipping past them in the narrow way."
He said; the horses, of his voice in awe, Put forth their pow'rs awhile; before them soon Antilochus the narrow pass espied. It was a gully, where the winter's rain Had lain collected, and had broken through A length of road, and hollow'd out the ground: There Menelaus held his cautious course. Fearing collision; but Antilochus, Drawing his steeds a little from the track, Bore down upon him sideways: then in fear, The son of Atreus to Antilochus Shouted aloud, "Antilochus, thou driv'st Like one insane; hold in awhile thy steeds; Here is no space; where wider grows the road, There thou mayst pass; but here, thou wilt but cause Our cars to clash, and bring us both to harm."
He said; but madlier drove Antilochus, Plying the goad, as though he heard him not.
Far as a discus' flight, by some stout youth, That tests his vigour, from the shoulder hurl'd, So far they ran together, side by side: Then dropp'd Atrides' horses to the rear, For he himself forbore to urge their speed, Lest, meeting in the narrow pass, the cars Should be o'erthrown, and they themselves, in haste To gain the vict'ry, in the dust be roll'd. Then thus, reproachful, to Antilochus:
"Antilochus, thou most perverse of men! Beshrew thy heart! we Greeks are much deceiv'd Who give thee fame for wisdom! yet e'en now Thou shalt not gain, but on thine oath, the prize."
He said, and to his horses call'd aloud: "Slack not your speed, nor, as defeated, mourn; Their legs and feet will sooner tire than yours, For both are past the vigour of their youth." Thus he; the horses, of his voice in awe, Put forth their pow'rs, and soon the leaders near'd.
Meanwhile the chieftains, seated in the ring, Look'd for the cars, that scour'd the dusty plain. The first to see them was Idomeneus, The Cretan King; for he, without the ring, Was posted high aloft; and from afar He heard and knew the foremost horseman's voice; Well too he knew the gallant horse that led, All bay the rest, but on his front alone A star of white, full-orbed as the moon: Then up he rose, and thus the Greeks address'd:
"O friends, the chiefs and councillors of Greece, Can ye too see, or I alone, the cars? A diff'rent chariot seems to me in front, A diff'rent charioteer; and they who first Were leading, must have met with some mischance. I saw them late, ere round the goal they turn'd, But see them now no more; though all around My eyes explore the wide-spread plain of Troy. Perchance the charioteer has dropp'd the reins, Or round the goal he could not hold the mares; Perchance has miss'd the turn, and on the plain Is lying now beside his broken car, While from the course his mettled steeds have flown. Stand up, and look yourselves; I cannot well Distinguish; but to me it seems a chief, Who reigns o'er Greeks, though of AEtolian race, The son of Tydeus, valiant Diomed."
Sharply Oileus' active son replied: "Idomeneus, why thus, before the time, So rashly speak? while the high-stepping steeds Are speeding yet across the distant plain. Thine eyes are not the youngest in the camp, Nor look they out the sharpest from thy head; But thou art ever hasty in thy speech, And ill becomes thee this precipitance. Since others are there here, thy betters far. The same are leading now, that led at first, Eumelus' mares; 'tis he that holds the reins."
To whom in anger thus the Cretan chief: "Ajax, at wrangling good, in judgment naught, And for aught else, among the chiefs of Greece Of small account—so stubborn is thy soul; Wilt thou a tripod or a caldron stake, And Agamemnon, Atreus' son, appoint The umpire to decide whose steeds are first? So shalt thou gain thy knowledge at thy cost."
He said; up sprang Oileus' active son, In anger to reply; and farther yet Had gone the quarrel, but Achilles' self Stood up, and thus the rival chiefs address'd:
"Forbear, both Ajax and Idomeneus, This bitter interchange of wordy war; It is not seemly; and yourselves, I know, Another would condemn, who so should speak. But stay ye here, and seated in the ring, Their coming wait; they, hurrying to the goal, Will soon be here; and then shall each man know Whose horses are the second, whose the first."
Thus he; but Tydeus' son drew near, his lash Still laid upon his horses' shoulder-points; As lightly they, high-stepping, scour'd the plain. Still on the charioteer the dust was flung; As close upon the flying-footed steeds Follow'd the car with gold and tin inlaid; And lightly, as they flew along, were left Impress'd the wheel-tracks on the sandy plain. There in the midst he stood, the sweat profuse Down-pouring from his horses' heads and chests; Down from the glitt'ring car he leap'd to earth, And lean'd his whip against the chariot yoke; Nor long delay'd the valiant Sthenelus, But eagerly sprang forth to claim the prize; Then to his brave companions gave in charge To lead away the woman, and to bear The tripod, while himself unyok'd the steeds.
Nest came the horses of Antilochus, Who had by stratagem, and not by speed, O'er Menelaus triumph'd; yet e'en so Atrides' flying coursers press'd him hard; For but so far as from the chariot-wheel A horse, when harness'd to a royal car; Whose tail, back-streaming, with the utmost hairs Brushes the felloes; close before the wheel, Small space between, he scours the wide-spread plain: So far was Menelaus in the rear Of Nestor's son; at first, a discus' cast Between them lay; but rapidly his ground He gain'd—so well the speed and courage serv'd Of AEthe, Agamemnon's beauteous mare; And, but a little farther were the course, Had pass'd him by, nor left the race in doubt. Behind the noble son of Atreus came, A jav'lin's flight apart, Meriones, The faithful follower of Idomeneus: His were the slowest horses, and himself The least experienc'd in the rapid race. Dragging his broken car, came last of all, His horses driv'n in front, Admetus' son; Achilles swift of foot with pity saw, And to the Greeks his winged words address'd:
"See where the best of all the last appears; But let him take, as meet, the second prize; The first belongs of right to Tydeus' son."
Thus he; they all assented to his words; And, by the gen'ral voice of Greece, the mare Had now been his; but noble Nestor's son, Antilochus, stood up, his right to claim, And to Achilles, Peleus' son, replied: "Achilles, thou wilt do me grievous wrong, If thou thy words accomplish; for my prize Thou tak'st away, because mishap befell His car and horses, by no fault of his; Yet had he to th' Immortals made his pray'r, He surely had not thus been last of all. But, pitying him, if so thy mind incline, Thy tents contain good store of gold, and brass, And sheep, and female slaves, and noble steeds; For him, of these, hereafter mayst thou take A prize of higher value; or e'en now, And with th' applause of all; but for the mare, I will not give her up; and let who will Stand forth, my own right hand shall guard my prize."
He said; and smil'd Achilles swift of foot, Delighted; for he lov'd the noble youth, To whom his winged words he thus address'd:
"Antilochus, if such be thy request, That for Eumelus I should add a prize, This too I grant thee; and to him I give My breastplate, from Asteropaeus won, Of brass, around whose edge is roll'd a stream Of shining tin; a gift of goodly price."
He said, and bade Automedon, his friend And comrade, bring the breastplate from his tent; He went, and brought it; in Eumelus' hand He plac'd it; he with joy the gift receiv'd. Then Menelaus, sad at heart, arose, Burning with wrath against Antilochus; And while the herald in the monarch's hand His royal sceptre plac'd, and bade the Greeks Keep silence, thus the godlike hero spoke:
"Antilochus, till now reputed wise, What hast thou done? thou hast impugn'd my skill, And sham'd my horses, who hast brought thine own, Inferior far, before them to the goal. But come, ye chiefs and councillors of Greece, Judge ye between us, fav'ring neither side: That none of all the brass-clad Greeks may say That Menelaus hath by false reports O'erborne Antilochus, and holds his prize: His horses fairly worsted, and himself Triumphant only by superior pow'r. Or come now, I myself will judgment give; Nor deem I any Greek will find to blame In my decision, for 'tis fair and just. Antilochus, come forward, noble chief; And standing, as 'tis meet, before the car And horses, in thy hand the slender whip Wherewith thou drov'st, upon the horses lay Thy hand, and by Earth-shaking Neptune swear That not of malice, and by set design, Thou didst by fraud impede my chariot's course."
To whom Antilochus with prudent speech: "Have patience with me yet; for I, O King, O Menelaus, am thy junior far; My elder and superior thee I own. Thou know'st th' o'er-eager vehemence of youth, How quick in temper, and in judgment weak. Set then thy heart at ease; the mare I won I freely give; and if aught else of mine Thou shouldst desire, would sooner give it all, Than all my life be low'r'd, illustrious King, In thine esteem, and sin against the Gods."
Thus saying, noble Nestor's son led forth, And plac'd in Menelaus' hands the mare: The monarch's soul was melted, like the dew Which glitters on the ears of growing corn, That bristle o'er the plain; e'en so thy soul, O Menelaus, melted at his speech; To whom were thus address'd thy winged words:
"Antilochus, at once I lay aside My anger; thou art prudent, and not apt To be thus led astray; but now thy youth Thy judgment hath o'erpow'r'd; seek not henceforth By trick'ry o'er thine elders to prevail. To any other man of all the Greeks I scarce so much had yielded; but for that Thyself hast labour'd much, and much endur'd, Thou, thy good sire, and brother, in my cause: I yield me to thy pray'rs; and give, to boot, The mare, though mine of right; that these may know I am not of a harsh, unyielding mood."
He said, and to Noemon gave in charge, The faithful comrade of Antilochus, The mare; himself the glitt'ring caldron took. Of gold two talents, to the fourth assign'd, Fourth in the race, Meriones receiv'd; Still the fifth prize, a vase with double cup, Remain'd; Achilles this to Nestor gave, Before th' assembled Greeks, as thus he spoke:
"Take this, old man, and for an heirloom keep, In mem'ry of Patroclus' fun'ral games, Whom thou no more amid the Greeks shalt see. Freely I give it thee; for thou no more Canst box, or wrestle, or in sportive strife The jav'lin throw, or race with flying feet; For age with heavy hand hath bow'd thee down."
He said, and plac'd it in his hand; th' old man Beceiv'd with joy the gift, and thus replied:
"All thou hast said, my son, is simple truth: No firmness now my limbs and feet retain, Nor can my arms with freedom, as of old, Straight from the shoulder, right and left, strike out. Oh that such youth and vigour yet were mine, As when th' Epeians in Buprasium held The royal Amarynceus' fun'ral games, And when the monarch's sons his prizes gave! Then could not one of all th' Epeian race, Or Pylians, or AEtolians, vie with me. In boxing, Clytomedes, OEnops' son, I vanquished; then Anchaeus, who stood up To wrestle with me, I with ease o'erthrew; Iphiclus I outran, though fleet of foot; In hurling with the spear, with Phyleus strove, And Polydorus, and surpass'd them both. The sons of Actor in the chariot-race Alone o'ercame me; as in number more,  And grudging more my triumph, since remain'd, This contest to reward, the richest prize. They were twin brothers; one who held the reins, Still drove, and drove; the other plied the whip. Such was I once; but now must younger men Engage in deeds like these; and I, the chief Of heroes once, must bow to weary age. But honour thou with fitting fun'ral games Thy comrade: I accept, well-pleas'd, thy gift, My heart rejoicing that thou still retain'st Of me a kindly mem'ry, nor o'erlook'st The place of honour, which among the Greeks Belongs to me of right; for this, the Gods Reward thee with a worthy recompense!"
He said; Achilles listen'd to the praise Of Neleus' son; then join'd the gen'ral throng. Next, he set forth the prizes, to reward The labours of the sturdy pugilists; A hardy mule he tether'd in the ring, Unbroken, six years old, most hard to tame; And for the vanquished man, a double cup; Then rose, and to the Greeks proclaim'd aloud:
"Thou son of Atreus, and ye well-greav'd Greeks, For these we bid two champions brave stand forth. And in the boxer's manly toil contend; And he, whose stern endurance Phoebus crowns With vict'ry, recogniz'd by all the Greeks, He to his tent shall lead the hardy mule; The loser shall the double cup receive."
He said; up sprang Epeius, tall and stout, A boxer skill'd, the son of Panopeus, Who laid his hand upon the mule, and said:
"Stand forth, if any care the cup to win; The mule, methinks, no Greek can bear away From me, who glory in the champion's name. Is't not enough, that in the battle-field I claim no special praise? 'tis not for man In all things to excel; but this I say, And will make good my words, who meets me here, I mean to pound his flesh, and smash his bones. See that his seconds be at hand, and prompt To bear him from the ring, by me subdued."
He said; they all in silence heard his speech: Only Euryalus, a godlike chief, Son of Mecistheus, Talaion's son, Stood forth opposing; he had once in Thebes Join'd in the fun'ral games of OEdipus, And there had vanquish'd all of Cadmian race. On him attended valiant Diomed, With cheering words, and wishes of success. Around his waist he fasten'd first the belt, Then gave the well-cut gauntlets for his hands. Of wild bull's hide. When both were thus equipp'd, Into the centre of the ring they stepp'd: There, face to face, with sinewy arms uprais'd, They stood awhile, then clos'd; strong hand with hand Mingling, in rapid interchange of blows. Dire was the clatter of their jaws; the sweat Pour'd forth, profuse, from ev'ry limb; then rush'd Epeius on, and full upon the cheek, Half turn'd aside, let fall a stagg'ring blow; Nor stood Euryalus; but, legs and feet Knock'd from beneath him, prone to earth he fell; And as a fish, that flounders on the sand, Thrown by rude Boreas on the weedy beach, Till cover'd o'er by the returning wave; So flounder'd he beneath that stunning blow. But brave Epeius took him by the hand, And rais'd him up; his comrades crowded round And bore him from the field, with dragging steps, Spitting forth clotted gore, his heavy head Rolling from side to side; within his tent They laid him down, unconscious; to the ring Then back returning, bore away the cup.
Achilles next before the Greeks display'd The prizes of the hardy wrestlers' skill: The victor's prize, a tripod vast, fire-proof, And at twelve oxen by the Greeks apprais'd; And for the vanquish'd man, a female slave Pric'd at four oxen, skill'd in household work. Then rose, and loudly to the Greeks proclaim'd, "Stand forth, whoe'er this contest will essay."
He said; and straight uprose the giant form Of Ajax Telamon; with him uprose Ulysses, skill'd in ev'ry crafty wile. Girt with the belt, within the ring they stood, And each, with stalwart grasp, laid hold on each; As stand two rafters of a lofty house, Each propping each, by skilful architect Design'd the tempest's fury to withstand. Creak'd their backbones beneath the tug and strain Of those strong arms; their sweat pour'd down like rain; And bloody weals of livid purple hue Their sides and shoulders streak'd, as sternly they For vict'ry and the well-wrought tripod strove. Nor could Ulysses Ajax overthrow, Nor Ajax bring Ulysses to the ground, So stubbornly he stood; but when the Greeks Were weary of the long-protracted strife, Thus to Ulysses mighty Ajax spoke: "Ulysses sage, Laertes' godlike son, Or lift thou me, or I will thee uplift: The issue of our struggle rests with Jove."
He said, and rais'd Ulysses from the ground; Nor he his ancient craft remember'd not, But lock'd his leg around, and striking sharp Upon the hollow of the knee, the joint Gave way; the giant Ajax backwards fell, Ulysses on his breast; the people saw, And marvell'd. Then in turn Ulysses strove Ajax to lift; a little way he mov'd, But fail'd to lift him fairly from, the ground; Yet crook'd his knee, that both together fell, And side by side, defil'd with dust, they lay.
And now a third encounter had they tried But rose Achilles, and the combat stay'd:
"Forbear, nor waste your strength, in farther strife; Ye both are victors; both then bear away An equal meed of honour; and withdraw, That other Greeks may other contests wage." Thus spoke Achilles: they his words obey'd, And brushing off the dust, their garments donn'd.
The prizes of the runners, swift of foot, Achilles next set forth; a silver bowl, Six measures its content, for workmanship Unmatch'd on earth, of Sidon's costliest art The product rare; thence o'er the misty sea Brought by Phoenicians, who, in port arriv'd, Gave it to Thoas; by Euneus last, The son of Jason, to Patroclus paid, In ransom of Lycaon, Priam's son; Which now Achilles, on his friend's behalf, Assign'd as his reward, whoe'er should prove The lightest foot, and speediest in the race. A steer, well fatten'd, was the second prize, And half a talent, for the third, of gold. He rose, and to the Greeks proclaim'd aloud, "Stand forth, whoe'er this contest will essay." He said: uprose Oileus' active son; Uprose Ulysses, skill'd in ev'ry wile, And noble Nestor's son, Antilochus, Who all the youth in speed of foot surpass'd. They stood in line: Achilles pointed out The limits of the course; as from the goal They stretch'd them to the race, Oileus' son First shot ahead; Ulysses following close; Nor farther than the shuttle from the breast Of some fair woman, when her outstretch'd arm Has thrown the woof athwart the warp, and back Withdraws it tow'rd her breast; so close behind Ulysses press'd on Ajax, and his feet Trod in his steps, ere settled yet the dust. His breath was on his shoulders, as the plain He lightly skimm'd; the Greeks with eager shouts Still cheering, as he strain'd to win the prize. But as they near'd the goal, Ulysses thus To blue-ey'd Pallas made his mental pray'r: "Now hear me, Goddess, and my feet befriend." Thus as he pray'd, his pray'r the Goddess heard, And all his limbs with active vigour fill'd; And, as they stretch'd their hands to seize the prize, Tripp'd up by Pallas, Ajax slipp'd and fell, Amid the offal of the lowing kine Which o'er Patroclus Peleus' son had slain. His mouth and nostrils were with offal fill'd. First in the race, Ulysses bore away The silver bowl; the steer to Ajax fell; And as upon the horn he laid his hand, Sputt'ring the offal out, he call'd aloud: "Lo, how the Goddess has my steps bewray'd, Who guards Ulysses with a mother's care." Thus as he spoke, loud laugh'd the merry Greeks. Antilochus the sole remaining prize Receiv'd, and, laughing, thus the Greeks address'd:
"I tell you, friends, but what yourselves do know, How of the elder men th' immortal Gods Take special care; for Ajax' years not much Exceed mine own; but here we see a man, One of a former age, and race of men; A hale old man we call him; but for speed Not one can match him, save Achilles' self."
Thus he, with praise implied of Peleus' son; To whom in answer thus Achilles spoke:
"Antilochus, not unobserv'd of me Nor unrewarded shall thy praise remain: To thy half talent add this second half."
Thus saying, in his hand he plac'd the gold; Antilochus with joy the gift receiv'd.
Next, in the ring the son of Peleus laid A pond'rous spear, a helmet, and a shield, The spoil Patroclus from Sarpedon won; Then rose, and loudly to the Greeks proclaim'd:
"For these we call upon two champions brave To don their arms, their sharp-edg'd weapons grasp, And public trial of their prowess make; And he who first his rival's flesh shall reach, And, through his armour piercing, first draw blood, He shall this silver-studded sword receive, My trophy from Asteropaeus won, Well-wrought, of Thracian metal; but the arms In common property they both shall hold, And in my tent a noble banquet share."
He said; uprose great Ajax Telamon, And Tydeus' son, the valiant Diomed. First, from the crowd apart, they donn'd their arms; Then, eager for the fight, with haughty stare Stood in the midst; the Greeks admiring gaz'd. When, each approaching other, near they came, Thrice rush'd they on, and thrice in combat clos'd. Then through the buckler round of Diomed Great Ajax drove his spear; nor reach'd the point Tydides' body, by the breastplate stay'd: While, aim'd above the mighty shield's defence, His glitt'ring weapon flash'd at Ajax' throat. For Ajax fearing, shouted then the Greeks To cease the fight, and share alike the prize; But from Achilles' hand the mighty sword, With belt and scabbard, Diomed receiv'd.
Next in the ring the son of Peleus plac'd A pond'rous mass of iron, as a quoit Once wielded by Eetion's giant strength, But to the ships with other trophies borne, When by Achilles' hand Eetion fell. Then rose, and loudly to the Greeks proclaim'd: "Stand forth, whoe'er this contest will essay. This prize who wins, though widely may extend His fertile fields, for five revolving years It will his wants supply; nor to the town For lack of iron, with this mass in store, Need he his shepherd or his ploughman send."
He said; and valiant Polypoetes rose, Epeius, and Leonteus' godlike strength, And mighty Ajax, son of Telamon. In turns they took their stand; Epeius first Uprais'd the pond'rous mass, and through the air Hurl'd it, amid the laughter of the Greeks. Next came Leonteus, scion true of Mars; The third was Ajax; from whose stalwart hand Beyond the farthest mark the missile flew. But when the valiant Polypoetes took The quoit in hand, far as a herdsman throws His staff, that, whirling, flies among the herd; So far beyond the ring's extremest bound He threw the pond'rous mass; loud were the shouts; And noble Polypoetes' comrades rose, And to the ships the monarch's gift convey'd.
The archers' prizes next, of iron hoar, Ten sturdy axes, double-edg'd, he plac'd, And single hatchets ten; then far away Rear'd on the sand a dark-prow'd vessel's mast, On which, with slender string, a tim'rous dove Was fasten'd by the foot, the archers' mark; That who should strike the dove should to his tent The axes bear away; but who the string Should sever, but should fail to strike the bird, As less in skill, the hatchets should receive. Thus spoke Achilles; straight uprose the might Of royal Teucer, and Meriones, The faithful follower of Idomeneus. They in a brass-bound helmet shook the lots. The first was Teucer's; with impetuous force He shot; but vow'd not to the Archer-King Of firstling lambs a solemn hecatomb. The dove he struck not, for the Archer-God Withheld his aid; but close beside her foot The arrow sever'd the retaining string. The bird releas'd, soar'd heav'nward; while the string Dropp'd, from the mast suspended, tow'rds the earth, And loudly shouted their applause the Greeks. Then snatch'd Meriones in haste the bow From Teucer's hand; his own already held His arrow, pointed straight; he drew the string, And to the far-destroying King he vow'd Of firstling lambs a solemn hecatomb. Aloft amid the clouds he mark'd the dove, And struck her, as she soar'd, beneath the wing; Right through the arrow pass'd; and to the earth Returning, fell beside Meriones. The bird upon the dark-prow'd vessel's mast Lighted awhile; anon, with drooping head, And pinions flutt'ring vain, afar she fell, Lifeless; th' admiring crowd with wonder gaz'd. Meriones the axes bore away, While Teucer to the ships the hatchets bore.
Last, in the ring the son of Peleus laid A pond'rous spear, and caldron, burnish'd bright, Pric'd at an ox's worth, untouch'd by fire, For those who with the jav'lin would contend. Uprose then Agamemnon, King of men, The son of Atreus, and Meriones, The faithful follower of Idomeneus: But Peleus' godlike son address'd them thus:
"How far, Atrides, thou excell'st us all, And with the jav'lin what thy pow'r and skill Pre-eminent, we know; take thou this prize, And bear it to thy ships; and let us give To brave Meriones the brazen spear; If so it please thee, such were my advice."
He said; and Agamemnon, King of men, Assenting, gave to brave Meriones The brazen spear; while in Talthybius' care, His herald, plac'd the King his noble prize.
THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY OF HECTOR.
The gods deliberate about the redemption of Hector's body. Jupiter sends Thetis to Achilles to dispose him for the restoring it, and Iris to Priam, to encourage him to go in person, and treat for it. The old king, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his queen, makes ready for the journey, to which he is encouraged by an omen from Jupiter. He sets forth in his chariot, with a waggon loaded with presents, under the charge of Idaeus the herald. Mercury descends in the shape of a young man, and conducts him to the pavilion of Achilles. Their conversation on the way* Priam finds Achilles at his table, casts himself at his feet, and begs for the body of his son; Achilles, moved with compassion, grants his request, detains him one night in his tent, and the next morning sends him home with the body; the Trojans run out to meet him. The lamentation of Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen, with the solemnities of the funeral.
The time of twelve days is employed in this book, while the body of Hector lies in the tent of Achilles. And as many more are spent in the truce allowed for his interment. The scene is partly in Achilles' camp, and partly in Troy.
The games were ended, and the multitude Amid the ships their sev'ral ways dispers'd: Some to their supper, some to gentle sleep Yielding, delighted; but Achilles still Mourn'd o'er his lov'd companion; not on him Lighted all-conqu'ring sleep, but to and fro Restless he toss'd, and on Patroclus thought, His vigour and his courage; all the deeds They two together had achiev'd; the toils, The perils they had undergone, amid The strife of warriors, and the angry waves. Stirr'd by such mem'ries, bitter tears he shed; Now turning on his side, and now again Upon his back; then prone upon his face; Then starting to his feet, along the shore All objectless, despairing, would he roam; Nor did the morn, above the sea appearing, Unmark'd of him arise; his flying steeds He then would harness, and, behind the car The corpse of Hector trailing in the dust, Thrice make the circuit of Patroclus' tomb; Then would he turn within his tent to rest, Leaving the prostrate corpse with dust defil'd; But from unseemly marks the valiant dead Apollo guarded, who with pity view'd The hero, though in death; and round him threw His golden aegis; nor, though dragg'd along, Allow'd his body to receive a wound.
Thus foully did Achilles in his rage Misuse the mighty dead; the blessed Gods With pitying grief beheld the sight, and urg'd That Hermes should by stealth the corpse remove. The counsel pleas'd the rest; but Juno still, And Neptune, and the blue-ey'd Maid, retain'd The hatred, unappeas'd, with which of old Troy and her King and people they pursued; Since Paris to the rival Goddesses, Who to his sheepfold came, gave deep offence, Preferring her who brought him in return The fatal boon of too successful love. But when the twelfth revolving day was come, Apollo thus th' assembled Gods address'd: "Shame on ye, Gods, ungrateful! have ye not, At Hector's hand, of bulls and choicest goats Receiv'd your off'rings meet? and fear ye now E'en his dead corpse to save, and grant his wife, His mother, and his child, his aged sire And people, to behold him, and to raise His fun'ral pile, and with due rites entomb? But fell Achilles all your aid commands; Of mind unrighteous, and inflexible His stubborn heart; his thoughts are all of blood; E'en as a lion, whom his mighty strength And dauntless courage lead to leap the fold, And 'mid the trembling flocks to seize his prey; E'en so Achilles hath discarded ruth, And conscience, arbiter of good and ill. A man may lose his best-lov'd friend, a son, Or his own mother's son, a brother dear: He mourns and weeps, but time his grief allays, For fate to man a patient mind hath giv'n: But godlike Hector's body, after death, Achilles, unrelenting, foully drags, Lash'd to his car, around his comrade's tomb. This is not to his praise; though brave he be, Yet thus our anger he may justly rouse, Who in his rage insults the senseless clay."