The Iliad of Homer - Translated into English Blank Verse
by Homer
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Transcriber's notes: Sec. Transliterations of Greek text are indicated by braces {thus}. Sec. Footnotes to the main body of the poem, which were originally placed at the bottoms of the pages on which they were referenced, have been gathered together at the end of this e-text. To more easily make use of them, you might open this e-text twice, and search for FOOTNOTES in the second instance.







Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1849, BY M.A. DWIGHT, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.





WILLIAM COWPER. June 4, 1791.


Whether a translation of HOMER may be best executed in blank verse or in rhyme, is a question in the decision of which no man can find difficulty, who has ever duly considered what translation ought to be, or who is in any degree practically acquainted with those very different kinds of versification. I will venture to assert that a just translation of any ancient poet in rhyme, is impossible. No human ingenuity can be equal to the task of closing every couplet with sounds homotonous, expressing at the same time the full sense, and only the full sense of his original. The translator's ingenuity, indeed, in this case becomes itself a snare, and the readier he is at invention and expedient, the more likely he is to be betrayed into the widest departures from the guide whom he professes to follow. Hence it has happened, that although the public have long been in possession of an English HOMER by a poet whose writings have done immortal honor to his country, the demand of a new one, and especially in blank verse, has been repeatedly and loudly made by some of the best judges and ablest writers of the present day.

I have no contest with my predecessor. None is supposable between performers on different instruments. Mr. Pope has surmounted all difficulties in his version of HOMER that it was possible to surmount in rhyme. But he was fettered, and his fetters were his choice. Accustomed always to rhyme, he had formed to himself an ear which probably could not be much gratified by verse that wanted it, and determined to encounter even impossibilities, rather than abandon a mode of writing in which he had excelled every body, for the sake of another to which, unexercised in it as he was, he must have felt strong objections.

I number myself among the warmest admirers of Mr. Pope as an original writer, and I allow him all the merit he can justly claim as the translator of this chief of poets. He has given us the Tale of Troy divine in smooth verse, generally in correct and elegant language, and in diction often highly poetical. But his deviations are so many, occasioned chiefly by the cause already mentioned, that, much as he has done, and valuable as his work is on some accounts, it was yet in the humble province of a translator that I thought it possible even for me to fellow him with some advantage.

That he has sometimes altogether suppressed the sense of his author, and has not seldom intermingled his own ideas with it, is a remark which, on this occasion, nothing but necessity should have extorted from me. But we differ sometimes so widely in our matter, that unless this remark, invidious as it seems, be premised, I know not how to obviate a suspicion, on the one hand, of careless oversight, or of factitious embellishment on the other. On this head, therefore, the English reader is to be admonished, that the matter found in me, whether he like it or not, is found also in HOMER, and that the matter not found in me, how much soever he may admire it, is found only in Mr. Pope. I have omitted nothing; I have invented nothing.

There is indisputably a wide difference between the case of an original writer in rhyme and a translator. In an original work the author is free; if the rhyme be of difficult attainment, and he cannot find it in one direction, he is at liberty to seek it in another; the matter that will not accommodate itself to his occasions he may discard, adopting such as will. But in a translation no such option is allowable; the sense of the author is required, and we do not surrender it willingly even to the plea of necessity. Fidelity is indeed of the very essence of translation, and the term itself implies it. For which reason, if we suppress the sense of our original, and force into its place our own, we may call our work an imitation, if we please, or perhaps a paraphrase, but it is no longer the same author only in a different dress, and therefore it is not translation. Should a painter, professing to draw the likeness of a beautiful woman, give her more or fewer features than belong to her, and a general cast of countenance of his own invention, he might be said to have produced a jeu d'esprit, a curiosity perhaps in its way, but by no means the lady in question.

It will however be necessary to speak a little more largely to this subject, on which discordant opinions prevail even among good judges.

The free and the close translation have, each, their advocates. But inconveniences belong to both. The former can hardly be true to the original author's style and manner, and the latter is apt to be servile. The one loses his peculiarities, and the other his spirit. Were it possible, therefore, to find an exact medium, a manner so close that it should let slip nothing of the text, nor mingle any thing extraneous with it, and at the same time so free as to have an air of originality, this seems precisely the mode in which an author might be best rendered. I can assure my readers from my own experience, that to discover this very delicate line is difficult, and to proceed by it when found, through the whole length of a poet voluminous as HOMER, nearly impossible. I can only pretend to have endeavored it.

It is an opinion commonly received, but, like many others, indebted for its prevalence to mere want of examination, that a translator should imagine to himself the style which his author would probably have used, had the language into which he is rendered been his own. A direction which wants nothing but practicability to recommend it. For suppose six persons, equally qualified for the task, employed to translate the same Ancient into their own language, with this rule to guide them. In the event it would be found, that each had fallen on a manner different from that of all the rest, and by probable inference it would follow that none had fallen on the right. On the whole, therefore, as has been said, the translation which partakes equally of fidelity and liberality, that is close, but not so close as to be servile, free, but not so free as to be licentious, promises fairest; and my ambition will be sufficiently gratified, if such of my readers as are able, and will take the pains to compare me in this respect with HOMER, shall judge that I have in any measure attained a point so difficult.

As to energy and harmony, two grand requisites in a translation of this most energetic and most harmonious of all poets, it is neither my purpose nor my wish, should I be found deficient in either, or in both, to shelter myself under an unfilial imputation of blame to my mother-tongue. Our language is indeed less musical than the Greek, and there is no language with which I am at all acquainted that is not. But it is musical enough for the purposes of melodious verse, and if it seem to fail, on whatsoever occasion, in energy, the blame is due, not to itself, but to the unskilful manager of it. For so long as Milton's works, whether his prose or his verse, shall exist, so long there will be abundant proof that no subject, however important, however sublime, can demand greater force of expression than is within the compass of the English language.

I have no fear of judges familiar with original HOMER. They need not be told that a translation of him is an arduous enterprise, and as such, entitled to some favor. From these, therefore, I shall expect, and shall not be disappointed, considerable candor and allowance. Especially they will be candid, and I believe that there are many such, who have occasionally tried their own strength in this bow of Ulysses. They have not found it supple and pliable, and with me are perhaps ready to acknowledge that they could not always even approach with it the mark of their ambition. But I would willingly, were it possible, obviate uncandid criticism, because to answer it is lost labor, and to receive it in silence has the appearance of stately reserve, and self-importance.

To those, therefore, who shall be inclined to tell me hereafter that my diction is often plain and unelevated, I reply beforehand that I know it,—that it would be absurd were it otherwise, and that Homer himself stands in the same predicament. In fact, it is one of his numberless excellences, and a point in which his judgment never fails him, that he is grand and lofty always in the right place, and knows infallibly how to rise and fall with his subject. Big words on small matters may serve as a pretty exact definition of the burlesque; an instance of which they will find in the Battle of the Frogs and Mice, but none in the Iliad.

By others I expect to be told that my numbers, though here and there tolerably smooth, are not always such, but have, now and then, an ugly hitch in their gait, ungraceful in itself, and inconvenient to the reader. To this charge also I plead guilty, but beg leave in alleviation of judgment to add, that my limping lines are not numerous, compared with those that limp not. The truth is, that not one of them all escaped me, but, such as they are, they were all made such with a wilful intention. In poems of great length there is no blemish more to be feared than sameness of numbers, and every art is useful by which it may be avoided. A line, rough in itself, has yet its recommendations; it saves the ear the pain of an irksome monotony, and seems even to add greater smoothness to others. Milton, whose ear and taste were exquisite, has exemplified in his Paradise Lost the effect of this practice frequently.

Having mentioned Milton, I cannot but add an observation on the similitude of his manner to that of HOMER. It is such, that no person familiar with both, can read either without being reminded of the other; and it is in those breaks and pauses, to which the numbers of the English poet are so much indebted both for their dignity and variety, that he chiefly copies the Grecian. But these are graces to which rhyme is not competent; so broken, it loses all its music; of which any person may convince himself by reading a page only of any of our poets anterior to Denham, Waller, and Dryden. A translator of HOMER, therefore, seems directed by HOMER himself to the use of blank verse, as to that alone in which he can be rendered with any tolerable representation of his manner in this particular. A remark which I am naturally led to make by a desire to conciliate, if possible, some, who, rather unreasonably partial to rhyme, demand it on all occasions, and seem persuaded that poetry in our language is a vain attempt without it. Verse, that claims to be verse in right of its metre only, they judge to be such rather by courtesy than by kind, on an apprehension that it costs the writer little trouble, that he has only to give his lines their prescribed number of syllables, and so far as the mechanical part is concerned, all is well. Were this true, they would have reason on their side; for the author is certainly best entitled to applause who succeeds against the greatest difficulty, and in verse that calls for the most artificial management in its construction. But the case is not as they suppose. To rhyme, in our language, demands no great exertion of ingenuity, but is always easy to a person exercised in the practice. Witness the multitudes who rhyme, but have no other poetical pretensions. Let it be considered too, how merciful we are apt to be to unclassical and indifferent language for the sake of rhyme, and we shall soon see that the labor lies principally on the other side. Many ornaments of no easy purchase are required to atone for the absence of this single recommendation. It is not sufficient that the lines of blank verse be smooth in themselves, they must also be harmonious in the combination. Whereas the chief concern of the rhymist is to beware that his couplets and his sense be commensurate, lest the regularity of his numbers should be (too frequently at least) interrupted. A trivial difficulty this, compared with those which attend the poet unaccompanied by his bells. He, in order that he may be musical, must exhibit all the variations, as he proceeds, of which ten syllables are susceptible; between the first syllable and the last there is no place at which he must not occasionally pause, and the place of the pause must be perpetually shifted. To effect this variety, his attention must be given, at one and the same time, to the pauses he has already made in the period before him, as well as to that which he is about to make, and to those which shall succeed it. On no lighter terms than these is it possible that blank verse can be written which will not, in the course of a long work, fatigue the ear past all endurance. If it be easier, therefore, to throw five balls into the air and to catch them in succession, than to sport in that manner with one only, then may blank verse be more easily fabricated than rhyme. And if to these labors we add others equally requisite, a style in general more elaborate than rhyme requires, farther removed from the vernacular idiom both in the language itself and in the arrangement of it, we shall not long doubt which of these two very different species of verse threatens the composer with most expense of study and contrivance. I feel it unpleasant to appeal to my own experience, but, having no other voucher at hand, am constrained to it. As I affirm, so I have found. I have dealt pretty largely in both kinds, and have frequently written more verses in a day, with tags, than I could ever write without them. To what has been here said (which whether it have been said by others or not, I cannot tell, having never read any modern book on the subject) I shall only add, that to be poetical without rhyme, is an argument of a sound and classical constitution in any language.

A word or two on the subject of the following translation, and I have done.

My chief boast is that I have adhered closely to my original, convinced that every departure from him would be punished with the forfeiture of some grace or beauty for which I could substitute no equivalent. The epithets that would consent to an English form I have preserved as epithets; others that would not, I have melted into the context. There are none, I believe, which I have not translated in one way or other, though the reader will not find them repeated so often as most of them are in HOMER, for a reason that need not be mentioned.

Few persons of any consideration are introduced either in the Iliad or Odyssey by their own name only, but their patronymic is given also. To this ceremonial I have generally attended, because it is a circumstance of my author's manner.

HOMER never allots less than a whole line to the introduction of a speaker. No, not even when the speech itself is no longer than the line that leads it. A practice to which, since he never departs from it, he must have been determined by some cogent reason. He probably deemed it a formality necessary to the majesty of his narration. In this article, therefore, I have scrupulously adhered to my pattern, considering these introductory lines as heralds in a procession; important persons, because employed to usher in persons more important than themselves.

It has been my point every where to be as little verbose as possible, though; at the same time, my constant determination not to sacrifice my author's full meaning to an affected brevity.

In the affair of style, I have endeavored neither to creep nor to bluster, for no author is so likely to betray his translator into both these faults, as HOMER, though himself never guilty of either. I have cautiously avoided all terms of new invention, with an abundance of which, persons of more ingenuity than judgment have not enriched our language, but incumbered it. I have also every where used an unabbreviated fullness of phrase as most suited to the nature of the work, and, above all, have studied perspicuity, not only because verse is good for little that wants it, but because HOMER is the most perspicuous of all poets.

In all difficult places I have consulted the best commentators, and where they have differed, or have given, as is often the case, a variety of solutions, I have ever exercised my best judgment, and selected that which appears, at least to myself, the most probable interpretation. On this ground, and on account of the fidelity which I have already boasted, I may venture, I believe, to recommend my work as promising some usefulness to young students of the original.

The passages which will be least noticed, and possibly not at all, except by those who shall wish to find me at a fault, are those which have cost me abundantly the most labor. It is difficult to kill a sheep with dignity in a modern language, to flay and to prepare it for the table, detailing every circumstance of the process. Difficult also, without sinking below the level of poetry, to harness mules to a wagon, particularizing every article of their furniture, straps, rings, staples, and even the tying of the knots that kept all together. HOMER, who writes always to the eye, with all his sublimity and grandeur, has the minuteness of a Flemish painter.

But in what degree I have succeeded in my version either of these passages, and such as these, or of others more buoyant and above-ground, and especially of the most sublime, is now submitted to the decision of the reader, to whom I am ready enough to confess that I have not at all consulted their approbation, who account nothing grand that is not turgid, or elegant that is not bedizened with metaphor.

I purposely decline all declamation on the merits of HOMER, because a translator's praises of his author are liable to a suspicion of dotage, and because it were impossible to improve on those which this author has received already. He has been the wonder of all countries that his works have ever reached, even deified by the greatest names of antiquity, and in some places actually worshipped. And to say truth, were it possible that mere man could entitle himself by pre-eminence of any kind to divine honors, Homer's astonishing powers seem to have given him the best pretensions.

I cannot conclude without due acknowledgments to the best critic in HOMER I have ever met with, the learned and ingenious Mr. FUSELI. Unknown as he was to me when I entered on this arduous undertaking (indeed to this moment I have never seen him) he yet voluntarily and generously offered himself as my revisor. To his classical taste and just discernment I have been indebted for the discovery of many blemishes in my own work, and of beauties, which would otherwise have escaped me, in the original. But his necessary avocations would not suffer him to accompany me farther than to the latter books of the Iliad, a circumstance which I fear my readers, as well as myself, will regret with too much reason.[1]

I have obligations likewise to many friends, whose names, were it proper to mention them here, would do me great honor. They have encouraged me by their approbation, have assisted me with valuable books, and have eased me of almost the whole labor of transcribing.

And now I have only to regret that my pleasant work is ended. To the illustrious Greek I owe the smooth and easy flight of many thousand hours. He has been my companion at home and abroad, in the study, in the garden, and in the field; and no measure of success, let my labors succeed as they may, will ever compensate to me the loss of the innocent luxury that I have enjoyed, as a translator of HOMER.

Footnote: 1. Some of the few notes subjoined to my translation of the Odyssey are by Mr. FUSELI, who had a short opportunity to peruse the MSS. while the Iliad was printing. They are marked with his initial.


Soon after my publication of this work, I began to prepare it for a second edition, by an accurate revisal of the first. It seemed to me, that here and there, perhaps a slight alteration might satisfy the demands of some, whom I was desirous to please; and I comforted myself with the reflection, that if I still failed to conciliate all, I should yet have no cause to account myself in a singular degree unfortunate. To please an unqualified judge, an author must sacrifice too much; and the attempt to please an uncandid one were altogether hopeless. In one or other of these classes may be ranged all such objectors, as would deprive blank verse of one of its principal advantages, the variety of its pauses; together with all such as deny the good effect, on the whole, of a line, now and then, less harmonious than its fellows.

With respect to the pauses, it has been affirmed with an unaccountable rashness, that HOMER himself has given me an example of verse without them. Had this been true, it would by no means have concluded against the use of them in an English version of HOMER; because, in one language, and in one species of metre, that may be musical, which in another would be found disgusting. But the assertion is totally unfounded. The pauses in Homer's verse are so frequent and various, that to name another poet, if pauses are a fault, more faulty than he, were, perhaps, impossible. It may even be questioned, if a single passage of ten lines flowing with uninterrupted smoothness could be singled out from all the thousands that he has left us. He frequently pauses at the first word of the line, when it consists of three or more syllables; not seldom when of two; and sometimes even when of one only. In this practice he was followed, as was observed in my Preface to the first edition, by the Author of the Paradise Lost. An example inimitable indeed, but which no writer of English heroic verse without rhyme can neglect with impunity.

Similar to this is the objection which proscribes absolutely the occasional use of a line irregularly constructed. When Horace censured Lucilius for his lines incomposite pede currentes, he did not mean to say, that he was chargeable with such in some instances, or even in many, for then the censure would have been equally applicable to himself; but he designed by that expression to characterize all his writings. The censure therefore was just; Lucilius wrote at a time when the Roman verse had not yet received its polish, and instead of introducing artfully his rugged lines, and to serve a particular purpose, had probably seldom, and never but by accident, composed a smooth one. Such has been the versification of the earliest poets in every country. Children lisp, at first, and stammer; but, in time, their speech becomes fluent, and, if they are well taught, harmonious.

HOMER himself is not invariably regular in the construction of his verse. Had he been so, Eustathius, an excellent critic and warm admirer of HOMER, had never affirmed, that some of his lines want a head, some a tail, and others a middle. Some begin with a word that is neither dactyl nor spondee, some conclude with a dactyl, and in the intermediate part he sometimes deviates equally from the established custom. I confess that instances of this sort are rare; but they are surely, though few, sufficient to warrant a sparing use of similar license in the present day.

Unwilling, however, to seem obstinate in both these particulars, I conformed myself in some measure to these objections, though unconvinced myself of their propriety. Several of the rudest and most unshapely lines I composed anew; and several of the pauses least in use I displaced for the sake of an easier enunciation.—And this was the state of the work after the revisal given it about seven years since.

Between that revisal and the present a considerable time intervened, and the effect of long discontinuance was, that I became more dissatisfied with it myself, than the most difficult to be pleased of all my judges. Not for the sake of a few uneven lines or unwonted pauses, but for reasons far more substantial. The diction seemed to me in many passages either not sufficiently elevated, or deficient in the grace of ease, and in others I found the sense of the original either not adequately expressed or misapprehended. Many elisions still remained unsoftened; the compound epithets I found not always happily combined, and the same sometimes too frequently repeated.

There is no end of passages in HOMER, which must creep unless they are lifted; yet in such, all embellishment is out of the question. The hero puts on his clothes, or refreshes himself with food and wine, or he yokes his steed, takes a journey, and in the evening preparation is made for his repose. To give relief to subjects prosaic as these without seeming unreasonably tumid is extremely difficult. Mr. Pope much abridges some of them, and others he omits; but neither of these liberties was compatible with the nature of my undertaking. These, therefore, and many similar to these, have been new-modeled; somewhat to their advantage I hope, but not even now entirely to my satisfaction. The lines have a more natural movement, the pauses are fewer and less stately, the expression as easy as I could make it without meanness, and these were all the improvements that I could give them.

The elisions, I believe, are all cured, with only one exception. An alternative proposes itself to a modern versifier, from which there is no escape, which occurs perpetually, and which, choose as he may, presents him always with an evil. I mean in the instance of the particle (the). When this particle precedes a vowel, shall he melt it into the substantive, or leave the hiatus open? Both practices are offensive to a delicate ear. The particle absorbed occasions harshness, and the open vowel a vacuity equally inconvenient. Sometimes, therefore, to leave it open, and sometimes to ingraft it into its adjunct seems most advisable; this course Mr. Pope has taken, whose authority recommended it to me; though of the two evils I have most frequently chosen the elision as the least.

Compound epithets have obtained so long in the poetical language of our country, that I employed them without fear or scruple. To have abstained from them in a blank verse translation of Homer, who abounds with them, and from whom our poets probably first adopted them, would have been strange indeed. But though the genius of our language favors the formation of such words almost as much as that of the Greek, it happens sometimes, that a Grecian compound either cannot be rendered in English at all, or, at best, but awkwardly. For this reason, and because I found that some readers much disliked them, I have expunged many; retaining, according to my best judgment, the most eligible only, and making less frequent the repetitions even of these.

I know not that I can add any thing material on the subject of this last revisal, unless it be proper to give the reason why the Iliad, though greatly altered, has undergone much fewer alterations than the Odyssey. The true reason I believe is this. The Iliad demanded my utmost possible exertions; it seemed to meet me like an ascent almost perpendicular, which could not be surmounted at less cost than of all the labor that I could bestow on it. The Odyssey on the contrary seemed to resemble an open and level country, through which I might travel at my ease. The latter, therefore, betrayed me into some negligence, which, though little conscious of it at the time, on an accurate search, I found had left many disagreeable effects behind it.

I now leave the work to its fate. Another may labor hereafter in an attempt of the same kind with more success; but more industriously, I believe, none ever will.


I have no other pretensions to the honorable name of Editor on this occasion, than as a faithful transcriber of the Manuscript, and a diligent corrector of the Press, which are, doubtless, two of the very humblest employments in that most extensive province. I have wanted the ability to attempt any thing higher; and, fortunately for the reader, I have also wanted the presumption. What, however, I can do, I will. Instead of critical remark, I will furnish him with anecdote. He shall trace from beginning to end the progress of the following work; and in proportion as I have the happiness to engage his attention, I shall merit the name of a fortunate editor.

It was in the darkest season of a most calamitous depression of his spirits, that I was summoned to the house of my inestimable friend the Translator, in the month of January, 1794. He had happily completed a revisal of his HOMER, and was thinking of the preface to his new edition, when all his satisfaction in the one, and whatever he had projected for the other, in a moment vanished from his mind. He had fallen into a deplorable illness; and though the foremost wish of my heart was to lessen the intenseness of his misery, I was utterly unable to afford him any aid.

I had, however, a pleasing though a melancholy opportunity of tracing his recent footsteps in the Field of Troy, and in the Palace of Ithaca. He had materially altered both the Iliad and Odyssey; and, so far as my ability allowed me to judge, they were each of them greatly improved. He had also, at the request of his bookseller, interspersed the two poems with copious notes; for the most part translations of the ancient Scholia, and gleaned, at the cost of many valuable hours, from the pages of Barnes, Clarke, and Villoisson. It has been a constant subject of regret to the admirers of "The Task," that the exercise of such marvelous original powers, should have been so long suspended by the drudgery of translation; and in this view, their quarrel with the illustrious Greek will be, doubtless, extended to his commentators.[1]

During two long years from this most anxious period, the translation continued as it was; and though, in the hope of its being able to divert his melancholy, I had attempted more than once to introduce it to its Author, I was every time painfully obliged to desist. But in the summer of ninety-six, when he had resided with me in Norfolk twelve miserable months, the introduction long wished for took place. To my inexpressible astonishment and joy, I surprised him, one morning, with the Iliad in his hand; and with an excess of delight, which I am still more unable to describe, I the next day discovered that he had been writing.—Were I to mention one of the happiest moments of my life, it might be that which introduced me to the following lines:—

Mistaken meanings corrected, admonente G. Wakefield.

B. XXIII. L. 429. that the nave Of thy neat wheel seem e'en to grind upon it.

L. 865. As when (the north wind freshening) near the bank Up springs a fish in air, then falls again And disappears beneath the sable flood, So at the stroke, he bounded.

L. 1018. Thenceforth Tydides o'er his ample shield Aim'd and still aim'd to pierce him in the neck.

Or better thus—

Tydides, in return, with spear high-poised O'er the broad shield, aim'd ever at his neck,

Or best of all—

Then Tydeus' son, with spear high-poised above The ample shield, stood aiming at his neck.

He had written these lines with a pencil, on a leaf at the end of his Iliad; and when I reflected on the cause which had given them birth, I could not but admire its disproportion to the effect. What the voice of persuasion had failed in for a year, accident had silently accomplished in a single day. The circumstance I allude to was this: I received a copy of the Iliad and Odyssey of Pope, then recently published by the Editor above mentioned, with illustrative and critical notes of his own. As it commended Mr. Cowper's Translation in the Preface, and occasionally pointed out its merits in the Notes, I was careful to place it in his way; though it was more from a habit of experiment which I had contracted, than from well-grounded hopes of success. But what a fortunate circumstance was the arrival of this Work! and by what name worthy of its influence shall I call it? In the mouth of an indifferent person it might be Chance; but in mine; whom it rendered so peculiarly happy, common gratitude requires that it should be Providence.

As I watched him with an indescribable interest in his progress, I had the satisfaction to find, that, after a few mornings given to promiscuous correction, and to frequent perusal of the above-mentioned Notes, he was evidently settling on the sixteenth Book. This he went regularly through, and the fruits of an application so happily resumed were, one day with another, about sixty new lines. But with the end of the sixteenth Book he had closed the corrections of the year. An excursion to the coast, which immediately followed, though it promised an accession of strength to the body, could not fail to interfere with the pursuits of the mind. It was therefore with much less surprise than regret, that I saw him relinquish the "Tale of Troy Divine."

Such was the prelude to the last revisal, which, in the month of January, ninety-seven, Mr. Cowper was persuaded to undertake; and to a faithful copy, as I trust, of which, I have at this time the honor to conduct the reader. But it may not be amiss to observe, that with regard to the earlier books of the Iliad, it was less a revisal of the altered text, than of the text as it stands in the first edition. For though the interleaved copy was always at hand, and in the multitude of its altered places could hardly fail to offer some things worthy to be preserved, but which the ravages of illness and the lapse of time might have utterly effaced from his mind, I could not often persuade the Translator to consult it. I was therefore induced, in the course of transcribing, to compare the two revisals as I went along, and to plead for the continuance of the first correction, when it forcibly struck me as better than the last. This, however, but seldom occurred; and the practice, at length, was completely left off, by his consenting to receive into the number of the books which were daily laid open before him, the interleaved copy to which I allude.

At the end of the first six books of the Iliad, the arrival of spring brought the usual interruptions of exercise and air, which increased as the summer advanced to a degree so unfavorable to the progress of HOMER, that in the requisite attention to their salutary claims, the revisal was, at one time, altogether at a stand. Only four books were added in the course of nine months; but opportunity returning as the winter set in, there were added, in less than seven weeks, four more: and thus ended the year ninety-seven.

As the spring that succeeded was a happier spring, so it led to a happier summer. We had no longer air and exercise alone, but exercise and Homer hand in hand. He even followed us thrice to the sea: and whether our walks were

"on the margin of the land, O'er the green summit of the" cliffs, "whose base Beats back the roaring surge," "or on the shore Of the untillable and barren deep,"

they were always within hearing of his magic song. About the middle of this busy summer, the revisal of the Iliad was brought to a close; and on the very next day, the 24th of July, the correction of the Odyssey commenced,—a morning rendered memorable by a kind and unexpected visit from the patroness of that work, the Dowager Lady Spencer!

It is not my intention to detain the reader with a progressive account of the Odyssey revised, as circumstantial as that of the Iliad, because it went on smoothly from beginning to end, and was finished in less than eight months.

I cannot deliver these volumes to the public without feeling emotions of gratitude toward Heaven, in recollecting how often this corrected Work has appeared to me an instrument of Divine mercy, to mitigate the sufferings of my excellent relation. Its progress in our private hours was singularly medicinal to his mind: may its presentment to the Public prove not less conducive to the honor of the departed Author, who has every claim to my veneration! As a copious life of the Poet is already in the press, from the pen of his intimate friend Mr. Hayley, it is unnecessary for me to enter on such extensive commendation of his character, as my own intimacy with him might suggest; but I hope the reader will kindly allow me the privilege of indulging, in some degree, the feelings of my heart, by applying to him, in the close of this Preface, an expressive verse (borrowed from Homer) which he inscribed himself, with some little variation, on a bust of his Grecian Favorite.

{Os te pater o paidi, kai oupote lesomai aute.}

Loved as his Son, in him I early found A Father, such as I will ne'er forget.

Footnote: 1. Very few signatures had at this time been affixed to the notes; but I afterward compared them with the Greek, note by note, and endeavored to supply the defect; more especially in the last three Volumes, where the reader will be pleased to observe that all the notes without signatures are Mr. Cowper's, and that those marked B.C.V. are respectively found in the editions of Homer by Barnes, Clarke, and Villoisson. But the employment was so little to the taste and inclination of the poet, that he never afterward revised them, or added to their number more than these which follow;—In the Odyssey, Vol. I. Book xi., the note 32.—Vol. II. Book xv., the note 13.—The note 10 Book xvi., of that volume, and the note 14, Book xix., of the same.


It is incumbent upon the present Editor to state the reasons which have induced him, between two editions of Cowper's HOMER, differing so materially from each other that they might almost be deemed different versions, to prefer the first.

Whoever has perused the Translator's letters, must have perceived that he had considered with no ordinary care the scheme of his versification, and that when he resolved upon altering it in a second edition, it was in deference to the opinion of others.

It seems to the Editor that Cowper's own judgment is entitled to more respect, than that of any, or all his critics; and that the version which he composed when his faculties were most active and his spirits least subject to depression,—indeed in the happiest part of his life,—ought not to be superseded by a revisal, or rather reconstruction, which was undertaken three years before his death,—not like the first translation as "a pleasant work, an innocent luxury," the cheerful and delightful occupation of hope and ardor and ambition,—but as a "hopeless employment," a task to which he gave "all his miserable days, and often many hours of the night," seeking to beguile the sense of utter wretchedness, by altering as if for the sake of alteration.

The Editor has been confirmed in this opinion by the concurrence of every person with whom he has communicated on the subject. Among others he takes the liberty of mentioning Mr. Cary, whose authority upon such a question is of especial weight, the Translator of Dante being the only one of our countrymen who has ever executed a translation of equal magnitude and not less difficulty, with the same perfect fidelity and admirable skill.

In support of this determination, the case of Tasso may be cited as curiously in point. The great Italian poet altered his Jerusalem like Cowper, against his own judgment, in submission to his critics: he made the alteration in the latter years of his life, and in a diseased state of mind; and he proceeded upon the same prescribed rule of smoothing down his versification, and removing all the elisions. The consequence has been that the reconstructed poem is utterly neglected, and has rarely, if ever, been reprinted, except in the two great editions of his collected works; while the original poem has been and continues to be in such demand, that the most diligent bibliographer might vainly attempt to enumerate all the editions through which it has passed.


It will be seen by the Advertisement to Southey's edition of Cowper's Translation of the Iliad, that he has the highest opinion of its merits, and that he also gives the preference to Cowper's unrevised edition. The Editor of the present edition is happy to offer it to the public under the sanction of such high authority.

In the addition of notes I have availed myself of the learning of various commentators (Pope, Coleridge, Mueller, etc.) and covet no higher praise than the approval of my judgment in the selection.

Those bearing the signature E.P.P., were furnished by my friend Miss Peabody, of Boston. I would also acknowledge my obligations to C.C. Felton, Eliot Professor of Greek in Harvard University. It should be observed, that the remarks upon the language of the poem refer to it in the original.

For a definite treatment of the character of each deity introduced in the Iliad, and for the fable of the Judgment of Paris, which was the primary cause of the Trojan war, the reader is referred to "Grecian and Roman Mythology."

It is intended that this edition of the Iliad shall be followed by a similar one of the Odyssey, provided sufficient encouragement is given by the demand for the present volume.






The book opens with an account of a pestilence that prevailed in the Grecian camp, and the cause of it is assigned. A council is called, in which fierce altercation takes place between Agamemnon and Achilles. The latter solemnly renounces the field. Agamemnon, by his heralds, demands Briseis, and Achilles resigns her. He makes his complaint to Thetis, who undertakes to plead his cause with Jupiter. She pleads it, and prevails. The book concludes with an account of what passed in Heaven on that occasion.

* * * * *

[The reader will please observe, that by Achaians, Argives, Danai, are signified Grecians. Homer himself having found these various appellatives both graceful and convenient, it seemed unreasonable that a Translator of him should be denied the same advantage.—TR.]


Achilles sing, O Goddess! Peleus' son; His wrath pernicious, who ten thousand woes Caused to Achaia's host, sent many a soul Illustrious into Ades premature, And Heroes gave (so stood the will of Jove) 5 To dogs and to all ravening fowls a prey, When fierce dispute had separated once The noble Chief Achilles from the son Of Atreus, Agamemnon, King of men. Who them to strife impell'd? What power divine? 10 Latona's son and Jove's.[1] For he, incensed Against the King, a foul contagion raised In all the host, and multitudes destroy'd, For that the son of Atreus had his priest Dishonored, Chryses. To the fleet he came 15 Bearing rich ransom glorious to redeem His daughter, and his hands charged with the wreath And golden sceptre[2] of the God shaft-arm'd. His supplication was at large to all The host of Greece, but most of all to two, 20 The sons of Atreus, highest in command. Ye gallant Chiefs, and ye their gallant host, (So may the Gods who in Olympus dwell Give Priam's treasures to you for a spoil And ye return in safety,) take my gifts 25 And loose my child, in honor of the son Of Jove, Apollo, archer of the skies.[3] At once the voice of all was to respect The priest, and to accept the bounteous price; But so it pleased not Atreus' mighty son, 30 Who with rude threatenings stern him thence dismiss'd. Beware, old man! that at these hollow barks I find thee not now lingering, or henceforth Returning, lest the garland of thy God And his bright sceptre should avail thee nought. 35 I will not loose thy daughter, till old age Steal on her. From her native country far, In Argos, in my palace, she shall ply The loom, and shall be partner of my bed. Move me no more. Begone; hence while thou may'st. 40 He spake, the old priest trembled and obey'd. Forlorn he roamed the ocean's sounding shore, And, solitary, with much prayer his King Bright-hair'd Latona's son, Phoebus, implored.[4] God of the silver bow, who with thy power 45 Encirclest Chrysa, and who reign'st supreme In Tenedos and Cilla the divine, Sminthian[5] Apollo![6] If I e'er adorned Thy beauteous fane, or on the altar burn'd The fat acceptable of bulls or goats, 50 Grant my petition. With thy shafts avenge On the Achaian host thy servant's tears. Such prayer he made, and it was heard.[7] The God, Down from Olympus with his radiant bow And his full quiver o'er his shoulder slung, 55 Marched in his anger; shaken as he moved His rattling arrows told of his approach. Gloomy he came as night; sat from the ships Apart, and sent an arrow. Clang'd the cord [8]Dread-sounding, bounding on the silver bow.[9] 60 Mules first and dogs he struck,[10] but at themselves Dispatching soon his bitter arrows keen, Smote them. Death-piles on all sides always blazed. Nine days throughout the camp his arrows flew; The tenth, Achilles from all parts convened 65 The host in council. Juno the white-armed Moved at the sight of Grecians all around Dying, imparted to his mind the thought.[11] The full assembly, therefore, now convened, Uprose Achilles ardent, and began. 70 Atrides! Now, it seems, no course remains For us, but that the seas roaming again, We hence return; at least if we survive; But haste, consult we quick some prophet here Or priest, or even interpreter of dreams, 75 (For dreams are also of Jove,) that we may learn By what crime we have thus incensed Apollo, What broken vow, what hecatomb unpaid He charges on us, and if soothed with steam Of lambs or goats unblemish'd, he may yet 80 Be won to spare us, and avert the plague. He spake and sat, when Thestor's son arose Calchas, an augur foremost in his art, Who all things, present, past, and future knew, And whom his skill in prophecy, a gift 85 Conferred by Phoebus on him, had advanced To be conductor of the fleet to Troy; He, prudent, them admonishing, replied.[12] Jove-loved Achilles! Wouldst thou learn from me What cause hath moved Apollo to this wrath, 90 The shaft-arm'd King? I shall divulge the cause. But thou, swear first and covenant on thy part That speaking, acting, thou wilt stand prepared To give me succor; for I judge amiss, Or he who rules the Argives, the supreme 95 O'er all Achaia's host, will be incensed. Wo to the man who shall provoke the King For if, to-day, he smother close his wrath, He harbors still the vengeance, and in time Performs it. Answer, therefore, wilt thou save me? 100 To whom Achilles, swiftest of the swift. What thou hast learn'd in secret from the God That speak, and boldly. By the son of Jove, Apollo, whom thou, Calchas, seek'st in prayer Made for the Danai, and who thy soul 105 Fills with futurity, in all the host The Grecian lives not, who while I shall breathe, And see the light of day, shall in this camp Oppress thee; no, not even if thou name Him, Agamemnon, sovereign o'er us all. 110 Then was the seer embolden'd, and he spake. Nor vow nor hecatomb unpaid on us He charges, but the wrong done to his priest Whom Agamemnon slighted when he sought His daughter's freedom, and his gifts refused. 115 He is the cause. Apollo for his sake Afflicts and will afflict us, neither end Nor intermission of his heavy scourge Granting, 'till unredeem'd, no price required, The black-eyed maid be to her father sent, 120 And a whole hecatomb in Chrysa bleed. Then, not before, the God may be appeased. He spake and sat; when Atreus' son arose, The Hero Agamemnon, throned supreme. Tempests of black resentment overcharged 125 His heart, and indignation fired his eyes. On Calchas lowering, him he first address'd. Prophet of mischief! from whose tongue no note Of grateful sound to me, was ever heard; Ill tidings are thy joy, and tidings glad 130 Thou tell'st not, or thy words come not to pass. And now among the Danai thy dreams Divulging, thou pretend'st the Archer-God For his priest's sake, our enemy, because I scorn'd his offer'd ransom of the maid 135 Chryseis, more desirous far to bear Her to my home, for that she charms me more Than Clytemnestra, my own first espoused, With whom, in disposition, feature, form, Accomplishments, she may be well compared. 140 Yet, being such, I will return her hence If that she go be best. Perish myself— But let the people of my charge be saved Prepare ye, therefore, a reward for me, And seek it instant. It were much unmeet 145 That I alone of all the Argive host Should want due recompense, whose former prize Is elsewhere destined, as ye all perceive. To whom Achilles, matchless in the race. Atrides, glorious above all in rank, 150 And as intent on gain as thou art great, Whence shall the Grecians give a prize to thee? The general stock is poor; the spoil of towns Which we have taken, hath already passed In distribution, and it were unjust 155 To gather it from all the Greeks again. But send thou back this Virgin to her God, And when Jove's favor shall have given us Troy, A threefold, fourfold share shall then be thine. To whom the Sovereign of the host replied. 160 Godlike Achilles, valiant as thou art, Wouldst thou be subtle too? But me no fraud Shall overreach, or art persuade, of thine. Wouldst thou, that thou be recompensed, and I Sit meekly down, defrauded of my due? 165 And didst thou bid me yield her? Let the bold Achaians give me competent amends, Such as may please me, and it shall be well. Else, if they give me none, I will command Thy prize, the prize of Ajax, or the prize 170 It may be of Ulysses to my tent, And let the loser chafe. But this concern Shall be adjusted at convenient time. Come—launch we now into the sacred deep A bark with lusty rowers well supplied; 175 Then put on board Chryseis, and with her The sacrifice required. Go also one High in authority, some counsellor, Idomeneus, or Ajax, or thyself, Thou most untractable of all mankind; 180 And seek by rites of sacrifice and prayer To appease Apollo on our host's behalf. Achilles eyed him with a frown, and spake. Ah! clothed with impudence as with a cloak, And full of subtlety, who, thinkest thou— 185 What Grecian here will serve thee, or for thee Wage covert war, or open? Me thou know'st, Troy never wronged; I came not to avenge Harm done to me; no Trojan ever drove My pastures, steeds or oxen took of mine, 190 Or plunder'd of their fruits the golden fields Of Phthia[13] the deep-soil'd. She lies remote, And obstacles are numerous interposed, Vale-darkening mountains, and the dashing sea. No, [14]Shameless Wolf! For thy good pleasure's sake 195 We came, and, [15]Face of flint! to avenge the wrongs By Menelaus and thyself sustain'd, On the offending Trojan—service kind, But lost on thee, regardless of it all. And now—What now? Thy threatening is to seize 200 Thyself, the just requital of my toils, My prize hard-earn'd, by common suffrage mine. I never gain, what Trojan town soe'er We ransack, half thy booty. The swift march And furious onset—these I largely reap, 205 But, distribution made, thy lot exceeds Mine far; while I, with any pittance pleased, Bear to my ships the little that I win After long battle, and account it much. But I am gone, I and my sable barks 210 (My wiser course) to Phthia, and I judge, Scorn'd as I am, that thou shalt hardly glean Without me, more than thou shalt soon consume.[16] He ceased, and Agamemnon thus replied Fly, and fly now; if in thy soul thou feel 215 Such ardor of desire to go—begone! I woo thee not to stay; stay not an hour On my behalf, for I have others here Who will respect me more, and above all All-judging Jove. There is not in the host 220 King or commander whom I hate as thee, For all thy pleasure is in strife and blood, And at all times; yet valor is no ground Whereon to boast, it is the gift of Heaven Go, get ye back to Phthia, thou and thine! 225 There rule thy Myrmidons.[17] I need not thee, Nor heed thy wrath a jot. But this I say, Sure as Apollo takes my lovely prize Chryseis, and I shall return her home In mine own bark, and with my proper crew, 230 So sure the fair Briseis shall be mine. I shall demand her even at thy tent. So shalt thou well be taught, how high in power I soar above thy pitch, and none shall dare Attempt, thenceforth, comparison with me. 235 He ended, and the big, disdainful heart Throbbed of Achilles; racking doubt ensued And sore perplex'd him, whether forcing wide A passage through them, with his blade unsheathed To lay Atrides breathless at his foot, 240 Or to command his stormy spirit down. So doubted he, and undecided yet Stood drawing forth his falchion huge; when lo! Down sent by Juno, to whom both alike Were dear, and who alike watched over both, 245 Pallas descended. At his back she stood To none apparent, save himself alone, And seized his golden locks. Startled, he turned, And instant knew Minerva. Flashed her eyes Terrific;[18] whom with accents on the wing 250 Of haste, incontinent he questioned thus. Daughter of Jove, why comest thou? that thyself May'st witness these affronts which I endure From Agamemnon? Surely as I speak, This moment, for his arrogance, he dies. 255 To whom the blue-eyed Deity. From heaven Mine errand is, to sooth, if thou wilt hear, Thine anger. Juno the white-arm'd alike To him and thee propitious, bade me down: Restrain thy wrath. Draw not thy falchion forth. 260 Retort, and sharply, and let that suffice. For I foretell thee true. Thou shalt receive, Some future day, thrice told, thy present loss For this day's wrong. Cease, therefore, and be still. To whom Achilles. Goddess, although much 265 Exasperate, I dare not disregard Thy word, which to obey is always best.[19] Who hears the Gods, the Gods hear also him. He said; and on his silver hilt the force Of his broad hand impressing, sent the blade 270 Home to its rest, nor would the counsel scorn Of Pallas. She to heaven well-pleased return'd, And in the mansion of Jove AEgis[20]-armed Arriving, mingled with her kindred Gods. But though from violence, yet not from words 275 Abstained Achilles, but with bitter taunt Opprobrious, his antagonist reproached. Oh charged with wine, in steadfastness of face Dog unabashed, and yet at heart a deer! Thou never, when the troops have taken arms, 280 Hast dared to take thine also; never thou Associate with Achaia's Chiefs, to form The secret ambush.[21] No. The sound of war Is as the voice of destiny to thee. Doubtless the course is safer far, to range 285 Our numerous host, and if a man have dared Dispute thy will, to rob him of his prize. King! over whom? Women and spiritless— Whom therefore thou devourest; else themselves Would stop that mouth that it should scoff no more. 290 But hearken. I shall swear a solemn oath. By this same sceptre,[22] which shall never bud, Nor boughs bring forth as once, which having left Its stock on the high mountains, at what time The woodman's axe lopped off its foliage green, 295 And stript its bark, shall never grow again; Which now the judges of Achaia bear, Who under Jove, stand guardians of the laws, By this I swear (mark thou the sacred oath) Time shall be, when Achilles shall be missed; 300 When all shall want him, and thyself the power To help the Achaians, whatsoe'er thy will; When Hector at your heels shall mow you down: The Hero-slaughtering Hector! Then thy soul, Vexation-stung, shall tear thee with remorse, 305 That thou hast scorn'd, as he were nothing worth, A Chief, the soul and bulwark of your cause. So saying, he cast his sceptre on the ground Studded with gold, and sat. On the other side The son of Atreus all impassion'd stood, 310 When the harmonious orator arose Nestor, the Pylian oracle, whose lips Dropped eloquence—the honey not so sweet. Two generations past of mortals born In Pylus, coetaneous with himself, 315 He govern'd now the third—amid them all He stood, and thus, benevolent, began. Ah! what calamity hath fall'n on Greece! Now Priam and his sons may well exult, Now all in Ilium shall have joy of heart 320 Abundant, hearing of this broil, the prime Of Greece between, in council and in arms. But be persuaded; ye are younger both Than I, and I was conversant of old With Princes your superiors, yet from them 325 No disrespect at any time received. Their equals saw I never; never shall; Exadius, Coeneus, and the Godlike son Of AEgeus, mighty Theseus; men renown'd For force superior to the race of man, 330 Brave Chiefs they were, and with brave foes they fought, With the rude dwellers on the mountain-heights The Centaurs,[23] whom with havoc such as fame Shall never cease to celebrate, they slew. With these men I consorted erst, what time 335 From Pylus, though a land from theirs remote, They called me forth, and such as was my strength, With all that strength I served them. Who is he? What Prince or Chief of the degenerate race Now seen on earth who might with these compare? 340 Yet even these would listen and conform To my advice in consultation given, Which hear ye also; for compliance proves Oft times the safer and the manlier course. Thou, Agamemnon! valiant as thou art, 345 Seize not the maid, his portion from the Greeks, But leave her his; nor thou, Achilles, strive With our imperial Chief; for never King Had equal honor at the hands of Jove With Agamemnon, or was throned so high. 350 Say thou art stronger, and art Goddess-born, How then? His territory passes thine, And he is Lord of thousands more than thou. Cease, therefore, Agamemnon; calm thy wrath; And it shall be mine office to entreat 355 Achilles also to a calm, whose might The chief munition is of all our host. To whom the sovereign of the Greeks replied, The son of Atreus. Thou hast spoken well, Old Chief, and wisely. But this wrangler here— 360 Nought will suffice him but the highest place: He must control us all, reign over all, Dictate to all; but he shall find at least One here, disposed to question his commands. If the eternal Gods have made him brave, 365 Derives he thence a privilege to rail? Whom thus Achilles interrupted fierce. Could I be found so abject as to take The measure of my doings at thy lips, Well might they call me coward through the camp, 370 A vassal, and a fellow of no worth. Give law to others. Think not to control Me, subject to thy proud commands no more. Hear yet again! And weigh what thou shalt hear. I will not strive with thee in such a cause, 375 Nor yet with any man; I scorn to fight For her, whom having given, ye take away. But I have other precious things on board; Of those take none away without my leave. Or if it please thee, put me to the proof 380 Before this whole assembly, and my spear Shall stream that moment, purpled with thy blood. Thus they long time in opposition fierce Maintained the war of words; and now, at length, (The grand consult dissolved,) Achilles walked 385 (Patroclus and the Myrmidons his steps Attending) to his camp and to his fleet. But Agamemnon order'd forth a bark, A swift one, manned with twice ten lusty rowers; He sent on board the Hecatomb:[24] he placed 390 Chryseis with the blooming cheeks, himself, And to Ulysses gave the freight in charge. So all embarked, and plow'd their watery way. Atrides, next, bade purify the host; The host was purified, as he enjoin'd, 395 And the ablution cast into the sea. Then to Apollo, on the shore they slew, Of the untillable and barren deep, Whole Hecatombs of bulls and goats, whose steam Slowly in smoky volumes climbed the skies. 400 Thus was the camp employed; nor ceased the while The son of Atreus from his threats denounced At first against Achilles, but command Gave to Talthybius and Eurybates His heralds, ever faithful to his will. 405 Haste—Seek ye both the tent of Peleus' son Achilles. Thence lead hither by the hand Blooming Briseis, whom if he withhold, Not her alone, but other spoil myself Will take in person—He shall rue the hour. 410 With such harsh message charged he them dismissed They, sad and slow, beside the barren waste Of Ocean, to the galleys and the tents Moved of the Myrmidons. Him there they found Beneath the shadow of his bark reclined, 415 Nor glad at their approach. Trembling they stood, In presence of the royal Chief, awe-struck, Nor questioned him or spake. He not the less Knew well their embassy, and thus began. Ye heralds, messengers of Gods and men, 420 Hail, and draw near! I bid you welcome both. I blame not you; the fault is his alone Who sends you to conduct the damsel hence Briseis. Go, Patroclus, generous friend! Lead forth, and to their guidance give the maid. 425 But be themselves my witnesses before The blessed Gods, before mankind, before The ruthless king, should want of me be felt To save the host from havoc[25]—Oh, his thoughts Are madness all; intelligence or skill, 430 Forecast or retrospect, how best the camp May be secured from inroad, none hath he. He ended, nor Patroclus disobey'd, But leading beautiful Briseis forth Into their guidance gave her; loth she went 435 From whom she loved, and looking oft behind. Then wept Achilles, and apart from all, With eyes directed to the gloomy Deep And arms outstretch'd, his mother suppliant sought. Since, mother, though ordain'd so soon to die, 440 I am thy son, I might with cause expect Some honor at the Thunderer's hands, but none To me he shows, whom Agamemnon, Chief Of the Achaians, hath himself disgraced, Seizing by violence my just reward. 445 So prayed he weeping, whom his mother heard Within the gulfs of Ocean where she sat Beside her ancient sire. From the gray flood Ascending sudden, like a mist she came, Sat down before him, stroked his face, and said. 450 Why weeps my son? and what is thy distress? Hide not a sorrow that I wish to share. To whom Achilles, sighing deep, replied. Why tell thee woes to thee already known? At Thebes, Eetion's city we arrived, 455 Smote, sack'd it, and brought all the spoil away. Just distribution made among the Greeks, The son of Atreus for his lot received Blooming Chryseis. Her, Apollo's priest Old Chryses followed to Achaia's camp, 460 That he might loose his daughter. Ransom rich He brought, and in his hands the hallow'd wreath And golden sceptre of the Archer God Apollo, bore; to the whole Grecian host, But chiefly to the foremost in command 465 He sued, the sons of Atreus; then, the rest All recommended reverence of the Seer, And prompt acceptance of his costly gifts. But Agamemnon might not so be pleased, Who gave him rude dismission; he in wrath 470 Returning, prayed, whose prayer Apollo heard, For much he loved him. A pestiferous shaft He instant shot into the Grecian host, And heap'd the people died. His arrows swept The whole wide camp of Greece, 'till at the last 475 A Seer, by Phoebus taught, explain'd the cause. I first advised propitiation. Rage Fired Agamemnon. Rising, he denounced Vengeance, and hath fulfilled it. She, in truth, Is gone to Chrysa, and with her we send 480 Propitiation also to the King Shaft-arm'd Apollo. But my beauteous prize Briseis, mine by the award of all, His heralds, at this moment, lead away. But thou, wherein thou canst, aid thy own son! 485 Haste hence to Heaven, and if thy word or deed Hath ever gratified the heart of Jove, With earnest suit press him on my behalf. For I, not seldom, in my father's hall Have heard thee boasting, how when once the Gods, 490 With Juno, Neptune, Pallas at their head, Conspired to bind the Thunderer, thou didst loose His bands, O Goddess! calling to his aid The Hundred-handed warrior, by the Gods Briareus, but by men, AEgeon named.[26] 495 For he in prowess and in might surpassed His father Neptune, who, enthroned sublime, Sits second only to Saturnian Jove, Elate with glory and joy. Him all the Gods Fearing from that bold enterprise abstained. 500 Now, therefore, of these things reminding Jove, Embrace his knees; entreat him that he give The host of Troy his succor, and shut fast The routed Grecians, prisoners in the fleet, That all may find much solace[27] in their King, 505 And that the mighty sovereign o'er them all, Their Agamemnon, may himself be taught His rashness, who hath thus dishonor'd foul The life itself, and bulwark of his cause. To him, with streaming eyes, Thetis replied. 510 Born as thou wast to sorrow, ah, my son! Why have I rear'd thee! Would that without tears, Or cause for tears (transient as is thy life, A little span) thy days might pass at Troy! But short and sorrowful the fates ordain 515 Thy life, peculiar trouble must be thine, Whom, therefore, oh that I had never borne! But seeking the Olympian hill snow-crown'd, I will myself plead for thee in the ear Of Jove, the Thunderer. Meantime at thy fleet 520 Abiding, let thy wrath against the Greeks Still burn, and altogether cease from war. For to the banks of the Oceanus,[28] Where AEthiopia holds a feast to Jove,[29] He journey'd yesterday, with whom the Gods 525 Went also, and the twelfth day brings them home. Then will I to his brazen-floor'd abode, That I may clasp his knees, and much misdeem Of my endeavor, or my prayer shall speed. So saying, she went; but him she left enraged 530 For fair Briseis' sake, forced from his arms By stress of power. Meantime Ulysses came To Chrysa with the Hecatomb in charge. Arrived within the haven[30] deep, their sails Furling, they stowed them in the bark below. 535 Then by its tackle lowering swift the mast Into its crutch, they briskly push'd to land, Heaved anchors out, and moor'd the vessel fast. Forth came the mariners, and trod the beach; Forth came the victims of Apollo next, 540 And, last, Chryseis. Her Ulysses led Toward the altar, gave her to the arms Of her own father, and him thus address'd. O Chryses! Agamemnon, King of men, Hath sent thy daughter home, with whom we bring 545 A Hecatomb on all our host's behalf To Phoebus, hoping to appease the God By whose dread shafts the Argives now expire. So saying, he gave her to him, who with joy Received his daughter. Then, before the shrine 550 Magnificent in order due they ranged The noble Hecatomb.[31] Each laved his hands And took the salted meal, and Chryses made His fervent prayer with hands upraised on high. God of the silver bow, who with thy power 555 Encirclest Chrysa, and who reign'st supreme In Tenedos, and Cilla the divine! Thou prov'dst propitious to my first request, Hast honor'd me, and punish'd sore the Greeks; Hear yet thy servant's prayer; take from their host 560 At once the loathsome pestilence away! So Chryses prayed, whom Phoebus heard well-pleased; Then prayed the Grecians also, and with meal Sprinkling the victims, their retracted necks First pierced, then flay'd them; the disjointed thighs 565 They, next, invested with the double caul, Which with crude slices thin they overspread. The priest burned incense, and libation poured Large on the hissing brands, while, him beside, Busy with spit and prong, stood many a youth 570 Trained to the task. The thighs with fire consumed, They gave to each his portion of the maw, Then slashed the remnant, pierced it with the spits, And managing with culinary skill The roast, withdrew it from the spits again. 575 Their whole task thus accomplish'd, and the board Set forth, they feasted, and were all sufficed. When neither hunger more nor thirst remained Unsatisfied, boys crown'd the beakers high With wine delicious, and from right to left 580 Distributing the cups, served every guest. Thenceforth the youths of the Achaian race To song propitiatory gave the day, Paeans[32] to Phoebus, Archer of the skies, Chaunting melodious. Pleased, Apollo heard. 585 But, when, the sun descending, darkness fell, They on the beach beside their hawsers slept; And, when the day-spring's daughter rosy-palm'd Aurora look'd abroad, then back they steer'd To the vast camp. Fair wind, and blowing fresh, 590 Apollo sent them; quick they rear'd the mast, Then spread the unsullied canvas to the gale, And the wind filled it. Roared the sable flood Around the bark, that ever as she went Dash'd wide the brine, and scudded swift away. 595 Thus reaching soon the spacious camp of Greece, Their galley they updrew sheer o'er the sands From the rude surge remote, then propp'd her sides With scantlings long,[33] and sought their several tents. But Peleus' noble son, the speed-renown'd 600 Achilles, he, his well-built bark beside, Consumed his hours, nor would in council more, Where wise men win distinction, or in fight Appear, to sorrow and heart-withering wo Abandon'd; though for battle, ardent, still 605 He panted, and the shout-resounding field. But when the twelfth fair morrow streak'd the East, Then all the everlasting Gods to Heaven Resorted, with the Thunderer at their head, And Thetis, not unmindful of her son, 610 Prom the salt flood emerged, seeking betimes Olympus and the boundless fields of heaven. High, on the topmost eminence sublime Of the deep-fork'd Olympian she perceived The Thunderer seated, from the Gods apart. 615 She sat before him, clasp'd with her left hand His knees, her right beneath his chin she placed, And thus the King, Saturnian Jove, implored. Father of all, by all that I have done Or said that ever pleased thee, grant my suit. 620 Exalt my son, by destiny short-lived Beyond the lot of others. Him with shame The King of men hath overwhelm'd, by force Usurping his just meed; thou, therefore, Jove, Supreme in wisdom, honor him, and give 625 Success to Troy, till all Achaia's sons Shall yield him honor more than he hath lost! She spake, to whom the Thunderer nought replied, But silent sat long time. She, as her hand Had grown there, still importunate, his knees 630 Clasp'd as at first, and thus her suit renew'd.[34] Or grant my prayer, and ratify the grant, Or send me hence (for thou hast none to fear) Plainly refused; that I may know and feel By how much I am least of all in heaven. 635 To whom the cloud-assembler at the last Spake, deep-distress'd. Hard task and full of strife Thou hast enjoined me; Juno will not spare For gibe and taunt injurious, whose complaint Sounds daily in the ears of all the Gods, 640 That I assist the Trojans; but depart, Lest she observe thee; my concern shall be How best I may perform thy full desire. And to assure thee more, I give the sign Indubitable, which all fear expels 645 At once from heavenly minds. Nought, so confirmed, May, after, be reversed or render'd vain. He ceased, and under his dark brows the nod Vouchsafed of confirmation. All around The Sovereign's everlasting head his curls 650 Ambrosial shook,[35] and the huge mountain reeled. Their conference closed, they parted. She, at once, From bright Olympus plunged into the flood Profound, and Jove to his own courts withdrew. Together all the Gods, at his approach, 655 Uprose; none sat expectant till he came, But all advanced to meet the Eternal Sire. So on his throne he sat. Nor Juno him Not understood; she, watchful, had observed, In consultation close with Jove engaged 660 Thetis, bright-footed daughter of the deep, And keen the son of Saturn thus reproved. Shrewd as thou art, who now hath had thine ear? Thy joy is ever such, from me apart To plan and plot clandestine, and thy thoughts, 665 Think what thou may'st, are always barred to me. To whom the father, thus, of heaven and earth. Expect not, Juno, that thou shalt partake My counsels at all times, which oft in height And depth, thy comprehension far exceed, 670 Jove's consort as thou art. When aught occurs Meet for thine ear, to none will I impart Of Gods or men more free than to thyself. But for my secret thoughts, which I withhold From all in heaven beside, them search not thou 675 With irksome curiosity and vain. Him answer'd then the Goddess ample-eyed.[36] What word hath passed thy lips, Saturnian Jove, Thou most severe! I never search thy thoughts, Nor the serenity of thy profound 680 Intentions trouble; they are safe from me: But now there seems a cause. Deeply I dread Lest Thetis, silver-footed daughter fair Of Ocean's hoary Sovereign, here arrived At early dawn to practise on thee, Jove! 685 I noticed her a suitress at thy knees, And much misdeem or promise-bound thou stand'st To Thetis past recall, to exalt her son, And Greeks to slaughter thousands at the ships. To whom the cloud-assembler God, incensed. 690 Ah subtle! ever teeming with surmise, And fathomer of my concealed designs, Thy toil is vain, or (which is worse for thee,) Shall but estrange thee from mine heart the more. And be it as thou sayest,—I am well pleased 695 That so it should be. Be advised, desist, Hold thou thy peace. Else, if my glorious hands Once reach thee, the Olympian Powers combined To rescue thee, shall interfere in vain. He said,—whom Juno, awful Goddess, heard 700 Appall'd, and mute submitted to his will. But through the courts of Jove the heavenly Powers All felt displeasure; when to them arose Vulcan, illustrious artist, who with speech Conciliatory interposed to sooth 705 His white-armed mother Juno, Goddess dread. Hard doom is ours, and not to be endured, If feast and merriment must pause in heaven While ye such clamor raise tumultuous here For man's unworthy sake: yet thus we speed 710 Ever, when evil overpoises good. But I exhort my mother, though herself Already warn'd, that meekly she submit To Jove our father, lest our father chide More roughly, and confusion mar the feast. 715 For the Olympian Thunderer could with ease Us from our thrones precipitate, so far He reigns to all superior. Seek to assuage His anger therefore; so shall he with smiles Cheer thee, nor thee alone, but all in heaven. 720 So Vulcan, and, upstarting, placed a cup Full-charged between his mother's hands, and said, My mother, be advised, and, though aggrieved, Yet patient; lest I see thee whom I love So dear, with stripes chastised before my face, 725 Willing, but impotent to give thee aid.[37] Who can resist the Thunderer? Me, when once I flew to save thee, by the foot he seized And hurl'd me through the portal of the skies. "From morn to eve I fell, a summer's day," 730 And dropped, at last, in Lemnos. There half-dead The Sintians found me, and with succor prompt And hospitable, entertained me fallen. So He; then Juno smiled, Goddess white-arm'd, And smiling still, from his unwonted hand[38] 735 Received the goblet. He from right to left Rich nectar from the beaker drawn, alert Distributed to all the powers divine. Heaven rang with laughter inextinguishable Peal after peal, such pleasure all conceived 740 At sight of Vulcan in his new employ. So spent they in festivity the day, And all were cheered; nor was Apollo's harp Silent, nor did the Muses spare to add Responsive melody of vocal sweets. 745 But when the sun's bright orb had now declined, Each to his mansion, wheresoever built By the lame matchless Architect, withdrew.[39] Jove also, kindler of the fires of heaven, His couch ascending as at other times 750 When gentle sleep approach'd him, slept serene, With golden-sceptred Juno at his side.

* * * * *

The first book contains the preliminaries to the commencement of serious action. First, the visit of the priest of Apollo to ransom his captive daughter, the refusal of Agamemnon to yield her up, and the pestilence sent by the god upon the Grecian army in consequence. Secondly, the restoration, the propitiation of Apollo, the quarrel of Agamemnon and Achilles, and the withdrawing of the latter from the Grecian army. Thirdly, the intercession of Thetis with Jupiter; his promise, unwillingly given, to avenge Achilles; and the assembly of the gods, in which the promise is angrily alluded to by Juno, and the discussion peremptorily checked by Jupiter. The poet, throughout this book, maintains a simple, unadorned style, but highly descriptive, and happily adapted to the nature of the subject.—FELTON.




Jupiter, in pursuance of his purpose to distress the Grecians in answer to the prayer of Thetis, deceives Agamemnon by a dream. He, in consequence of it, calls a council, the result of which is that the army shall go forth to battle. Thersites is mutinous, and is chastised by Ulysses. Ulysses, Nestor, and Agamemnon, harangue the people; and preparation is made for battle. An exact account follows of the forces on both sides.


[1]All night both Gods and Chiefs equestrian slept, But not the Sire of all. He, waking soon, Mused how to exalt Achilles, and destroy No few in battle at the Grecian fleet. This counsel, at the last, as best he chose 5 And likeliest; to dispatch an evil Dream To Agamemnon's tent, and to his side The phantom summoning, him thus addressed. Haste, evil Dream! Fly to the Grecian fleet, And, entering royal Agamemnon's tent, 10 His ear possess thou thus, omitting nought Of all that I enjoin thee. Bid him arm His universal host, for that the time When the Achaians shall at length possess Wide Ilium, hath arrived. The Gods above 15 No longer dwell at variance. The request Of Juno hath prevail'd; now, wo to Troy! So charged, the Dream departed. At the ships Well-built arriving of Achaia's host, He Agamemnon, son of Atreus, sought. 20 Him sleeping in his tent he found, immersed In soft repose ambrosial. At his head The shadow stood, similitude exact Of Nestor, son of Neleus; sage, with whom In Agamemnon's thought might none compare. 25 His form assumed, the sacred Dream began. Oh son of Atreus the renown'd in arms And in the race! Sleep'st thou? It ill behoves To sleep all night the man of high employ, And charged, as thou art, with a people's care. 30 Now, therefore, mark me well, who, sent from Jove, Inform thee, that although so far remote, He yet compassionates and thinks on thee With kind solicitude. He bids thee arm Thy universal host, for that the time 35 When the Achaians shall at length possess Wide Ilium, hath arrived. The Gods above No longer dwell at variance. The requests Of Juno have prevail'd. Now, wo to Troy From Jove himself! Her fate is on the wing. 40 Awaking from thy dewy slumbers, hold In firm remembrance all that thou hast heard. So spake the Dream, and vanishing, him left In false hopes occupied and musings vain. Full sure he thought, ignorant of the plan 45 By Jove design'd, that day the last of Troy. Fond thought! For toils and agonies to Greeks And Trojans both, in many a bloody field To be endured, the Thunderer yet ordain'd. Starting he woke, and seeming still to hear 50 The warning voice divine, with hasty leap Sprang from his bed, and sat.[2] His fleecy vest New-woven he put on, and mantle wide; His sandals fair to his unsullied feet He braced, and slung his argent-studded sword. 55 Then, incorruptible for evermore The sceptre of his sires he took, with which He issued forth into the camp of Greece. Aurora now on the Olympian heights Proclaiming stood new day to all in heaven, 60 When he his clear-voiced heralds bade convene The Greeks in council. Went the summons forth Into all quarters, and the throng began. First, at the ship of Nestor, Pylian King,[3] The senior Chiefs for high exploits renown'd 65 He gather'd, whom he prudent thus address'd. My fellow warriors, hear! A dream from heaven, Amid the stillness of the vacant night Approach'd me, semblance close in stature, bulk, And air, of noble Nestor. At mine head 70 The shadow took his stand, and thus he spake. Oh son of Atreus the renown'd in arms And in the race, sleep'st thou? It ill behoves To sleep all night the man of high employ, And charged as thou art with a people's care. 75 Now, therefore, mark me well, who, sent from Jove, Inform thee, that although so far remote, He yet compassionates and thinks on thee With kind solicitude. He bids thee arm Thy universal host; for that the time 80 When the Achaians shall at length possess Wide Ilium, hath arrived. The Gods above No longer dwell at variance. The requests Of Juno have prevail'd. Now, wo to Troy From Jove himself! Her fate is on the wing. 85 Charge this on thy remembrance. Thus he spake, Then vanished suddenly, and I awoke. Haste therefore, let us arm, if arm we may,[4] The warlike sons of Greece; but first, myself Will prove them, recommending instant flight 90 With all our ships, and ye throughout the host Dispersed, shall, next, encourage all to stay. He ceased, and sat; when in the midst arose Of highest fame for wisdom, Nestor, King Of sandy Pylus, who them thus bespake. 95 Friends, Counsellors, and Leaders of the Greeks! Had any meaner Argive told his dream, We had pronounced it false, and should the more Have shrunk from battle; but the dream is his Who boasts himself our highest in command. 100 Haste, arm we, if we may, the sons of Greece. So saying, he left the council; him, at once The sceptred Chiefs, obedient to his voice, Arising, follow'd; and the throng began. As from the hollow rock bees stream abroad, 105 And in succession endless seek the fields, Now clustering, and now scattered far and near, In spring-time, among all the new-blown flowers, So they to council swarm'd, troop after troop, Grecians of every tribe, from camp and fleet 110 Assembling orderly o'er all the plain Beside the shore of Ocean. In the midst A kindling rumor, messenger of Jove, Impell'd them, and they went. Loud was the din Of the assembling thousands; groan'd the earth 115 When down they sat, and murmurs ran around. Nine heralds cried aloud—Will ye restrain Your clamors, that your heaven-taught Kings may speak? Scarce were they settled, and the clang had ceased, When Agamemnon, sovereign o'er them all, 120 Sceptre in hand, arose. (That sceptre erst Vulcan with labor forged, and to the hand Consign'd it of the King, Saturnian Jove; Jove to the vanquisher[5] of Ino's[6] guard, And he to Pelops; Pelops in his turn, 125 To royal Atreus; Atreus at his death Bequeath'd it to Thyestes rich in flocks, And rich Thyestes left it to be borne By Agamemnon, symbol of his right To empire over Argos and her isles) 130 On that he lean'd, and rapid, thus began.[7] Friends, Grecian Heroes, ministers of Mars! Ye see me here entangled in the snares Of unpropitious Jove. He promised once, And with a nod confirm'd it, that with spoils 135 Of Ilium laden, we should hence return; But now, devising ill, he sends me shamed, And with diminished numbers, home to Greece. So stands his sovereign pleasure, who hath laid The bulwarks of full many a city low, 140 And more shall level, matchless in his might. That such a numerous host of Greeks as we, Warring with fewer than ourselves, should find No fruit of all our toil, (and none appears) Will make us vile with ages yet to come. 145 For should we now strike truce, till Greece and Troy Might number each her own, and were the Greeks Distributed in bands, ten Greeks in each, Our banded decads should exceed so far Their units, that all Troy could not supply 150 For every ten, a man, to fill us wine; So far the Achaians, in my thought, surpass The native Trojans. But in Troy are those Who baffle much my purpose; aids derived From other states, spear-arm'd auxiliars, firm 155 In the defence of Ilium's lofty towers. Nine years have passed us over, nine long years; Our ships are rotted, and our tackle marr'd, And all our wives and little-ones at home Sit watching our return, while this attempt 160 Hangs still in doubt, for which that home we left. Accept ye then my counsel. Fly we swift With all our fleet back to our native land, Hopeless of Troy, not yet to be subdued. So spake the King, whom all the concourse heard 165 With minds in tumult toss'd; all, save the few, Partners of his intent. Commotion shook The whole assembly, such as heaves the flood Of the Icarian Deep, when South and East Burst forth together from the clouds of Jove. 170 And as when vehement the West-wind falls On standing corn mature, the loaded ears Innumerable bow before the gale, So was the council shaken. With a shout All flew toward the ships; uprais'd, the dust 175 Stood o'er them; universal was the cry, "Now clear the passages, strike down the props, Set every vessel free, launch, and away!" Heaven rang with exclamation of the host All homeward bent, and launching glad the fleet. 180 Then baffled Fate had the Achaians seen Returning premature, but Juno thus, With admonition quick to Pallas spake. Unconquer'd daughter of Jove AEgis-arm'd! Ah foul dishonor! Is it thus at last 185 That the Achaians on the billows borne, Shall seek again their country, leaving here, To be the vaunt of Ilium and her King, Helen of Argos, in whose cause the Greeks Have numerous perish'd from their home remote? 190 Haste! Seek the mail-arm'd multitude, by force Detain them of thy soothing speech, ere yet All launch their oary barks into the flood. She spake, nor did Minerva not comply, But darting swift from the Olympian heights, 195 Reach'd soon Achaia's fleet. There, she perceived Prudent as Jove himself, Ulysses; firm He stood; he touch'd not even with his hand His sable bark, for sorrow whelm'd his soul. The Athenaean Goddess azure-eyed 200 Beside him stood, and thus the Chief bespake. Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd! Why seek ye, thus precipitate, your ships? Intend ye flight? And is it thus at last, That the Achaians on the billows borne, 205 Shall seek again their country, leaving here, To be the vaunt of Ilium and her King, Helen of Argos, in whose cause the Greeks Have numerous perish'd from their home remote? Delay not. Rush into the throng; by force 210 Detain them of thy soothing speech, ere yet All launch their oary barks into the flood. She ceased, whom by her voice Ulysses knew, Casting his mantle from him, which his friend Eurybates the Ithacensian caught, 215 He ran; and in his course meeting the son Of Atreus, Agamemnon, from his hand The everlasting sceptre quick received, Which bearing, through Achaia's fleet he pass'd. What King soever, or distinguish'd Greek 220 He found, approaching to his side, in

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