The Iliad Of Homer: Translated Into English Blank Verse: Book XI.

A poem by William Cowper

Argument Of The Eleventh Book.


Agamemnon distinguishes himself. He is wounded, and retires. Diomede is wounded by Paris; Ulysses by Socus. Ajax with Menelaus flies to the relief of Ulysses, and Eurypylus, soon after, to the relief of Ajax. While he is employed in assisting Ajax, he is shot in the thigh by Paris, who also wounds Machaon. Nestor conveys Machaon from the field. Achilles dispatches Patroclus to the tent of Nestor, and Nestor takes that occasion to exhort Patroclus to engage in battle, clothed in the armor of Achilles.



Aurora from Tithonus' side arose
With light for heaven and earth, when Jove dispatch'd
Discord, the fiery signal in her hand
Of battle bearing, to the Grecian fleet.
High on Ulysses' huge black ship she stood
The centre of the fleet, whence all might hear,
The tent of Telamon's huge son between,
And of Achilles; for confiding they
In their heroic fortitude, their barks
Well-poised had station'd utmost of the line.
There standing, shrill she sent a cry abroad
Among the Achaians, such as thirst infused
Of battle ceaseless into every breast.
All deem'd, at once, war sweeter, than to seek
Their native country through the waves again.
Then with loud voice Atrides bade the Greeks
Gird on their armor, and himself his arms
Took radiant. First around his legs he clasp'd
His shining greaves with silver studs secured,
Then bound his corselet to his bosom, gift
Of Cynyras long since;[1] for rumor loud
Had Cyprus reached of an Achaian host
Assembling, destined to the shores of Troy:
Wherefore, to gratify the King of men,
He made the splendid ornament his own.
Ten rods of steel coerulean all around
Embraced it, twelve of gold, twenty of tin;
Six[2] spiry serpents their uplifted heads
Coerulean darted at the wearer's throat,
Splendor diffusing as the various bow
Fix'd by Saturnian Jove in showery clouds,
A sign to mortal men.[3] He slung his sword
Athwart his shoulders; dazzling bright it shone
With gold emboss'd, and silver was the sheath
Suspended graceful in a belt of gold.
His massy shield o'ershadowing him whole,
High-wrought and beautiful, he next assumed.
Ten circles bright of brass around its field
Extensive, circle within circle, ran;
The central boss was black, but hemm'd about
With twice ten bosses of resplendent tin.
There, dreadful ornament! the visage dark
Of Gorgon scowl'd, border'd by Flight and Fear.
The loop was silver, and a serpent form
Coerulean over all its surface twined,
Three heads erecting on one neck, the heads
Together wreath'd into a stately crown.
His helmet quâtre-crested,[4] and with studs
Fast riveted around he to his brows
Adjusted, whence tremendous waved his crest
Of mounted hair on high. Two spears he seized
Ponderous, brass-pointed, and that flash'd to heaven.
Sounds[5] like clear thunder, by the spouse of Jove
And by Minerva raised to extol the King
Of opulent Mycenæ, roll'd around.
At once each bade his charioteer his steeds
Hold fast beside the margin of the trench
In orderly array; the foot all arm'd
Rush'd forward, and the clamor of the host
Rose infinite into the dawning skies.
First, at the trench, the embattled infantry[6]
Stood ranged; the chariots follow'd close behind;
Dire was the tumult by Saturnian Jove
Excited, and from ether down he shed
Blood-tinctured dews among them, for he meant
That day to send full many a warrior bold
To Pluto's dreary realm, slain premature.
Opposite, on the rising-ground, appear'd
The Trojans; them majestic Hector led,
Noble Polydamas, Æneas raised
To godlike honors in all Trojan hearts,
And Polybus, with whom Antenor's sons
Agenor, and young Acamas advanced.
Hector the splendid orb of his broad shield
Bore in the van, and as a comet now
Glares through the clouds portentous, and again,
Obscured by gloomy vapors, disappears,
So Hector, marshalling his host, in front
Now shone, now vanish'd in the distant rear.
All-cased he flamed in brass, and on the sight
Flash'd as the lightnings of Jove Ægis-arm'd.
As reapers, toiling opposite,[7] lay bare
Some rich man's furrows, while the sever'd grain,
Barley or wheat, sinks as the sickle moves,
So Greeks and Trojans springing into fight
Slew mutual; foul retreat alike they scorn'd,
Alike in fierce hostility their heads
Both bore aloft, and rush'd like wolves to war.
Discord, spectatress terrible, that sight
Beheld exulting; she, of all the Gods,
Alone was present; not a Power beside
There interfered, but each his bright abode
Quiescent occupied wherever built
Among the windings of the Olympian heights;
Yet blamed they all the storm-assembler King
Saturnian, for his purposed aid to Troy.
The eternal father reck'd not; he, apart,
Seated in solitary pomp, enjoy'd
His glory, and from on high the towers survey'd
Of Ilium and the fleet of Greece, the flash
Of gleaming arms, the slayer and the slain.
While morning lasted, and the light of day
Increased, so long the weapons on both sides
Flew in thick vollies, and the people fell.
But, what time his repast the woodman spreads
In some umbrageous vale, his sinewy arms
Wearied with hewing many a lofty tree,
And his wants satisfied, he feels at length
The pinch of appetite to pleasant food,[8]
Then was it, that encouraging aloud
Each other, in their native virtue strong,
The Grecians through the phalanx burst of Troy.
Forth sprang the monarch first; he slew the Chief
Bianor, nor himself alone, but slew
Oïleus also driver of his steeds.
Oïleus, with a leap alighting, rush'd
On Agamemnon; he his fierce assault
Encountering, with a spear met full his front.
Nor could his helmet's ponderous brass sustain
That force, but both his helmet and his skull
It shatter'd, and his martial rage repress'd.
The King of men, stripping their corselets, bared
Their shining breasts, and left them. Isus, next,
And Antiphus he flew to slay, the sons
Of Priam both, and in one chariot borne,
This spurious, genuine that. The bastard drove,
And Antiphus, a warrior high-renown'd,
Fought from the chariot; them Achilles erst
Feeding their flocks on Ida had surprised
And bound with osiers, but for ransom loosed.
Of these, imperial Agamemnon, first,
Above the pap pierced Isus; next, he smote
Antiphus with his sword beside the ear,
And from his chariot cast him to the ground.
Conscious of both, their glittering arms he stripp'd,
For he had seen them when from Ida's heights
Achilles led them to the Grecian fleet.
As with resistless fangs the lion breaks
The young in pieces of the nimble hind,
Entering her lair, and takes their feeble lives;
She, though at hand, can yield them no defence,
But through the thick wood, wing'd with terror, starts
Herself away, trembling at such a foe;
So them the Trojans had no power to save,
Themselves all driven before the host of Greece.
Next, on Pisandrus, and of dauntless heart
Hippolochus he rush'd; they were the sons
Of brave Antimachus, who with rich gifts
By Paris bought, inflexible withheld
From Menelaus still his lovely bride.
His sons, the monarch, in one chariot borne
Encounter'd; they (for they had lost the reins)
With trepidation and united force
Essay'd to check the steeds; astonishment
Seized both; Atrides with a lion's rage
Came on, and from the chariot thus they sued.
Oh spare us! son of Atreus, and accept
Ransom immense. Antimachus our sire
Is rich in various treasure, gold and brass,
And temper'd steel, and, hearing the report
That in Achaia's fleet his sons survive,
He will requite thee with a glorious price.
So they, with tears and gentle terms the King
Accosted, but no gentle answer heard.
Are ye indeed the offspring of the Chief
Antimachus, who when my brother once

With godlike Laertiades your town
Enter'd ambassador, his death advised
In council, and to let him forth no more?
Now rue ye both the baseness of your sire.
He said, and from his chariot to the plain
Thrust down Pisandrus, piercing with keen lance
His bosom, and supine he smote the field.
Down leap'd Hippolochus, whom on the ground
He slew, cut sheer his hands, and lopp'd his head,
And roll'd it like a mortar[9] through the ranks.
He left the slain, and where he saw the field
With thickest battle cover'd, thither flew
By all the Grecians follow'd bright in arms.
The scatter'd infantry constrained to fly,
Fell by the infantry; the charioteers,
While with loud hoofs their steeds the dusty soil
Excited, o'er the charioteers their wheels
Drove brazen-fellied, and the King of men
Incessant slaughtering, called his Argives[10] on.
As when fierce flames some ancient forest seize,
From side to side in flakes the various wind
Rolls them, and to the roots devour'd, the trunks
Fall prostrate under fury of the fire,
So under Agamemnon fell the heads
Of flying Trojans. Many a courser proud
The empty chariots through the paths of war
Whirl'd rattling, of their charioteers deprived;
They breathless press'd the plain, now fitter far
To feed the vultures than to cheer their wives.
Conceal'd, meantime, by Jove, Hector escaped
The dust, darts, deaths, and tumult of the field;
And Agamemnon to the swift pursuit
Call'd loud the Grecians. Through the middle plain
Beside the sepulchre of Ilus, son
Of Dardanus, and where the fig-tree stood,
The Trojans flew, panting to gain the town,
While Agamemnon pressing close the rear,
Shout after shout terrific sent abroad,
And his victorious hands reek'd, red with gore.
But at the beech-tree and the Scæan gate
Arrived, the Trojans halted, waiting there
The rearmost fugitives; they o'er the field
Came like a herd, which in the dead of night
A lion drives; all fly, but one is doom'd
To death inevitable; her with jaws
True to their hold he seizes, and her neck
Breaking, embowels her, and laps the blood;
So, Atreus' royal son, the hindmost still
Slaying, and still pursuing, urged them on.
Many supine, and many prone, the field
Press'd, by the son of Atreus in their flight
Dismounted; for no weapon raged as his.
But now, at last, when he should soon have reach'd
The lofty walls of Ilium, came the Sire
Of Gods and men descending from the skies,
And on the heights of Ida fountain-fed,
Sat arm'd with thunders. Calling to his foot
Swift Iris golden-pinion'd, thus he spake.
Iris! away. Thus speak in Hector's ears.
While yet he shall the son of Atreus see
Fierce warring in the van, and mowing down
The Trojan ranks, so long let him abstain
From battle, leaving to his host the task
Of bloody contest furious with the Greeks.
But soon as Atreus' son by spear or shaft
Wounded shall climb his chariot, with such force
I will endue Hector, that he shall slay
Till he have reach'd the ships, and till, the sun
Descending, sacred darkness cover all.
He spake, nor rapid Iris disobey'd
Storm-wing'd ambassadress, but from the heights
Of Ida stoop'd to Ilium. There she found
The son of royal Priam by the throng
Of chariots and of steeds compass'd about
She, standing at his side, him thus bespake.
Oh, son of Priam! as the Gods discreet!
I bring thee counsel from the Sire of all.
While yet thou shalt the son of Atreus see
Fierce warring in the van, and mowing down
The warrior ranks, so long he bids thee pause
From battle, leaving to thy host the task
Of bloody contest furious with the Greeks.
But soon as Atreus' son, by spear or shaft
Wounded, shall climb his chariot, Jove will then
Endue thee with such force, that thou shalt slay
Till thou have reach'd the ships, and till, the sun
Descending, sacred darkness cover all.
So saying, swift-pinion'd Iris disappear'd.
Then Hector from his chariot at a leap
Came down all arm'd, and, shaking his bright spears,
Ranged every quarter, animating loud
The legions, and rekindling horrid war.
Back roll'd the Trojan ranks, and faced the Greeks;
The Greeks their host to closer phalanx drew;
The battle was restored, van fronting van
They stood, and Agamemnon into fight
Sprang foremost, panting for superior fame.
Say now, ye Nine, who on Olympus dwell!
What Trojan first, or what ally of Troy
Opposed the force of Agamemnon's arm?
Iphidamas, Antenor's valiant son,
Of loftiest stature, who in fertile Thrace
Mother of flocks was nourish'd, Cisseus him
His grandsire, father of Theano praised
For loveliest features, in his own abode
Rear'd yet a child, and when at length he reach'd
The measure of his glorious manhood firm
Dismiss'd him not, but, to engage him more,
Gave him his daughter. Wedded, he his bride
As soon deserted, and with galleys twelve
Following the rumor'd voyage of the Greeks,
The same course steer'd; but at Percope moor'd,
And marching thence, arrived on foot at Troy.
He first opposed Atrides. They approach'd.
The spear of Agamemnon wander'd wide;
But him Iphidamas on his broad belt
Beneath the corselet struck, and, bearing still
On his spear-beam, enforced it; but ere yet
He pierced the broider'd zone, his point, impress'd
Against the silver, turn'd, obtuse as lead.
Then royal Agamemnon in his hand
The weapon grasping, with a lion's rage
Home drew it to himself, and from his gripe
Wresting it, with his falchion keen his neck
Smote full, and stretch'd him lifeless at his foot.
So slept Iphidamas among the slain;
Unhappy! from his virgin bride remote,
Associate with the men of Troy in arms
He fell, and left her beauties unenjoy'd.
He gave her much, gave her a hundred beeves,
And sheep and goats a thousand from his flocks
Promised, for numberless his meadows ranged;
But Agamemnon, son of Atreus, him
Slew and despoil'd, and through the Grecian host
Proceeded, laden with his gorgeous arms.
Coön that sight beheld, illustrious Chief,
Antenor's eldest born, but with dim eyes
Through anguish for his brother's fall. Unseen
Of noble Agamemnon, at his side
He cautious stood, and with a spear his arm,
Where thickest flesh'd, below his elbow, pierced,
Till opposite the glittering point appear'd.
A thrilling horror seized the King of men
So wounded; yet though wounded so, from fight
He ceased not, but on Coön rush'd, his spear
Grasping, well-thriven growth[11] of many a wind.
He by the foot drew off Iphidamas,
His brother, son of his own sire, aloud
Calling the Trojan leaders to his aid;
When him so occupied with his keen point
Atrides pierced his bossy shield beneath.
Expiring on Iphidamas he fell
Prostrate, and Agamemnon lopp'd his head.
Thus, under royal Agamemnon's hand,
Antenor's sons their destiny fulfill'd,
And to the house of Ades journey'd both.
Through other ranks of warriors then he pass'd,
Now with his spear, now with his falchion arm'd,
And now with missile force of massy stones,
While yet his warm blood sallied from the wound.
But when the wound grew dry, and the blood ceased,
Anguish intolerable undermined
Then all the might of Atreus' royal son.
As when a laboring woman's arrowy throes
Seize her intense, by Juno's daughters dread
The birth-presiding Ilithyæ deep
Infixt, dispensers of those pangs severe;
So, anguish insupportable subdued
Then all the might of Atreus' royal son.
Up-springing to his seat, instant he bade
His charioteer drive to the hollow barks,
Heart-sick himself with pain; yet, ere he went,
With voice loud-echoing hail'd the Danaï.
Friends! counsellors and leaders of the Greeks!
Now drive, yourselves, the battle from your ships.
For me the Gods permit not to employ
In fight with Ilium's host the day entire.
He ended, and the charioteer his steeds
Lash'd to the ships; they not unwilling flew,
Bearing from battle the afflicted King
With foaming chests and bellies grey with dust.
Soon Hector, noting his retreat, aloud
Call'd on the Trojans and allies of Troy.
Trojans and Lycians, and close-fighting sons
Of Dardanus! oh summon all your might;
Now, now be men! Their bravest is withdrawn!
Glory and honor from Saturnian Jove
On me attend; now full against the Greeks
Drive all your steeds, and win a deathless name.
He spake--and all drew courage from his word.
As when his hounds bright-tooth'd some hunter cheers
Against the lion or the forest-boar,
So Priameïan Hector cheer'd his host
Magnanimous against the sons of Greece,
Terrible as gore-tainted Mars. Among
The foremost warriors, with success elate
He strode, and flung himself into the fight
Black as a storm which sudden from on high
Descending, furrows deep the gloomy flood.
Then whom slew Priameïan Hector first,
Whom last, by Jove, that day, with glory crown'd?
Assæus, Dolops, Orus, Agelaüs,
Autonoüs, Hipponoüs, Æsymnus,
Opheltius and Opites first he slew,
All leaders of the Greeks, and, after these,
The people. As when whirlwinds of the West
A storm encounter from the gloomy South,
The waves roll multitudinous, and the foam
Upswept by wandering gusts fills all the air,
So Hector swept the Grecians. Then defeat
Past remedy and havoc had ensued,
Then had the routed Grecians, flying, sought
Their ships again, but that Ulysses[12] thus
Summon'd the brave Tydides to his aid.
Whence comes it, Diomede, that we forget
Our wonted courage? Hither, O my friend!
And, fighting at my side, ward off the shame
That must be ours, should Hector seize the fleet.
To whom the valiant Diomede replied.
I will be firm; trust me thou shalt not find
Me shrinking; yet small fruit of our attempts
Shall follow, for the Thunderer, not to us,
But to the Trojan, gives the glorious day.
The Hero spake, and from his chariot cast
Thymbræus to the ground pierced through the pap,
While by Ulysses' hand his charioteer
Godlike Molion, fell. The warfare thus
Of both for ever closed, them there they left,
And plunging deep into the warrior-throng
Troubled the multitude. As when two boars
Turn desperate on the close-pursuing hounds,
So they, returning on the host of Troy,
Slew on all sides, and overtoil'd with flight
From Hector's arm, the Greeks meantime respired.
Two warriors, next, their chariot and themselves
They took, plebeians brave, sons of the seer
Percosian Merops in prophetic skill
Surpassing all; he both his sons forbad
The mortal field, but disobedient they
Still sought it, for their destiny prevail'd.
Spear-practised Diomede of life deprived
Both these, and stripp'd them of their glorious arms,
While by Ulysses' hand Hippodamus
Died and Hypeirochus. And now the son
Of Saturn, looking down from Ida, poised
The doubtful war, and mutual deaths they dealt.
Tydides plunged his spear into the groin
Of the illustrious son of Pæon, bold
Agastrophus. No steeds at his command
Had he, infatuate! but his charioteer
His steeds detain'd remote, while through the van
Himself on foot rush'd madly till he fell.
But Hector through the ranks darting his eye
Perceived, and with ear-piercing cries advanced
Against them, follow'd by the host of Troy.
The son of Tydeus, shuddering, his approach
Discern'd, and instant to Ulysses spake.[13]
Now comes the storm! This way the mischief rolls!
Stand and repulse the Trojan. Now be firm.
He said, and hurling his long-shadow'd beam
Smote Hector. At his helmet's crown he aim'd,
Nor err'd, but brass encountering brass, the point
Glanced wide, for he had cased his youthful brows
In triple brass, Apollo's glorious gift.
Yet with rapidity at such a shock
Hector recoil'd into the multitude
Afar, where sinking to his knees, he lean'd
On his broad palm, and darkness veil'd his eyes.
But while Tydides follow'd through the van
His stormy spear, which in the distant soil
Implanted stood, Hector his scatter'd sense
Recovering, to his chariot sprang again,
And, diving deep into his host, escaped.
The noble son of Tydeus, spear in hand,
Rush'd after him, and as he went, exclaim'd.
Dog! thou hast now escaped; but, sure the stroke
Approach'd thee nigh, well-aim'd. Once more thy prayers
Which ever to Apollo thou prefer'st
Entering the clash of battle, have prevail'd,
And he hath rescued thee. But well beware
Our next encounter, for if also me
Some God befriend, thou diest. Now will I seek
Another mark, and smite whom next I may.
He spake, and of his armor stripp'd the son
Spear-famed of Pæon. Meantime Paris, mate
Of beauteous Helen, drew his bow against
Tydides; by a pillar of the tomb
Of Ilus, ancient senator revered,
Conceal'd he stood, and while the Hero loosed
His corselet from the breast of Pæon's son
Renown'd, and of his helmet and his targe
Despoil'd him; Paris, arching quick his bow,
No devious shaft dismiss'd, but his right foot
Pierced through the sole, and fix'd it to the ground.
Transported from his ambush forth he leap'd
With a loud laugh, and, vaunting, thus exclaim'd:
Oh shaft well shot! it galls thee. Would to heaven
That it had pierced thy heart, and thou hadst died!
So had the Trojans respite from their toils
Enjoy'd, who, now, shudder at sight of thee
Like she-goats when the lion is at hand.
To whom, undaunted, Diomede replied.
Archer shrew-tongued! spie-maiden! man of curls![14]
Shouldst thou in arms attempt me face to face,
Thy bow and arrows should avail thee nought.
Vain boaster! thou hast scratch'd my foot--no more--
And I regard it as I might the stroke
Of a weak woman or a simple child.
The weapons of a dastard and a slave
Are ever such. More terrible are mine,
And whom they pierce, though slightly pierced, he dies.
His wife her cheeks rends inconsolable,
His babes are fatherless, his blood the glebe
Incarnadines, and where he bleeds and rots
More birds of prey than women haunt the place.
He ended, and Ulysses, drawing nigh,
Shelter'd Tydides; he behind the Chief
Of Ithaca sat drawing forth the shaft,
But pierced with agonizing pangs the while.
Then, climbing to his chariot-seat, he bade
Sthenelus hasten to the hollow ships,
Heart-sick with pain. And now alone was seen
Spear-famed Ulysses; not an Argive more
Remain'd, so universal was the rout,
And groaning, to his own great heart he said.
Alas! what now awaits me? If, appall'd
By multitudes, I fly, much detriment;
And if alone they intercept me here,
Still more; for Jove hath scatter'd all the host,
Yet why these doubts! for know I not of old
That only dastards fly, and that the voice
Of honor bids the famed in battle stand,
Bleed they themselves, or cause their foes to bleed?
While busied in such thought he stood, the ranks
Of Trojans fronted with broad shields, enclosed
The hero with a ring, hemming around
Their own destruction. As when dogs, and swains
In prime of manhood, from all quarters rush
Around a boar, he from his thicket bolts,
The bright tusk whetting in his crooked jaws:
They press him on all sides, and from beneath
Loud gnashings hear, yet firm, his threats defy;
Like them the Trojans on all sides assail'd
Ulysses dear to Jove. First with his spear
He sprang impetuous on a valiant chief,
Whose shoulder with a downright point he pierced,
Deïopites; Thoön next he slew,
And Ennomus, and from his coursers' backs
Alighting quick, Chersidamas; beneath
His bossy shield the gliding weapon pass'd
Right through his navel; on the plain he fell
Expiring, and with both hands clench'd the dust.
Them slain he left, and Charops wounded next,
Brother of Socus, generous Chief, and son
Of Hippasus; brave Socus to the aid
Of Charops flew, and, godlike, thus began.
Illustrious chief, Ulysses! strong to toil
And rich in artifice! Or boast to-day
Two sons of Hippasus, brave warriors both,
Of armor and of life bereft by thee,
Or to my vengeful spear resign thy own!
So saying, Ulysses' oval disk he smote.
Through his bright disk the stormy weapon flew,
Transpierced his twisted mail, and from his side
Drove all the skin, but to his nobler parts
Found entrance none, by Pallas turn'd aslant.[15]
Ulysses, conscious of his life untouch'd,
Retired a step from Socus, and replied.
Ah hapless youth; thy fate is on the wing;
Me thou hast forced indeed to cease a while
From battle with the Trojans, but I speak
Thy death at hand; for vanquish'd by my spear,
This self-same day thou shalt to me resign
Thy fame, thy soul to Pluto steed-renown'd.
He ceased; then Socus turn'd his back to fly,
But, as he turn'd, his shoulder-blades between
He pierced him, and the spear urged through his breast.
On his resounding arms he fell, and thus
Godlike Ulysses gloried in his fall.
Ah, Socus, son of Hippasus, a chief
Of fame equestrian! swifter far than thou
Death follow'd thee, and thou hast not escaped.
Ill-fated youth! thy parents' hands thine eyes
Shall never close, but birds of ravenous maw
Shall tear thee, flapping thee with frequent wing,
While me the noble Grecians shall entomb!
So saying, the valiant Socus' spear he drew
From his own flesh, and through his bossy shield.
The weapon drawn, forth sprang the blood, and left
His spirit faint. Then Ilium's dauntless sons,
Seeing Ulysses' blood, exhorted glad
Each other, and, with force united, all
Press'd on him. He, retiring, summon'd loud
His followers. Thrice, loud as mortal may,
He call'd, and valiant Menelaus thrice
Hearing the voice, to Ajax thus remark'd.
Illustrious son of Telamon! The voice
Of Laertiades comes o'er my ear
With such a sound, as if the hardy chief,
Abandon'd of his friends, were overpower'd
By numbers intercepting his retreat.
Haste! force we quick a passage through the ranks.
His worth demands our succor, for I fear
Lest sole conflicting with the host of Troy,
Brave as he is, he perish, to the loss
Unspeakable and long regret of Greece.
So saying, he went, and Ajax, godlike Chief,
Follow'd him. At the voice arrived, they found
Ulysses Jove-beloved compass'd about
By Trojans, as the lynxes in the hills,
Adust for blood, compass an antler'd stag
Pierced by an archer; while his blood is warm
And his limbs pliable, from him he 'scapes;
But when the feather'd barb hath quell'd his force,
In some dark hollow of the mountain's side,
The hungry troop devour him; chance, the while,
Conducts a lion thither, before whom
All vanish, and the lion feeds alone;
So swarm'd the Trojan powers, numerous and bold,
Around Ulysses, who with wary skill
Heroic combated his evil day.
But Ajax came, cover'd with his broad shield
That seem'd a tower, and at Ulysses' side
Stood fast; then fled the Trojans wide-dispersed,
And Menelaus led him by the hand
Till his own chariot to his aid approach'd.
But Ajax, springing on the Trojans, slew
Doryclus, from the loins of Priam sprung,
But spurious. Pandocus he wounded next,
Then wounded Pyrasus, and after him
Pylartes and Lysander. As a flood
Runs headlong from the mountains to the plain
After long showers from Jove; many a dry oak
And many a pine the torrent sweeps along,
And, turbid, shoots much soil into the sea,
So, glorious Ajax troubled wide the field,
Horse and man slaughtering, whereof Hector yet
Heard not; for on the left of all the war
He fought beside Scamander, where around
Huge Nestor, and Idomeneus the brave,
Most deaths were dealt, and loudest roar'd the fight.
There Hector toil'd, feats wonderful of spear
And horsemanship achieving, and the lines
Of many a phalanx desolating wide.
Nor even then had the bold Greeks retired,
But that an arrow triple-barb'd, dispatch'd
By Paris, Helen's mate, against the Chief
Machaon warring with distinguish'd force,
Pierced his right shoulder. For his sake alarm'd,
The valor-breathing Grecians fear'd, lest he
In that disast'rous field should also fall.[16]
At once, Idomeneus of Crete approach'd
The noble Nestor, and him thus bespake.
Arise, Neleian Nestor! Pride of Greece!
Ascend thy chariot, and Machaon placed
Beside thee, bear him, instant to the fleet.
For one, so skill'd in medicine, and to free
The inherent barb, is worth a multitude.
He said, nor the Gerenian hero old
Aught hesitated, but into his seat
Ascended, and Machaon, son renown'd
Of Æsculapius, mounted at his side.
He lash'd the steeds, they not unwilling sought
The hollow ships, long their familiar home.
Cebriones, meantime, the charioteer
Of Hector, from his seat the Trojan ranks
Observing sore discomfited, began.
Here are we busied, Hector! on the skirts
Of roaring battle, and meantime I see
Our host confused, their horses and themselves
All mingled. Telamonian Ajax there
Routs them; I know the hero by his shield.
Haste, drive we thither, for the carnage most
Of horse and foot conflicting furious, there
Rages, and infinite the shouts arise.
He said, and with shrill-sounding scourge the steeds
Smote ample-maned; they, at the sudden stroke
Through both hosts whirl'd the chariot, shields and men
Trampling; with blood the axle underneath
All redden'd, and the chariot-rings with drops
From the horse-hoofs, and from the fellied wheels.
Full on the multitude he drove, on fire
To burst the phalanx, and confusion sent
Among the Greeks, for nought[17] he shunn'd the spear.
All quarters else with falchion or with lance,
Or with huge stones he ranged, but cautious shunn'd
The encounter of the Telamonian Chief.
But the eternal father throned on high
With fear fill'd Ajax; panic-fixt he stood,
His seven-fold shield behind his shoulder cast,
And hemm'd by numbers, with an eye askant,
Watchful retreated. As a beast of prey
Retiring, turns and looks, so he his face
Turn'd oft, retiring slow, and step by step.
As when the watch-dogs and assembled swains
Have driven a tawny lion from the stalls,
Then, interdicting him his wish'd repast,
Watch all the night, he, famish'd, yet again
Comes furious on, but speeds not, kept aloof
By frequent spears from daring hands, but more
By flash of torches, which, though fierce, he dreads,
Till, at the dawn, sullen he stalks away;
So from before the Trojans Ajax stalk'd
Sullen, and with reluctance slow retired.
His brave heart trembling for the fleet of Greece.
As when (the boys o'erpower'd) a sluggish ass,
On whose tough sides they have spent many a staff,
Enters the harvest, and the spiry ears
Crops persevering; with their rods the boys
Still ply him hard, but all their puny might
Scarce drives him forth when he hath browsed his fill,
So, there, the Trojans and their foreign aids
With glittering lances keen huge Ajax urged,
His broad shield's centre smiting.[18] He, by turns,
With desperate force the Trojan phalanx dense
Facing, repulsed them, and by turns he fled,
But still forbad all inroad on the fleet.
Trojans and Greeks between, alone, he stood
A bulwark. Spears from daring hands dismiss'd
Some, piercing his broad shield, there planted stood,
While others, in the midway falling, spent
Their disappointed rage deep in the ground.
Eurypylus, Evæmon's noble son,
Him seeing, thus, with weapons overwhelmed
Flew to his side, his glittering lance dismiss'd,
And Apisaon, son of Phausias, struck
Under the midriff; through his liver pass'd
The ruthless point, and, falling, he expired.
Forth sprang Eurypylus to seize the spoil;
Whom soon as godlike Alexander saw
Despoiling Apisaon of his arms,
Drawing incontinent his bow, he sent
A shaft to his right thigh; the brittle reed
Snapp'd, and the rankling barb stuck fast within.
Terrified at the stroke, the wounded Chief
To his own band retired, but, as he went,
With echoing voice call'd on the Danaï--
Friends! Counsellors, and leaders of the Greeks!
Turn ye and stand, and from his dreadful lot
Save Ajax whelm'd with weapons; 'scape, I judge,
He cannot from the roaring fight, yet oh
Stand fast around him; if save ye may,
Your champion huge, the Telamonian Chief!
So spake the wounded warrior. They at once
With sloping bucklers, and with spears erect,
To his relief approach'd. Ajax with joy
The friendly phalanx join'd, then turn'd and stood.
Thus burn'd the embattled field as with the flames
Of a devouring fire. Meantime afar
From all that tumult the Neleian mares
Bore Nestor, foaming as they ran, with whom
Machaon also rode, leader revered.
Achilles mark'd him passing; for he stood
Exalted on his huge ship's lofty stern,
Spectator of the toil severe, and flight
Deplorable of the defeated Greeks.
He call'd his friend Patroclus. He below
Within his tent the sudden summons heard
And sprang like Mars abroad, all unaware
That in that sound he heard the voice of fate.
Him first Menoetius' gallant son address'd.
What would Achilles? Wherefore hath he call'd?
To whom Achilles swiftest of the swift:
Brave Menoetiades! my soul's delight!
Soon will the Grecians now my knees surround
Suppliant, by dread extremity constrain'd.
But fly Patroclus, haste, oh dear to Jove!
Inquire of Nestor, whom he hath convey'd
From battle, wounded? Viewing him behind,
I most believed him Æsculapius' son
Machaon, but the steeds so swiftly pass'd
My galley, that his face escaped my note.[19]
He said, and prompt to gratify his friend,
Forth ran Patroclus through the camp of Greece.
Now when Neleian Nestor to his tent
Had brought Machaon, they alighted both,
And the old hero's friend Eurymedon
Released the coursers. On the beach awhile
Their tunics sweat-imbued in the cool air
They ventilated, facing full the breeze,
Then on soft couches in the tent reposed.
Meantime, their beverage Hecamede mix'd,
The old King's bright-hair'd captive, whom he brought
From Tenedos, what time Achilles sack'd
The city, daughter of the noble Chief
Arsinoüs, and selected from the rest
For Nestor, as the honorable meed
Of counsels always eminently wise.
She, first, before them placed a table bright,
With feet coerulean; thirst-provoking sauce
She brought them also in a brazen tray,
Garlic[20] and honey new, and sacred meal.
Beside them, next, she placed a noble cup
Of labor exquisite, which from his home
The ancient King had brought with golden studs
Embellish'd; it presented to the grasp
Four ears; two golden turtles, perch'd on each,
Seem'd feeding, and two turtles[21] form'd the base.
That cup once fill'd, all others must have toil'd
To move it from the board, but it was light
In Nestor's hand; he lifted it with ease.[22]
The graceful virgin in that cup a draught
Mix'd for them, Pramnian wine and savory cheese
Of goat's milk, grated with a brazen rasp,
Then sprinkled all with meal. The draught prepared,
She gave it to their hand; they, drinking, slaked
Their fiery thirst, and with each other sat
Conversing friendly, when the godlike youth
By brave Achilles sent, stood at the door.
Him seeing, Nestor from his splendid couch
Arose, and by the hand leading him in,
Entreated him to sit, but that request
Patroclus, on his part refusing, said,
Oh venerable King! no seat is here
For me, nor may thy courtesy prevail.
He is irascible, and to be fear'd
Who bade me ask what Chieftain thou hast brought
From battle, wounded; but untold I learn;
I see Machaon, and shall now report
As I have seen; oh ancient King revered!
Thou know'st Achilles fiery, and propense
Blame to impute even where blame is none.
To whom the brave Gerenian thus replied.
Why feels Achilles for the wounded Greeks
Such deep concern? He little knows the height
To which our sorrows swell. Our noblest lie
By spear or arrow wounded in the fleet.
Diomede, warlike son of Tydeus, bleeds,
Gall'd by a shaft; Ulysses, glorious Chief,
And Agamemnon[23] suffer by the spear;
Eurypylus is shot into the thigh,
And here lies still another newly brought
By me from fight, pierced also by a shaft.
What then? How strong soe'er to give them aid,
Achilles feels no pity of the Greeks.
Waits he till every vessel on the shore
Fired, in despite of the whole Argive host,
Be sunk in its own ashes, and ourselves
All perish, heaps on heaps? For in my limbs
No longer lives the agility of my youth.
Oh, for the vigor of those days again,
When Elis, for her cattle which we took,
Strove with us and Itymoneus I slew,
Brave offspring of Hypirochus; he dwelt
In Elis, and while I the pledges drove,
Stood for his herd, but fell among the first
By a spear hurl'd from my victorious arm.
Then fled the rustic multitude, and we
Drove off abundant booty from the plain,
Herds fifty of fat beeves, large flocks of goats
As many, with as many sheep and swine,
And full thrice fifty mares of brightest hue,
All breeders, many with their foals beneath.
All these, by night returning safe, we drove
Into Neleian Pylus, and the heart
Rejoiced of Neleus, in a son so young
A warrior, yet enrich'd with such a prize.
At early dawn the heralds summon'd loud
The citizens, to prove their just demands
On fruitful Elis, and the assembled Chiefs
Division made (for numerous were the debts
Which the Epeans, in the weak estate
Of the unpeopled Pylus, had incurr'd;
For Hercules, few years before, had sack'd[24]
Our city, and our mightiest slain. Ourselves
The gallant sons of Neleus, were in all
Twelve youths, of whom myself alone survived;
The rest all perish'd; whence, presumptuous grown,
The brazen-mail'd Epeans wrong'd us oft).
A herd of beeves my father for himself
Selected, and a numerous flock beside,
Three hundred sheep, with shepherds for them all.
For he a claimant was of large arrears
From sacred Elis. Four unrivall'd steeds
With his own chariot to the games he sent,
That should contend for the appointed prize
A tripod; but Augeias, King of men,
Detain'd the steeds, and sent the charioteer
Defrauded home. My father, therefore, fired
At such foul outrage both of deeds and words,
Took much, and to the Pylians gave the rest
For satisfaction of the claims of all.
While thus we busied were in these concerns,
And in performance of religious rites
Throughout the city, came the Epeans arm'd,
Their whole vast multitude both horse and foot
On the third day; came also clad in brass
The two Molions, inexpert as yet
In feats of arms, and of a boyish age.
There is a city on a mountain's head,
Fast by the banks of Alpheus, far remote,
The utmost town which sandy Pylus owns,
Named Thryoëssa, and, with ardor fired
To lay it waste, that city they besieged.
Now when their host had traversed all the plain,
Minerva from Olympus flew by night
And bade us arm; nor were the Pylians slow
To assemble, but impatient for the fight.
Me, then, my father suffer'd not to arm,
But hid my steeds, for he supposed me raw
As yet, and ignorant how war is waged.
Yet, even thus, unvantaged and on foot,
Superior honors I that day acquired
To theirs who rode, for Pallas led me on
Herself to victory. There is a stream
Which at Arena falls into the sea,
Named Minuëius; on that river's bank
The Pylian horsemen waited day's approach,
And thither all our foot came pouring down.
The flood divine of Alpheus thence we reach'd
At noon, all arm'd complete; there, hallow'd rites
We held to Jove omnipotent, and slew
A bull to sacred Alpheus, with a bull
To Neptune, and a heifer of the herd
To Pallas; then, all marshall'd as they were,
From van to rear our legions took repast,
And at the river's side slept on their arms.
Already the Epean host had round
Begirt the city, bent to lay it waste,
A task which cost them, first, both blood and toil,
For when the radiant sun on the green earth
Had risen, with prayer to Pallas and to Jove,
We gave them battle. When the Pylian host
And the Epeans thus were close engaged,
I first a warrior slew, Mulius the brave,
And seized his coursers. He the eldest-born
Of King Augeias' daughters had espoused
The golden Agamede; not an herb
The spacious earth yields but she knew its powers,
Him, rushing on me, with my brazen lance
I smote, and in the dust he fell; I leap'd
Into his seat, and drove into the van.
A panic seized the Epeans when they saw
The leader of their horse o'erthrown, a Chief
Surpassing all in fight. Black as a cloud
With whirlwind fraught, I drove impetuous on,
Took fifty chariots, and at side of each
Lay two slain warriors, with their teeth the soil
Grinding, all vanquish'd by my single arm.
I had slain also the Molions, sons
Of Actor, but the Sovereign of the deep
Their own authentic Sire, in darkness dense
Involving both, convey'd them safe away.
Then Jove a victory of prime renown
Gave to the Pylians; for we chased and slew
And gather'd spoil o'er all the champain spread
With scatter'd shields, till we our steeds had driven
To the Buprasian fields laden with corn,
To the Olenian rock, and to a town
In fair Colona situate, and named
Alesia. There it was that Pallas turn'd
Our people homeward; there I left the last
Of all the slain, and he was slain by me.
Then drove the Achaians from Buprasium home
Their coursers fleet, and Jove, of Gods above,
Received most praise, Nestor of men below.
Such once was I. But brave Achilles shuts
His virtues close, an unimparted store;
Yet even he shall weep, when all the host,
His fellow-warriors once, shall be destroy'd.
But recollect, young friend! the sage advice
Which when thou earnest from Phthia to the aid
Of Agamemnon, on that selfsame day
Menoetius gave thee. We were present there,
Ulysses and myself, both in the house,
And heard it all; for to the house we came
Of Peleus in our journey through the land
Of fertile Greece, gathering her states to war.
We found thy noble sire Menoetius there,
Thee and Achilles; ancient Peleus stood
To Jove the Thunderer offering in his court
Thighs of an ox, and on the blazing rites
Libation pouring from a cup of gold.
While ye on preparation of the feast
Attended both, Ulysses and myself
Stood in the vestibule; Achilles flew
Toward us, introduced us by the hand,
And, seating us, such liberal portion gave
To each, as hospitality requires.
Our thirst, at length, and hunger both sufficed,
I, foremost speaking, ask'd you to the wars,
And ye were eager both, but from your sires
Much admonition, ere ye went, received.
Old Peleus charged Achilles to aspire
To highest praise, and always to excel.
But thee, thy sire Menoetius thus advised.
"My son! Achilles boasts the nobler birth,
But thou art elder; he in strength excels
Thee far; thou, therefore, with discretion rule
His inexperience; thy advice impart
With gentleness; instruction wise suggest
Wisely, and thou shalt find him apt to learn."
So thee thy father taught, but, as it seems,
In vain. Yet even now essay to move
Warlike Achilles; if the Gods so please,
Who knows but that thy reasons may prevail
To rouse his valiant heart? men rarely scorn
The earnest intercession of a friend.
But if some prophecy alarm his fears,
And from his Goddess mother he have aught
Received, who may have learnt the same from Jove,
Thee let him send at least, and order forth
With thee the Myrmidons; a dawn of hope
Shall thence, it may be, on our host arise.
And let him send thee to the battle clad
In his own radiant armor; Troy, deceived
By such resemblance, shall abstain perchance
From conflict, and the weary Greeks enjoy
Short respite; it is all that war allows.
Fresh as ye are, ye, by your shouts alone,
May easily repulse an army spent
With labor from the camp and from the fleet.
Thus Nestor, and his mind bent to his words.
Back to Æacides through all the camp
He ran; and when, still running, he arrived
Among Ulysses' barks, where they had fix'd
The forum, where they minister'd the laws,
And had erected altars to the Gods,
There him Eurypylus, Evæmon's son,
Illustrious met, deep-wounded in his thigh,
And halting-back from battle. From his head
The sweat, and from his shoulders ran profuse,
And from his perilous wound the sable blood
Continual stream'd; yet was his mind composed.
Him seeing, Menoetiades the brave
Compassion felt, and mournful, thus began.
Ah hapless senators and Chiefs of Greece!
Left ye your native country that the dogs
Might fatten on your flesh at distant Troy?
But tell me, Hero! say, Eurypylus!
Have the Achaians power still to withstand
The enormous force of Hector, or is this
The moment when his spear must pierce us all?
To whom Eurypylus, discreet, replied.
Patroclus, dear to Jove! there is no help,
No remedy. We perish at our ships.
The warriors, once most strenuous of the Greeks,
Lie wounded in the fleet by foes whose might
Increases ever. But thyself afford
To me some succor; lead me to my ship;
Cut forth the arrow from my thigh; the gore
With warm ablution cleanse, and on the wound
Smooth unguents spread, the same as by report
Achilles taught thee; taught, himself, their use
By Chiron, Centaur, justest of his kind
For Podalirius and Machaon both
Are occupied. Machaon, as I judge,
Lies wounded in his tent, needing like aid
Himself, and Podalirius in the field
Maintains sharp conflict with the sons of Troy.
To whom Menoetius' gallant son replied.
Hero! Eurypylus! how shall we act
In this perplexity? what course pursue?
I seek the brave Achilles, to whose ear
I bear a message from the ancient chief
Gerenian Nestor, guardian of the Greeks.
Yet will I not, even for such a cause,
My friend! abandon thee in thy distress.
He ended, and his arms folding around
The warrior bore him thence into his tent.
His servant, on his entrance, spread the floor
With hides, on which Patroclus at his length
Extended him, and with his knife cut forth
The rankling point; with tepid lotion, next,
He cleansed the gore, and with a bitter root
Bruised small between his palms, sprinkled the wound.
At once, the anodyne his pain assuaged,
The wound was dried within, and the blood ceased.

* * * * *


It will be well here to observe the position of the Greeks. All human aid is cut off by the wounds of their heroes, and all assistance from the Gods forbidden by Jupiter. On the contrary, the Trojans see their general at their head, and Jupiter himself fights on their side. Upon this hinge turns the whole poem. The distress of the Greeks occasions first the assistance of Patroclus, and then the death of that hero brings back Achilles.

The poet shows great skill in conducting these incidents. He gives Achilles the pleasure of seeing that the Greeks could not carry on the war without his assistance, and upon this depends the great catastrophe of the poem.

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