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

A poem by William Cowper

Argument Of The Fifteenth Book.


Jove, awaking and seeing the Trojans routed, threatens Juno. He sends Iris to admonish Neptune to relinquish the battle, and Apollo to restore health to Hector. Apollo armed with the Ægis, puts to flight the Grecians; they are pursued home to their fleet, and Telamonian Ajax slays twelve Trojans bringing fire to burn it.



But when the flying Trojans had o'erpass'd
Both stakes and trench, and numerous slaughtered lay
By Grecian hands, the remnant halted all
Beside their chariots, pale, discomfited.
Then was it that on Ida's summit Jove
At Juno's side awoke; starting, he stood
At once erect; Trojans and Greeks he saw,
These broken, those pursuing and led on
By Neptune; he beheld also remote
Encircled by his friends, and on the plain
Extended, Hector; there he panting lay,
Senseless, ejecting blood, bruised by a blow
From not the feeblest of the sons of Greece.
Touch'd with compassion at that sight, the Sire
Of Gods and men, frowning terrific, fix'd
His eyes on Juno, and her thus bespake.
No place for doubt remains. Oh, versed in wiles,
Juno! thy mischief-teeming mind perverse
Hath plotted this; thou hast contrived the hurt

Of Hector, and hast driven his host to flight.
I know not but thyself mayst chance to reap
The first-fruits of thy cunning, scourged[1] by me.
Hast thou forgotten how I once aloft
Suspended thee, with anvils at thy feet,
And both thy wrists bound with a golden cord
Indissoluble? In the clouds of heaven
I hung thee, while from the Olympian heights
The Gods look'd mournful on, but of them all
None could deliver thee, for whom I seized,
Hurl'd through the gates of heaven on earth he fell,
Half-breathless. Neither so did I resign
My hot resentment of the hero's wrongs
Immortal Hercules, whom thou by storms
Call'd from the North, with mischievous intent
Hadst driven far distant o'er the barren Deep
To populous Cos. Thence I deliver'd him,
And after numerous woes severe, he reach'd
The shores of fruitful Argos, saved by me.
I thus remind thee now, that thou mayst cease
Henceforth from artifice, and mayst be taught
How little all the dalliance and the love
Which, stealing down from heaven, thou hast by fraud
Obtain'd from me, shall profit thee at last.
He ended, whom imperial Juno heard
Shuddering, and in wing'd accents thus replied.
Be witness Earth, the boundless Heaven above,
And Styx beneath, whose stream the blessed Gods
Even tremble to adjure;[2] be witness too
Thy sacred life, and our connubial bed,
Which by a false oath I will never wrong,
That by no art induced or plot of mine
Neptune, the Shaker of the shores, inflicts
These harms on Hector and the Trojan host
Aiding the Grecians, but impell'd alone
By his own heart with pity moved at sight
Of the Achaians at the ships subdued.
But even him, oh Sovereign of the storms!
I am prepared to admonish that he quit
The battle, and retire where thou command'st.
So she; then smiled the Sire of Gods and men,
And in wing'd accents answer thus return'd.[3]
Juno! wouldst thou on thy celestial throne
Assist my counsels, howso'er in heart
He differ now, Neptune should soon his will
Submissive bend to thy desires and mine.
But if sincerity be in thy words
And truth, repairing to the blest abodes
Send Iris hither, with the archer God
Apollo; that she, visiting the host
Of Greece, may bid the Sovereign of the Deep
Renounce the fight, and seek his proper home.
Apollo's part shall be to rouse again
Hector to battle, to inspire his soul
Afresh with courage, and all memory thence
To banish of the pangs which now he feels.
Apollo also shall again repulse
Achaia's host, which with base panic fill'd,
Shall even to Achilles' ships be driven.
Achilles shall his valiant friend exhort
Patroclus forth; him under Ilium's walls
Shall glorious Hector slay; but many a youth
Shall perish by Patroclus first, with whom,
My noble son Sarpedon. Peleus' son,
Resentful of Patroclus' death, shall slay
Hector, and I will urge ceaseless, myself,
Thenceforth the routed Trojans back again,
Till by Minerva's aid the Greeks shall take
Ilium's proud city; till that day arrive
My wrath shall burn, nor will I one permit
Of all the Immortals to assist the Greeks,
But will perform Achilles' whole desire.
Such was my promise to him at the first,
Ratified by a nod that self-same day
When Thetis clasp'd my knees, begging revenge
And glory for her city-spoiler son.
He ended; nor his spouse white-arm'd refused
Obedience, but from the Idæan heights
Departing, to the Olympian summit soar'd.
Swift as the traveller's thought,[4] who, many a land
Traversed, deliberates on his future course
Uncertain, and his mind sends every way,
So swift updarted Juno to the skies.
Arrived on the Olympian heights, she found
The Gods assembled; they, at once, their seats
At her approach forsaking, with full cups
Her coming hail'd; heedless of all beside,
She took the cup from blooming Themis' hand,
For she first flew to welcome her, and thus
In accents wing'd of her return inquired.
Say, Juno, why this sudden re-ascent?
Thou seem'st dismay'd; hath Saturn's son, thy spouse,
Driven thee affrighted to the skies again?
To whom the white-arm'd Goddess thus replied.
Themis divine, ask not. Full well thou know'st
How harshly temper'd is the mind of Jove,
And how untractable. Resume thy seat;
The banquet calls thee; at our board preside,
Thou shalt be told, and all in heaven shall hear
What ills he threatens; such as shall not leave
All minds at ease, I judge, here or on earth,
However tranquil some and joyous now.
So spake the awful spouse of Jove, and sat.
Then, all alike, the Gods displeasure felt
Throughout the courts of Jove, but she, her lips
Gracing with smiles from which her sable brows
Dissented,[5] thus indignant them address'd.
Alas! how vain against the Thunderer's will
Our anger, and the hope to supersede
His purpose, by persuasion or by force!
He solitary sits, all unconcern'd
At our resentment, and himself proclaims
Mightiest and most to be revered in heaven.
Be patient, therefore, and let each endure
Such ills as Jove may send him. Mars, I ween,
Already hath his share; the warrior God
Hath lost Ascalaphus, of all mankind
His most beloved, and whom he calls his own.
She spake, and with expanded palms his thighs
Smiling, thus, sorrowful, the God exclaim'd.
Inhabitants of the Olympian heights!
Oh bear with me, if to avenge my son
I seek Achaia's fleet, although my doom
Be thunder-bolts from Jove, and with the dead
Outstretch'd to lie in carnage and in dust.
He spake, and bidding Horror and Dismay
Lead to the yoke his rapid steeds, put on
His all-refulgent armor. Then had wrath
More dreadful, some strange vengeance on the Gods
From Jove befallen, had not Minerva, touch'd
With timely fears for all, upstarting sprung
From where she sat, right through the vestibule.
She snatch'd the helmet from his brows, the shield
From his broad shoulder, and the brazen spear
Forced from his grasp into its place restored.
Then reprimanding Mars, she thus began.
Frantic, delirious! thou art lost for ever!
Is it in vain that thou hast ears to hear,
And hast thou neither shame nor reason left?
How? hear'st thou not the Goddess? the report
Of white-arm'd Juno from Olympian Jove
Return'd this moment? or perfer'st thou rather,
Plagued with a thousand woes, and under force
Of sad necessity to seek again
Olympus, and at thy return to prove
Author of countless miseries to us all?
For He at once Grecians and Trojans both
Abandoning, will hither haste prepared
To tempest[6] us in heaven, whom he will seize,
The guilty and the guiltless, all alike.
I bid thee, therefore, patient bear the death
Of thy Ascalaphus; braver than he
And abler have, ere now, in battle fallen,
And shall hereafter; arduous were the task
To rescue from the stroke of fate the race
Of mortal men, with all their progeny.
So saying, Minerva on his throne replaced
The fiery Mars. Then, summoning abroad
Apollo from within the hall of Jove,
With Iris, swift ambassadress of heaven,
Them in wing'd accents Juno thus bespake.
Jove bids you hence with undelaying speed
To Ida; in his presence once arrived,
See that ye execute his whole command.
So saying, the awful Goddess to her throne
Return'd and sat. They, cleaving swift the air,
Alighted soon on Ida fountain-fed,
Parent of savage kinds. High on the point
Seated of Gargarus, and wrapt around
With fragrant clouds, they found Saturnian Jove
The Thunderer, and in his presence stood.
He, nought displeased that they his high command
Had with such readiness obey'd, his speech
To Iris, first, in accents wing'd address'd
Swift Iris, haste--to royal Neptune bear
My charge entire; falsify not the word.
Bid him, relinquishing the fight, withdraw
Either to heaven, or to the boundless Deep.
But should he disobedient prove, and scorn
My message, let him, next, consider well
How he will bear, powerful as he is,
My coming. Me I boast superior far
In force, and elder-born; yet deems he slight
The danger of comparison with me,
Who am the terror of all heaven beside.
He spake, nor storm-wing'd Iris disobey'd,
But down from the Idæan summit stoop'd
To sacred Ilium. As when snow or hail
Flies drifted by the cloud-dispelling North,
So swiftly, wing'd with readiness of will,
She shot the gulf between, and standing soon
At glorious Neptune's side, him thus address'd.
To thee, O Neptune azure-hair'd! I come
With tidings charged from Ægis-bearing Jove.
He bids thee cease from battle, and retire
Either to heaven, or to the boundless Deep.
But shouldst thou, disobedient, set at nought
His words, he threatens that himself will haste
To fight against thee; but he bids thee shun
That strife with one superior far to thee,
And elder-born; yet deem'st thou slight, he saith,
The danger of comparison with Him,
Although the terror of all heaven beside.
Her then the mighty Shaker of the shores
Answer'd indignant. Great as is his power,
Yet he hath spoken proudly, threatening me
With force, high-born and glorious as himself.
We are three brothers; Saturn is our sire,
And Rhea brought us forth; first, Jove she bore;
Me next; then, Pluto, Sovereign of the shades.
By distribution tripart we received
Each his peculiar honors; me the lots
Made Ruler of the hoary floods, and there
I dwell for ever. Pluto, for his part,
The regions took of darkness; and the heavens,
The clouds, and boundless æther, fell to Jove.
The Earth and the Olympian heights alike
Are common to the three. My life and being
I hold not, therefore, at his will, whose best
And safest course, with all his boasted power,
Were to possess in peace his proper third.
Let him not seek to terrify with force
Me like a dastard; let him rather chide
His own-begotten; with big-sounding words
His sons and daughters govern, who perforce
Obey his voice, and shrink at his commands.
To whom thus Iris tempest-wing'd replied,
Coerulean-tress'd Sovereign of the Deep!
Shall I report to Jove, harsh as it is,
Thy speech, or wilt thou soften it? The wise
Are flexible, and on the elder-born
Erynnis, with her vengeful sisters, waits.[7]
Her answer'd then the Shaker of the shores.
Prudent is thy advice, Iris divine!
Discretion in a messenger is good
At all times. But the cause that fires me thus,
And with resentment my whole heart and mind
Possesses, is the license that he claims
To vex with provocation rude of speech
Me his compeer, and by decree of Fate
Illustrious as himself; yet, though incensed,
And with just cause, I will not now persist.
But hear--for it is treasured in my heart
The threat that my lips utter. If he still
Resolve to spare proud Ilium in despite
Of me, of Pallas, Goddess of the spoils,
Of Juno, Mercury, and the King of fire,
And will not overturn her lofty towers,
Nor grant immortal glory to the Greeks,
Then tell him thus--hostility shall burn,
And wrath between us never to be quench'd.
So saying, the Shaker of the shores forsook
The Grecian host, and plunged into the deep,
Miss'd by Achaia's heroes. Then, the cloud-Assembler
God thus to Apollo spake.
Hence, my Apollo! to the Trojan Chief
Hector; for earth-encircler Neptune, awed
By fear of my displeasure imminent,
Hath sought the sacred Deep. Else, all the Gods
Who compass Saturn in the nether realms,
Had even there our contest heard, I ween,
And heard it loudly. But that he retreats
Although at first incensed, shunning my wrath,
Is salutary both for him and me,
Whose difference else had not been healed with ease.
Take thou my shaggy Ægis, and with force
Smiting it, terrify the Chiefs of Greece.
As for illustrious Hector, him I give
To thy peculiar care; fail not to rouse
His fiercest courage, till he push the Greeks
To Hellespont, and to their ships again;
Thenceforth to yield to their afflicted host
Some pause from toil, shall be my own concern.
He ended, nor Apollo disobey'd
His father's voice; from the Idæan heights,
Swift as the swiftest of the fowls of air,
The dove-destroyer falcon, down he flew.
The noble Hector, valiant Priam's son
He found, not now extended on the plain,
But seated; newly, as from death, awaked,
And conscious of his friends; freely he breathed
Nor sweated more, by Jove himself revived.
Apollo stood beside him, and began.
Say, Hector, Priam's son! why sittest here
Feeble and spiritless, and from thy host
Apart? what new disaster hath befall'n?
To whom with difficulty thus replied
The warlike Chief.--But tell me who art Thou,
Divine inquirer! best of powers above!
Know'st not that dauntless Ajax me his friends
Slaughtering at yonder ships, hath with a stone
Surceased from fight, smiting me on the breast?
I thought to have beheld, this day, the dead
In Ades, every breath so seem'd my last.
Then answer thus the Archer-God return'd.
Courage this moment! such a helper Jove
From Ida sends thee at thy side to war
Continual, Phoebus of the golden sword,
Whose guardian aid both thee and lofty Troy
Hath succor'd many a time. Therefore arise!
Instant bid drive thy numerous charioteers
Their rapid steeds full on the Grecian fleet;
I, marching at their head, will smooth, myself,
The way before them, and will turn again
To flight the heroes of the host of Greece.
He said and with new strength the Chief inspired.
As some stall'd horse high pamper'd, snapping short
His cord, beats under foot the sounding soil,
Accustom'd in smooth-sliding streams to lave
Exulting; high he bears his head, his mane
Wantons around his shoulders; pleased, he eyes
His glossy sides, and borne on pliant knees
Soon finds the haunts where all his fellows graze;
So bounded Hector, and his agile joints
Plied lightly, quicken'd by the voice divine,
And gather'd fast his charioteers to battle.
But as when hounds and hunters through the woods
Rush in pursuit of stag or of wild goat,
He, in some cave with tangled boughs o'erhung,
Lies safe conceal'd, no destined prey of theirs,
Till by their clamors roused, a lion grim
Starts forth to meet them; then, the boldest fly;
Such hot pursuit the Danaï, with swords
And spears of double edge long time maintain'd.
But seeing Hector in his ranks again
Occupied, felt at once their courage fall'n.
Then, Thoas them, Andræmon's son, address'd,
Foremost of the Ætolians, at the spear
Skilful, in stationary combat bold,
And when the sons of Greece held in dispute
The prize of eloquence, excell'd by few.
Prudent advising them, he thus began.
Ye Gods! what prodigy do I behold?
Hath Hector, 'scaping death, risen again?
For him, with confident persuasion all
Believed by Telamonian Ajax slain.
But some Divinity hath interposed
To rescue and save Hector, who the joints
Hath stiffen'd of full many a valiant Greek,
As surely now he shall; for, not without
The Thunderer's aid, he flames in front again.
But take ye all my counsel. Send we back
The multitude into the fleet, and first
Let us, who boast ourselves bravest in fight,
Stand, that encountering him with lifted spears,
We may attempt to give his rage a check.
To thrust himself into a band like ours
Will, doubtless, even in Hector move a fear.
He ceased, with whose advice all, glad, complied.
Then Ajax with Idomeneus of Crete,
Teucer, Meriones, and Meges fierce
As Mars in battle, summoning aloud
The noblest Greeks, in opposition firm
To Hector and his host their bands prepared,
While others all into the fleet retired.
Troy's crowded host[8] struck first. With awful strides
Came Hector foremost; him Apollo led,
His shoulders wrapt in clouds, and, on his arm,
The Ægis shagg'd terrific all around,
Tempestuous, dazzling-bright; it was a gift
To Jove from Vulcan, and design'd to appall,
And drive to flight the armies of the earth.
Arm'd with that shield Apollo led them on.
Firm stood the embodied Greeks; from either host
Shrill cries arose; the arrows from the nerve
Leap'd, and, by vigorous arms dismiss'd, the spears
Flew frequent; in the flesh some stood infixt
Of warlike youths, but many, ere they reach'd
The mark they coveted, unsated fell
Between the hosts, and rested in the soil.
Long as the God unagitated held
The dreadful disk, so long the vollied darts
Made mutual slaughter, and the people fell;
But when he look'd the Grecian charioteers
Full in the face and shook it, raising high
Himself the shout of battle, then he quell'd
Their spirits, then he struck from every mind
At once all memory of their might in arms.
As when two lions in the still, dark night
A herd of beeves scatter or numerous flock
Suddenly, in the absence of the guard,
So fled the heartless Greeks, for Phoebus sent
Terrors among them, but renown conferr'd
And triumph proud on Hector and his host.
Then, in that foul disorder of the field,
Man singled man. Arcesilaüs died
By Hector's arm, and Stichius; one, a Chief[9]
Of the Boeotians brazen-mail'd, and one,
Menestheus' faithful follower to the fight.
Æneas Medon and Iäsus slew.
Medon was spurious offspring of divine
Oïleus Ajax' father, and abode
In Phylace; for he had slain a Chief
Brother of Eriopis the espoused
Of brave Oïleus; but Iäsus led
A phalanx of Athenians, and the son
Of Sphelus, son of Bucolus was deem'd.
Pierced by Polydamas Mecisteus fell,
Polites, in the van of battle, slew
Echion, and Agenor Clonius;
But Paris, while Deïochus to flight
Turn'd with the routed van, pierced him beneath
His shoulder-blade, and urged the weapon through.
While them the Trojans spoil'd, meantime the Greeks,
Entangled in the piles of the deep foss,
Fled every way, and through necessity
Repass'd the wall. Then Hector with a voice
Of loud command bade every Trojan cease
From spoil, and rush impetuous on the fleet.
[10]And whom I find far lingering from the ships
Wherever, there he dies; no funeral fires
Brother on him, or sister, shall bestow,
But dogs shall rend him in the sight of Troy.
So saying, he lash'd the shoulders of his steeds,
And through the ranks vociferating, call'd
His Trojans on; they, clamorous as he,
All lash'd their steeds, and menacing, advanced.
Before them with his feet Apollo push'd
The banks into the foss, bridging the gulf
With pass commodious, both in length and breadth
A lance's flight, for proof of vigor hurl'd.
There, phalanx after phalanx, they their host
Pour'd dense along, while Phoebus in the van
Display'd the awful ægis, and the wall
Levell'd with ease divine. As, on the shore
Some wanton boy with sand builds plaything walls,
Then, sportive spreads them with his feet abroad,
So thou, shaft-arm'd Apollo! that huge work
Laborious of the Greeks didst turn with ease
To ruin, and themselves drovest all to flight.
They, thus enforced into the fleet, again
Stood fast, with mutual exhortation each
His friend encouraging, and all the Gods
With lifted hands soliciting aloud.
But, more than all, Gerenian Nestor pray'd
Fervent, Achaia's guardian, and with arms
Outstretch'd toward the starry skies, exclaim'd.
Jove, Father! if in corn-clad Argos, one,
One Greek hath ever, burning at thy shrine
Fat thighs of sheep or oxen, ask'd from thee
A safe return, whom thou hast gracious heard,
Olympian King! and promised what he sought,
Now, in remembrance of it, give us help
In this disastrous day, nor thus permit
Their Trojan foes to tread the Grecians down!
So Nestor pray'd, and Jove thunder'd aloud
Responsive to the old Neleïan's prayer.
But when that voice of Ægis-bearing Jove
The Trojans heard, more furious on the Greeks
They sprang, all mindful of the fight. As when
A turgid billow of some spacious sea,
While the wind blow that heaves its highest, borne
Sheer o'er the vessel's side, rolls into her,
With such loud roar the Trojans pass'd the wall;
In rush'd the steeds, and at the ships they waged
Fierce battle hand to hand, from chariots, these,
With spears of double edge, those, from the decks
Of many a sable bark, with naval poles
Long, ponderous, shod with steel; for every ship
Had such, for conflict maritime prepared.
While yet the battle raged only without
The wall, and from the ships apart, so long
Patroclus quiet in the tent and calm
Sat of Eurypylus, his generous friend
Consoling with sweet converse, and his wound
Sprinkling with drugs assuasive of his pains.
But soon as through the broken rampart borne
He saw the Trojans, and the clamor heard
And tumult of the flying Greeks, a voice
Of loud lament uttering, with open palms
His thighs he smote, and, sorrowful, exclaim'd.
Eurypylus! although thy need be great,
No longer may I now sit at thy side,
Such contest hath arisen; thy servant's voice
Must soothe thee now, for I will to the tent
Haste of Achilles, and exhort him forth;
Who knows? if such the pleasure of the Gods,
I may prevail; friends rarely plead in vain.
So saying, he went. Meantime the Greeks endured
The Trojan onset, firm, yet from the ships
Repulsed them not, though fewer than themselves,
Nor could the host of Troy, breaking the ranks
Of Greece, mix either with the camp or fleet;
But as the line divides the plank aright,
Stretch'd by some naval architect, whose hand
Minerva hath accomplish'd in his art,
So stretch'd on them the cord of battle lay.
Others at other ships the conflict waged,
But Hector to the ship advanced direct
Of glorious Ajax; for one ship they strove;
Nor Hector, him dislodging thence, could fire
The fleet, nor Ajax from the fleet repulse
Hector, conducted thither by the Gods.
Then, noble Ajax with a spear the breast
Pierced of Caletor, son of Clytius, arm'd
With fire to burn his bark; sounding he fell,
And from his loosen'd grasp down dropp'd the brand.
But Hector seeing his own kinsman fallen
Beneath the sable bark, with mighty voice
Call'd on the hosts of Lycia and of Troy.
Trojans and Lycians, and close-fighting sons
Of Dardanus, within this narrow pass
Stand firm, retreat not, but redeem the son
Of Clytius, lest the Grecians of his arms
Despoil him slain in battle at the ships.
So saying, at Ajax his bright spear he cast
Him pierced he not, but Lycophron the son
Of Mastor, a Cytherian, who had left
Cytheras, fugitive for blood, and dwelt
With Ajax. Him standing at Ajax' side,
He pierced above his ear; down from the stern
Supine he fell, and in the dust expired.
Then, shuddering, Ajax to his brother spake.
Alas, my Teucer! we have lost our friend;
Mastorides is slain, whom we received
An inmate from Cytheræ, and with love
And reverence even filial, entertain'd;
By Hector pierced, he dies. Where are thy shafts
Death-wing'd, and bow, by gift from Phoebus thine?
He said, whom Teucer hearing, instant ran
With bow and well-stored quiver to his side,
Whence soon his arrows sought the Trojan host.
He struck Pisenor's son Clytus, the friend
And charioteer of brave Polydamas,
Offspring of Panthus, toiling with both hands
To rule his fiery steeds; for more to please
The Trojans and their Chief, where stormy most
He saw the battle, thither he had driven.
But sudden mischief, valiant as he was,
Found him, and such as none could waft aside,
For right into his neck the arrow plunged,
And down he fell; his startled coursers shook
Their trappings, and the empty chariot rang.
That sound alarm'd Polydamas; he turn'd,
And flying to their heads, consign'd them o'er
To Protiaön's son, Astynoüs,
Whom he enjoin'd to keep them in his view;
Then, turning, mingled with the van again.
But Teucer still another shaft produced
Design'd for valiant Hector, whose exploits
(Had that shaft reach'd him) at the ships of Greece
Had ceased for ever. But the eye of Jove,
Guardian of Hector's life, slept not; he took
From Telamonian Teucer that renown,
And while he stood straining the twisted nerve
Against the Trojan, snapp'd it. Devious flew
The steel-charged[11] arrow, and he dropp'd his bow.
Then shuddering, to his brother thus he spake.
Ah! it is evident. Some Power divine
Makes fruitless all our efforts, who hath struck
My bow out of my hand, and snapt the cord
With which I strung it new at dawn of day,
That it might bear the bound of many a shaft.
To whom the towering son of Telamon.
Leave then thy bow, and let thine arrows rest,
Which, envious of the Greeks, some God confounds,
That thou may'st fight with spear and buckler arm'd,
And animate the rest. Such be our deeds
That, should they conquer us, our foes may find
Our ships, at least a prize not lightly won.
So Ajax spake; then Teucer, in his tent
The bow replacing, slung his fourfold shield,
Settled on his illustrious brows his casque
With hair high-crested, waving, as he moved,
Terrible from above, took forth a spear
Tough-grain'd, acuminated sharp with brass,
And stood, incontinent, at Ajax' side.
Hector perceived the change, and of the cause
Conscious, with echoing voice call'd to his host.
Trojans and Lycians and close-fighting sons
Of Dardanus, oh now, my friends, be men;
Now, wheresoever through the fleet dispersed,
Call into mind the fury of your might!
For I have seen, myself, Jove rendering vain
The arrows of their mightiest. Man may know
With ease the hand of interposing Jove,
Both whom to glory he ordains, and whom
He weakens and aids not; so now he leaves
The Grecians, but propitious smiles on us.
Therefore stand fast, and whosoever gall'd
By arrow or by spear, dies--let him die;
It shall not shame him that he died to serve
His country,[12] but his children, wife and home,
With all his heritage, shall be secure,
Drive but the Grecians from the shores of Troy.
So saying, he animated each. Meantime,
Ajax his fellow-warriors thus address'd.
Shame on you all! Now, Grecians, either die,
Or save at once your galley and yourselves.
Hope ye, that should your ships become the prize
Of warlike Hector, ye shall yet return
On foot? Or hear ye not the Chief aloud
Summoning all his host, and publishing
His own heart's wish to burn your fleet with fire?
Not to a dance, believe me, but to fight
He calls them; therefore wiser course for us
Is none, than that we mingle hands with hands
In contest obstinate, and force with force.
Better at once to perish, or at once
To rescue life, than to consume the time
Hour after hour in lingering conflict vain
Here at the ships, with an inferior foe.
He said, and by his words into all hearts
Fresh confidence infused. Then Hector smote
Schedius, a Chief of the Phocensian powers
And son of Perimedes; Ajax slew,
Meantime, a Chief of Trojan infantry,
Laodamas, Antenor's noble son
While by Polydamas, a leader bold
Of the Epeans, and Phylides'[13] friend,
Cyllenian Otus died. Meges that sight
Viewing indignant on the conqueror sprang,
But, starting wide, Polydamas escaped,
Saved by Apollo, and his spear transpierced
The breast of Cræsmus; on his sounding shield
Prostrate he fell, and Meges stripp'd his arms.
Him so employ'd Dolops assail'd, brave son
Of Lampus, best of men and bold in fight,
Offspring of King Laomedon; he stood
Full near, and through his middle buckler struck
The son of Phyleus, but his corselet thick
With plates of scaly brass his life secured.
That corselet Phyleus on a time brought home
From Ephyre, where the Selleïs winds,
And it was given him for his life's defence
In furious battle by the King of men,
Euphetes. Many a time had it preserved
Unharm'd the sire, and now it saved the son.
Then Meges, rising, with his pointed lance
The bushy crest of Dolops' helmet drove
Sheer from its base; new-tinged with purple bright
Entire it fell and mingled with the dust.
While thus they strove, each hoping victory,
Came martial Menelaus to the aid
Of Meges; spear in hand apart he stood
By Dolops unperceived, through his back drove
And through his breast the spear, and far beyond.
And down fell Dolops, forehead to the ground.
At once both flew to strip his radiant arms,
Then, Hector summoning his kindred, call'd
Each to his aid, and Melanippus first,
Illustrious Hicetaon's son, reproved.
Ere yet the enemies of Troy arrived
He in Percote fed his wandering beeves;
But when the Danaï with all their fleet
Came thither, then returning, he outshone
The noblest Trojans, and at Priam's side
Dwelling, was honor'd by him as a son.
Him Hector reprimanding, stern began.
Are we thus slack? Can Melanippus view
Unmoved a kinsman slain? Seest not the Greeks
How busy there with Dolops and his arms?
Come on. It is no time for distant war,
But either our Achaian foes must bleed,
Or Ilium taken, from her topmost height
Must stoop, and all her citizens be slain.
So saying he went, whose steps the godlike Chief
Attended; and the Telamonian, next,
Huge Ajax, animated thus the Greeks.
Oh friends, be men! Deep treasure in your hearts
An honest shame, and, fighting bravely, fear
Each to incur the censure of the rest.
Of men so minded more survive than die,
While dastards forfeit life and glory both.
So moved he them, themselves already bent
To chase the Trojans; yet his word they bore
Faithful in mind, and with a wall of brass
Fenced firm the fleet, while Jove impell'd the foe.
Then Menelaus, brave in fight, approach'd
Antilochus, and thus his courage roused.
Antilochus! in all the host is none
Younger, or swifter, or of stronger limb
Than thou. Make trial, therefore, of thy might,
Spring forth and prove it on some Chief of Troy.
He ended and retired, but him his praise
Effectual animated; from the van
Starting, he cast a wistful eye around
And hurl'd his glittering spear; back fell the ranks
Of Troy appall'd; nor vain his weapon flew,
But Melanippus pierced heroic son
Of Hicetaon, coming forth to fight,
Full in the bosom, and with dreadful sound
Of all his batter'd armor down he fell.
Swift flew Antilochus as flies the hound
Some fawn to seize, which issuing from her lair
The hunter with his lance hath stricken dead,
So thee, O Melanippus! to despoil
Of thy bright arms valiant Antilochus
Sprang forth, but not unnoticed by the eye
Of noble Hector, who through all the war
Ran to encounter him; his dread approach
Antilochus, although expert in arms,
Stood not, but as some prowler of the wilds,
Conscious of injury that he hath done,
Slaying the watchful herdsman or his dog,
Escapes, ere yet the peasantry arise,
So fled the son of Nestor, after whom
The Trojans clamoring and Hector pour'd
Darts numberless; but at the front arrived
Of his own phalanx, there he turn'd and stood.
Then, eager as voracious lions, rush'd
The Trojans on the fleet of Greece, the mind
Of Jove accomplishing who them impell'd
Continual, calling all their courage forth,
While, every Grecian heart he tamed, and took
Their glory from them, strengthening Ilium's host.
For Jove's unalter'd purpose was to give
Success to Priameian Hector's arms,[14]
That he might cast into the fleet of Greece
Devouring flames, and that no part might fail
Of Thetis' ruthless prayer; that sight alone
He watch'd to see, one galley in a blaze,
Ordaining foul repulse, thenceforth, and flight
To Ilium's host, but glory to the Greeks.
Such was the cause for which, at first, he moved
To that assault Hector, himself prepared
And ardent for the task; nor less he raged
Than Mars while fighting, or than flames that seize
Some forest on the mountain-tops; the foam
Hung at his lips, beneath his awful front
His keen eyes glisten'd, and his helmet mark'd
The agitation wild with which he fought.
For Jove omnipotent, himself, from heaven
Assisted Hector, and, although alone
With multitudes he strove, gave him to reach
The heights of glory, for that now his life
Waned fast, and, urged by Pallas on,[15] his hour
To die by Peleus' mighty son approach'd.
He then, wherever richest arms he saw
And thickest throng, the warrior-ranks essay'd
To break, but broke them not, though fierce resolved,
In even square compact so firm they stood.
As some vast rock beside the hoary Deep
The stress endures of many a hollow wind,
And the huge billows tumbling at his base,
So stood the Danaï, nor fled nor fear'd.
But he, all-fiery bright in arms, the host
Assail'd on every side, and on the van
Fell, as a wave by wintry blasts upheaved
Falls ponderous on the ship; white clings the foam
Around her, in her sail shrill howls the storm,
And every seaman trembles at the view
Of thousand deaths from which he scarce escapes,
Such anguish rent the bosom of the Greeks.
But he, as leaps a famish'd lion fell
On beeves that graze some marshy meadow's breadth,
A countless herd, tended by one unskill'd
To cope with savage beasts in their defence,
Beside the foremost kine or with the last
He paces heedless, but the lion, borne
Impetuous on the midmost, one devours
And scatters all the rest,[16] so fled the Greeks,
Terrified from above, before the arm
Of Hector, and before the frown of Jove.
All fled, but of them all alone he slew
The Mycenæan Periphetes, son
Of Copreus custom'd messenger of King
Eurystheus to the might of Hercules.
From such a sire inglorious had arisen
A son far worthier, with all virtue graced,
Swift-footed, valiant, and by none excell'd
In wisdom of the Mycenæan name;
Yet all but served to ennoble Hector more.
For Periphetes, with a backward step
Retiring, on his buckler's border trod,
Which swept his heels; so check'd, he fell supine,
And dreadful rang the helmet on his brows.
Him Hector quick noticing, to his side
Hasted, and, planting in his breast a spear,
Slew him before the phalanx of his friends.
But they, although their fellow-warrior's fate
They mourn'd, no succor interposed, or could,
Themselves by noble Hector sore appall'd.
And now behind the ships (all that updrawn
Above the shore, stood foremost of the fleet)
The Greeks retired; in rush'd a flood of foes;
Then, through necessity, the ships in front
Abandoning, amid the tents they stood
Compact, not disarray'd, for shame and fear
Fast held them, and vociferating each
Aloud, call'd ceaseless on the rest to stand.
But earnest more than all, guardian of all,
Gerenian Nestor in their parents' name
Implored them, falling at the knees of each.
Oh friends! be men. Now dearly prize your place
Each in the estimation of the rest.
Now call to memory your children, wives,
Possessions, parents; ye whose parents live,
And ye whose parents are not, all alike!
By them as if here present, I entreat
That ye stand fast--oh be not turn'd to flight!
So saying he roused the courage of the Greeks;
Then, Pallas chased the cloud fall'n from above
On every eye; great light the plain illumed
On all sides, both toward the fleet, and where
The undiscriminating battle raged.
Then might be seen Hector and Hector's host
Distinct, as well the rearmost who the fight
Shared not, as those who waged it at the ships.
To stand aloof where other Grecians stood
No longer now would satisfy the mind
Of Ajax, but from deck to deck with strides
Enormous marching, to and fro he swung
With iron studs emboss'd a battle-pole
Unwieldy, twenty and two cubits long.
As one expert to spring from horse to horse,
From many steeds selecting four, toward
Some noble city drives them from the plain
Along the populous road; him many a youth
And many a maiden eyes, while still secure
From steed to steed he vaults; they rapid fly;
So Ajax o'er the decks of numerous ships
Stalk'd striding large, and sent his voice to heaven.
Thus, ever clamoring, he bade the Greeks
Stand both for camp and fleet. Nor could himself
Hector, contented, now, the battle wage
Lost in the multitude of Trojans more,
But as the tawny eagle on full wing
Assails the feather'd nations, geese or cranes
Or swans lithe-neck'd grazing the river's verge,
So Hector at a galley sable-prow'd
Darted; for, from behind, Jove urged him on
With mighty hand, and his host after him.
And now again the battle at the ships
Grew furious; thou hadst deem'd them of a kind
By toil untameable, so fierce they strove,
And, striving, thus they fought. The Grecians judged
Hope vain, and the whole host's destruction sure;
But nought expected every Trojan less
Than to consume the fleet with fire, and leave
Achaia's heroes lifeless on the field.
With such persuasions occupied, they fought.
Then Hector seized the stern of a brave bark
Well-built, sharp-keel'd, and of the swiftest sail,
Which had to Troy Protesiläus brought,
But bore him never thence. For that same ship
Contending, Greeks and Trojans hand to hand
Dealt slaughter mutual. Javelins now no more
Might serve them, or the arrow-starting bow,
But close conflicting and of one mind all
With bill and battle-axe, with ponderous swords,
And with long lances double-edged they fought.
Many a black-hilted falchion huge of haft
Fell to the ground, some from the grasp, and some
From shoulders of embattled warriors hewn,
And pools of blood soak'd all the sable glebe.
Hector that ship once grappled by the stern
Left not, but griping fast her upper edge
With both hands, to his Trojans call'd aloud.
Fire! Bring me fire! Stand fast and shout to heaven!
Jove gives us now a day worth all the past;
The ships are ours which, in the Gods' despite
Steer'd hither, such calamities to us
Have caused, for which our seniors most I blame
Who me withheld from battle at the fleet
And check'd the people; but if then the hand
Of Thunderer Jove our better judgment marr'd,
Himself now urges and commands us on.
He ceased; they still more violent assail'd
The Grecians. Even Ajax could endure,
Whelm'd under weapons numberless, that storm
No longer, but expecting death retired
Down from the decks to an inferior stand,
Where still he watch'd, and if a Trojan bore
Fire thither, he repulsed him with his spear,
Roaring continual to the host of Greece.
Friends! Grecian heroes! ministers of Mars!
Be men, my friends! now summon all your might!
Think we that we have thousands at our backs
To succor us, or yet some stronger wall
To guard our warriors from the battle's force?
Not so. No tower'd city is at hand,
None that presents us with a safe retreat
While others occupy our station here,
But from the shores of Argos far remote
Our camp is, where the Trojans arm'd complete
Swarm on the plain, and Ocean shuts us in.
Our hands must therefore save us, not our heels
He said, and furious with his spear again
Press'd them, and whatsoever Trojan came,
Obsequious to the will of Hector, arm'd
With fire to burn the fleet, on his spear's point
Ajax receiving pierced him, till at length
Twelve in close fight fell by his single arm.

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