Argument Of The Twenty-Second Book.
Achilles slays Hector.
Thus they, throughout all Troy, like hunted fawns
Dispersed, their trickling limbs at leisure cool'd,
And, drinking, slaked their fiery thirst, reclined
Against the battlements. Meantime, the Greeks
Sloping their shields, approach'd the walls of Troy,
And Hector, by his adverse fate ensnared,
Still stood exposed before the Scæan gate.
Then spake Apollo thus to Peleus' son.
Wherefore, thyself mortal, pursuest thou me
Immortal? oh Achilles! blind with rage,
Thou know'st not yet, that thou pursuest a God.
Unmindful of thy proper task, to press
The flying Trojans, thou hast hither turn'd
Devious, and they are all now safe in Troy;
Yet hope me not to slay; I cannot die.
To whom Achilles swiftest of the swift,
Indignant. Oh, of all the Powers above
To me most adverse, Archer of the skies!
Thou hast beguiled me, leading me away
From Ilium far, whence intercepted, else,
No few had at this moment gnaw'd the glebe.
Thou hast defrauded me of great renown,
And, safe thyself, hast rescued them with ease.
Ah--had I power, I would requite thee well.
So saying, incensed he turned toward the town
His rapid course, like some victorious steed
That whirls, at stretch, a chariot to the goal.
Such seem'd Achilles, coursing light the field.
Him, first, the ancient King of Troy perceived
Scouring the plain, resplendent as the star
Autumnal, of all stars in dead of night
Conspicous most, and named Orion's dog;
Brightest it shines, but ominous, and dire
Disease portends to miserable man;
So beam'd Achilles' armor as he flew.
Loud wail'd the hoary King; with lifted hands
His head he smote, and, uttering doleful cries
Of supplication, sued to his own son.
He, fixt before the gate, desirous stood
Of combat with Achilles, when his sire
With arms outstretch'd toward him, thus began.
My Hector! wait not, oh my son! the approach
Of this dread Chief, alone, lest premature
Thou die, this moment by Achilles slain,
For he is strongest far. Oh that the Gods
Him loved as I! then, soon should vultures rend
And dogs his carcase, and my grief should cease.
He hath unchilded me of many a son,
All valiant youths, whom he hath slain or sold
To distant isles, and even now, I miss
Two sons, whom since the shutting of the gates
I find not, Polydorus and Lycaon,
My children by Laothöe the fair.
If they survive prisoners in yonder camp,
I will redeem them with gold and brass
By noble Eltes to his daughter given,
Large store, and still reserved. But should they both,
Already slain, have journey'd to the shades,
We, then, from whom they sprang have cause to mourn
And mourn them long, but shorter shall the grief
Of Ilium prove, if thou escape and live.
Come then, my son! enter the city-gate
That thou may'st save us all, nor in thy bloom
Of life cut off, enhance Achilles' fame.
Commiserate also thy unhappy sire
Ere yet distracted, whom Saturnian Jove
Ordains to a sad death, and ere I die
To woes innumerable; to behold
Sons slaughter'd, daughters ravish'd, torn and stripp'd
The matrimonial chamber, infants dash'd
Against the ground in dire hostility,
And matrons dragg'd by ruthless Grecian hands.
Me, haply, last of all, dogs shall devour
In my own vestibule, when once the spear
Or falchion of some Greek hath laid me low.
The very dogs fed at my table-side,
My portal-guards, drinking their master's blood
To drunkenness, shall wallow in my courts.
Fair falls the warlike youth in battle slain,
And when he lies torn by the pointed steel,
His death becomes him well; he is secure,
Though dead, from shame, whatever next befalls:
But when the silver locks and silver beard
Of an old man slain by the sword, from dogs
Receive dishonor, of all ills that wait
On miserable man, that sure is worst.
So spake the ancient King, and his grey hairs
Pluck'd with both hands, but Hector firm endured.
On the other side all tears his mother stood,
And lamentation; with one hand she bared,
And with the other hand produced her breast,
Then in wing'd accents, weeping, him bespake.
My Hector! reverence this, and pity me
If ever, drawing forth this breast, thy griefs
Of infancy I soothed, oh now, my son!
Acknowledge it, and from within the walls
Repulse this enemy; stand not abroad
To cope with him, for he is savage-fierce,
And should he slay thee, neither shall myself
Who bore thee, nor thy noble spouse weep o'er
Thy body, but, where we can never come,
Dogs shall devour it in the fleet of Greece.
So they with prayers importuned, and with tears
Their son, but him sway'd not; unmoved he stood,
Expecting vast Achilles now at hand.
As some fell serpent in his cave expects
The traveller's approach, batten'd with herbs
Of baneful juice to fury, forth he looks
Hideous, and lies coil'd all around his den,
So Hector, fill'd with confidence untamed,
Fled not, but placing his bright shield against
A buttress, with his noble heart conferr'd.
Alas for me! should I repass the gate,
Polydamas would be the first to heap
Reproaches on me, for he bade me lead
The Trojans back this last calamitous night
In which Achilles rose to arms again.
But I refused, although to have complied,
Had proved more profitable far; since then
By rash resolves of mine I have destroy'd
The people, how can I escape the blame
Of all in Troy? The meanest there will say--
By his self-will he hath destroy'd us all.
So shall they speak, and then shall I regret
That I return'd ere I had slain in fight
Achilles, or that, by Achilles slain,
I died not nobly in defence of Troy.
But shall I thus? Lay down my bossy shield,
Put off my helmet, and my spear recline
Against the city wall, then go myself
To meet the brave Achilles, and at once
Promise him Helen, for whose sake we strive
With all the wealth that Paris in his fleet
Brought home, to be restored to Atreus' sons,
And to distribute to the Greeks at large
All hidden treasures of the town, an oath
Taking beside from every senator,
That he will nought conceal, but will produce
And share in just equality what stores
Soever our fair city still includes?
Ah airy speculations, questions vain!
I may not sue to him: compassion none
Will he vouchsafe me, or my suit respect.
But, seeing me unarm'd, will sate at once
His rage, and womanlike I shall be slain.
It is no time from oak or hollow rock
With him to parley, as a nymph and swain,
A nymph and swain soft parley mutual hold,
But rather to engage in combat fierce
Incontinent; so shall we soonest learn
Whom Jove will make victorious, him or me.
Thus pondering he stood; meantime approach'd
Achilles, terrible as fiery Mars,
Crest-tossing God, and brandish'd as he came
O'er his right shoulder high the Pelian spear.
Like lightning, or like flame, or like the sun
Ascending, beam'd his armor. At that sight
Trembled the Trojan Chief, nor dared expect
His nearer step, but flying left the gates
Far distant, and Achilles swift pursued.
As in the mountains, fleetest fowl of air,
The hawk darts eager at the dove; she scuds
Aslant, he screaming, springs and springs again
To seize her, all impatient for the prey,
So flew Achilles constant to the track
Of Hector, who with dreadful haste beneath
The Trojan bulwarks plied his agile limbs.
Passing the prospect-mount where high in air
The wild-fig waved, they rush'd along the road,
Declining never from the wall of Troy.
And now they reach'd the running rivulets clear,
Where from Scamander's dizzy flood arise
Two fountains, tepid one, from which a smoke
Issues voluminous as from a fire,
The other, even in summer heats, like hail
For cold, or snow, or crystal-stream frost-bound.
Beside them may be seen the broad canals
Of marble scoop'd, in which the wives of Troy
And all her daughters fair were wont to lave
Their costly raiment, while the land had rest,
And ere the warlike sons of Greece arrived.
By these they ran, one fleeing, one in chase.
Valiant was he who fled, but valiant far
Beyond him he who urged the swift pursuit;
Nor ran they for a vulgar prize, a beast
For sacrifice, or for the hide of such,
The swift foot-racer's customary meed,
But for the noble Hector's life they ran.
As when two steeds, oft conquerors, trim the goal
For some illustrious prize, a tripod bright
Or beauteous virgin, at a funeral game,
So they with nimble feet the city thrice
Of Priam compass'd. All the Gods look'd on,
And thus the Sire of Gods and men began.
Ah--I behold a warrior dear to me
Around the walls of Ilium driven, and grieve
For Hector, who the thighs of fatted bulls
On yonder heights of Ida many-valed
Burn'd oft to me, and in the heights of Troy:
But him Achilles, glorious Chief, around
The city walls of Priam now pursues.
Consider this, ye Gods! weigh the event.
Shall we from death save Hector? or, at length,
Leave him, although in battle high renown'd,
To perish by the might of Peleus' son?
Whom answer'd thus Pallas cerulean-eyed.
Dread Sovereign of the storms! what hast thou said?
Wouldst thou deliver from the stroke of fate
A mortal man death-destined from of old?
Do it; but small thy praise shall be in heaven.
Then answer thus, cloud-gatherer Jove return'd.
Fear not, Tritonia, daughter dear! that word
Spake not my purpose; me thou shalt perceive
Always to thee indulgent. What thou wilt
That execute, and use thou no delay.
So roused he Pallas of herself prepared,
And from the heights Olympian down she flew.
With unremitting speed Achilles still
Urged Hector. As among the mountain-height
The hound pursues, roused newly from her lair
The flying fawn through many a vale and grove;
And though she trembling skulk the shrubs beneath,
Tracks her continual, till he find the prey,
So 'scaped not Hector Peleus' rapid son.
Oft as toward the Dardan gates he sprang
Direct, and to the bulwarks firm of Troy,
Hoping some aid by volleys from the wall,
So oft, outstripping him, Achilles thence
Enforced him to the field, who, as he might,
Still ever stretch'd toward the walls again.
As, in a dream, pursuit hesitates oft,
This hath no power to fly, that to pursue,
So these--one fled, and one pursued in vain.
How, then, had Hector his impending fate
Eluded, had not Phoebus, at his last,
Last effort meeting him, his strength restored,
And wing'd for flight his agile limbs anew?
The son of Peleus, as he ran, his brows
Shaking, forbad the people to dismiss
A dart at Hector, lest a meaner hand
Piercing him, should usurp the foremost praise.
But when the fourth time to those rivulets.
They came, then lifting high his golden scales,
Two lots the everlasting Father placed
Within them, for Achilles one, and one
For Hector, balancing the doom of both.
Grasping it in the midst, he raised the beam.
Down went the fatal day of Hector, down
To Ades, and Apollo left his side.
Then blue-eyed Pallas hasting to the son
Of Peleus, in wing'd accents him address'd.
Now, dear to Jove, Achilles famed in arms!
I hope that, fierce in combat though he be,
We shall, at last, slay Hector, and return
Crown'd with great glory to the fleet of Greece.
No fear of his deliverance now remains,
Not even should the King of radiant shafts,
Apollo, toil in supplication, roll'd
And roll'd again before the Thunderer's feet.
But stand, recover breath; myself, the while,
Shall urge him to oppose thee face to face.
So Pallas spake, whom joyful he obey'd,
And on his spear brass-pointed lean'd. But she,
(Achilles left) to noble Hector pass'd,
And in the form, and with the voice loud-toned
Approaching of Deiphobus, his ear
In accents, as of pity, thus address'd.
Ah brother! thou art overtask'd, around
The walls of Troy by swift Achilles driven;
But stand, that we may chase him in his turn.
To whom crest-tossing Hector huge replied.
Deiphobus! of all my father's sons
Brought forth by Hecuba, I ever loved
Thee most, but more than ever love thee now,
Who hast not fear'd, seeing me, for my sake
To quit the town, where others rest content.
To whom the Goddess, thus, cerulean-eyed.
Brother! our parents with much earnest suit
Clasping my knees, and all my friends implored me
To stay in Troy, (such fear hath seized on all)
But grief for thee prey'd on my inmost soul.
Come--fight we bravely--spare we now our spears
No longer; now for proof if Peleus' son
Slaying us both, shall bear into the fleet
Our arms gore-stain'd, or perish slain by thee.
So saying, the wily Goddess led the way.
They soon, approaching each the other, stood
Opposite, and huge Hector thus began.
Pelides! I will fly thee now no more.
Thrice I have compass'd Priam's spacious walls
A fugitive, and have not dared abide
Thy onset, but my heart now bids me stand
Dauntless, and I will slay, or will be slain.
But come. We will attest the Gods; for they
Are fittest both to witness and to guard
Our covenant. If Jove to me vouchsafe
The hard-earn'd victory, and to take thy life,
I will not with dishonor foul insult
Thy body, but, thine armor stripp'd, will give
Thee to thy friends, as thou shalt me to mine.
To whom Achilles, lowering dark, replied.
Hector! my bitterest foe! speak not to me
Of covenants! as concord can be none
Lions and men between, nor wolves and lambs
Can be unanimous, but hate perforce
Each other by a law not to be changed,
So cannot amity subsist between
Thee and myself; nor league make I with thee
Or compact, till thy blood in battle shed
Or mine, shall gratify the fiery Mars.
Rouse all thy virtue; thou hast utmost need
Of valor now, and of address in arms.
Escape me more thou canst not; Pallas' hand
By mine subdues thee; now will I avenge
At once the agonies of every Greek
In thy unsparing fury slain by thee.
He said, and, brandishing the Pelian ash,
Dismiss'd it; but illustrious Hector warn'd,
Crouched low, and, overflying him, it pierced
The soil beyond, whence Pallas plucking it
Unseen, restored it to Achilles' hand,
And Hector to his godlike foe replied.
Godlike Achilles! thou hast err'd, nor know'st
At all my doom from Jove, as thou pretend'st,
But seek'st, by subtlety and wind of words,
All empty sounds, to rob me of my might.
Yet stand I firm. Think not to pierce my back.
Behold my bosom! if the Gods permit,
Meet me advancing, and transpierce me there.
Meantime avoid my glittering spear, but oh
May'st thou receive it all! since lighter far
To Ilium should the toils of battle prove,
Wert thou once slain, the fiercest of her foes.
He said, and hurling his long spear with aim
Unerring, smote the centre of the shield
Of Peleus' son, but his spear glanced away.
He, angry to have sent it forth in vain,
(For he had other none) with eyes downcast
Stood motionless awhile, then with loud voice
Sought from Deiphobus, white-shielded Chief,
A second; but Deiphobus was gone.
Then Hector understood his doom, and said.
Ah, it is plain; this is mine hour to die.
I thought Deiphobus at hand, but me
Pallas beguiled, and he is still in Troy.
A bitter death threatens me, it is nigh,
And there is no escape; Jove, and Jove's son
Apollo, from the first, although awhile
My prompt deliverers, chose this lot for me,
And now it finds me. But I will not fall
Inglorious; I will act some great exploit
That shall be celebrated ages hence.
So saying, his keen falchion from his side
He drew, well-temper'd, ponderous, and rush'd
At once to combat. As the eagle darts
Right downward through a sullen cloud to seize
Weak lamb or timorous hare, so brandishing
His splendid falchion, Hector rush'd to fight.
Achilles, opposite, with fellest ire
Full-fraught came on; his shield with various art
Celestial form'd, o'erspread his ample chest,
And on his radiant casque terrific waved
The bushy gold of his resplendent crest,
By Vulcan spun, and pour'd profuse around.
Bright as, among the stars, the star of all
Most radiant, Hesperus, at midnight moves,
So, in the right hand of Achilles beam'd
His brandish'd spear, while, meditating wo
To Hector, he explored his noble form,
Seeking where he was vulnerable most.
But every part, his dazzling armor torn
From brave Patroclus' body, well secured,
Save where the circling key-bone from the neck
Disjoins the shoulder; there his throat appear'd,
Whence injured life with swiftest flight escapes;
Achilles, plunging in that part his spear,
Impell'd it through the yielding flesh beyond.
The ashen beam his power of utterance left
Still unimpair'd, but in the dust he fell,
And the exulting conqueror exclaim'd.
But Hector! thou hadst once far other hopes,
And, stripping slain Patroclus, thought'st thee safe,
Nor caredst for absent me. Fond dream and vain!
I was not distant far; in yonder fleet
He left one able to avenge his death,
And he hath slain thee. Thee the dogs shall rend
Dishonorably, and the fowls of air,
But all Achaia's host shall him entomb.
To whom the Trojan Chief languid replied.
By thy own life, by theirs who gave thee birth,
And by thy knees, oh let not Grecian dogs
Rend and devour me, but in gold accept
And brass a ransom at my father's hands,
And at my mother's an illustrious price;
Send home my body, grant me burial rites
Among the daughters and the sons of Troy.
To whom with aspect stern Achilles thus.
Dog! neither knees nor parents name to me.
I would my fierceness of revenge were such,
That I could carve and eat thee, to whose arms
Such griefs I owe; so true it is and sure,
That none shall save thy carcase from the dogs.
No, trust me, would thy parents bring me weigh'd
Ten--twenty ransoms, and engage on oath
To add still more; would thy Dardanian Sire
Priam, redeem thee with thy weight in gold,
Not even at that price would I consent
That she who bare should place thee on thy bier
With lamentation; dogs and ravening fowls
Shall rend thy body while a scrap remains.
Then, dying, warlike Hector thus replied.
Full well I knew before, how suit of mine
Should speed preferr'd to thee. Thy heart is steel.
But oh, while yet thou livest, think, lest the Gods
Requite thee on that day, when pierced thyself
By Paris and Apollo, thou shalt fall,
Brave as thou art, before the Scæan gate.
He ceased, and death involved him dark around.
His spirit, from his limbs dismiss'd, the house
Of Ades sought, mourning in her descent
Youth's prime and vigor lost, disastrous doom!
But him though dead, Achilles thus bespake.
Die thou. My death shall find me at what hour
Jove gives commandment, and the Gods above.
He spake, and from the dead drawing away
His brazen spear, placed it apart, then stripp'd
His arms gore-stain'd. Meantime the other sons
Of the Achaians, gathering fast around,
The bulk admired, and the proportion just
Of Hector; neither stood a Grecian there
Who pierced him not, and thus the soldier spake.
Ye Gods! how far more patient of the touch
Is Hector now, than when he fired the fleet!
Thus would they speak, then give him each a stab.
And now, the body stripp'd, their noble Chief
The swift Achilles standing in the midst,
The Grecians in wing'd accents thus address'd.
Friends, Chiefs and Senators of Argos' host!
Since, by the will of heaven, this man is slain
Who harm'd us more than all our foes beside,
Essay we next the city, so to learn
The Trojan purpose, whether (Hector slain)
They will forsake the citadel, or still
Defend it, even though of him deprived.
But wherefore speak I thus? still undeplored,
Unburied in my fleet Patroclus lies;
Him never, while alive myself, I mix
With living men and move, will I forget.
In Ades, haply, they forget the dead,
Yet will not I Patroclus, even there.
Now chanting pæans, ye Achaian youths!
Return we to the fleet with this our prize;
We have achieved great glory, we have slain
Illustrious Hector, him whom Ilium praised
In all her gates, and as a God revered.
He said; then purposing dishonor foul
To noble Hector, both his feet he bored
From heel to ancle, and, inserting thongs,
Them tied behind his chariot, but his head
Left unsustain'd to trail along the ground.
Ascending next, the armor at his side
He placed, then lash'd the steeds; they willing flew
Thick dust around the body dragg'd arose,
His sable locks all swept the plain, and all
His head, so graceful once, now track'd the dust,
For Jove had given it into hostile hands
That they might shame it in his native soil.
Thus, whelm'd in dust, it went. The mother Queen
Her son beholding, pluck'd her hair away,
Cast far aside her lucid veil, and fill'd
With shrieks the air. His father wept aloud,
And, all around, long, long complaints were heard
And lamentations in the streets of Troy,
Not fewer or less piercing, than if flames
Had wrapt all Ilium to her topmost towers.
His people scarce detain'd the ancient King
Grief-stung, and resolute to issue forth
Through the Dardanian gates; to all he kneel'd
In turn, then roll'd himself in dust, and each
By name solicited to give him way.
Stand off, my fellow mourners! I would pass
The gates, would seek, alone, the Grecian fleet.
I go to supplicate the bloody man,
Yon ravager; he may respect, perchance,
My years, may feel some pity of my age;
For, such as I am, his own father is,
Peleus, who rear'd him for a curse to Troy,
But chiefly rear'd him to myself a curse,
So numerous have my sons in prime of youth
Fall'n by his hand, all whom I less deplore
(Though mourning all) than one; my agonies
For Hector soon shall send me to the shades.
Oh had he but within these arms expired,
The hapless Queen who bore him, and myself
Had wept him, then, till sorrow could no more!
So spake he weeping, and the citizens
All sigh'd around; next, Hecuba began
Amid the women, thus, her sad complaint.
Ah wherefore, oh my son! wretch that I am,
Breathe I forlorn of thee? Thou, night and day,
My glory wast in Ilium, thee her sons
And daughters, both, hail'd as their guardian God,
Conscious of benefits from thee received,
Whose life prolong'd should have advanced them all
To high renown. Vain boast! thou art no more.
So mourn'd the Queen. But fair Andromache
Nought yet had heard, nor knew by sure report
Hector's delay without the city gates.
She in a closet of her palace sat,
A twofold web weaving magnificent,
With sprinkled flowers inwrought of various hues,
And to her maidens had commandment given
Through all her house, that compassing with fire
An ample tripod, they should warm a bath
For noble Hector from the fight return'd.
Tenderness ill-inform'd! she little knew
That in the field, from such refreshments far,
Pallas had slain him by Achilles' hand.
She heard a cry of sorrow from the tower;
Her limbs shook under her, her shuttle fell,
And to her bright-hair'd train, alarm'd, she cried.
Attend me two of you, that I may learn
What hath befallen. I have heard the voice
Of the Queen-mother; my rebounding heart
Chokes me, and I seem fetter'd by a frost.
Some mischief sure o'er Priam's sons impends.
Far be such tidings from me! but I fear
Horribly, lest Achilles, cutting off
My dauntless Hector from the gates alone,
Enforce him to the field, and quell perhaps
The might, this moment, of that dreadful arm
His hinderance long; for Hector ne'er was wont
To seek his safety in the ranks, but flew
First into battle, yielding place to none.
So saying, she rush'd with palpitating heart
And frantic air abroad, by her two maids
Attended; soon arriving at the tower,
And at the throng of men, awhile she stood
Down-looking wistful from the city-wall,
And, seeing him in front of Ilium, dragg'd
So cruelly toward the fleet of Greece,
O'erwhelm'd with sudden darkness at the view
Fell backward, with a sigh heard all around.
Far distant flew dispersed her head-attire,
Twist, frontlet, diadem, and even the veil
By golden Venus given her on the day
When Hector led her from Eëtion's house
Enrich'd with nuptial presents to his home.
Around her throng'd her sisters of the house
Of Priam, numerous, who within their arms
Fast held her loathing life; but she, her breath
At length and sense recovering, her complaint
Broken with sighs amid them thus began.
Hector! I am undone; we both were born
To misery, thou in Priam's house in Troy,
And I in Hypoplacian Thebes wood-crown'd
Beneath Eëtion's roof. He, doom'd himself
To sorrow, me more sorrowfully doom'd,
Sustain'd in helpless infancy, whom oh
That he had ne'er begotten! thou descend'st
To Pluto's subterraneous dwelling drear,
Leaving myself destitute, and thy boy,
Fruit of our hapless loves, an infant yet,
Never to be hereafter thy delight,
Nor love of thine to share or kindness more.
For should he safe survive this cruel war,
With the Achaians penury and toil
Must be his lot, since strangers will remove
At will his landmarks, and possess his fields.
Thee lost, he loses all, of father, both,
And equal playmate in one day deprived,
To sad looks doom'd, and never-ceasing-tears.
He seeks, necessitous his father's friends,
One by his mantle pulls, one by his vest,
Whose utmost pity yields to his parch'd lips
A thirst-provoking drop, and grudges more;
Some happier child, as yet untaught to mourn
A parent's loss, shoves rudely from the board
My son, and, smiting him, reproachful cries--
Away--thy father is no guest of ours--
Then, weeping, to his widow'd mother comes
Astyanax, who on his father's lap
Ate marrow only, once, and fat of lambs,
And when sleep took him, and his crying fit
Had ceased, slept ever on the softest bed,
Warm in his nurse's arms, fed to his fill
With delicacies, and his heart at rest.
But now, Astyanax (so named in Troy
For thy sake, guardian of her gates and towers)
His father lost, must many a pang endure.
And as for thee, cast naked forth among
Yon galleys, where no parent's eye of thine
Shall find thee, when the dogs have torn thee once
Till they are sated, worms shall eat thee next.
Meantime, thy graceful raiment rich, prepared
By our own maidens, in thy palace lies;
But I will burn it, burn it all, because
Useless to thee, who never, so adorn'd,
Shalt slumber more; yet every eye in Troy
Shall see, how glorious once was thy attire.
So, weeping, she; to whom the multitude
Of Trojan dames responsive sigh'd around.