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

A poem by William Cowper

Argument Of The Eighth Book.

Jove calls a council, in which he forbids all interference of the Gods between the Greeks and Trojans. He repairs to Ida, where, having consulted the scales of destiny, he directs his lightning against the Grecians. Nestor is endangered by the death of one of his horses. Diomede delivers him. In the chariot of Diomede they both hasten to engage Hector, whose charioteer is slain by Diomede. Jupiter again interposes by his thunders, and the whole Grecian host, discomfited, is obliged to seek refuge within the rampart. Diomede, with others, at sight of a favorable omen sent from Jove in answer to Agamemnon's prayer, sallies. Teucer performs great exploits, but is disabled by Hector. Juno and Pallas set forth from Olympus in aid of the Grecians, but are stopped by Jupiter, who reascends from Ida, and in heaven foretells the distresses which await the Grecians.

Hector takes measures for the security of Troy during the night, and prepares his host for an assault to be made on the Grecian camp in the morning.

The saffron-mantled morning[1] now was spread
O'er all the nations, when the Thunderer Jove
On the deep-fork'd Olympian topmost height
Convened the Gods in council, amid whom
He spake himself; they all attentive heard.
Gods! Goddesses! Inhabitants of heaven!
Attend; I make my secret purpose known.
Let neither God nor Goddess interpose
My counsel to rescind, but with one heart
Approve it, that it reach, at once, its end.
Whom I shall mark soever from the rest
Withdrawn, that he may Greeks or Trojans aid,
Disgrace shall find him; shamefully chastised
He shall return to the Olympian heights,
Or I will hurl him deep into the gulfs
Of gloomy Tartarus, where Hell shuts fast
Her iron gates, and spreads her brazen floor,
As far below the shades, as earth from heaven.
There shall he learn how far I pass in might
All others; which if ye incline to doubt,
Now prove me. Let ye down the golden chain[2]
From heaven, and at its nether links pull all,
Both Goddesses and Gods. But me your King,
Supreme in wisdom, ye shall never draw
To earth from heaven, toil adverse as ye may.
Yet I, when once I shall be pleased to pull,
The earth itself, itself the sea, and you
Will lift with ease together, and will wind
The chain around the spiry summit sharp
Of the Olympian, that all things upheaved
Shall hang in the mid heaven. So far do I,
Compared with all who live, transcend them all.
He ended, and the Gods long time amazed
Sat silent, for with awful tone he spake:
But at the last Pallas blue-eyed began.
Father! Saturnian Jove! of Kings supreme!
We know thy force resistless; but our hearts
Feel not the less, when we behold the Greeks
Exhausting all the sorrows of their lot.
If thou command, we, doubtless, will abstain
From battle, yet such counsel to the Greeks
Suggesting still, as may in part effect
Their safety, lest thy wrath consume them all.
To whom with smiles answer'd cloud-gatherer Jove.
Fear not, my child! stern as mine accent was,
I forced a frown--no more. For in mine heart
Nought feel I but benevolence to thee.
He said, and to his chariot join'd his steeds
Swift, brazen-hoof'd, and mailed with wavy gold;
He put on golden raiment, his bright scourge
Of gold receiving rose into his seat,
And lash'd his steeds; they not unwilling flew
Midway the earth between and starry heaven.
To spring-fed Ida, mother of wild beasts,
He came, where stands in Gargarus[3] his shrine
Breathing fresh incense! there the Sire of all
Arriving, loosed his coursers, and around
Involving them in gather'd clouds opaque,
Sat on the mountain's head, in his own might
Exulting, with the towers of Ilium all
Beneath his eye, and the whole fleet of Greece.
In all their tents, meantime, Achaia's sons
Took short refreshment, and for fight prepared.
On the other side, though fewer, yet constrain'd
By strong necessity, throughout all Troy,
In the defence of children and wives
Ardent, the Trojans panted for the field.
Wide flew the city gates: forth rush'd to war
Horsemen and foot, and tumult wild arose.
They met, they clash'd; loud was the din of spears
And bucklers on their bosoms brazen-mail'd
Encountering, shields in opposition from
Met bossy shields, and tumult wild arose.[4]
There many a shout and many a dying groan
Were heard, the slayer and the maim'd aloud
Clamoring, and the earth was drench'd with blood.
'Till sacred morn[5] had brighten'd into noon,
The vollied weapons on both sides their task
Perform'd effectual, and the people fell.
But when the sun had climb'd the middle skies,
The Sire of all then took his golden scales;[6]
Doom against doom he weigh'd, the eternal fates
In counterpoise, of Trojans and of Greeks.
He rais'd the beam; low sank the heavier lot
Of the Achaians; the Achaian doom
Subsided, and the Trojan struck the skies.
Then roar'd the thunders from the summit hurl'd
of Ida, and his vivid lightnings flew
Into Achaia's host. They at the sight
Astonish'd stood; fear whiten'd every cheek.[7]
Idomeneus dared not himself abide
That shock, nor Agamemnon stood, nor stood
The heroes Ajax, ministers of Mars.
Gerenian Nestor, guardian of the Greeks,
Alone fled not, nor he by choice remain'd,
But by his steed retarded, which the mate
Of beauteous Helen, Paris, with a shaft
Had stricken where the forelock grows, a part
Of all most mortal. Tortured by the wound
Erect he rose, the arrow in his brain,
And writhing furious, scared his fellow-steeds.
Meantime, while, strenuous, with his falchion's edge
The hoary warrior stood slashing the reins,
Through multitudes of fierce pursuers borne
On rapid wheels, the dauntless charioteer
Approach'd him, Hector. Then, past hope, had died
The ancient King, but Diomede discern'd
His peril imminent, and with a voice
Like thunder, called Ulysses to his aid.
Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd!
Art thou too fugitive, and turn'st thy back
Like the base multitude? Ah! fear a lance
Implanted ignominious in thy spine.
Stop--Nestor dies. Fell Hector is at hand.
So shouted Diomede, whose summons loud,
Ulysses yet heard not, but, passing, flew
With headlong haste to the Achaian fleet.
Then, Diomede, unaided as he was,
Rush'd ardent to the vanward, and before
The steeds of the Neleian sovereign old
Standing, in accents wing'd, him thus address'd.
Old Chief! these youthful warriors are too brisk
For thee, press'd also by encroaching age,
Thy servant too is feeble, and thy steeds
Are tardy. Mount my chariot. Thou shalt see
With what rapidity the steeds of Troy,
Pursuing or retreating, scour the field.
I took them from that terror of his foes,
Æneas. Thine to our attendants leave,
While these against the warlike powers of Troy
We push direct; that Hector's self may know
If my spear rage not furious as his own.
He said, nor the Gerenian Chief refused.
Thenceforth their servants, Sthenelus and good
Eurymedon, took charge of Nestor's steeds,
And they the chariot of Tydides both
Ascended; Nestor seized the reins, plied well
The scourge, and soon they met. Tydides hurl'd
At Hector first, while rapid he advanced;
But missing Hector, wounded in the breast
Eniopeus his charioteer, the son
Of brave Thebæus, managing the steeds.
He fell; his fiery coursers at the sound
Startled, recoil'd, and where he fell he died.
Deep sorrow for his charioteer o'erwhelm'd
The mind of Hector; yet, although he mourn'd
He left him, and another sought as brave.
Nor wanted long his steeds a charioteer,
For finding soon the son of Iphitus,
Bold Archeptolemus, he bade him mount
His chariot, and the reins gave to his hand.
Then deeds of bloodiest note should have ensued,
Penn'd had the Trojans been, as lambs, in Troy,

But for quick succor of the sire of all.
Thundering, he downward hurled his candent bolt
To the horse-feet of Diomede; dire fumed
The flaming sulphur, and both horses drove
Under the axle, belly to the ground.
Forth flew the splendid reins from Nestor's hand,
And thus to Diomede, appall'd, he spake.
Back to the fleet, Tydides! Can'st not see
That Jove ordains not, now, the victory thine?
The son of Saturn glorifies to-day
This Trojan, and, if such his will, can make
The morrow ours; but vain it is to thwart
The mind of Jove, for he is Lord of all.
To him the valiant Diomede replied.
Thou hast well said, old warrior! but the pang
That wrings my soul, is this. The public ear
In Ilium shall from Hector's lips be told--
I drove Tydides--fearing me he fled.
So shall he vaunt, and may the earth her jaws
That moment opening swallow me alive!
Him answer'd the Gerenian warrior old.
What saith the son of Tydeus, glorious Chief?
Should Hector so traduce thee as to call
Thee base and timid, neither Trojan him
Nor Dardan would believe, nor yet the wives
Of numerous shielded warriors brave of Troy,
Widow'd by thy unconquerable arm.
So saying, he through the fugitives his steeds
Turn'd swift to flight. Then Hector and his host
With clamor infinite their darts wo-wing'd
Shower'd after them, and Hector, mighty Chief
Majestic, from afar, thus call'd aloud.
Tydides! thee the Danaï swift-horsed
Were wont to grace with a superior seat,
The mess of honor, and the brimming cup,
But now will mock thee. Thou art woman now.
Go, timorous girl! Thou never shalt behold
Me flying, climb our battlements, or lead
Our women captive. I will slay thee first.
He ceased. Then Diomede in dread suspense
Thrice purposed, turning, to withstand the foe,
And thrice in thunder from the mountain-top
Jove gave the signal of success to Troy.
When Hector thus the Trojans hail'd aloud.
Trojans and Lycians, and close-warring sons
Of Dardanus, oh summon all your might,
Now, now be men! I know that from his heart
Saturnian Jove glory and bright success
For me prepares, but havoc for the Greeks.
Fools! they shall find this wall which they have raised
Too weak to check my course, a feeble guard
Contemptible; such also is the trench;
My steeds shall slight it with an easy leap.
But when ye see me in their fleet arrived,
Remember fire. Then bring me flaming brands
That I may burn their galleys and themselves
Slaughter beside them, struggling in the smoke.[8]
He spake, and thus encouraged next his steeds.
Xanthus! Podargus! and ye generous pair
Æthon and glossy Lampus! now requite
Mine, and the bounty of Andromache,
Far-famed Eëtion's daughter; she your bowl
With corn fresh-flavor'd and with wine full oft
Hath mingled, your refreshment seeking first
Ere mine, who have a youthful husband's claim.[9]
Now follow! now be swift; that we may seize
The shield of Nestor, bruited to the skies
As golden all, trappings and disk alike.
Now from the shoulders of the equestrian Chief
Tydides tear we off his splendid mail,
The work of Vulcan.[10] May we take but these,
I have good hope that, ere this night be spent,
The Greeks shall climb their galleys and away.
So vaunted he, but Juno with disdain
His proud boast heard, and shuddering in her throne,
Rock'd the Olympian; turning then toward
The Ocean's mighty sovereign, thus she spake.
Alas! earth-shaking sovereign of the waves,
Feel'st thou no pity of the perishing Greeks?
Yet Greece, in Helice, with gifts nor few
Nor sordid, and in Ægæ, honors thee,
Whom therefore thou shouldst prosper. Would we all
Who favor Greece associate to repulse
The Trojans, and to check loud-thundering Jove,
On Ida seated he might lour alone.
To whom the Sovereign, Shaker of the Shores,
Indignant. Juno! rash in speech! what word
Hath 'scaped thy lips? never, with my consent,
Shall we, the powers subordinate, in arms
With Jove contend. He far excels us all.
So they. Meantime, the trench and wall between,[11]
The narrow interval with steeds was fill'd
Close throng'd and shielded warriors. There immew'd
By Priameian Hector, fierce as Mars,
They stood, for Hector had the help of Jove.
And now with blazing fire their gallant barks
He had consumed, but Juno moved the mind
Of Agamemnon, vigilant himself,
To exhortation of Achaia's host.
Through camp and fleet the monarch took his way,
And, his wide robe imperial in his hand,
High on Ulysses' huge black galley stood,
The central ship conspicuous; thence his voice
Might reach the most remote of all the line
At each extreme, where Ajax had his tent
Pitch'd, and Achilles, fearless of surprise.
Thence, with loud voice, the Grecians thus he hail'd.
Oh shame to Greece! Warriors in show alone!
Where is your boasted prowess? Ye profess'd
Vain-glorious erst in Lemnos, while ye fed
Plenteously on the flesh of beeves full-grown,
And crown'd your beakers high, that ye would face
Each man a hundred Trojans in the field--
Ay, twice a hundred--yet are all too few
To face one Hector now; nor doubt I aught
But he shall soon fire the whole fleet of Greece.
Jove! Father! what great sovereign ever felt
Thy frowns as I? Whom hast thou shamed as me?
Yet I neglected not, through all the course
Of our disasterous voyage (in the hope
That we should vanquish Troy) thy sacred rites,
But where I found thine altar, piled it high
With fat and flesh of bulls, on every shore.
But oh, vouchsafe to us, that we at least
Ourselves, deliver'd, may escape the sword,
Nor let their foes thus tread the Grecians down!
He said. The eternal father pitying saw
His tears, and for the monarch's sake preserved
The people. Instant, surest of all signs,
He sent his eagle; in his pounces strong
A fawn he bore, fruit of the nimble hind,
Which fast beside the beauteous altar raised
To Panomphæan[12] Jove sudden he dropp'd.[13]
They, conscious, soon, that sent from Jove he came,
More ardent sprang to fight. Then none of all
Those numerous Chiefs could boast that he outstripp'd
Tydides, urging forth beyond the foss
His rapid steeds, and rushing to the war.
He, foremost far, a Trojan slew, the son
Of Phradmon, Ageläus; as he turn'd
His steeds to flight, him turning with his spear
Through back and bosom Diomede transpierced.
And with loud clangor of his arms he fell.
Then, royal Agamemnon pass'd the trench
And Menelaus; either Ajax, then,
Clad with fresh prowess both; them follow'd, next,
Idomeneus, with his heroic friend
In battle dread as homicidal Mars,
Meriones; Evæmon's son renown'd
Succeeded, bold Eurypylus; and ninth
Teucer, wide-straining his impatient bow.
He under covert fought of the broad shield
Of Telamonian Ajax; Ajax high
Upraised his shield; the hero from beneath
Took aim, and whom his arrow struck, he fell;
Then close as to his mother's side a child
For safety creeps, Teucer to Ajax' side
Retired, and Ajax shielded him again.
Whom then slew Teucer first, illustrious Chief?
Orsilochus, and Ophelestes, first,
And Ormenus he slew, then Dætor died,
Chromius and Lycophontes brave in fight
With Amopaon Polyæmon's son,
And Melanippus. These, together heap'd,
All fell by Teucer on the plain of Troy.
The Trojan ranks thinn'd by his mighty bow
The King of armies Agamemnon saw
Well-pleased, and him approaching, thus began.
Brave Telamonian Teucer, oh, my friend,
Thus shoot, that light may visit once again
The Danaï, and Telamon rejoice!
Thee Telamon within his own abode
Rear'd although spurious; mount him, in return,
Although remote, on glory's heights again.
I tell thee, and the effect shall follow sure,
Let but the Thunderer and Minerva grant
The pillage of fair Ilium to the Greeks,
And I will give to thy victorious hand,
After my own, the noblest recompense,
A tripod or a chariot with its steeds,
Or some fair captive to partake thy bed.
To whom the generous Teucer thus replied.
Atrides! glorious monarch! wherefore me
Exhortest thou to battle? who myself
Glow with sufficient ardor, and such strength
As heaven affords me spare not to employ.
Since first we drove them back, with watchful eye
Their warriors I have mark'd; eight shafts my bow
Hath sent long-barb'd, and every shaft, well-aim'd.
The body of some Trojan youth robust
Hath pierced, but still you ravening wolf escapes.
He said, and from the nerve another shaft
Impatient sent at Hector; but it flew
Devious, and brave Gorgythion struck instead.
Him beautiful Castianira, brought
By Priam from Æsyma, nymph of form
Celestial, to the King of Ilium bore.
As in the garden, with the weight surcharged
Of its own fruit, and drench'd by vernal rains
The poppy falls oblique, so he his head
Hung languid, by his helmet's weight depress'd.[14]
Then Teucer yet an arrow from the nerve
Dispatch'd at Hector, with impatience fired
To pierce him; but again his weapon err'd
Turn'd by Apollo, and the bosom struck
Of Archeptolemus, his rapid steeds
To battle urging, Hector's charioteer.
He fell, his fiery coursers at the sound
Recoil'd, and lifeless where he fell he lay.
Deep sorrow for his charioteer the mind
O'erwhelm'd of Hector, yet he left the slain,
And seeing his own brother nigh at hand,
Cebriones, him summon'd to the reins,
Who with alacrity that charge received.
Then Hector, leaping with a dreadful shout
From his resplendent chariot, grasp'd a stone,
And rush'd on Teucer, vengeance in his heart.
Teucer had newly fitted to the nerve
An arrow keen selected from the rest,
And warlike Hector, while he stood the cord
Retracting, smote him with that rugged rock
Just where the key-bone interposed divides
The neck and bosom, a most mortal part.
It snapp'd the bow-string, and with numbing force
Struck dead his hand; low on his knees he dropp'd,
And from his opening grasp let fall the bow.
Then not unmindful of a brother fallen
Was Ajax, but, advancing rapid, stalk'd
Around him, and his broad shield interposed,
Till brave Alaster and Mecisteus, son
Of Echius, friends of Teucer, from the earth
Upraised and bore him groaning to the fleet.
And now again fresh force Olympian Jove
Gave to the Trojans; right toward the foss
They drove the Greeks, while Hector in the van
Advanced, death menacing in every look.
As some fleet hound close-threatening flank or haunch
Of boar or lion, oft as he his head
Turns flying, marks him with a steadfast eye,
So Hector chased the Grecians, slaying still
The hindmost of the scatter'd multitude.
But when, at length, both piles and hollow foss
They had surmounted, and no few had fallen
By Trojan hands, within their fleet they stood
Imprison'd, calling each to each, and prayer
With lifted hands, loud offering to the Gods.
With Gorgon looks, meantime, and eyes of Mars,
Hector impetuous his mane-tossing steeds
From side to side before the rampart drove,
When white-arm'd Juno pitying the Greeks,
In accents wing'd her speech to Pallas turn'd.
Alas, Jove's daughter! shall not we at least
In this extremity of their distress
Care for the Grecians by the fatal force
Of this one Chief destroy'd? I can endure
The rage of Priameïan Hector now
No longer; such dire mischiefs he hath wrought.
Whom answer'd thus Pallas, cærulean-eyed.
--And Hector had himself long since his life
Resign'd and rage together, by the Greeks
Slain under Ilium's walls, but Jove, my sire,
Mad counsels executing and perverse,
Me counterworks in all that I attempt,
Nor aught remembers how I saved ofttimes
His son enjoin'd full many a task severe
By King Eurystheus; to the Gods he wept,
And me Jove sent in haste to his relief.
But had I then foreseen what now I know,
When through the adamantine gates he pass'd
To bind the dog of hell, by the deep floods
Hemm'd in of Styx, he had return'd no more.
But Thetis wins him now; her will prevails,
And mine he hates; for she hath kiss'd his knees
And grasp'd his beard, and him in prayer implored
That he would honor her heroic son
Achilles, city-waster prince renown'd.
'Tis well--the day shall come when Jove again
Shall call me darling, and his blue-eyed maid
As heretofore;--but thou thy steeds prepare,
While I, my father's mansion entering, arm
For battle. I would learn by trial sure,
If Hector, Priam's offspring famed in fight
(Ourselves appearing in the walks of war)
Will greet us gladly. Doubtless at the fleet
Some Trojan also, shall to dogs resign
His flesh for food, and to the fowls of heaven.
So counsell'd Pallas, nor the daughter dread
Of mighty Saturn, Juno, disapproved,
But busily and with dispatch prepared
The trappings of her coursers golden-rein'd.
Meantime, Minerva progeny of Jove,
On the adamantine floor of his abode
Let fall profuse her variegated robe,
Labor of her own hands. She first put on
The corslet of the cloud-assembler God,
Then arm'd her for the field of wo, complete.
Mounting the fiery chariot, next she seized
Her ponderous spear, huge, irresistible,
With which Jove's awful daughter levels ranks
Of heroes against whom her anger burns.
Juno with lifted lash urged on the steeds.
At their approach, spontaneous roar'd the wide-
Unfolding gates of heaven; the heavenly gates
Kept by the watchful Hours, to whom the charge
Of the Olympian summit appertains,
And of the boundless ether, back to roll,
And to replace the cloudy barrier dense.
Spurr'd through the portal flew the rapid steeds:
Which when the Eternal Father from the heights
Of Ida saw, kindling with instant ire
To golden-pinion'd Iris thus he spake.
Haste, Iris, turn them thither whence they came;
Me let them not encounter; honor small
To them, to me, should from that strife accrue.
Tell them, and the effect shall sure ensue,
That I will smite their steeds, and they shall halt
Disabled; break their chariot, dash themselves
Headlong, and ten whole years shall not efface
The wounds by my avenging bolts impress'd.
So shall my blue-eyed daughter learn to dread
A father's anger; but for the offence
Of Juno, I resent it less; for she
Clashes[15] with all my counsels from of old.
He ended; Iris with a tempest's speed
From the Idæan summit soar'd at once
To the Olympian; at the open gates
Exterior of the mountain many-valed
She stayed them, and her coming thus declared.
Whither, and for what cause? What rage is this?
Ye may not aid the Grecians; Jove forbids;
The son of Saturn threatens, if ye force
His wrath by perseverance into act,
That he will smite your steeds, and they shall halt
Disabled; break your chariot, dash yourselves
Headlong, and ten whole years shall not efface
The wounds by his avenging bolts impress'd.
So shall his blue-eyed daughter learn to dread
A father's anger; but for the offence
Of Juno, he resents it less; for she
Clashes with all his counsels from of old.
But thou, Minerva, if thou dare indeed
Lift thy vast spear against the breast of Jove,
Incorrigible art and dead to shame.
So saying, the rapid Iris disappear'd,
And thus her speech to Pallas Juno turn'd.
Ah Pallas, progeny of Jove! henceforth
No longer, in the cause of mortal men,
Contend we against Jove. Perish or live
Grecians or Trojans as he wills; let him
Dispose the order of his own concerns,
And judge between them, as of right he may.
So saying, she turn'd the coursers; them the Hours
Released, and to ambrosial mangers bound,
Then thrust their chariot to the luminous wall.
They, mingling with the Gods, on golden thrones
Dejected sat, and Jove from Ida borne
Reach'd the Olympian heights, seat of the Gods.
His steeds the glorious King of Ocean loosed,
And thrust the chariot, with its veil o'erspread.
Into its station at the altar's side.
Then sat the Thunderer on his throne of gold
Himself, and the huge mountain shook. Meantime
Juno and Pallas, seated both apart,
Spake not or question'd him. Their mute reserve
He noticed, conscious of the cause, and said.
Juno and Pallas, wherefore sit ye sad?
Not through fatigue by glorious fight incurr'd
And slaughter of the Trojans whom ye hate.
Mark now the difference. Not the Gods combined
Should have constrain'd me back, till all my force,
Superior as it is, had fail'd, and all
My fortitude. But ye, ere ye beheld
The wonders of the field, trembling retired.
And ye did well--Hear what had else befallen.
My bolts had found you both, and ye had reach'd,
In your own chariot borne, the Olympian height,
Seat of the blest Immortals, never more.
He ended; Juno and Minerva heard
Low murmuring deep disgust, and side by side
Devising sat calamity to Troy.
Minerva, through displeasure against Jove,
Nought utter'd, for her bosom boil'd with rage;
But Juno check'd not hers, who thus replied.
What word hath pass'd thy lips, Jove most severe?
We know thy force resistless; yet our hearts
Feel not the less when we behold the Greeks
Exhausting all the sorrows of their lot.
If thou command, we doubtless will abstain
From battle, yet such counsel to the Greeks
Suggesting still, as may in part effect
Their safety, lest thy wrath consume them all.
Then answer, thus, cloud-gatherer Jove return'd.
Look forth, imperial Juno, if thou wilt,
To-morrow at the blush of earliest dawn,
And thou shalt see Saturn's almighty son
The Argive host destroying far and wide.
For Hector's fury shall admit no pause
Till he have roused Achilles, in that day
When at the ships, in perilous straits, the hosts
Shall wage fierce battle for Patroclus slain.
Such is the voice of fate. But, as for thee--
Withdraw thou to the confines of the abyss
Where Saturn and Iäpetus retired,
Exclusion sad endure from balmy airs
And from the light of morn, hell-girt around,
I will not call thee thence. No. Should thy rage
Transport thee thither, there thou may'st abide,
There sullen nurse thy disregarded spleen
Obstinate as thou art, and void of shame.
He ended; to whom Juno nought replied.
And now the radiant Sun in Ocean sank,
Drawing night after him o'er all the earth;
Night, undesired by Troy, but to the Greeks
Thrice welcome for its interposing gloom.
Then Hector on the river's brink fast by
The Grecian fleet, where space he found unstrew'd
With carcases convened the Chiefs of Troy.
They, there dismounting, listen'd to the words
Of Hector Jove-beloved; he grasp'd a spear
In length eleven cubits, bright its head
Of brass, and color'd with a ring of gold.
He lean'd on it, and ardent thus began.
Trojans, Dardanians, and allies of Troy!
I hoped, this evening (every ship consumed,
And all the Grecians slain) to have return'd
To wind-swept Ilium. But the shades of night
Have intervened, and to the night they owe,
In chief, their whole fleet's safety and their own.
Now, therefore, as the night enjoins, all take
Needful refreshment. Your high-mettled steeds
Release, lay food before them, and in haste
Drive hither from the city fatted sheep
And oxen; bring ye from your houses bread,
Make speedy purchase of heart-cheering wine,
And gather fuel plenteous; that all night,
E'en till Aurora, daughter of the morn
Shall look abroad, we may with many fires
Illume the skies; lest even in the night,
Launching, they mount the billows and escape.
Beware that they depart not unannoy'd,
But, as he leaps on board, give each a wound
With shaft or spear, which he shall nurse at home.
So shall the nations fear us, and shall vex
With ruthless war Troy's gallant sons no more.
Next, let the heralds, ministers of Jove,
Loud notice issue that the boys well-grown,
And ancients silver-hair'd on the high towers
Built by the Gods, keep watch; on every hearth
In Troy, let those of the inferior sex
Make sprightly blaze, and place ye there a guard
Sufficient, lest in absence of the troops
An ambush enter, and surprise the town.
Act thus, ye dauntless Trojans; the advice
Is wholesome, and shall serve the present need,
And so much for the night; ye shall be told
The business of the morn when morn appears.
It is my prayer to Jove and to all heaven
(Not without hope) that I may hence expel
These dogs, whom Ilium's unpropitious fates
Have wafted hither in their sable barks.
But we will also watch this night, ourselves,
And, arming with the dawn, will at their ships
Give them brisk onset. Then shall it appear
If Diomede the brave shall me compel
Back to our walls, or I, his arms blood-stain'd,
Torn from his breathless body, bear away.
To-morrow, if he dare but to abide
My lance, he shall not want occasion meet
For show of valor. But much more I judge
That the next rising sun shall see him slain
With no few friends around him. Would to heaven!
I were as sure to 'scape the blight of age
And share their honors with the Gods above,
As comes the morrow fraught with wo to Greece.
So Hector, whom his host with loud acclaim
All praised. Then each his sweating steeds released,
And rein'd them safely at his chariot-side.
And now from Troy provision large they brought,
Oxen, and sheep, with store of wine and bread,
And fuel much was gather'd. [16]Next the Gods
With sacrifice they sought, and from the plain
Upwafted by the winds the smoke aspired
Savoury, but unacceptable to those
Above; such hatred in their hearts they bore
To Priam, to the people of the brave
Spear-practised Priam, and to sacred Troy.
Big with great purposes and proud, they sat,
Not disarray'd, but in fair form disposed
Of even ranks, and watch'd their numerous fires,
As when around the clear bright moon, the stars
Shine in full splendor, and the winds are hush'd,
The groves, the mountain-tops, the headland-heights
Stand all apparent, not a vapor streaks
The boundless blue, but ether open'd wide
All glitters, and the shepherd's heart is cheer'd;[17]
So numerous seem'd those fires the bank between
Of Xanthus, blazing, and the fleet of Greece,
In prospect all of Troy; a thousand fires,
Each watch'd by fifty warriors seated near.
The steeds beside the chariots stood, their corn
Chewing, and waiting till the golden-throned
Aurora should restore the light of day.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'The Iliad Of Homer: Translated Into English Blank Verse: Book VIII.' by William Cowper

comments powered by Disqus