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

A poem by William Cowper

Argument Of The Tenth Book.

Diomede and Ulysses enter the Trojan host by night, and slay Rhesus.

All night the leaders of the host of Greece
Lay sunk in soft repose, all, save the Chief,[1]
The son of Atreus; him from thought to thought
Roving solicitous, no sleep relieved.
As when the spouse of beauteous Juno, darts
His frequent fires, designing heavy rain
Immense, or hail-storm, or field-whitening snow,
Or else wide-throated war calamitous,
So frequent were the groans by Atreus' son
Heaved from his inmost heart, trembling with dread.
For cast he but his eye toward the plain
Of Ilium, there, astonish'd he beheld
The city fronted with bright fires, and heard
Pipes, and recorders, and the hum of war;
But when again the Grecian fleet he view'd,
And thought on his own people, then his hair
Uprooted elevating to the Gods,
He from his generous bosom groan'd again.
At length he thus resolved; of all the Greeks
To seek Neleian Nestor first, with whom
He might, perchance, some plan for the defence
Of the afflicted Danaï devise.
Rising, he wrapp'd his tunic to his breast,
And to his royal feet unsullied bound
His sandals; o'er his shoulders, next, he threw
Of amplest size a lion's tawny skin
That swept his footsteps, dappled o'er with blood,
Then took his spear. Meantime, not less appall'd
Was Menelaus, on whose eyelids sleep
Sat not, lest the Achaians for his sake
O'er many waters borne, and now intent
On glorious deeds, should perish all at Troy.
With a pard's spotted hide his shoulders broad
He mantled over; to his head he raised
His brazen helmet, and with vigorous hand
Grasping his spear, forth issued to arouse
His brother, mighty sovereign of the host,
And by the Grecians like a God revered.
He found him at his galley's stern, his arms
Assuming radiant; welcome he arrived
To Agamemnon, whom he thus address'd.
Why arm'st thou, brother? Wouldst thou urge abroad
Some trusty spy into the Trojan camp?[2]
I fear lest none so hardy shall be found
As to adventure, in the dead still night,
So far, alone; valiant indeed were he!
To whom great Agamemnon thus replied.
Heaven-favor'd Menelaus! We have need,
Thou and myself, of some device well-framed,
Which both the Grecians and the fleet of Greece
May rescue, for the mind of Jove hath changed,
And Hector's prayers alone now reach his ear.
I never saw, nor by report have learn'd
From any man, that ever single chief
Such awful wonders in one day perform'd
As he with ease against the Greeks, although
Nor from a Goddess sprung nor from a God.
Deeds he hath done, which, as I think, the Greeks
Shall deep and long lament, such numerous ills
Achaia's host hath at his hands sustain'd.
But haste, begone, and at their several ships
Call Ajax and Idomeneus; I go
To exhort the noble Nestor to arise,
That he may visit, if he so incline,
The chosen band who watch, and his advice
Give them; for him most prompt they will obey,
Whose son, together with Meriones,
Friend of Idomeneus, controls them all,
Entrusted by ourselves with that command.
Him answer'd Menelaus bold in arms.
Explain thy purpose. Wouldst thou that I wait
Thy coming, there, or thy commands to both
Given, that I incontinent return?
To whom the Sovereign of the host replied.
There stay; lest striking into different paths
(For many passes intersect the camp)
We miss each other; summon them aloud
Where thou shalt come; enjoin them to arise;
Call each by his hereditary name,
Honoring all. Beware of manners proud,
For we ourselves must labor, at our birth
By Jove ordain'd to suffering and to toil.
So saying, he his brother thence dismiss'd
Instructed duly, and himself, his steps
Turned to the tent of Nestor. Him he found
Amid his sable galleys in his tent
Reposing soft, his armor at his side,
Shield, spears, bright helmet, and the broider'd belt
Which, when the Senior arm'd led forth his host
To fight, he wore; for he complied not yet
With the encroachments of enfeebling age.
He raised his head, and on his elbow propp'd,
Questioning Agamemnon, thus began.
But who art thou, who thus alone, the camp
Roamest, amid the darkness of the night,
While other mortals sleep? Comest thou abroad
Seeking some friend or soldier of the guard?
Speak--come not nearer mute. What is thy wish?
To whom the son of Atreus, King of men.
Oh Nestor, glory of the Grecian name,
Offspring of Neleus! thou in me shalt know
The son of Atreus, Agamemnon, doom'd
By Jove to toil, while life shall yet inform
These limbs, or I shall draw the vital air.
I wander thus, because that on my lids
Sweet sleep sits not, but war and the concerns
Of the Achaians occupy my soul.
Terrible are the fears which I endure
For these my people; such as supersede
All thought; my bosom can no longer hold
My throbbing heart, and tremors shake my limbs.
But if thy mind, more capable, project
Aught that may profit us (for thee it seems
Sleep also shuns) arise, and let us both
Visit the watch, lest, haply, overtoil'd
They yield to sleep, forgetful of their charge.
The foe is posted near, and may intend
(None knows his purpose) an assault by night.
To him Gerenian Nestor thus replied.
Illustrious Agamemnon, King of men!
Deep-planning Jove the imaginations proud
Of Hector will not ratify, nor all
His sanguine hopes effectuate; in his turn
He also (fierce Achilles once appeased)
Shall trouble feel, and haply, more than we.
But with all readiness I will arise
And follow thee, that we may also rouse
Yet others; Diomede the spear-renown'd,
Ulysses, the swift Ajax, and the son
Of Phyleus, valiant Meges. It were well
Were others also visited and call'd,
The godlike Ajax, and Idomeneus,
Whose ships are at the camp's extremest bounds.
But though I love thy brother and revere,
And though I grieve e'en thee, yet speak I must,
And plainly censure him, that thus he sleeps
And leaves to thee the labor, who himself
Should range the host, soliciting the Chiefs
Of every band, as utmost need requires.
Him answer'd Agamemnon, King of men.
Old warrior, times there are, when I could wish
Myself thy censure of him, for in act
He is not seldom tardy and remiss.
Yet is not sluggish indolence the cause,
No, nor stupidity, but he observes
Me much, expecting till I lead the way.
But he was foremost now, far more alert
This night than I, and I have sent him forth
Already, those to call whom thou hast named.
But let us hence, for at the guard I trust
To find them, since I gave them so in charge.[3]
To whom the brave Gerenian Chief replied.
Him none will censure, or his will dispute,
Whom he shall waken and exhort to rise.
So saying, he bound his corselet to his breast,
His sandals fair to his unsullied feet,
And fastening by its clasps his purple cloak
Around him, double and of shaggy pile,
Seized, next, his sturdy spear headed with brass,
And issued first into the Grecian fleet.
There, Nestor, brave Gerenian, with a voice
Sonorous roused the godlike counsellor
From sleep, Ulysses; the alarm came o'er
His startled ear, forth from his tent he sprang
Sudden, and of their coming, quick, inquired.
Why roam ye thus the camp and fleet alone
In darkness? by what urgent need constrain'd?
To whom the hoary Pylian thus replied.
Laertes' noble son, for wiles renown'd!
Resent it not, for dread is our distress.
Come, therefore, and assist us to convene
Yet others, qualified to judge if war
Be most expedient, or immediate flight.
He ended, and regaining, quick, his tent,
Ulysses slung his shield, then coming forth
Join'd them. The son of Tydeus first they sought.
Him sleeping arm'd before his tent they found,
Encompass'd by his friends also asleep;
His head each rested on his shield, and each
Had planted on its nether point[4] erect
His spear beside him; bright their polish'd heads,
As Jove's own lightning glittered from afar.
Himself, the Hero, slept. A wild bull's hide
Was spread beneath him, and on arras tinged
With splendid purple lay his head reclined.
Nestor, beside him standing, with his heel
Shook him, and, urgent, thus the Chief reproved.
Awake, Tydides! wherefore givest the night
Entire to balmy slumber? Hast not heard
How on the rising ground beside the fleet
The Trojans sit, small interval between?
He ceased; then up sprang Diomede alarm'd
Instant, and in wing'd accents thus replied.
Old wakeful Chief! thy toils are never done.
Are there not younger of the sons of Greece,
Who ranging in all parts the camp, might call
The Kings to council? But no curb controls
Or can abate activity like thine.
To whom Gerenian Nestor in return.
My friend! thou hast well spoken. I have sons,
And they are well deserving; I have here
A numerous people also, one of whom
Might have sufficed to call the Kings of Greece.
But such occasion presses now the host
As hath not oft occurr'd; the overthrow
Complete, or full deliverance of us all,
In balance hangs, poised on a razor's edge.
But haste, and if thy pity of my toils
Be such, since thou art younger, call, thyself,
Ajax the swift, and Meges to the guard.
Then Diomede a lion's tawny skin
Around him wrapp'd, dependent to his heels,
And, spear in hand, set forth. The Hero call'd
Those two, and led them whither Nestor bade.
They, at the guard arrived, not sleeping found
The captains of the guard, but sitting all
In vigilant posture with their arms prepared.
As dogs that, careful, watch the fold by night,
Hearing some wild beast in the woods,[5] which hounds
And hunters with tumultuous clamor drive
Down from the mountain-top, all sleep forego;
So, sat not on their eyelids gentle sleep
That dreadful night, but constant to the plain
At every sound of Trojan feet they turn'd.
The old Chief joyful at the sight, in terms
Of kind encouragement them thus address'd.
So watch, my children! and beware that sleep
Invade none here, lest all become a prey.
So saying, he traversed with quick pace the trench
By every Chief whom they had thither call'd
Attended, with whom Nestor's noble son
Went, and Meriones, invited both
To join their consultation. From the foss
Emerging, in a vacant space they sat,
Unstrew'd with bodies of the slain, the spot,
Whence furious Hector, after slaughter made
Of numerous Greeks, night falling, had return'd.
There seated, mutual converse close they held,
And Nestor, brave Gerenian, thus began.
Oh friends! hath no Achaian here such trust
In his own prowess, as to venture forth
Among yon haughty Trojans? He, perchance,
Might on the borders of their host surprise
Some wandering adversary, or might learn
Their consultations, whether they propose
Here to abide in prospect of the fleet,
Or, satiate with success against the Greeks
So signal, meditate retreat to Troy.
These tidings gain'd, should he at last return
Secure, his recompense will be renown
Extensive as the heavens, and fair reward.
From every leader of the fleet, his gift
Shall be a sable[6] ewe, and sucking lamb,
Rare acquisition! and at every board
And sumptuous banquet, he shall be a guest.
He ceased, and all sat silent, when at length
The mighty son of Tydeus thus replied.
Me, Nestor, my courageous heart incites
To penetrate into the neighbor host
Of enemies; but went some other Chief
With me, far greater would my comfort prove,
And I should dare the more. Two going forth,
One quicker sees than other, and suggests
Prudent advice; but he who single goes,
Mark whatsoe'er he may, the occasion less
Improves, and his expedients soon exhausts.
He ended, and no few willing arose
To go with Diomede. Servants of Mars
Each Ajax willing stood; willing as they
Meriones; most willing Nestor's son;
Willing the brother of the Chief of all,
Nor willing less Ulysses to explore
The host of Troy, for he possess'd a heart
Delighted ever with some bold exploit.
Then Agamemnon, King of men, began.
Now Diomede, in whom my soul delights!
Choose whom thou wilt for thy companion; choose
The fittest here; for numerous wish to go.
Leave not through deference to another's rank,
The more deserving, nor prefer a worse,
Respecting either pedigree or power.
Such speech he interposed, fearing his choice
Of Menelaus; then, renown'd in arms
The son of Tydeus, rising, spake again.
Since, then, ye bid me my own partner choose
Free from constraint, how can I overlook
Divine Ulysses, whose courageous heart
With such peculiar cheerfulness endures
Whatever toils, and whom Minerva loves?
Let him attend me, and through fire itself
We shall return; for none is wise as he.[7]
To him Ulysses, hardy Chief, replied.
Tydides! neither praise me much, nor blame,
For these are Grecians in whose ears thou speak'st,
And know me well. But let us hence! the night
Draws to a close; day comes apace; the stars
Are far advanced; two portions have elapsed
Of darkness, but the third is yet entire.
So they; then each his dreadful arms put on.
To Diomede, who at the fleet had left
His own, the dauntless Thrasymedes gave
His shield and sword two-edged, and on his head
Placed, crestless, unadorn'd, his bull-skin casque.
It was a stripling's helmet, such as youths
Scarce yet confirm'd in lusty manhood, wear.
Meriones with quiver, bow and sword
Furnish'd Ulysses, and his brows enclosed
In his own casque of hide with many a thong
Well braced within;[8] guarded it was without
With boar's teeth ivory-white inherent firm
On all sides, and with woolen head-piece lined.
That helmet erst Autolycus[9] had brought
From Eleon, city of Amyntor son
Of Hormenus, where he the solid walls
Bored through, clandestine, of Amyntor's house.
He on Amphidamas the prize bestow'd
In Scandia;[10] from Amphidamas it pass'd
To Molus as a hospitable pledge;
He gave it to Meriones his son,
And now it guarded shrewd Ulysses' brows.
Both clad in arms terrific, forth they sped,
Leaving their fellow Chiefs, and as they went
A heron, by command of Pallas, flew
Close on the right beside them; darkling they
Discern'd him not, but heard his clanging plumes.[11]
Ulysses in the favorable sign
Exulted, and Minerva thus invoked.[12]
Oh hear me, daughter of Jove Ægis-arm'd!
My present helper in all straits, whose eye
Marks all my ways, oh with peculiar care
Now guard me, Pallas! grant that after toil
Successful, glorious, such as long shall fill
With grief the Trojans, we may safe return
And with immortal honors to the fleet.
Valiant Tydides, next, his prayer preferr'd.
Hear also me, Jove's offspring by the toils
Of war invincible! me follow now
As my heroic father erst to Thebes
Thou followedst, Tydeus; by the Greeks dispatch'd
Ambassador, he left the mail-clad host
Beside Asopus, and with terms of peace
Entrusted, enter'd Thebes; but by thine aid
Benevolent, and in thy strength, perform'd
Returning, deeds of terrible renown.
Thus, now, protect me also! In return
I vow an offering at thy shrine, a young
Broad-fronted heifer, to the yoke as yet
Untamed, whose horns I will incase with gold.
Such prayer they made, and Pallas heard well pleased.
Their orisons ended to the daughter dread
Of mighty Jove, lion-like they advanced
Through shades of night, through carnage, arms and blood.
Nor Hector to his gallant host indulged
Sleep, but convened the leaders; leader none
Or senator of all his host he left
Unsummon'd, and his purpose thus promulged.
Where is the warrior who for rich reward,
Such as shall well suffice him, will the task
Adventurous, which I propose, perform?
A chariot with two steeds of proudest height,
Surpassing all in the whole fleet of Greece
Shall be his portion, with immortal praise,
Who shall the well-appointed ships approach
Courageous, there to learn if yet a guard
As heretofore, keep them, or if subdued
Beneath us, the Achaians flight intend,
And worn with labor have no will to watch.
So Hector spake, but answer none return'd.
There was a certain Trojan, Dolon named,[13]
Son of Eumedes herald of the Gods,
Rich both in gold and brass, but in his form
Unsightly; yet the man was swift of foot,
Sole brother of five sisters; he his speech
To Hector and the Trojans thus address'd.
My spirit, Hector, prompts me, and my mind
Endued with manly vigor, to approach
Yon gallant ships, that I may tidings hear.
But come. For my assurance, lifting high
Thy sceptre, swear to me, for my reward,
The horses and the brazen chariot bright
Which bear renown'd Achilles o'er the field.
I will not prove a useless spy, nor fall
Below thy best opinion; pass I will
Their army through, 'till I shall reach the ship
Of Agamemnon, where the Chiefs, perchance,
Now sit consulting, or to fight, or fly.[14]
Then raising high his sceptre, Hector sware
Know, Jove himself, Juno's high-thundering spouse!
That Trojan none shall in that chariot ride
By those steeds drawn, save Dolon; on my oath
I make them thine; enjoy them evermore.
He said, and falsely sware, yet him assured.
Then Dolon, instant, o'er his shoulder slung
His bow elastic, wrapp'd himself around
With a grey wolf-skin, to his head a casque
Adjusted, coated o'er with ferret's felt,
And seizing his sharp javelin, from the host
Turn'd right toward the fleet, but was ordain'd
To disappoint his sender, and to bring
No tidings thence. The throng of Trojan steeds
And warriors left, with brisker pace he moved,
When brave Ulysses his approach perceived,
And thus to Diomede his speech address'd.
Tydides! yonder man is from the host;
Either a spy he comes, or with intent
To spoil the dead. First, freely let him pass
Few paces, then pursuing him with speed,
Seize on him suddenly; but should he prove
The nimbler of the three, with threatening spear
Enforce him from his camp toward the fleet,
Lest he elude us, and escape to Troy.
So they; then, turning from the road oblique,
Among the carcases each laid him down.
Dolon, suspecting nought, ran swiftly by.
[15]But when such space was interposed as mules
Plow in a day (for mules the ox surpass
Through fallows deep drawing the ponderous plow)
Both ran toward him. Dolon at the sound
Stood; for he hoped some Trojan friends at hand
From Hector sent to bid him back again.
But when within spear's cast, or less they came,
Knowing them enemies he turn'd to flight
Incontinent, whom they as swift pursued.
As two fleet hounds sharp fang'd, train'd to the chase,
Hang on the rear of flying hind or hare,
And drive her, never swerving from the track,
Through copses close; she screaming scuds before;
So Diomede and dread Ulysses him
Chased constant, intercepting his return.
And now, fast-fleeting to the ships, he soon
Had reach'd the guard, but Pallas with new force
Inspired Tydides, lest a meaner Greek
Should boast that he had smitten Dolon first,
And Diomede win only second praise.
He poised his lifted spear, and thus exclaim'd.
Stand! or my spear shall stop thee. Death impends
At every step; thou canst not 'scape me long.
He said, and threw his spear, but by design,
Err'd from the man. The polish'd weapon swift
O'er-glancing his right shoulder, in the soil
Stood fixt, beyond him. Terrified he stood,
Stammering, and sounding through his lips the clash
Of chattering teeth, with visage deadly wan.
They panting rush'd on him, and both his hands
Seized fast; he wept, and suppliant them bespake.
Take me alive, and I will pay the price
Of my redemption. I have gold at home,
Brass also, and bright steel, and when report
Of my captivity within your fleet
Shall reach my father, treasures he will give
Not to be told, for ransom of his son.
To whom Ulysses politic replied.
Take courage; entertain no thought of death.[16]
But haste! this tell me, and disclose the truth.
Why thus toward the ships comest thou alone
From yonder host, by night, while others sleep?
To spoil some carcase? or from Hector sent
A spy of all that passes in the fleet?
Or by thy curiosity impell'd?
Then Dolon, his limbs trembling, thus replied.
To my great detriment, and far beyond
My own design, Hector trepann'd me forth,
Who promised me the steeds of Peleus' son
Illustrious, and his brazen chariot bright.
He bade me, under night's fast-flitting shades
Approach our enemies, a spy, to learn
If still as heretofore, ye station guards
For safety of your fleet, or if subdued
Completely, ye intend immediate flight,
And worn with labor, have no will to watch.
To whom Ulysses, smiling, thus replied.
Thou hadst, in truth, an appetite to gifts
Of no mean value, coveting the steeds
Of brave Æacides; but steeds are they
Of fiery sort, difficult to be ruled
By force of mortal man, Achilles' self
Except, whom an immortal mother bore.
But tell me yet again; use no disguise;
Where left'st thou, at thy coming forth, your Chief,
The valiant Hector? where hath he disposed
His armor battle-worn, and where his steeds?
What other quarters of your host are watch'd?
Where lodge the guard, and what intend ye next?
Still to abide in prospect of the fleet?
Or well-content that ye have thus reduced
Achaia's host, will ye retire to Troy?
To whom this answer Dolon straight returned
Son of Eumedes. With unfeigning truth
Simply and plainly will I utter all.
Hector, with all the Senatorial Chiefs,
Beside the tomb of sacred Ilius sits
Consulting, from the noisy camp remote.
But for the guards, Hero! concerning whom
Thou hast inquired, there is no certain watch
And regular appointed o'er the camp;
The native[17] Trojans (for they can no less)
Sit sleepless all, and each his next exhorts
To vigilance; but all our foreign aids,
Who neither wives nor children hazard here,
Trusting the Trojans for that service, sleep.
To whom Ulysses, ever wise, replied.
How sleep the strangers and allies?--apart?
Or with the Trojans mingled?--I would learn.
So spake Ulysses; to whom Dolon thus,
Son of Eumedes. I will all unfold,
And all most truly. By the sea are lodged
The Carians, the Pæonians arm'd with bows,
The Leleges, with the Pelasgian band,
And the Caucones. On the skirts encamp
Of Thymbra, the Mæonians crested high,
The Phrygian horsemen, with the Lycian host,
And the bold troop of Mysia's haughty sons.
But wherefore these inquiries thus minute?
For if ye wish to penetrate the host,
These who possess the borders of the camp
Farthest removed of all, are Thracian powers
Newly arrived; among them Rhesus sleeps,
Son of Eïoneus, their Chief and King.
His steeds I saw, the fairest by these eyes
Ever beheld, and loftiest; snow itself
They pass in whiteness, and in speed the winds,
With gold and silver all his chariot burns,
And he arrived in golden armor clad
Stupendous! little suited to the state
Of mortal man--fit for a God to wear!
Now, either lead me to your gallant fleet,
Or where ye find me leave me straitly bound
Till ye return, and after trial made,
Shall know if I have spoken false or true.
But him brave Diomede with aspect stern
Answer'd. Since, Dolon! thou art caught, although
Thy tidings have been good, hope not to live;
For should we now release thee and dismiss,
Thou wilt revisit yet again the fleet
A spy or open foe; but smitten once
By this death-dealing arm, thou shall return
To render mischief to the Greeks no more.
He ceased, and Dolon would have stretch'd his hand
Toward his beard, and pleaded hard for life,
But with his falchion, rising to the blow,
On the mid-neck he smote him, cutting sheer
Both tendons with a stroke so swift, that ere
His tongue had ceased, his head was in the dust.[18]
They took his helmet clothed with ferret's felt,
Stripp'd off his wolf-skin, seized his bow and spear,
And brave Ulysses lifting in his hand
The trophy to Minerva, pray'd and said:
Hail Goddess; these are thine! for thee of all
Who in Olympus dwell, we will invoke
First to our aid. Now also guide our steps,
Propitious, to the Thracian tents and steeds.
He ceased, and at arm's-length the lifted spoils
Hung on a tamarisk; but mark'd the spot,
Plucking away with handful grasp the reeds
And spreading boughs, lest they should seek the prize
Themselves in vain, returning ere the night,
Swift traveller, should have fled before the dawn.
Thence, o'er the bloody champain strew'd with arms
Proceeding, to the Thracian lines they came.
They, wearied, slept profound; beside them lay,
In triple order regular arranged,
Their radiant armor, and their steeds in pairs.
Amid them Rhesus slept, and at his side
His coursers, to the outer chariot-ring
Fasten'd secure. Ulysses saw him first,
And, seeing, mark'd him out to Diomede.
Behold the man, Tydides! Lo! the steeds
By Dolon specified whom we have slain.
Be quick. Exert thy force. Arm'd as thou art,
Sleep not. Loose thou the steeds, or slaughter thou
The Thracians, and the steeds shall be my care.
He ceased; then blue-eyed Pallas with fresh force
Invigor'd Diomede. From side to side
He slew; dread groans arose of dying men
Hewn with the sword, and the earth swam with blood.
As if he find a flock unguarded, sheep
Or goats, the lion rushes on his prey,
With such unsparing force Tydides smote
The men of Thrace, till he had slaughter'd twelve;
And whom Tydides with his falchion struck
Laertes' son dragg'd by his feet abroad,
Forecasting that the steeds might pass with ease,
Nor start, as yet uncustom'd to the dead.
But when the son of Tydeus found the King,
Him also panting forth his last, last, breath,
He added to the twelve; for at his head
An evil dream that night had stood, the form
Of Diomede, by Pallas' art devised.
Meantime, the bold Ulysses loosed the steeds,
Which, to each other rein'd, he drove abroad,
Smiting them with his bow (for of the scourge
He thought not in the chariot-seat secured)
And as he went, hiss'd, warning Diomede.
But he, projecting still some hardier deed,
Stood doubtful, whether by the pole to draw
The chariot thence, laden with gorgeous arms,
Or whether heaving it on high, to bear
The burthen off, or whether yet to take
More Thracian lives; when him with various thoughts
Perplex'd, Minerva, drawing near, bespake.
Son of bold Tydeus! think on thy return
To yonder fleet, lest thou depart constrain'd.
Some other God may rouse the powers of Troy.
She ended, and he knew the voice divine.
At once he mounted. With his bow the steeds
Ulysses plyed, and to the ships they flew.
Nor look'd the bender of the silver bow,
Apollo, forth in vain, but at the sight
Of Pallas following Diomede incensed,
Descended to the field where numerous most
He saw the Trojans, and the Thracian Chief
And counsellor, Hippocoön aroused,[19]
Kinsman of Rhesus, and renown'd in arms.
He, starting from his sleep, soon as he saw
The spot deserted where so lately lay
Those fiery coursers, and his warrior friends
Gasping around him, sounded loud the name
Of his loved Rhesus. Instant, at the voice,
Wild stir arose and clamorous uproar
Of fast-assembling Trojans. Deeds they saw--
Terrible deeds, and marvellous perform'd,
But not their authors--they had sought the ships.
Meantime arrived where they had slain the spy
Of Hector, there Ulysses, dear to Jove,
The coursers stay'd, and, leaping to the ground,
The son of Tydeus in Ulysses' hands
The arms of Dolon placed foul with his blood,
Then vaulted light into his seat again.
He lash'd the steeds, they, not unwilling, flew
To the deep-bellied barks, as to their home.
First Nestor heard the sound, and thus he said.
Friends! Counsellors! and leaders of the Greeks!
False shall I speak, or true?--but speak I must.
The echoing sound of hoofs alarms my ear.
Oh, that Ulysses, and brave Diomede
This moment might arrive drawn into camp
By Trojan steeds! But, ah, the dread I feel!
Lest some disaster have for ever quell'd
In yon rude host those noblest of the Greeks.
He hath not ended, when themselves arrived,
Both quick dismounted; joy at their return
Fill'd every bosom; each with kind salute
Cordial, and right-hand welcome greeted them,
And first Gerenian Nestor thus inquired.
Oh Chief by all extoll'd, glory of Greece,
Ulysses! how have ye these steeds acquired?
In yonder host? or met ye as ye went
Some God who gave them to you? for they show
A lustre dazzling as the beams of day.
Old as I am, I mingle yet in fight
With Ilium's sons--lurk never in the fleet--
Yet saw I at no time, or have remark'd
Steeds such as these; which therefore I believe
Perforce, that ye have gained by gift divine;
For cloud-assembler Jove, and azure-eyed
Minerva, Jove's own daughter, love you both.
To whom Ulysses, thus, discreet, replied.
Neleian Nestor, glory of the Greeks!
A God, so willing, could have given us steeds
Superior, for their bounty knows no bounds.
But, venerable Chief! these which thou seest
Are Thracians new-arrived. Their master lies
Slain by the valiant Diomede, with twelve
The noblest of his warriors at his side,
A thirteenth[20] also, at small distance hence
We slew, by Hector and the Chiefs of Troy
Sent to inspect the posture of our host.
He said; then, high in exultation, drove
The coursers o'er the trench, and with him pass'd
The glad Achaians; at the spacious tent
Of Diomede arrived, with even thongs
They tied them at the cribs where stood the steeds
Of Tydeus' son, with winnow'd wheat supplied.
Ulysses in his bark the gory spoils
Of Dolon placed, designing them a gift
To Pallas. Then, descending to the sea,
Neck, thighs, and legs from sweat profuse they cleansed,
And, so refresh'd and purified, their last
Ablution in bright tepid baths perform'd.
Each thus completely laved, and with smooth oil
Anointed, at the well-spread board they sat,
And quaff'd, in honor of Minerva, wine
Delicious, from the brimming beaker drawn.

* * * * *

The vividness of the scenes presented to us in this Book constitute its chief beauty. The reader sees the most natural night-scene in the world. He is led step by step with the adventurers, and made the companion of all their expectations and uncertainties. We see the very color of the sky; know the time to a minute; are impatient while the heroes are arming; our imagination follows them, knows all their doubts, and even the secret wishes of their hearts sent up to Minerva. We are alarmed at the approach of Dolon, hear his very footsteps, assist the two chiefs in pursuing him, and stop just with the spear that arrests him. We are perfectly acquainted with the situation of all the forces, with the figure in which they lie, with the disposition of Rhesus and the Thracians, with the posture of his chariot and horses. The marshy spot of ground where Dolon is killed, the tamarisk, or aquatic plant upon which they hung his spoils, and the reeds that are heaped together to mark the place, are circumstances the most picturesque imaginable.

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