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

A poem by William Cowper

Argument Of The Thirteenth Book.

Neptune engages on the part of the Grecians. The battle proceeds. Deiphobus advances to combat, but is repulsed by Meriones, who losing his spear, repairs to his tent for another. Teucer slays Imbrius, and Hector Amphimachus. Neptune, under the similitude of Thoas, exhorts Idomeneus. Idomeneus having armed himself in his tent, and going forth to battle, meets Meriones. After discourse held with each other, Idomeneus accommodates Meriones with a spear, and they proceed to battle. Idomeneus slays Othryoneus, and Asius. Deiphobus assails Idomeneus, but, his spear glancing over him, kills Hypsenor. Idomeneus slays Alcathoüs, son-in-law of Anchises. Deiphobus and Idomeneus respectively summon their friends to their assistance, and a contest ensues for the body of Alcathoüs.

[1]When Jove to Hector and his host had given
Such entrance to the fleet, to all the woes
And toils of unremitting battle there
He them abandon'd, and his glorious eyes
Averting, on the land look'd down remote
Of the horse-breeding Thracians, of the bold
Close-fighting Mysian race, and where abide
On milk sustain'd, and blest with length of days,
The Hippemolgi,[2] justest of mankind.
No longer now on Troy his eyes he turn'd,
For expectation none within his breast
Survived, that God or Goddess would the Greeks
Approach with succor, or the Trojans more.
Nor Neptune, sovereign of the boundless Deep,
Look'd forth in vain; he on the summit sat
Of Samothracia forest-crown'd, the stir
Admiring thence and tempest of the field;
For thence appear'd all Ida, thence the towers
Of lofty Ilium, and the fleet of Greece.
There sitting from the deeps uprisen, he mourn'd
The vanquished Grecians, and resentment fierce
Conceived and wrath against all-ruling Jove.
Arising sudden, down the rugged steep
With rapid strides he came; the mountains huge
And forests under the immortal feet
Trembled of Ocean's Sovereign as he strode.
Three strides he made, the fourth convey'd him home
To Ægæ. At the bottom of the abyss,
There stands magnificent his golden fane,
A dazzling, incorruptible abode.
Arrived, he to his chariot join'd his steeds
Swift, brazen-hoof'd, and maned with wavy gold;
Himself attiring next in gold, he seized
His golden scourge, and to his seat sublime
Ascending, o'er the billows drove; the whales
Leaving their caverns, gambol'd on all sides
Around him, not unconscious of their King;
He swept the surge that tinged not as he pass'd
His axle, and the sea parted for joy.
His bounding coursers to the Grecian fleet
Convey'd him swift. There is a spacious cave
Deep in the bottom of the flood, the rocks
Of Imbrus rude and Tenedos between;
There Neptune, Shaker of the Shores, his steeds
Station'd secure; he loosed them from the yoke,
Gave them ambrosial food, and bound their feet
With golden tethers not to be untied
Or broken, that unwandering they might wait
Their Lord's return, then sought the Grecian host.
The Trojans, tempest-like or like a flame,
Now, following Priameïan Hector, all
Came furious on and shouting to the skies.
Their hope was to possess the fleet, and leave
Not an Achaian of the host unslain.
But earth-encircler Neptune from the gulf
Emerging, in the form and with the voice
Loud-toned of Calchas, roused the Argive ranks
To battle--and his exhortation first
To either Ajax turn'd, themselves prepared.
Ye heroes Ajax! your accustomed force
Exert, oh! think not of disastrous flight,
And ye shall save the people. Nought I fear
Fatal elsewhere, although Troy's haughty sons
Have pass'd the barrier with so fierce a throng
Tumultuous; for the Grecians brazen-greaved
Will check them there. Here only I expect
And with much dread some dire event forebode,
Where Hector, terrible as fire, and loud
Vaunting his glorious origin from Jove,
Leads on the Trojans. Oh that from on high
Some God would form the purpose in your hearts
To stand yourselves firmly, and to exhort
The rest to stand! so should ye chase him hence
All ardent as he is, and even although
Olympian Jove himself his rage inspire.
So Neptune spake, compasser of the earth,
And, with his sceptre smiting both, their hearts
Fill'd with fresh fortitude; their limbs the touch
Made agile, wing'd their feet and nerved their arms.
Then, swift as stoops a falcon from the point
Of some rude rock sublime, when he would chase
A fowl of other wing along the meads,
So started Neptune thence, and disappear'd.
Him, as he went, swift Oïliades
First recognized, and, instant, thus his speech
To Ajax, son of Telamon, address'd.
Since, Ajax, some inhabitant of heaven
Exhorts us, in the prophet's form to fight
(For prophet none or augur we have seen;
This was not Calchas; as he went I mark'd
His steps and knew him; Gods are known with ease)
I feel my spirit in my bosom fired
Afresh for battle; lightness in my limbs,
In hands and feet a glow unfelt before.
To whom the son of Telamon replied.
I also with invigorated hands
More firmly grasp my spear; my courage mounts,
A buoyant animation in my feet
Bears me along, and I am all on fire
To cope with Priam's furious son, alone.
Thus they, with martial transport to their souls
Imparted by the God, conferr'd elate.
Meantime the King of Ocean roused the Greeks,
Who in the rear, beside their gallant barks
Some respite sought. They, spent with arduous toil,
Felt not alone their weary limbs unapt
To battle, but their hearts with grief oppress'd,
Seeing the numerous multitude of Troy
Within the mighty barrier; sad they view'd
That sight, and bathed their cheeks with many a tear,
Despairing of escape. But Ocean's Lord
Entering among them, soon the spirit stirr'd
Of every valiant phalanx to the fight.
Teucer and Leïtus, and famed in arms
Peneleus, Thoas and Deipyrus,
Meriones, and his compeer renown'd,
Antilochus; all these in accents wing'd
With fierce alacrity the God address'd.
Oh shame, ye Grecians! vigorous as ye are
And in life's prime, to your exertions most
I trusted for the safety of our ships.
If ye renounce the labors of the field,
Then hath the day arisen of our defeat
And final ruin by the powers of Troy.
Oh! I behold a prodigy, a sight
Tremendous, deem'd impossible by me,
The Trojans at our ships! the dastard race
Fled once like fleetest hinds the destined prey
Of lynxes, leopards, wolves; feeble and slight
And of a nature indisposed to war
They rove uncertain; so the Trojans erst
Stood not, nor to Achaian prowess dared
The hindrance of a moment's strife oppose.
But now, Troy left afar, even at our ships
They give us battle, through our leader's fault
And through the people's negligence, who fill'd
With fierce displeasure against him, prefer
Death at their ships, to war in their defence.
But if the son of Atreus, our supreme,
If Agamemnon, have indeed transgress'd
Past all excuse, dishonoring the swift
Achilles, ye at least the fight decline
Blame-worthy, and with no sufficient plea.
But heal we speedily the breach; brave minds
Easily coalesce. It is not well
That thus your fury slumbers, for the host
Hath none illustrious as yourselves in arms.
I can excuse the timid if he shrink,
But am incensed at you. My friends, beware!
Your tardiness will prove ere long the cause
Of some worse evil. Let the dread of shame
Affect your hearts; oh tremble at the thought
Of infamy! Fierce conflict hath arisen;
Loud shouting Hector combats at the ships
Nobly, hath forced the gates and burst the bar.
With such encouragement those Grecian chiefs
The King of Ocean roused. Then, circled soon
By many a phalanx either Ajax stood,
Whose order Mars himself arriving there
Had praised, or Pallas, patroness of arms.
For there the flower of all expected firm
Bold Hector and his host; spear crowded spear,
Shield, helmet, man, press'd helmet, man and shield;[3]
The hairy crests of their resplendent casques
Kiss'd close at every nod, so wedged they stood;
No spear was seen but in the manly grasp
It quiver'd, and their every wish was war.
The powers of Ilium gave the first assault
Embattled close; them Hector led himself[4]
Right on, impetuous as a rolling rock
Destructive; torn by torrent waters off
From its old lodgment on the mountain's brow,
It bounds, it shoots away; the crashing wood
Falls under it; impediment or check
None stays its fury, till the level found,
There, settling by degrees, it rolls no more;
So after many a threat that he would pass
Easily through the Grecian camp and fleet
And slay to the sea-brink, when Hector once
Had fallen on those firm ranks, standing, he bore
Vehement on them; but by many a spear
Urged and bright falchion, soon, reeling, retired,
And call'd vociferous on the host of Troy.
Trojans, and Lycians, and close-fighting sons
Of Dardanus, oh stand! not long the Greeks
Will me confront, although embodied close
In solid phalanx; doubt it not; my spear
Shall chase and scatter them, if Jove, in truth,
High-thundering mate of Juno, bid me on.
So saying he roused the courage of them all
Foremost of whom advanced, of Priam's race
Deiphobus, ambitious of renown.
Tripping he came with shorten'd steps,[5] his feet
Sheltering behind his buckler; but at him
Aiming, Meriones his splendid lance
Dismiss'd, nor err'd; his bull-hide targe he struck
But ineffectual; where the hollow wood
Receives the inserted brass, the quivering beam
Snapp'd; then, Deiphobus his shield afar
Advanced before him, trembling at a spear
Hurl'd by Meriones. He, moved alike
With indignation for the victory lost
And for his broken spear, into his band
At first retired, but soon set forth again
In prowess through the Achaian camp, to fetch
Its fellow-spear within his tent reserved.
The rest all fought, and dread the shouts arose
On all sides. Telamonian Teucer, first,
Slew valiant Imbrius, son of Mentor, rich
In herds of sprightly steeds. He ere the Greeks
Arrived at Ilium, in Pedæus dwelt,
And Priam's spurious daughter had espoused
Medesicasta. But the barks well-oar'd
Of Greece arriving, he return'd to Troy,
Where he excell'd the noblest, and abode
With Priam, loved and honor'd as his own.
Him Teucer pierced beneath his ear, and pluck'd
His weapon home; he fell as falls an ash
Which on some mountain visible afar,
Hewn from its bottom by the woodman's axe,
With all its tender foliage meets the ground
So Imbrius fell; loud rang his armor bright
With ornamental brass, and Teucer flew
To seize his arms, whom hasting to the spoil
Hector with his resplendent spear assail'd;
He, marking opposite its rapid flight,
Declined it narrowly and it pierced the breast,
As he advanced to battle, of the son
Of Cteatus of the Actorian race,
Amphimachus; he, sounding, smote the plain,
And all his batter'd armor rang aloud.
Then Hector swift approaching, would have torn
The well-forged helmet from the brows away
Of brave Amphimachus; but Ajax hurl'd
Right forth at Hector hasting to the spoil
His radiant spear; no wound the spear impress'd,
For he was arm'd complete in burnish'd brass
Terrific; but the solid boss it pierced
Of Hector's shield, and with enormous force
So shock'd him, that retiring he resign'd
Both bodies,[6] which the Grecians dragg'd away.
Stichius and Menestheus, leaders both
Of the Athenians, to the host of Greece
Bore off Amphimachus, and, fierce in arms
The Ajaces, Imbrius. As two lions bear
Through thick entanglement of boughs and brakes
A goat snatch'd newly from the peasants' cogs,
Upholding high their prey above the ground,
So either Ajax terrible in fight,
Upholding Imbrius high, his brazen arms
Tore off, and Oïliades his head
From his smooth neck dissevering in revenge
For slain Amphimachus, through all the host
Sent it with swift rotation like a globe,
Till in the dust at Hector's feet it fell.
Then anger fill'd the heart of Ocean's King,
His grandson[7] slain in battle; forth he pass'd
Through the Achaian camp and fleet, the Greeks
Rousing, and meditating wo to Troy.
It chanced that brave Idomeneus return'd
That moment from a Cretan at the knee
Wounded, and newly borne into his tent;
His friends had borne him off, and when the Chief
Had given him into skilful hands, he sought
The field again, still coveting renown.
Him therefore, meeting him on his return,
Neptune bespake, but with the borrow'd voice
Of Thoas, offspring of Andræmon, King
In Pleuro and in lofty Calydon,
And honor'd by the Ætolians as a God.
Oh counsellor of Crete! our threats denounced
Against the towers of Troy, where are they now?
To whom the leader of the Cretans, thus,
Idomeneus. For aught that I perceive
Thoas! no Grecian is this day in fault!
For we are all intelligent in arms,
None yields by fear oppress'd, none lull'd by sloth
From battle shrinks; but such the pleasure seems
Of Jove himself, that we should perish here
Inglorious, from our country far remote
But, Thoas! (for thine heart was ever firm
In battle, and thyself art wont to rouse
Whom thou observ'st remiss) now also fight
As erst, and urge each leader of the host.
Him answered, then, the Sovereign of the Deep.
Return that Grecian never from the shores
Of Troy, Idomeneus! but may the dogs
Feast on him, who shall this day intermit
Through wilful negligence his force in fight!
But haste, take arms and come; we must exert
All diligence, that, being only two,
We yet may yield some service. Union much
Emboldens even the weakest, and our might
Hath oft been proved on warriors of renown.
So Neptune spake, and, turning, sought again
The toilsome field. Ere long, Idomeneus
Arriving in his spacious tent, put on
His radiant armor, and, two spears in hand,
Set forth like lightning which Saturnian Jove
From bright Olympus shakes into the air,
A sign to mortal men, dazzling all eyes;
So beam'd the Hero's armor as he ran.
But him not yet far distant from his tent
Meriones, his fellow-warrior met,
For he had left the fight, seeking a spear,
When thus the brave Idomeneus began.
Swift son of Molus! chosen companion dear!
Wherefore, Meriones, hast thou the field
Abandon'd? Art thou wounded? Bring'st thou home
Some pointed mischief in thy flesh infixt?
Or comest thou sent to me, who of myself
The still tent covet not, but feats of arms?
To whom Meriones discreet replied,
Chief leader of the Cretans, brazen-mail'd
Idomeneus! if yet there be a spear
Left in thy tent, I seek one; for I broke
The spear, even now, with which erewhile I fought,
Smiting the shield of fierce Deiphobus.
Then answer thus the Cretan Chief return'd,
Valiant Idomeneus. If spears thou need,
Within my tent, leaning against the wall,
Stand twenty spears and one, forged all in Troy,
Which from the slain I took; for distant fight
Me suits not; therefore in my tent have I
Both spears and bossy shields, with brazen casques
And corselets bright that smile against the sun.
Him answer'd, then, Meriones discreet.
I also, at my tent and in my ship
Have many Trojan spoils, but they are hence
Far distant. I not less myself than thou
Am ever mindful of a warrior's part,
And when the din of glorious arms is heard,
Fight in the van. If other Greeks my deeds
Know not, at least I judge them known to thee.
To whom the leader of the host of Crete
Idomeneus. I know thy valor well,
Why speakest thus to me? Choose we this day
An ambush forth of all the bravest Greeks,
(For in the ambush is distinguish'd best
The courage; there the timorous and the bold
Plainly appear; the dastard changes hue
And shifts from place to place, nor can he calm
The fears that shake his trembling limbs, but sits
Low-crouching on his hams, while in his breast
Quick palpitates his death-foreboding heart,
And his teeth chatter; but the valiant man
His posture shifts not; no excessive fears
Feels he, but seated once in ambush, deems
Time tedious till the bloody fight begin;)
Even there, thy courage should no blame incur.[8]
For should'st thou, toiling in the fight, by spear
Or falchion bleed, not on thy neck behind
Would fall the weapon, or thy back annoy,
But it would meet thy bowels or thy chest
While thou didst rush into the clamorous van.
But haste--we may not longer loiter here
As children prating, lest some sharp rebuke
Reward us. Enter quick, and from within
My tent provide thee with a noble spear.
Then, swift as Mars, Meriones produced
A brazen spear of those within the tent
Reserved, and kindling with heroic fire
Follow'd Idomeneus. As gory Mars
By Terror follow'd, his own dauntless son
Who quells the boldest heart, to battle moves;
From Thrace against the Ephyri they arm,
Or hardy Phlegyans, and by both invoked,
Hear and grant victory to which they please;
Such, bright in arms Meriones, and such
Idomeneus advanced, when foremost thus
Meriones his fellow-chief bespake.
Son of Deucalion! where inclinest thou most
To enter into battle? On the right
Of all the host? or through the central ranks?
Or on the left? for nowhere I account
The Greeks so destitute of force as there.
Then answer thus Idomeneus return'd
Chief of the Cretans. Others stand to guard
The middle fleet; there either Ajax wars,
And Teucer, noblest archer of the Greeks,
Nor less in stationary fight approved.
Bent as he is on battle, they will task
And urge to proof sufficiently the force
Of Priameïan Hector; burn his rage
How fierce soever, he shall find it hard,
With all his thirst of victory, to quell
Their firm resistance, and to fire the fleet,
Let not Saturnian Jove cast down from heaven
Himself a flaming brand into the ships.
High towering Telamonian Ajax yields
To no mere mortal by the common gift
Sustain'd of Ceres, and whose flesh the spear
Can penetrate, or rocky fragment bruise;
In standing fight Ajax would not retire
Even before that breaker of the ranks
Achilles, although far less swift than he.
But turn we to the left, that we may learn
At once, if glorious death, or life be ours.
Then, rapid as the God of war, his course
Meriones toward the left began,
As he enjoin'd. Soon as the Trojans saw
Idomeneus advancing like a flame,
And his compeer Meriones in arms
All-radiant clad, encouraging aloud
From rank to rank each other, on they came
To the assault combined. Then soon arose
Sharp contest on the left of all the fleet.
As when shrill winds blow vehement, what time
Dust deepest spreads the ways, by warring blasts
Upborne a sable cloud stands in the air,
Such was the sudden conflict; equal rage
To stain with gore the lance ruled every breast.
Horrent with quivering spears the fatal field
Frown'd on all sides; the brazen flashes dread
Of numerous helmets, corselets furbish'd bright,
And shields refulgent meeting, dull'd the eye,
And turn'd it dark away. Stranger indeed
Were he to fear, who could that strife have view'd
With heart elate, or spirit unperturb'd.
Two mighty sons of Saturn adverse parts
Took in that contest, purposing alike
To many a valiant Chief sorrow and pain.
Jove, for the honor of Achilles, gave
Success to Hector and the host of Troy,
Not for complete destruction of the Greeks
At Ilium, but that glory might redound
To Thetis thence, and to her dauntless son.
On the other side, the King of Ocean risen
Secretly from the hoary Deep, the host
Of Greece encouraged, whom he grieved to see
Vanquish'd by Trojans, and with anger fierce
Against the Thunderer burn'd on their behalf.
Alike from one great origin divine
Sprang they, but Jove was elder, and surpass'd
In various knowledge; therefore when he roused
Their courage, Neptune traversed still the ranks
Clandestine, and in human form disguised.
Thus, these Immortal Two, straining the cord
Indissoluble of all-wasting war,
Alternate measured with it either host,
And loosed the joints of many a warrior bold.
Then, loud exhorting (though himself with age
Half grey) the Achaians, into battle sprang
Idomeneus, and scatter'd, first, the foe,
Slaying Othryoneus, who, by the lure
Of martial glory drawn, had left of late
Cabesus. He Priam's fair daughter woo'd
Cassandra, but no nuptial gift vouchsafed
To offer, save a sounding promise proud
To chase, himself, however resolute
The Grecian host, and to deliver Troy.
To him assenting, Priam, ancient King,
Assured to him his wish, and in the faith
Of that assurance confident, he fought.
But brave Idomeneus his splendid lance
Well-aim'd dismissing, struck the haughty Chief.
Pacing elate the field; his brazen mail
Endured not; through his bowels pierced, with clang
Of all his arms he fell, and thus with joy
Immense exulting, spake Idomeneus.
I give thee praise, Othryoneus! beyond
All mortal men, if truly thou perform
Thy whole big promise to the Dardan king,
Who promised thee his daughter. Now, behold,
We also promise: doubt not the effect.
We give into thy arms the most admired
Of Agamemnon's daughters, whom ourselves
Will hither bring from Argos, if thy force
With ours uniting, thou wilt rase the walls
Of populous Troy. Come--follow me; that here
Among the ships we may adjust the terms
Of marriage, for we take not scanty dower.
So saying, the Hero dragg'd him by his heel
Through all the furious fight. His death to avenge
Asius on foot before his steeds advanced,
For them, where'er he moved, his charioteer
Kept breathing ever on his neck behind.
With fierce desire the heart of Asius burn'd
To smite Idomeneus, who with his lance
Him reaching first, pierced him beneath the chin
Into his throat, and urged the weapon through.
He fell, as some green poplar falls, or oak,
Or lofty pine, by naval artists hewn
With new-edged axes on the mountain's side.
So, his teeth grinding, and the bloody dust
Clenching, before his chariot and his steeds
Extended, Asius lay. His charioteer
(All recollection lost) sat panic-stunn'd,
Nor dared for safety turn his steeds to flight.
Him bold Antilochus right through the waist
Transpierced; his mail sufficed not, but the spear
Implanted in his midmost bowels stood.
Down from his seat magnificent he fell
Panting, and young Antilochus the steeds
Drove captive thence into the host of Greece.
Then came Deiphobus by sorrow urged
For Asius, and, small interval between,
Hurl'd at Idomeneus his glittering lance;
But he, foreseeing its approach, the point
Eluded, cover'd whole by his round shield
Of hides and brass by double belt sustain'd,
And it flew over him, but on his targe
Glancing, elicited a tinkling sound.
Yet left it not in vain his vigorous grasp,
But pierced the liver of Hypsenor, son
Of Hippasus; he fell incontinent,
And measureless exulting in his fall
Deiphobus with mighty voice exclaim'd.
Not unavenged lies Asius; though he seek
Hell's iron portals, yet shall he rejoice,
For I have given him a conductor home.
So he, whose vaunt the Greeks indignant heard!
But of them all to anger most he roused
Antilochus, who yet his breathless friend[9]
Left not, but hasting, fenced him with his shield,
And brave Alastor with Mecisteus son
Of Echius, bore him to the hollow ships
Deep-groaning both, for of their band was he.
Nor yet Idomeneus his warlike rage
Remitted aught, but persevering strove
Either to plunge some Trojan in the shades,
Or fall himself, guarding the fleet of Greece.
Then slew he brave Alcathoüs the son
Of Æsyeta, and the son-in-law
Of old Anchises, who to him had given
The eldest-born of all his daughters fair,
Hippodamia; dearly loved was she
By both her parents in her virgin state,[10]
For that in beauty she surpass'd, in works
Ingenious, and in faculties of mind
All her coëvals; wherefore she was deem'd
Well worthy of the noblest prince of Troy.
Him in that moment, Neptune by the arm
Quell'd of Idomeneus, his radiant eyes
Dimming, and fettering his proportion'd limbs.
All power of flight or to elude the stroke
Forsook him, and while motionless he stood
As stands a pillar tall or towering oak,
The hero of the Cretans with a spear
Transfix'd his middle chest. He split the mail
Erewhile his bosom's faithful guard; shrill rang
The shiver'd brass; sounding he fell; the beam
Implanted in his palpitating heart
Shook to its topmost point, but, its force spent,
At last, quiescent, stood. Then loud exclaim'd
Idomeneus, exulting in his fall.
What thinks Deiphobus? seems it to thee
Vain boaster, that, three warriors slain for one,
We yield thee just amends? else, stand thyself
Against me; learn the valor of a Chief
The progeny of Jove; Jove first begat
Crete's guardian, Minos, from which Minos sprang
Deucalion, and from famed Deucalion, I;
I, sovereign of the numerous race of Crete's
Extensive isle, and whom my galleys brought
To these your shores at last, that I might prove
Thy curse, thy father's, and a curse to Troy.
He spake; Deiphobus uncertain stood
Whether, retreating, to engage the help
Of some heroic Trojan, or himself
To make the dread experiment alone.
At length, as his discreeter course, he chose
To seek Æneas; him he found afar
Station'd, remotest of the host of Troy,
For he resented evermore his worth
By Priam[11] recompensed with cold neglect.
Approaching him, in accents wing'd he said.
Æneas! Trojan Chief! If e'er thou lov'dst
Thy sister's husband, duty calls thee now
To prove it. Haste--defend with me the dead
Alcathoüs, guardian of thy tender years,
Slain by Idomeneus the spear-renown'd.
So saying, he roused his spirit, and on fire
To combat with the Cretan, forth he sprang.
But fear seized not Idomeneus as fear
May seize a nursling boy; resolved he stood
As in the mountains, conscious of his force,
The wild boar waits a coming multitude
Of boisterous hunters to his lone retreat;
Arching his bristly spine he stands, his eyes
Beam fire, and whetting his bright tusks, he burns
To drive, not dogs alone, but men to flight;
So stood the royal Cretan, and fled not,
Expecting brave Æneas; yet his friends
He summon'd, on Ascalaphus his eyes
Fastening, on Aphareus, Deipyrus,
Meriones, and Antilochus, all bold
In battle, and in accents wing'd exclaim'd.
Haste ye, my friends! to aid me, for I stand
Alone, nor undismay'd the coming wait
Of swift Æneas, nor less brave than swift,
And who possesses fresh his flower of youth,
Man's prime advantage; were we match'd in years
As in our spirits, either he should earn
At once the meed of deathless fame, or I.
He said; they all unanimous approach'd,
Sloping their shields, and stood. On the other side
His aids Æneas call'd, with eyes toward
Paris, Deiphobus, Agenor, turn'd,
His fellow-warriors bold; them follow'd all
Their people as the pastured flock the ram
To water, by the shepherd seen with joy;
Such joy Æneas felt, seeing, so soon,
That numerous host attendant at his call.
Then, for Alcathoüs, into contest close
Arm'd with long spears they rush'd; on every breast
Dread rang the brazen corselet, each his foe
Assailing opposite; but two, the rest
Surpassing far, terrible both as Mars,
Æneas and Idomeneus, alike
Panted to pierce each other with the spear.
Æneas, first, cast at Idomeneus,
But, warn'd, he shunn'd the weapon, and it pass'd.
Quivering in the soil Æneas' lance
Stood, hurl'd in vain, though by a forceful arm.
Not so the Cretan; at his waist he pierced
Oenomaüs, his hollow corselet clave,
And in his midmost bowels drench'd the spear;
Down fell the Chief, and dying, clench'd the dust.
Instant, his massy spear the King of Crete
Pluck'd from the dead, but of his radiant arms
Despoil'd him not, by numerous weapons urged;
For now, time-worn, he could no longer make
Brisk sally, spring to follow his own spear,
Or shun another, or by swift retreat
Vanish from battle, but the evil day
Warded in stationary fight alone.
At him retiring, therefore, step by step
Deiphobus, who had with bitterest hate
Long time pursued him, hurl'd his splendid lance,
But yet again erroneous, for he pierced
Ascalaphus instead, offspring of Mars;
Right through his shoulder flew the spear; he fell
Incontinent, and dying, clench'd the dust.
But tidings none the brazen-throated Mars
Tempestuous yet received, that his own son
In bloody fight had fallen, for on the heights
Olympian over-arch'd with clouds of gold
He sat, where sat the other Powers divine,
Prisoners together of the will of Jove.
Meantime, for slain Ascalaphus arose
Conflict severe; Deiphobus his casque
Resplendent seized, but swift as fiery Mars
Assailing him, Meriones his arm
Pierced with a spear, and from his idle hand
Fallen, the casque sonorous struck the ground.
Again, as darts the vulture on his prey,
Meriones assailing him, the lance
Pluck'd from his arm, and to his band retired.
Then, casting his fraternal arms around
Deiphobus, him young Polites led
From the hoarse battle to his rapid steeds
And his bright chariot in the distant rear,
Which bore him back to Troy, languid and loud-
Groaning, and bleeding from his recent wound.
Still raged the war, and infinite arose
The clamor. Aphareus, Caletor's son,
Turning to face Æneas, in his throat
Instant the hero's pointed lance received.
With head reclined, and bearing to the ground
Buckler and helmet with him, in dark shades
Of soul-divorcing death involved, he fell.
Antilochus, observing Thoön turn'd
To flight, that moment pierced him; from his back
He ripp'd the vein which through the trunk its course
Winds upward to the neck; that vein he ripp'd
All forth; supine he fell, and with both hands
Extended to his fellow-warriors, died.
Forth sprang Antilochus to strip his arms,
But watch'd, meantime, the Trojans, who in crowds
Encircling him, his splendid buckler broad
Smote oft, but none with ruthless point prevail'd
Even to inscribe the skin of Nestor's son,
Whom Neptune, shaker of the shores, amid
Innumerable darts kept still secure.
Yet never from his foes he shrank, but faced
From side to side, nor idle slept his spear,
But with rotation ceaseless turn'd and turn'd
To every part, now levell'd at a foe
Far-distant, at a foe, now, near at hand.
Nor he, thus occupied, unseen escaped
By Asius' offspring Adamas, who close
Advancing, struck the centre of his shield.
But Neptune azure-hair'd so dear a life
Denied to Adamas, and render'd vain
The weapon; part within his disk remain'd
Like a seer'd stake, and part fell at his feet.
Then Adamas, for his own life alarm'd,
Retired, but as he went, Meriones
Him reaching with his lance, the shame between
And navel pierced him, where the stroke of Mars
Proves painful most to miserable man.
There enter'd deep the weapon; down he fell,
And in the dust lay panting as an ox
Among the mountains pants by peasants held
In twisted bands, and dragg'd perforce along;
So panted dying Adamas, but soon
Ceased, for Meriones, approaching, pluck'd
The weapon forth, and darkness veil'd his eyes.
Helenus, with his heavy Thracian blade
Smiting the temples of Deipyrus,
Dash'd off his helmet; from his brows remote
It fell, and wandering roll'd, till at his feet
Some warrior found it, and secured; meantime
The sightless shades of death him wrapp'd around.
Grief at that spectacle the bosom fill'd
Of valiant Menelaus; high he shook
His radiant spear, and threatening him, advanced
On royal Helenus, who ready stood
With his bow bent. They met; impatient, one,
To give his pointed lance its rapid course,
And one, to start his arrow from the nerve.
The arrow of the son of Priam struck
Atrides' hollow corselet, but the reed
Glanced wide. As vetches or as swarthy beans
Leap from the van and fly athwart the floor,
By sharp winds driven, and by the winnower's force,
So from the corselet of the glorious Greek
Wide-wandering flew the bitter shaft away.
But Menelaus the left-hand transpierced
Of Helenus, and with the lance's point
Fasten'd it to his bow; shunning a stroke
More fatal, Helenus into his band
Retired, his arm dependent at his side,
And trailing, as he went, the ashen beam;
There, bold Agenor from his hand the lance
Drew forth, then folded it with softest wool
Around, sling-wool, and borrow'd from the sling
Which his attendant into battle bore.
Then sprang Pisander on the glorious Chief
The son of Atreus, but his evil fate
Beckon'd him to his death in conflict fierce,
Oh Menelaus, mighty Chief! with thee.
And now they met, small interval between.
Atrides hurl'd his weapon, and it err'd.
Pisander with his spear struck full the shield
Of glorious Menelaus, but his force
Resisted by the stubborn buckler broad
Fail'd to transpierce it, and the weapon fell
Snapp'd at the neck. Yet, when he struck, the heart
Rebounded of Pisander, full of hope.
But Menelaus, drawing his bright blade,
Sprang on him, while Pisander from behind
His buckler drew a brazen battle-axe
By its long haft of polish'd olive-wood,
And both Chiefs struck together. He the crest
That crown'd the shaggy casque of Atreus' son
Hew'd from its base, but Menelaus him
In his swift onset smote full on the front
Above his nose; sounded the shatter'd bone,
And his eyes both fell bloody at his feet.
Convolved with pain he lay; then, on his breast
Atrides setting fast his heel, tore off
His armor, and exulting thus began.
So shall ye leave at length the Grecian fleet,
Traitors, and never satisfied with war!
Nor want ye other guilt, dogs and profane!
But me have injured also, and defied
The hot displeasure of high-thundering Jove
The hospitable, who shall waste in time,
And level with the dust your lofty Troy.
I wrong'd not you, yet bore ye far away
My youthful bride who welcomed you, and stole
My treasures also, and ye now are bent
To burn Achaia's gallant fleet with fire
And slay her heroes; but your furious thirst
Of battle shall hereafter meet a check.
Oh, Father Jove! Thee wisest we account
In heaven or earth, yet from thyself proceed
All these calamities, who favor show'st
To this flagitious race the Trojans, strong
In wickedness alone, and whose delight
In war and bloodshed never can be cloy'd.
All pleasures breed satiety, sweet sleep,
Soft dalliance, music, and the graceful dance,
Though sought with keener appetite by most
Than bloody war; but Troy still covets blood.
So spake the royal Chief, and to his friends
Pisander's gory spoils consigning, flew
To mingle in the foremost fight again.
Him, next, Harpalion, offspring of the King
Pylæmenes assail'd; to Troy he came
Following his sire, but never thence return'd.
He, from small distance, smote the central boss
Of Menelaus' buckler with his lance,
But wanting power to pierce it, with an eye
Of cautious circumspection, lest perchance
Some spear should reach him, to his band retired.
But him retiring with a brazen shaft
Meriones pursued; swift flew the dart
To his right buttock, slipp'd beneath the bone,
His bladder grazed, and started through before.
There ended his retreat; sudden he sank
And like a worm lay on the ground, his life
Exhaling in his fellow-warrior's arms,
And with his sable blood soaking the plain.
Around him flock'd his Paphlagonians bold,
And in his chariot placed drove him to Troy,
With whom his father went, mourning with tears
A son, whose death he never saw avenged.
Him slain with indignation Paris view'd,
For he, with numerous Paphlagonians more
His guest had been; he, therefore, in the thirst
Of vengeance, sent a brazen arrow forth.
There was a certain Greek, Euchenor, son
Of Polyides the soothsayer, rich
And brave in fight, and who in Corinth dwelt
He, knowing well his fate, yet sail'd to Troy
For Polyides oft, his reverend sire,
Had prophecied that he should either die
By some dire malady at home, or, slain
By Trojan hands, amid the fleet of Greece.
He, therefore, shunning the reproach alike
Of the Achaians, and that dire disease,
Had join'd the Grecian host; him Paris pierced
The ear and jaw beneath; life at the stroke
Left him, and darkness overspread his eyes.
So raged the battle like devouring fire.
But Hector dear to Jove not yet had learn'd,
Nor aught surmised the havoc of his host
Made on the left, where victory crown'd well-nigh
The Grecians animated to the fight
By Neptune seconding himself their arms.
He, where he first had started through the gate
After dispersion of the shielded Greeks
Compact, still persevered. The galleys there
Of Ajax and Protesilaüs stood
Updrawn above the hoary Deep; the wall
Was there of humblest structure, and the steeds
And warriors there conflicted furious most.
The Epeans there and Iäonians[12] robed-
Prolix, the Phthians,[13] Locrians, and the bold
Boetians check'd the terrible assault
Of Hector, noble Chief, ardent as flame,
Yet not repulsed him. Chosen Athenians form'd
The van, by Peteos' son, Menestheus, led,
Whose high command undaunted Bias shared,
Phidas and Stichius. The Epean host
Under Amphion, Dracius, Meges, fought.
Podarces brave in arms the Phthians ruled,
And Medon (Medon was by spurious birth
Brother of Ajax Oïliades,
And for his uncle's death, whom he had slain,
The brother of Oïleus' wife, abode
In Phylace; but from Iphiclus sprang
Podarces;) these, all station'd in the front
Of Phthias' hardy sons, together strove
With the Boeotians for the fleet's defence.
Ajax the swift swerved never from the side
Of Ajax son of Telamon a step,
But as in some deep fallow two black steers
Labor combined, dragging the ponderous plow,
The briny sweat around their rooted horns
Oozes profuse; they, parted as they toil
Along the furrow, by the yoke alone,
Cleave to its bottom sheer the stubborn glebe,
So, side by side, they, persevering fought.[14]
The son of Telamon a people led
Numerous and bold, who, when his bulky limbs
Fail'd overlabor'd, eased him of his shield.
Not so attended by his Locrians fought
Oïleus' valiant son; pitch'd battle them
Suited not, unprovided with bright casques
Of hairy crest, with ashen spears, and shields
Of ample orb; for, trusting in the bow
And twisted sling alone, they came to Troy,
And broke with shafts and volley'd stones the ranks.
Thus occupying, clad in burnish'd arms,
The van, these two with Hector and his host
Conflicted, while the Locrians from behind
Vex'd them with shafts, secure; nor could the men
Of Ilium stand, by such a shower confused.
Then, driven with dreadful havoc thence, the foe
To wind-swept Ilium had again retired.
Had not Polydamas, at Hector's side
Standing, the dauntless hero thus address'd.
Hector! Thou ne'er canst listen to advice;
But think'st thou, that if heaven in feats of arms
Give thee pre-eminence, thou must excel
Therefore in council also all mankind?
No. All-sufficiency is not for thee.
To one, superior force in arms is given,
Skill to another in the graceful dance,
Sweet song and powers of music to a third,
And to a fourth loud-thundering Jove imparts
Wisdom, which profits many, and which saves
Whole cities oft, though reverenced but by few.
Yet hear; I speak as wisest seems to me.
War, like a fiery circle, all around
Environs thee; the Trojans, since they pass'd
The bulwark, either hold themselves aloof,
Or, wide-dispersed among the galleys, cope
With numbers far superior to their own.
Retiring, therefore, summon all our Chiefs
To consultation on the sum of all,
Whether (should heaven so prosper us) to rush
Impetuous on the gallant barks of Greece,
Or to retreat secure; for much I dread
Lest the Achaians punctually refund
All yesterday's arrear, since yonder Chief[15]
Insatiable with battle still abides
Within the fleet, nor longer, as I judge,
Will rest a mere spectator of the field.
So spake Polydamas, whose safe advice
Pleased Hector; from his chariot down he leap'd
All arm'd, and in wing'd accents thus replied.
Polydamas! here gather all the Chiefs;
I haste into the fight, and my commands
Once issued there, incontinent return.
He ended, and conspicuous as the height
Of some snow-crested mountain, shouting ranged
The Trojans and confederates of Troy.
They swift around Polydamas, brave son
Of Panthus, at the voice of Hector, ran.
Himself with hasty strides the front, meantime,
Of battle roam'd, seeking from rank to rank
Asius Hyrtacides, with Asius' son
Adamas, and Deiphobus, and the might
Of Helenus, his royal brother bold.
Them neither altogether free from hurt
He found, nor living all. Beneath the sterns
Of the Achaian ships some slaughter'd lay
By Grecian hands; some stricken by the spear
Within the rampart sat, some by the sword.
But leftward of the woful field he found,
Ere long, bright Helen's paramour his band
Exhorting to the fight. Hector approach'd,
And him, in fierce displeasure, thus bespake.
Curst Paris, specious, fraudulent and lewd!
Where is Deiphobus, and where the might
Of royal Helenus? Where Adamas
Offspring of Asius, and where Asius, son
Of Hyrtacus, and where Othryoneus?
Now lofty Ilium from her topmost height
Falls headlong, now is thy own ruin sure!
To whom the godlike Paris thus replied.
Since Hector! thou art pleased with no just cause
To censure me, I may decline, perchance,
Much more the battle on some future day,
For I profess some courage, even I.
Witness our constant conflict with the Greeks
Here, on this spot, since first led on by thee
The host of Troy waged battle at the ships.
But those our friends of whom thou hast inquired
Are slain, Deiphobus alone except
And royal Helenus, who in the hand
Bear each a wound inflicted by the spear,
And have retired; but Jove their life preserved.
Come now--conduct us whither most thine heart
Prompts thee, and thou shalt find us ardent all
To face like danger; what we can, we will,
The best and most determined can no more.
So saying, the hero soothed his brother's mind.
Then moved they both toward the hottest war
Together, where Polydamas the brave,
Phalces, Cebriones, Orthæus fought,
Palmys and Polyphoetes, godlike Chief,
And Morys and Ascanius, gallant sons
Both of Hippotion. They at Troy arrived
From fair Ascania the preceding morn,
In recompense for aid[16] by Priam lent
Erewhile to Phrygia, and, by Jove impell'd,
Now waged the furious battle side by side.
The march of these at once, was as the sound
Of mighty winds from deep-hung thunder-clouds
Descending; clamorous the blast and wild
With ocean mingles; many a billow, then,
Upridged rides turbulent the sounding flood,
Foam-crested billow after billow driven,
So moved the host of Troy, rank after rank
Behind their Chiefs, all dazzling bright in arms.
Before them Priameian Hector strode
Fierce as gore-tainted Mars, and his broad shield
Advancing came, heavy with hides, and thick-
Plated with brass; his helmet on his brows
Refulgent shook, and in its turn he tried
The force of every phalanx, if perchance
Behind his broad shield pacing he might shake
Their steadfast order; but he bore not down
The spirit of the firm Achaian host.
Then Ajax striding forth, him, first, defied.
Approach. Why temptest thou the Greeks to fear?
No babes are we in aught that appertains
To arms, though humbled by the scourge of Jove.
Thou cherishest the foolish hope to burn
Our fleet with fire; but even we have hearts
Prepared to guard it, and your populous Troy,
By us dismantled and to pillage given,
Shall perish sooner far. Know this thyself
Also; the hour is nigh when thou shalt ask
In prayer to Jove and all the Gods of heaven,
That speed more rapid than the falcon's flight
May wing thy coursers, while, exciting dense
The dusty plain, they whirl thee back to Troy.
While thus he spake, sublime on the right-hand
An eagle soar'd; confident in the sign
The whole Achaian host with loud acclaim
Hail'd it. Then glorious Hector thus replied.
Brainless and big, what means this boast of thine,
Earth-cumberer Ajax? Would I were the son
As sure, for ever, of almighty Jove
And Juno, and such honor might receive
Henceforth as Pallas and Apollo share,
As comes this day with universal wo
Fraught for the Grecians, among whom thyself
Shalt also perish if thou dare abide
My massy spear, which shall thy pamper'd flesh
Disfigure, and amid the barks of Greece
Falling, thou shalt the vultures with thy bulk
Enormous satiate, and the dogs of Troy.
He spake, and led his host; with clamor loud
They follow'd him, and all the distant rear
Came shouting on. On the other side the Greeks
Re-echoed shout for shout, all undismay'd,
And waiting firm the bravest of their foes.
Upwent the double roar into the heights
Ethereal, and among the beams of Jove.

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