Verse > Alexander Pope > Complete Poetical Works
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Alexander Pope (1688–1744).  Complete Poetical Works.  1903.
 
Translations from Homer
The Iliad
Book VIII. The Second Battle, and the Distress of the Greeks
 
        
The Argument
  Jupiter assembles a council of the deities, and threatens them with the pains of Tartarus, if they assist either side: Minerva only obtains of him that she may direct the Greeks by her counsels. The armies join battle; Jupiter on Mount Ida weighs in his balances the fates of both, and affrights the Greeks with his thunders and lightnings. Nestor alone continues in the field in great danger; Diomed relieves him; whose exploits, and those of Hector, are excellently described. Juno endeavours to animate Neptune to the assistance of the Greeks, but in vain. The acts of Teucer, who is at length wounded by Hector, and carried off. Juno and Minerva prepare to aid the Grecians, but are restrained by Iris, sent from Jupiter. The night puts an end to the battle. Hector continues in the field (the Greeks being driven to their fortifications before the ships), and gives orders to keep the watch all night in the camp, to prevent the enemy from reëmbarking and escaping by flight. They Kindle fires through all the field, and pass the night under arms.
  The time of seven-and-twenty days is employed from the opening of the poem to the end of this book. The scene here (except of the celestial machines) lies in the field toward the sea-shore.

  AURORA now, fair Daughter of the Dawn,
Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn:
When Jove convened the senate of the skies
Where high Olympus’ cloudy tops arise.
The Sire of Gods his awful silence broke;        5
The Heav’ns attentive trembled as he spoke:
  ‘Celestial states, immortal Gods! give ear,
Hear our decree, and rev’rence what ye hear;
The fix’d decree which not all Heav’n can move;
Thou, Fate! fulfil it! and ye, Powers! approve!        10
What God but enters yon forbidden field,
Who yields assistance, or but wills to yield;
Back to the skies with shame he shall be driv’n,
Gash’d with dishonest wounds, the scorn of Heav’n:
Or far, oh far from steep Olympus thrown,        15
Low in the dark Tartarean gulf shall groan,
With burning chains fix’d to the brazen floors,
And lock’d by Hell’s inexorable doors;
As deep beneath th’ infernal centre hurl’d,
As from that centre to th’ ethereal world.        20
Let him who tempts me, dread those dire abodes;
And know, th’ Almighty is the God of Gods.
League all your forces then, ye Powers above,
Join all, and try th’ omnipotence of Jove:
Let down our golden everlasting chain,        25
Whose strong embrace holds Heav’n and Earth and Main:
Strive all, of mortal and immortal birth,
To drag, by this, the Thund’rer down to earth,
Ye strive in vain! if I but stretch this hand,
I heave the Gods, the Ocean, and the Land;        30
I fix the chain to great Olympus’ height,
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight!
For such I reign, unbounded and above;
And such are men and Gods, compared to Jove.’
  Th’ Almighty spoke, nor durst the Powers reply;        35
A rev’rent horror silenc’d all the sky;
Trembling they stood before their sov’reign’s look;
At length his best belov’d, the Power of Wisdom, spoke:
  ‘Oh first and greatest! God, by Gods ador’d!
We own thy might, our father and our Lord!        40
But ah! permit to pity human state:
If not to help, at least lament their fate.
From fields forbidden we submiss refrain,
With arms unaiding mourn our Argives slain;
Yet grant my counsels still their breasts may move,        45
Or all must perish in the wrath of Jove.’
  The cloud-compelling God her suit approv’d,
And smil’d superior on his best-belov’d.
Then call’d his coursers, and his chariot took;
The steadfast firmament beneath them shook:        50
Rapt by th’ ethereal steeds the chariot roll’d;
Brass were their hoofs, their curling manes of gold.
Of Heav’n’s undrossy gold the God’s array,
Refulgent, flash’d intolerable day.
High on the throne he shines: his coursers fly        55
Between th’ extended earth and starry sky.
But when to Ida’s topmost height he came
(Fair nurse of fountains, and of savage game),
Where, o’er her pointed summits proudly rais’d,
His fane breathed odours, and his altar blazed:        60
There, from his radiant car, the sacred Sire
Of Gods and men released the steeds of fire:
Blue ambient mists th’ immortal steeds embraced;
High on the cloudy point his seat he placed;
Thence his broad eye the subject world surveys,        65
The town, and tents, and navigable seas.
  Now had the Grecians snatch’d a short repast,
And buckled on their shining arms with haste.
Troy rous’d as soon; for on this dreadful day
The fate of fathers, wives, and infants lay.        70
The gates unfolding pour forth all their train;
Squadrons on squadrons cloud the dusky plain:
Men, steeds, and chariots, shake the trembling ground,
The tumult thickens, and the skies resound.
And now with shouts the shocking armies closed,        75
To lances lances, shields to shields opposed;
Host against host with shadowy legions drew,
The sounding darts in iron tempests flew;
Victors and vanquish’d join promiscuous cries,
Triumphant shouts and dying groans arise;        80
With streaming blood the slipp’ry fields are dyed,
And slaughter’d heroes swell the dreadful tide.
Long as the morning beams, increasing bright,
O’er Heav’n’s clear azure spread the sacred light,
Commutual death the fate of war confounds,        85
Each adverse battle gored with equal wounds.
But when the sun the height of Heav’n ascends,
The Sire of Gods his golden scales suspends,
With equal hand; in these explored the fate
Of Greece and Troy, and pois’d the mighty weight.        90
Press’d with its load, the Grecian balance lies
Low sunk on earth, the Trojan strikes the skies.
Then Jove from Ida’s top his horrors spreads;
The clouds burst dreadful o’er the Grecian heads;
Thick lightnings flash; the mutt’ring thunder rolls;        95
Their strength he withers, and unmans their souls.
Before his wrath the trembling hosts retire,
The Gods in terrors, and the skies on fire.
Nor great Idomeneus that sight could bear.
Nor each stern Ajax, thunderbolts of war;        100
Nor he, the King of Men, th’ alarm sustain’d;
Nestor alone amidst the storm remain’d.
Unwilling he remain’d, for Paris’ dart
Had pierc’d his courser in a mortal part;
Fix’d in the forehead where the springing mane        105
Curl’d o’er the brow, it stung him to the brain;
Mad with his anguish, he begins to rear,
Paw with his hoofs aloft, and lash the air.
Scarce had his falchion cut the reins, and freed
Th’ incumbent chariot from the dying steed,        110
When dreadful Hector, thund’ring thro’ the war,
Pour’d to the tumult on his whirling car.
That day had stretch’d beneath his matchless hand
The hoary Monarch of the Pylian band,
But Diomed beheld; from forth the crowd        115
He rush’d, and on Ulysses call’d aloud:
  ‘Whither, oh whither does Ulysses run?
O flight unworthy great Laërtes’ son!
Mix’d with the vulgar shall thy fate be found,
Pierc’d in the back, a vile, dishonest wound?        120
Oh turn and save from Hector’s direful rage
The glory of the Greeks, the Pylian sage.’
  His fruitless words are lost unheard in air;
Ulysses seeks the ships, and shelters there.
But bold Tydides to the rescue goes,        125
A single warrior ’midst a host of foes;
Before the coursers with a sudden spring
He leap’d, and anxious thus bespoke the King:
  ‘Great perils, Father! wait th’ unequal fight;
These younger champions will oppress thy might.        130
Thy veins no more with ancient vigour glow,
Weak is thy servant, and thy coursers slow.
Then haste, ascend my seat, and from the car
Observe the steeds of Tros, renown’d in war,
Practis’d alike to turn, to stop, to chase,        135
To dare the fight, or urge the rapid race:
These late obey’d Æneas’ guiding rein;
Leave thou thy chariot to our faithful train:
With these against you Trojans will we go,
Nor shall great Hector want an equal foe;        140
Fierce as he is, ev’n he may learn to fear
The thirsty fury of my flying spear.’
  Thus said the Chief; and Nestor, skill’d in war,
Approves his counsel, and ascends the car:
The steeds he left, their trusty servants hold;        145
Eurymedon, and Sthenelus the bold.
The rev’rend charioteer directs the course,
And strains his aged arm to lash the horse.
Hector they face; unknowing how to fear,
Fierce he drove on: Tydides whirl’d his spear.        150
The spear with erring haste mistook its way,
But plunged in Eniopeus’ bosom lay.
His opening hand in death forsakes the rein;
The steeds fly back: he falls, and spurns the plain.
Great Hector sorrows for his servant kill’d,        155
Yet unrevenged permits to press the field;
Till to supply his place and rule the car,
Rose Archeptolemus, the fierce in war.
And now had death and horror cover’d all;
Like tim’rous flocks the Trojans in their wall        160
Enclosed had bled: but Jove with awful sound
Roll’d the big thunder o’er the vast profound:
Full in Tydides’ face the lightning flew;
The ground before him flamed with sulphur blue:
The quiv’ring steeds fell prostrate at the sight;        165
And Nestor’s trembling hand confess’d his fright:
He dropp’d the reins; and, shook with sacred dread,
Thus, turning, warn’d th’ intrepid Diomed:
  ‘O Chief! too daring in thy friend’s defence,
Retire advised, and urge the chariot hence.        170
This day, averse, the Sov’reign of the Skies
Assists great Hector, and our palm denies.
Some other sun may see the happier hour,
When Greece shall conquer by his heav’nly power.
’T is not in man his fix’d decree to move:        175
The great will glory to submit to Jove.’
  ‘O rev’rend Prince!’ (Tydides thus replies)
‘Thy years are awful, and thy words are wise.
But ah, what grief! should haughty Hector boast,
I fled inglorious to the guarded coast.        180
Before that dire disgrace shall blast my fame,
O’erwhelm me, earth! and hide a warrior’s shame.’
  To whom Gerenian Nestor thus replied:
‘Gods! can thy courage fear the Phrygian’s pride?
Hector may vaunt, but who shall heed the boast?        185
Not those who felt thy arm, the Dardan host,
Nor Troy, yet bleeding in her heroes lost;
Not ev’n a Phrygian dame, who dreads the sword
That laid in dust her lov’d, lamented lord.’
  He said: and hasty o’er the gasping throng        190
Drives the swift steeds; the chariot smokes along.
The shouts of Trojans thicken in the wind;
The storm of hissing jav’lins pours behind.
Then with a voice that shakes the solid skies,
Pleas’d Hector braves the warrior as he flies:        195
‘Go, mighty Hero! graced above the rest
In seats of council and the sumptuous feast:
Now hope no more those honours from thy train;
Go, less than woman, in the form of man!
To scale our walls, to wrap our towers in flames,        200
To lead in exile the fair Phrygian dames,
Thy once proud hopes, presumptuous Prince! are fled;
This arm shall reach thy heart, and stretch thee dead.’
  Now fears dissuade him, and now hopes invite,
To stop his coursers, and to stand the fight;        205
Thrice turn’d the Chief, and thrice imperial Jove
On Ida’s summit thunder’d from above.
Great Hector heard; he saw the flashing light
(The sign of conquest), and thus urged the fight:
  ‘Hear, ev’ry Trojan, Lycian, Dardan band,        210
All famed in war, and dreadful hand to hand,
Be mindful of the wreaths your arms have won,
Your great forefathers’ glories, and your own.
Heard ye the voice of Jove? Success and fame
Await on Troy, on Greece eternal shame.        215
In vain they skulk behind their boasted wall,
Weak bulwarks! destin’d by this arm to fall.
High o’er their slighted trench our steeds shall bound,
And pass victorious o’er the levell’d mound.
Soon as before you hollow ships we stand,        220
Fight each with flames, and toss the blazing brand;
Till, their proud navy wrapt in smoke and fires,
All Greece, encompass’d, in one blaze expires.’
  Furious he said: then, bending o’er the yoke,
Encouraged his proud steeds, while thus he spoke.        225
‘Now Xanthus, Æthon, Lampus! urge the chase,
And thou, Podargus! prove thy gen’rous race:
Be fleet, be fearless, this important day,
And all your master’s well-spent care repay.
For this, high fed in plenteous stalls ye stand,        230
Serv’d with pure wheat, and by a Princess’ hand;
For this, my spouse, of great Eëtion’s line,
So oft has steep’d the strength’ning grain in wine.
Now swift pursue, now thunder uncontroll’d;
Give me to seize rich Nestor’s shield of gold;        235
From Tydeus’ shoulders strip the costly load,
Vulcanian arms, the labour of a God:
These if we gain, then victory, ye Powers!
This night, this glorious night, the fleet is ours.’
  That heard, deep anguish stung Saturnia’s soul;        240
She shook her throne that shook the starry pole:
And thus to Neptune: ‘Thou whose force can make
The steadfast earth from her foundations shake,
Seest thou the Greeks by Fates unjust oppress’d,
Nor swells thy heart in that immortal breast?        245
Yet Ægæ, Helice, thy power obey,
And gifts unceasing on thine altars lay.
Would all the deities of Greece combine,
In vain the gloomy Thund’rer might repine:
Sole should he sit, with scarce a God to friend,        250
And see his Trojans to the shades descend:
Such be the scene from his Idæan bower:
Ungrateful prospect to the sullen Power!’
  Neptune with wrath rejects the rash design:
‘What rage, what madness, furious Queen! is thine?        255
I war not with the highest. All above
Submit and tremble at the hand of Jove.’
  Now godlike Hector, to whose matchless might
Jove gave the glory of the destin’d fight,
Squadrons on squadrons drives, and fills the fields        260
With close-ranged chariots, and with thicken’d shields.
Where the deep trench in length extended lay,
Compacted troops stand wedg’d in firm array,
A dreadful front! they shake the bands, and threat
With long-destroying flames the hostile fleet.        265
The King of men, by Juno’s self inspired,
Toil’d thro’ the tents, and all his army fired.
Swift as he mov’d, he lifted in his hand
His purple robe, bright ensign of command.
High on the midmost bark the King appear’d;        270
There, from Ulysses’ deck, his voice was heard:
To Ajax and Achilles reach’d the sound,
Whose distant ships the guarded navy bound.
‘Oh Argives! shame of human race!’ he cried
(The hollow vessels to his voice replied),        275
‘Where now are all your glorious boasts of yore,
Your hasty triumphs on the Lemnian shore?
Each fearless hero dares a hundred foes,
While the feast lasts, and while the goblet flows;
But who to meet one martial man is found,        280
When the fight rages, and the flames surround?
O mighty Jove! oh Sire of the distress’d!
Was ever King like me, like me oppress’d?
With power immense, with justice arm’d in vain;
My glory ravish’d, and my people slain!        285
To thee my vows were breathed from ev’ry shore;
What altar smoked not with our victims’ gore?
With fat of bulls I fed the constant flame,
And ask’d destruction to the Trojan name.
Now, gracious God! far humbler our demand;        290
Give these at least to ’scape from Hector’s hand,
And save the relics of the Grecian land!’
  Thus pray’d the King, and Heav’n’s great Father heard
His vows, in bitterness of soul preferr’d;
The wrath appeas’d by happy signs declares,        295
And gives the people to their Monarch’s prayers.
His eagle, sacred bird of Heav’n! he sent,
A fawn his talons truss’d (divine portent),
High o’er the wond’ring hosts he soar’d above,
Who paid their vows to Panomphæan Jove;        300
Then let the prey before his altar fall:
The Greeks beheld, and transport seiz’d on all:
Encouraged by the sign, the troops revive,
And fierce on Troy with double fury drive.
Tydides first, of all the Grecian force,        305
O’er the broad ditch impell’d his foaming horse,
Pierc’d the deep ranks, their strongest battle tore,
And dyed his jav’lin red with Trojan gore.
Young Agelaüs (Phradmon was his sire)
With flying coursers shunn’d his dreadful ire:        310
Struck thro’ the back the Phrygian fell oppress’d;
The dart drove on, and issued at his breast:
Headlong he quits the car; his arms resound;
His pond’rous buckler thunders on the ground.
Forth rush a tide of Greeks, the passage freed;        315
Th’ Atridæ first, th’ Ajaces next succeed:
Meriones, like Mars in arms renown’d,
And godlike Idomen, now pass’d the mound;
Evæmon’s son next issues to the foe,
And last, young Teucer with his bended bow.        320
Secure behind the Telamonian shield
The skilful archer wide survey’d the field,
With ev’ry shaft some hostile victim slew,
Then close beneath the sev’n-fold orb withdrew:
The conscious infant so, when fear alarms,        325
Retires for safety to the mother’s arms.
Thus Ajax guards his brother in the field,
Moves as he moves, and turns the shining shield.
Who first by Teucer’s mortal arrows bled?
Orsilochus; then fell Ormenus dead:        330
The godlike Lycophon next press’d the plain,
With Chromius, Dætor, Ophelestes slain:
Bold Hamopaon breathless sunk to ground;
The bloody pile great Melanippus crown’d.
Heaps fell on heaps, sad trophies of his art,        335
A Trojan ghost attending every dart.
Great Agamemnon views with joyful eye
The ranks grow thinner as his arrows fly:
‘Oh youth, for ever dear’ (the Monarch cried),
‘Thus, always thus, thy early worth be tried;        340
Thy brave example shall retrieve our host,
Thy country’s saviour, and thy father’s boast!
Sprung from an alien’s bed thy sire to grace,
The vig’rous offspring of a stol’n embrace.
Proud of his boy, he own’d the gen’rous flame,        345
And the brave son repays his cares with fame.
Now hear a Monarch’s vow: If Heav’n’s high Powers
Give me to raze Troy’s long-defended towers;
Whatever treasures Greece for me design,
The next rich honorary gift be thine:        350
Some golden tripod, or distinguish’d car,
With coursers dreadful in the ranks of war;
Or some fair captive whom thy eyes approve,
Shall recompense the warrior’s toils with love.’
  To this the Chief: ‘With praise the rest inspire,        355
Nor urge a soul already fill’d with fire.
What strength I have, be now in battle tried,
Till ev’ry shaft in Phrygian blood be dyed.
Since, rallying, from our wall we forced the foe,
Still aim’d at Hector have I bent my bow;        360
Eight forky arrows from this hand have fled,
And eight bold heroes by their points lie dead:
But sure some God denies me to destroy
This fury of the field, this dog of Troy.’
  He said, and twang’d the string. The weapon flies        365
At Hector’s breast, and sings along the skies:
He miss’d the mark; but pierc’d Gorgythio’s heart
And drench’d in royal blood the thirsty dart
(Fair Castianira, nymph of form divine,
This offspring added to King Priam’s line).        370
As full-blown poppies overcharged with rain
Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain;
So sinks the youth: his beauteous head, depress’d
Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
Another shaft the raging archer drew:        375
That other shaft with erring fury flew
(From Hector Phæbus turn’d the flying wound),
Yet fell not dry or guiltless to the ground:
Thy breast, brave Archeptolemus! it tore,
And dipp’d its feathers in no vulgar gore.        380
Headlong he falls: his sudden fall alarms
The steeds, that startle at his sounding arms.
Hector with grief his charioteer beheld
All pale and breathless on the sanguine field.
Then bids Cebriones direct the rein,        385
Quits his bright car, and issues on the plain.
Dreadful he shouts: from earth a stone he took,
And rush’d on Teucer with a lifted rock.
The youth already strain’d the forceful yew;
The shaft already to his shoulder drew;        390
The feather in his hand, just wing’d for flight,
Touch’d where the neck and hollow chest unite;
There, where the juncture knits the channel bone,
The furious Chief discharged the craggy stone;
The bow-string burst beneath the pond’rous blow,        395
And his numb’d hand dismiss’d his useless bow.
He fell; but Ajax his broad shield display’d,
And screen’d his brother with a mighty shade;
Till great Alastor and Mecistheus bore
The batter’d archer groaning to the shore.        400
  Troy yet found grace before th’ Olympian sire;
He arm’d their hands, and fill’d their breasts with fire.
The Greeks, repuls’d, retreat behind their wall,
Or in the trench on heaps confusedly fall.
First of the foe, great Hector march’d along,        405
With terror clothed, and more than mortal strong.
As the bold hound that gives the lion chase,
With beating bosom, and with eager pace,
Hangs on his haunch, or fastens on his heels,
Guards as he turns, and circles as he wheels;        410
Thus oft the Grecians turn’d, but still they flew;
Thus following, Hector still the hindmost slew.
When, flying, they had pass’d the trench profound,
And many a Chief lay gasping on the ground;
Before the ships a desp’rate stand they made;        415
And fired the troops, and call’d the Gods to aid.
Fierce on his rattling chariot Hector came;
His eyes like Gorgon shot a sanguine flame
That wither’d all their host: like Mars he stood,
Dire as the monster, dreadful as the God!        420
Their strong distress the wife of Jove survey’d;
Then pensive thus to War’s triumphant Maid:
  ‘Oh, Daughter of that God, whose arm can wield
Th’ avenging bolt, and shake the sable shield!
Now, in this moment of her last despair,        425
Shall wretched Greece no more confess our care,
Condemn’d to suffer the full force of Fate,
And drain the dregs of Heav’n’s relentless hate?
Gods! shall one raging hand thus level all?
What numbers fell! what numbers yet shall fall!        430
What Power divine shall Hector’s wrath assuage?
Still swells the slaughter, and still grows the rage!’
  So spoke th’ imperial Regent of the Skies;
To whom the Goddess with the azure eyes:
‘Long since had Hector stain’d these fields with gore,        435
Stretch’d by some Argive on his native shore:
But he above, the Sire of Heav’n, withstands,
Mocks our attempts, and slights our just demands.
The stubborn God, inflexible and hard,
Forgets my service and deserv’d reward;        440
Saved I, for this, his fav’rite son distress’d,
By stern Eurystheus with long labours press’d?
He begg’d, with tears he begg’d, in deep dismay;
I shot from Heav’n, and gave his arm the day.
Oh had my wisdom known this dire event,        445
When to grim Pluto’s gloomy gates he went;
The triple dog had never felt his chain,
Nor Styx been cross’d, nor Hell explor’d in vain.
Averse to me of all his Heav’n of Gods,
At Thetis’ suit the partial Thund’rer nods.        450
To grace her gloomy, fierce, resenting son,
My hopes are frustrate, and my Greeks undone.
Some future day, perhaps, he may be mov’d
To call his Blue-eyed Maid his best-be-lov’d.
Haste, launch thy chariot, thro’ yon ranks to ride;        455
Myself will arm, and thunder at thy side.
Then, Goddess! say, shall Hector glory then
(That terror of the Greeks, that Man of men),
When Juno’s self, and Pallas shall appear,
All dreadful in the crimson walks of war?        460
What mighty Trojan then, on yonder shore,
Expiring, pale, and terrible no more,
Shall feast the fowls, and glut the dogs with gore?’
  She ceas’d, and Juno rein’d the steeds with care
(Heav’n’s awful Empress, Saturn’s other heir):        465
Pallas, meanwhile, her various veil unbound,
With flowers adorn’d, with art immortal crown’d;
The radiant robe her sacred fingers wove
Floats in rich waves, and spreads the court of Jove.
Her father’s arms her mighty limbs invest,        470
His cuirass blazes on her ample breast.
The vig’rous Power the trembling car ascends;
Shook by her arm, the massy jav’lin bends;
Huge, pond’rous, strong! that, when her fury burns,
Proud tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o’erturns.        475
  Saturnia lends the lash; the coursers fly;
Smooth glides the chariot thro’ the liquid sky.
Heav’n’s gates spontaneous open to the Powers,
Heav’n’s golden gates, kept by the winged Hours:
Commission’d in alternate watch they stand,        480
The sun’s bright portals and the skies command;
Close or unfold th’ eternal gates of day,
Bar Heav’n with clouds, or roll those clouds away:
The sounding hinges ring, the clouds divide;
Prone down the steep of Heav’n their course they guide.        485
But Jove, incens’d, from Ida’s top survey’d,
And thus enjoin’d the many-colour’d Maid:
  ‘Thaumantia! mount the winds, and stop their car;
Against the highest who shall wage the war?
If furious yet they dare the vain debate,        490
Thus have I spoke, and what I speak is Fate.
Their coursers crush’d beneath the wheels shall lie,
Their car in fragments scatter’d o’er the sky;
My lightning these rebellious shall confound,
And hurl them flaming, headlong to the ground,        495
Condemn’d for ten revolving years to weep
The wounds impress’d by burning Thunder deep.
So shall Minerva learn to fear our ire,
Nor dare to combat hers and Nature’s Sire.
For Juno, headstrong and imperious still,        500
She claims some title to transgress our will.’
  Swift as the wind, the various-colour’d Maid
From Ida’s top her golden wings display’d;
To great Olympus’ shining gates she flies,
There meets the chariot rushing down the skies,        505
Restrains their progress from the bright abodes,
And speaks the mandate of the Sire of Gods:
  ‘What frenzy, Goddesses! what rage can move
Celestial minds to tempt the wrath of Jove?
Desist, obedient to his high command;        510
This is his word: and know his word shall stand.
His lightning your rebellion shall confound,
And hurl ye headlong, flaming to the ground:
Your horses crush’d beneath the wheels shall lie,
Your car in fragments scatter’d o’er the sky;        515
Yourselves condemn’d ten rolling years to weep
The wounds impress’d by burning Thunder deep.
So shall Minerva learn to fear his ire,
Nor dare to combat hers and Nature’s Sire.
For Juno, headstrong and imperious still,        520
She claims some title to transgress his will:
But thee what desp’rate insolence has driv’n,
To lift thy lance against the King of Heav’n?’
  Then, mounting on the pinions of the wind,
She flew; and Juno thus her rage resign’d:        525
  ‘O Daughter of that God, whose arm can wield
Th’ avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield!
No more let beings of superior birth
Contend with Jove for this low race of earth:
Triumphant now, now miserably slain,        530
They breathe or perish as the Fates ordain.
But Jove’s high counsels full effect shall find,
And, ever constant, ever rule mankind.’
  She spoke, and backward turn’d her steeds of light,
Adorn’d with manes of gold, and heav’nly bright.        535
The Hours unloos’d them, panting as they stood,
And heap’d their mangers with ambrosial food.
There tied, they rest in high celestial stalls;
The chariot propp’d against the crystal walls.
The pensive Goddesses, abash’d, controll’d,        540
Mix with the Gods, and fill their seats of gold.
  And now the Thund’rer meditates his flight
From Ida’s summits to th’ Olympian height.
Swifter than thought the wheels instinctive fly,
Flame thro’ the vast of air, and reach the sky.        545
’T was Neptune’s charge his coursers to unbrace,
And fix the car on its immortal base;
There stood the chariot, beaming forth its rays,
Till with a snowy veil he screen’d the blaze.
He, whose all-conscious eyes the world behold,        550
Th’ eternal Thunderer, sat throned in gold.
High Heav’n the footstool of his feet he makes,
And wide beneath him all Olympus shakes.
Trembling afar th’ offending Powers appear’d,
Confused and silent, for his frown they fear’d.        555
He saw their soul, and thus his word imparts:
‘Pallas and Juno! say, why heave your hearts?
Soon was your battle o’er: proud Troy retired
Before your face, and in your wrath expired.
But know, whoe’er almighty Power withstand!        560
Unmatch’d our force, unconquer’d is our hand:
Who shall the Sov’reign of the Skies control?
Not all the Gods that crown the starry pole.
Your hearts shall tremble, if our arms we take,
And each immortal nerve with horror shake.        565
For thus I speak, and what I speak shall stand,
What Power soe’er provokes our lifted hand,
On this our hill no more shall hold his place,
Cut off, and exil’d from th’ ethereal race.’
  Juno and Pallas grieving hear the doom,        570
But feast their souls on Ilion’s woes to come.
Tho’ secret anger swell’d Minerva’s breast,
The prudent Goddess yet her wrath repress’d:
But Juno, impotent of rage, replies:
‘What hast thou said, oh Tyrant of the Skies!        575
Strength and omnipotence invest thy throne;
’T is thine to punish; ours to grieve alone.
For Greece we grieve, abandon’d by her Fate
To drink the dregs of thy unmeasured hate:
From fields forbidden we submiss refrain,        580
With arms unaiding see our Argives slain;
Yet grant our counsels still their breasts may move,
Lest all should perish in the rage of Jove.’
  The Goddess thus: and thus the God replies;
Who swells the clouds, and blackens all the skies:        585
‘The morning sun, awaked by loud alarms,
Shall see th’ almighty Thunderer in arms.
What heaps of Argives then shall load the plain,
Those radiant eyes shall view, and view in vain.
Nor shall great Hector cease the rage of fight,        590
The navy flaming, and thy Greeks in flight,
Ev’n till the day, when certain Fates ordain
That stern Achilles (his Patroclus slain)
Shall rise in vengeance, and lay waste the plain.
For such is Fate, nor canst thou turn its course        595
With all thy rage, with all thy rebel force.
Fly, if thou wilt, to earth’s remotest bound,
Where on her utmost verge the seas resound;
Where curs’d Iäpetus and Saturn dwell,
Fast by the brink, within the steams of Hell;        600
No sun e’er gilds the gloomy horrors there,
No cheerful gales refresh the lazy air:
There arm once more the bold Titanian band,
And arm in vain: for what I will shall stand.’
  Now deep in ocean sunk the lamp of light,        605
And drew behind the cloudy veil of night:
The conquering Trojans mourn his beams decay’d;
The Greeks rejoicing bless the friendly shade.
  The victors keep the field; and Hector calls
A martial council near the navy walls:        610
These to Scamander’s bank apart he led,
Where thinly scatter’d lay the heaps of dead.
Th’ assembled Chiefs, descending on the ground,
Attend his order, and their Prince surround.
A massy spear he bore of mighty strength,        615
Of full ten cubits was the lance’s length;
The point was brass, refulgent to behold,
Fix’d to the wood with circling rings of gold:
The noble Hector on this lance reclin’d,
And, bending forward, thus reveal’d his mind:        620
  ‘Ye valiant Trojans, with attention hear!
Ye Dardan bands, and gen’rous aids, give ear!
This day, we hoped, would wrap in conquering flame
Greece with her ships, and crown our toils with fame:
But darkness now, to save the cowards, falls,        625
And guards them trembling in their wooden walls.
Obey the night, and use her peaceful hours
Our steeds to forage, and refresh our powers.
Straight from the town be sheep and oxen sought,
And strength’ning bread and gen’rous wine be brought.        630
Wide o’er the field, high blazing to the sky,
Let numerous fires the absent sun supply,
The flaming piles with plenteous fuel raise,
Till the bright morn her purple beam displays:
Lest in the silence and the shades of night,        635
Greece on her sable ships attempt her flight.
Not unmolested let the wretches gain
Their lofty decks, or safely cleave the main:
Some hostile wound let ev’ry dart bestow,
Some lasting token of the Phrygian foe,        640
Wounds, that long hence may ask their spouses’ care,
And warn their children from a Trojan war.
Now thro’ the circuit of our Ilion wall,
Let sacred heralds sound the solemn call;
To bid the sires with hoary honours crown’d,        645
And beardless youths, our battlements surround.
Firm be the guard, while distant lie our powers,
And let the matrons hang with lights the towers:
Lest, under covert of the midnight shade,
Th’ insidious foe the naked town invade.        650
Suffice, to-night, these orders to obey;
A nobler charge shall rouse the dawning day.
The Gods, I trust, shall give to Hector’s hand,
From these detested foes to free the land,
Who plough’d, with Fates averse, the wat’ry way;        655
For Trojan vultures a predestin’d prey.
Our common safety must be now the care;
But, soon as morning paints the fields of air,
Sheathed in bright arms let every troop engage,
And the fired fleet behold the battle rage.        660
Then, then shall Hector and Tydides prove,
Whose Fates are heaviest in the scale of Jove.
To-morrow’s light (oh haste the glorious morn!)
Shall see his bloody spoils in triumph borne;
With this keen jav’lin shall his breast be gored,        665
And prostrate heroes bleed around their lord.
Certain as this, oh! might my days endure,
From age inglorious, and black death, secure;
So might my life and glory know no bound,
Like Pallas worshipp’d, like the sun renown’d,        670
As the next dawn, the last they shall enjoy,
Shall crush the Greeks, and end the woes of Troy.’
  The leader spoke. From all his hosts around
Shouts of applause along the shores resound.
Each from the yoke the smoking steeds untied,        675
And fix’d their headstalls to his chariot-side.
Fat sheep and oxen from the town are led,
With gen’rous wine, and all-sustaining bread.
Full hecatombs lay burning on the shore;
The winds to Heav’n the curling vapours bore.        680
Ungrateful off’ring to th’ immortal Powers!
Whose wrath hund heavy o’er the Trojan towers;
Nor Priam nor his sons obtain’d their grace;
Proud Troy they hated, and her guilty race.
  The troops exulting sat in order round,        685
And beaming fires illumin’d all the ground.
As when the moon, refulgent lamp of night,
O’er Heav’n’s clear azure spreads her sacred light,
When not a breath disturbs the deep serene,
And not a cloud o’ercasts the solemn scene;        690
Around her throne the vivid planets roll,
And stars unnumber’d gild the glowing pole,
O’er the dark trees a yellower verdure shed,
And tip with silver ev’ry mountain’s head;
Then shine the vales, the rocks in prospect rise,        695
A flood of glory bursts from all the skies:
The conscious swains, rejoicing in the sight,
Eye the blue vault and bless the useful light.
So many flames before proud Ilion blaze,
And lighten glimm’ring Xanthus with their rays:        700
The long reflections of the distant fires
Gleam on the walls, and tremble on the spires.
A thousand piles the dusky horrors gild,
And shoot a shady lustre o’er the field.
Full fifty guards each flaming pile attend,        705
Whose umber’d arms, by fits, thick flashes send.
Loud neigh the coursers o’er their heaps of corn,
And ardent warriors wait the rising morn.
 
 
CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors