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Alexander Pope (1688–1744).  Complete Poetical Works.  1903.
 
Translations from Homer
The Iliad
Book XIII. The Fourth Battle Continued, in Which Neptune Assists the Greeks. The Acts of Idomeneus
 
        
The Argument
  Neptune, concerned for the loss of the Grecians, upon seeing the fortification forced by Hector (who had entered the gate near the station of the Ajaces), assumes the shape of Calchas, and inspires those heroes to oppose him; then, in the form of one of the generals, encourages the other Greeks who had retired to their vessels. The Ajaces form their troops into a close phalanx, and put a stop to Hector and the Trojans. Several deeds of valour are performed; Meriones, losing his spear in the encounter, repairs to seek another at the tent of Idomeneus: this occasions a conversation between these two warriors, who return together to the battle. Idomeneus signalizes his courage above the rest; he kills Othryoneus, Asius, and Alcathous: Deïphobus and Æneas march against him, and at length Idomeneus retires. Menelaus wounds Helenus, and kills Pisander. The Trojans are repulsed in the left wing. Hector still keeps his ground against the Ajaces, till, being galled by the Locrian slingers and archers, Polydamas advises to call a council of war: Hector approves his advice, but goes first to rally the Trojans; upbraids Paris, rejoins Polydamas, meets Ajax again, and renews the attack.
  The eight-and-twentieth day still continues. The scene is between the Grecian wall and the sea-shore.

  WHEN now the Thund’rer on the sea-beat coast
Had fix’d great Hector and his conquering host,
He left them to the fates, in bloody fray
To toil and struggle thro’ the well-fought day.
Then turned to Thracia from the field of fight        5
Those eyes that shed insufferable light,
To where the Mysians prove their martial force,
And hardy Thracians tame the savage horse;
And where the far-famed Hippemolgian strays,
Renown’d for justice and for length of days.        10
Thrice happy race! that, innocent of blood,
From milk innoxious seek their simple food:
Jove sees delighted; and avoids the scene
Of guilty Troy, of arms, and dying men:
No aid, he deems, to either host is giv’n,        15
While his high law suspends the Powers of Heav’n.
  Meantime the Monarch of the wat’ry main
Observ’d the Thund’rer, nor observ’d in vain.
In Samothracia, on a mountain’s brow,
Whose waving woods o’erhung the deeps below,        20
He sat; and round him cast his azure eyes,
Where Ida’s misty tops confusedly rise;
Below, fair Ilion’s glitt’ring spires were seen;
The crowded ships, and sable seas between.
There, from the crystal chambers of the main        25
Emerged, he sat; and mourn’d his Argives slain.
At Jove incens’d, with grief and fury stung,
Prone down the rocky steep he rush’d along;
Fierce as he pass’d, the lofty mountains nod,
The forests shake; earth trembled as he trod,        30
And felt th’ footsteps of the immortal God.
From realm to realm three ample strides he took,
And, at the fourth, the distant Ægæ shook.
  Far in the bay his shining palace stands,
Eternal frame! not rais’d by mortal hands:        35
This having reach’d, his brass-hoof’d steeds he reins,
Fleet as the winds, and deck’d with golden manes.
Refulgent arms his mighty limbs infold,
Immortal arms of adamant and gold.
He mounts the ear, the golden scourge applies,        40
He sits superior, and the chariot flies:
His whirling wheels the glassy surface sweep;
Th’ enormous monsters, rolling o’er the deep,
Gambol around him on the wat’ry way;
And heavy whales in awkward measures play:        45
The sea subsiding spreads a level plain,
Exults, and owns the monarch of the main;
The parting waves before his coursers fly;
The wond’ring waters leave his axle dry.
  Deep in the liquid regions lies a cave,        50
Between where Tenedos the surges lave,
And rocky Imbrus breaks the rolling wave:
There the great ruler of the azure round
Stopp’d his swift chariot, and his steeds unbound,
Fed with ambrosial herbage from his hand,        55
And link’d their fetlocks with a golden band,
Infrangible, immortal: there they stay;
The Father of the Floods pursues his way,
Where, like a tempest dark’ning Heav’n around,
Or fiery deluge that devours the ground,        60
Th’ impatient Trojans, in a gloomy throng,
Embattled roll’d, as Hector rush’d along:
To the loud tumult and the barb’rous cry,
The Heav’ns re-echo, and the shores reply;
They vow destruction to the Grecian name,        65
And in their hopes the fleets already flame.
  But Neptune, rising from the seas profound,
The God whose earthquakes rock the solid ground,
Now wears a mortal form; like Calchas seen,
Such his loud voice, and such his manly mien;        70
His shouts incessant every Greek inspire,
But most th’ Ajaces, adding fire to fire:
  ‘’T is yours, O warriors, all our hopes to raise;
Oh recollect your ancient worth and praise!
’T is yours to save us if you cease to fear;        75
Flight, more than shameful, is destructive
On other works tho’ Troy with fury fall,
And pour her armies o’er our batter’d wall;
There, Greece has strength: but this, this part o’erthrown,
Her strength were vain; I dread for you alone.        80
Here Hector rages like the force of fire,
Vaunts of his Gods, and calls high Jove his sire.
If yet some heav’nly power your breast excite,
Breathe in your hearts and string your arms to flight,
Greece yet may live, her threaten’d fleet maintain,        85
And Hector’s force, and Jove’s own aid, be vain.’
  Then with his sceptre that the deep controls,
He touch’d the Chiefs, and steel’d their manly souls:
Strength, not their own, the touch divine imparts,
Prompts their light limbs, and swells their daring hearts.        90
Then, as a falcon from the rocky height,
Her quarry seen, impetuous at the sight,
Forth-springing instant, darts herself from high,
Shoots on the wing, and skims along the sky:
Such, and so swift, the power of ocean flew;        95
The wide horizon shut him from their view.
  Th’ inspiring God Oïleus’ active son
Perceiv’d the first, and thus to Telamon:
  ‘Some God, my friend, some God in human form,
Fav’ring descends, and wills to stand the storm;        100
Not Calchas this, the venerable seer;
Short as he turn’d, I saw the Power appear:
I mark’d his parting, and the steps he trod,
His own bright evidence reveals a God.
Ev’n now some energy divine I share,        105
And seem to walk on wings, and tread in air!’
  ‘With equal ardour’ (Telamon returns),
‘My soul is kindled, and my bosom burns;
New rising spirits all my force alarm,
Lift each impatient limb, and brace my arm.        110
This ready arm, unthinking, shakes the dart;
The blood pours back, and fortifies my heart;
Singly, methinks, yon tow’ring Chief I meet,
And stretch the dreadful Hector at my feet.’
  Full of the God that urged their burning breast,        115
The heroes thus their mutual warmth express’d.
Neptune meanwhile the routed Greeks inspired;
Who, breathless, pale, with length of labours tired,
Pant in the ships; while Troy to conquest calls,
And swarms victorious o’er their yielding walls:        120
Trembling before th’ impending storm they lie,
While tears of rage stand burning in their eye.
Greece sunk they thought, and this their fatal hour;
But breathe new courage as they feel the power.
Teucer and Leitus first his words excite;        125
Then stern Peneleus rises to the fight;
Thoas, Deipyrus, in arms renown’d,
And Merion next, th’ impulsive fury found;
Last Nestor’s son the same bold ardour takes,
While thus the God the martial fire awakes:        130
  ‘Oh lasting infamy, oh dire disgrace
To Chiefs of vig’rous youth, and manly race!
I trusted in the Gods, and you, to see
Brave Greece victorious, and her navy free:
Ah no—the glorious combat you disclaim,        135
And one black day clouds all her former fame.
Heav’ns! what a prodigy these eyes survey,
Unseen, unthought, till this amazing day!
Fly we at length from Troy’s oft-conquer’d bands?
And falls our fleet by such inglorious hands?        140
A rout undisciplin’d, a straggling train,
Not born to glories of the dusty plain;
Like frighted fawns from hill to hill pursued,
A prey to every savage of the wood;
Shall these, so late who trembled at your name,        145
Invade your camps, involve your ships in flame?
A change so shameful, say, what cause has wrought?
The soldier’s baseness, or the gen’ral’s fault?
Fools! will ye perish for your leader’s vice?
The purchase infamy, and life the price!        150
’T is not your cause, Achilles’ injur’d fame:
Another’s is the crime, but yours the shame.
Grant that our Chief offend thro’ rage or lust,
Must you be cowards if your king’s unjust?
Prevent this evil, and your country save:        155
Small thought retrieves the spirits of the brave.
Think, and subdue! on dastards dead to fame
I waste no anger, for they feel no shame:
But you, the pride, the flower of all our host,
My heart weeps blood to see your glory lost!        160
Nor deem this day, this battle, all you lose:
A day more black, a fate more vile, ensues.
Let each reflect, who prizes fame or breath,
On endless infamy, on instant death.
For lo! the fated time, th’ appointed shore;        165
Hark! the gates burst, the brazen barriers roar!
Impetuous Hector thunders at the wall;
The hour, the spot, to conquer or to fall.’
  These words the Grecians’ fainting hearts inspire,
And list’ning armies catch the godlike fire.        170
Fix’d at his post was each bold Ajax found,
With well-ranged squadrons strongly circled round:
So close their order, so disposed their fight,
As Pallas’ self might view with fix’d delight;
Or had the God of War inclin’d his eyes,        175
The God of War had own’d a just surprise.
A chosen phalanx, firm, resolv’d as Fate,
Descending Hector and his battle wait.
An iron scene gleams dreadful o’er the fields,
Armour in armour lock’d, and shields in shields,        180
Spears lean on spears, on targets targets throng,
Helms stuck to helms, and man drove man along.
The floating plumes unnumber’d wave above,
As when an earthquake stirs the nodding grove;
And, levell’d at the skies with pointing rays,        185
Their brandish’d lances at each motion blaze.
  Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
The close-compacted legions urged their way:
Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy;
Troy charged the first, and Hector first of Troy.        190
As from some mountain’s craggy forehead torn,
A rock’s round fragment flies with fury borne,
(Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends,)
Precipitate the pond’rous mass descends:
From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds;        195
At every shock the crackling wood resounds;
Still gath’ring force, it smokes; and, urged amain,
Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain:
There stops—So Hector. Their whole force he prov’d,
Resistless when he raged, and, when he stopp’d, unmov’d.        200
  On him the war is bent, the darts are shed,
And all their faulchions wave around his head:
Repuls’d he stands, nor from his stand retires;
But with repeated shouts his army fires.
‘Trojans! be firm; this arm shall make your way        205
Thro’ yon square body, and that black array;
Stand, and my spear shall rout their scatt’ring power,
Strong as they seem, embattled like a tower.
For he that Juno’s heav’nly bosom warms,
The first of Gods, this day inspires our arms.’        210
  He said, and rous’d the soul in ev’ry breast;
Urged with desire of fame, beyond the rest,
Forth march’d Deïphobus; but marching held
Before his wary steps his ample shield.
Bold Merion aim’d a stroke, nor aim’d it wide;        215
The glitt’ring jav’lin pierc’d the tough bull-hide;
But pierc’d not thro’: unfaithful to his hand,
The point broke short, and sparkled in the sand.
The Trojan warrior, touch’d with timely fear,
On the rais’d orb to distance bore the spear:        220
The Greek retreating mourn’d his frustrate blow,
And curs’d the treach’rous lance that spared a foe;
Then to the ships with surly speed he went,
To seek a surer jav’lin in his tent.
  Meanwhile with rising rage the battle glows,        225
The tumult thickens, and the clamour grows.
By Teucer’s arm the warlike Imbrius bleeds,
The son of Mentor, rich in gen’rous steeds.
Ere yet to Troy the sons of Greece were led,
In fair Pedæus’ verdant pastures bred,        230
The youth had dwelt; remote from war’s alarms,
And bless’d in bright Medesicaste’s arms:
(This nymph, the fruit of Priam’s ravish’d joy,
Allied the warrior to the house of Troy.)
To Troy, when glory call’d his arms, he came:        235
And match’d the bravest of her Chiefs in fame:
With Priam’s sons, a guardian of the throne,
He liv’d, belov’d and honour’d as his own.
Him Teucer pierc’d between the throat and ear:
He groans beneath the Telamonian spear.        240
As from some far-seen mountain’s airy crown,
Subdued by steel, a tall ash tumbles down,
And soils its verdant tresses on the ground:
So falls the youth; his arms the fall resound.
Then, Teucer rushing to despoil the dead,        245
From Hector’s hand a shining jav’lin fled:
He saw, and shunn’d the death; the forceful dart
Sung on, and pierc’d Amphimachus’s heart,
Cteatus’ son, of Neptune’s forceful line;
Vain was his courage, and his race divine!        250
Prostrate he falls; his clanging arms resound,
And his broad buckler thunders on the ground.
To seize his beamy helm the victor flies,
And just had fasten’d on the dazzling prize,
When Ajax’ manly arm a jav’lin flung;        255
Full on the shield’s round boss the weapon rung;
He felt the shock, nor more was doom’d to feel,
Secure in mail, and sheathed in shining steel.
Repuls’d he yields; the victor Greeks obtain
The spoils contested, and bear off the slain.        260
Between the leaders of th’ Athenian line,
(Stichius the brave, Menestheus the divine,)
Deplor’d Amphimachus, sad object! lies;
Imbrius remains the fierce Ajaces’ prize.
As two grim lions bear across the lawn,        265
Snatch’d from devouring hounds, a slaughter’d fawn
In their fell jaws high lifting thro’ the wood,
And sprinkling all the shrubs with drops of blood;
So these the Chief: great Ajax from the dead
Strips his bright arms, Oïleus lops his head:        270
Toss’d like a ball, and whirl’d in air away,
At Hector’s feet the gory visage lay.
  The God of Ocean, fired with stern disdain,
And pierc’d with sorrow for his grandson slain,
Inspires the Grecian hearts, confirms their hands,        275
And breathes destruction to the Trojan bands.
Swift as a whirlwind rushing to the fleet,
He finds the lance-famed Idomen of Crete;
His pensive brow the gen’rous care express’d
With which a wounded soldier touch’d his breast,        280
Whom in the chance of war a jav’lin tore,
And his sad comrades from the battle bore;
Him to the surgeons of the camp he sent;
That office paid, he issued from his tent,
Fierce for the fight: to him the God begun,        285
In Thoas’ voice, Andræmon’s valiant son,
Who ruled where Calydon’s white rocks arise,
And Pleuron’s chalky cliffs emblaze the skies:
  ‘Where ’s now th’ impetuous vaunt, the daring boast,
Of Greece victorious, and proud Ilion lost?’        290
  To whom the King: ‘On Greece no blame be thrown,
Arms are her trade, and war is all her own.
Her hardy heroes from the well-fought plains
Nor Fear withholds, nor shameful Sloth detains.
’T is Heav’n, alas! and Jove’s all-powerful doom,        295
That far, far distant from our native home
Wills us to fall, inglorious! Oh, my friend!
Once foremost in the fight, still prone to lend
Or arms, or counsels; now perform thy best,
And what thou canst not singly, urge the rest.’        300
  Thus he; and thus the God whose force can make
The solid globe’s eternal basis shake:
‘Ah! never may he see his native land,
But feed the vultures on this hateful strand,
Who seeks ignobly in his ships to stay,        305
Nor dares to combat on this signal day!
For this, behold! in horrid arms I shine,
And urge thy soul to rival acts with mine;
Together let us battle on the plain;
Two, not the worst; nor ev’n this succour vain:        310
Not vain the weakest, if their force unite;
But ours, the bravest have confess’d in fight.’
  This said, he rushes where the combat burns;
Swift to his tent the Cretan King returns.
From thence, two jav’lins glitt’ring in his hand,        315
And clad in arms that lighten’d all the strand,
Fierce on the foe th’ impetuous hero drove;
Like lightning bursting from the arm of Jove,
Which to pale man the wrath of Heav’n declares,
Or terrifies th’ offending world with wars;        320
In streamy sparkles, kindling all the skies,
From pole to pole the trail of glory flies.
Thus his bright armour o’er the dazzled throng
Gleam’d dreadful as the Monarch flash’d along.
  Him, near his tent, Meriones attends;        325
Whom thus he questions: ‘Ever best of friends!
O say, in every art of battle skill’d,
What holds thy courage from so brave a field?
On some important message art thou bound,
Or bleeds my friend by some unhappy wound?        330
Inglorious here, my soul abhors to stay,
And glows with prospects of th’ approaching day.’
  ‘O Prince!’ (Meriones replies), ‘whose care
Leads forth th’ embattled sons of Crete to war;
This speaks my grief: this headless lance I wield;        335
The rest lies rooted in a Trojan shield.’
  To whom the Cretan: ‘Enter, and receive
The wanted weapons; those my tent can give;
Spears I have store (and Trojan lances all),
That shed a lustre round th’ illumin’d wall.        340
Tho’ I, disdainful of the distant war,
Nor trust the dart, nor aim th’ uncertain spear,
Yet hand to hand I fight, and spoil the slain;
And thence these trophies, and these arms I gain.
Enter, and see on heaps the helmets roll’d,        345
And high-hung spears, and shields that flame with gold.’
  ‘Nor vain’ (said Merion) ‘are our martial toils;
We too can boast of no ignoble spoils.
But those my ship contains, whence distant far,
I fight conspicuous in the van of war.        350
What need I more? If any Greek there be
Who knows not Merion, I appeal to thee.’
  To this Idomeneus: ‘The fields of fight
Have prov’d thy valour, and unconquer’d might:
And were some ambush for the foes design’d,        355
Ev’n there thy courage would not lag behind.
In that sharp service, singled from the rest,
The fear of each, or valour, stands confess’d.
No force, no firmness, the pale coward shews;
He shifts his place; his colour comes and goes;        360
A dropping sweat creeps cold on ev’ry part;
Against his bosom beats his quiv’ring heart;
Terror and death in his wild eye-balls stare;
With chatt’ring teeth he stands, and stiff’ning hair,
And looks a bloodless image of despair!        365
Not so the brave; still dauntless, still the same,
Unchanged his colour, and unmov’d his frame;
Composed his thought, determin’d is his eye,
And fix’d his soul, to conquer or to die:
If aught disturb the tenor of his breast,        370
T is but the wish to strike before the rest.
  ‘In such assays thy blameless worth is known,
And ev’ry art of dangerous war thy own.
By chance of fight whatever wounds you bore,
Those wounds were glorious all, and all before:        375
Such as may teach, ’t was still thy brave delight
T’ oppose thy bosom where the foremost fight.
But why, like infants, cold to honour’s charms,
Stand we to talk, when glory calls to arms?
Go—from my conquer’d spears the choicest take,        380
And to their owners send them nobly back.’
  Swift as the word bold Merion snatch’d a spear,
And, breathing slaughter, follow’d to the war.
So Mars armipotent invades the plain,
(The wide destroyer of the race of man;)        385
Terror, his best-lov’d son, attends his course,
Arm’d with stern boldness, and enormous force;
The pride of haughty warriors to confound,
And lay the strength of tyrants on the ground.
From Thrace they fly, call’d to the dire alarms        390
Of warring Phlegians, and Ephyrian arms:
Invoked by both, relentless they dispose
To these glad conquest, murd’rous rout to those.
So march’d the leaders of the Cretan train,
And their bright arms shot horror o’er the plain.        395
  Then first spake Merion: ‘Shall we join the right,
Or combat in the centre of the fight?
Or to the left our wanted succour lend?
Hazard and Fame all parts alike attend.’
  ‘Not in the centre’ (Idomen replied),        400
‘Our ablest Chieftains the main battle guide;
Each godlike Ajax makes that post his care,
And gallant Teucer deals destruction there:
Skill’d, or with shafts to gall the distant field
Or bear close battle on the sounding shield.        405
These can the rage of haughty Hector tame;
Safe in their arms, the navy fears no flame;
Till Jove himself descends, his bolts to shed,
And hurl the blazing ruin at our head.
Great must he be, of more than human birth,        410
Nor feed like mortals on the fruits of earth,
Him neither rocks can crush, nor steel can wound,
Whom Ajax fells not on th’ ensanguin’d ground.
In standing fight he mates Achilles’ force,
Excell’d alone in swiftness in the course.        415
Then to the left our ready arms apply,
And live with glory, or with glory die.’
  He said: and Merion to th’ appointed place,
Fierce as the God of Battles, urged his pace.
Soon as the foe the shining chiefs beheld        420
Rush like a fiery torrent round the field,
Their force embodied in a tide they pour;
The rising combat sounds along the shore:
As warring winds, in Sirius’ sultry reign,
From diff’rent quarters sweep the sandy plain;        425
On every side the dusty whirlwinds rise,
And the dry fields are lifted to the skies:
Thus, by despair, hope, rage, together driv’n,
Met the black hosts, and, meeting, darken’d Heav’n.
All dreadful glared the iron face of war,        430
Bristled with upright spears, that flash’d afar;
Dire was the gleam of breast-plates, helms, and shields,
And polish’d arms emblazed the flaming fields:
Tremendous scene! that gen’ral horror gave,
But touch’d with joy the bosoms of the brave.        435
  Saturn’s great sons in fierce contention vied,
And crowds of heroes in their anger died.
The Sire of Earth and Heav’n, by Thetis won
To crown with glory Peleus’ godlike son,
Will’d not destruction to the Grecian powers,        440
But spared awhile the destin’d Trojan towers:
While Neptune, rising from his azure main,
Warr’d on the King of Heav’n with stern disdain,
And breathed revenge, and fired the Grecian train.
Gods of one source, of one ethereal race,        445
Alike divine, and Heav’n their native place;
But Jove the greater; first-born of the skies,
And more than men, or Gods, supremely wise.
For this, of Jove’s superior might afraid,
Neptune in human form conceal’d his aid.        450
These Powers infold the Greek and Trojan train
In War and Discord’s adamantine chain;
Indissolubly strong, the fatal tie
Is stretch’d on both, and close-compell’d they die.
  Dreadful in arms, and grown in combat grey,        455
The bold Idomeneus controls the day.
First by his hand Othryoneus was slain,
Swell’d with false hopes, with mad ambition vain;
Call’d by the voice of war to martial fame,
From high Cabesus’ distant walls he came;        460
Cassandra’s love he sought, with boasts of power,
And promis’d conquest was the proffer’d dower.
The King consented, by his vaunts abused;
The King consented, but the Fates refused.
Proud of himself, and of th’ imagin’d bride,        465
The field he measured with a larger stride.
Him, as he stalk’d, the Cretan jav’lin found;
Vain was his breast-plate to repel the wound:
His dream of glory lost, he plunged to Hell;
The plains resounded as the boaster fell.        470
  The great Idomeneus bestrides the dead;
‘And thus’ (he cries) ‘behold thy promise sped!’
‘Such is the help thy arms to Ilion bring,
And such the contract of the Phrygian King!
Our offers now, illustrious Prince! receive;        475
For such an aid what will not Argos give?
To conquer Troy, with ours thy forces join,
And count Atrides’ fairest daughter thine.
Meantime, on farther methods to advise,
Come, follow to the fleet thy new allies;        480
There hear what Greece has on her part to say.’
He spoke, and dragg’d the gory corse away.
  This Asius view’d, unable to contain,
Before his chariot warring on the plain;
(His valued coursers, to his squire consign’d,        485
Impatient panted on his neck behind):
To vengeance rising with a sudden spring,
He hoped the conquest of the Cretan King.
The wary Cretan, as his foe drew near,
Full on his throat discharged the forceful spear:        490
Beneath the chin the point was seen to glide,
And, glitter’d, extant, at the farther side.
As when the mountain oak, or poplar tall,
Or pine, fit mast for some great admiral,
Groans to the oft-heav’d axe, with many a wound,        495
Then spreads a length of ruin o’er the ground:
So sunk proud Asius in that dreadful day,
And stretch’d before his much-lov’d coursers lay.
He grinds the dust distain’d with streaming gore,
And, fierce in death, lies foaming on the shore.        500
Deprived of motion, stiff with stupid fear,
Stands all aghast his trembling charioteer,
Nor shuns the foe, nor turns the steeds away,
But falls transfix’d, an unresisting prey:
Pierc’d by Antilochus, he pants beneath        505
The stately car, and labours out his breath.
Thus Asius’ steeds (their mighty master gone)
Remain the prize of Nestor’s youthful son.
  Stabb’d at the sight, Deïphobus drew nigh,
And made, with force, the vengeful weapon fly:        510
The Cretan saw; and, stooping, caus’d to glance,
From his slope shield, the disappointed lance.
Beneath the spacious targe (a blazing round,
Thick with bull-hides, and brazen orbits bound,
On his rais’d arm by two strong braces stay’d),        515
He lay collected in defensive shade;
O’er his safe head the jav’lin idly sung,
And on the tinkling verge more faintly rung.
Ev’n then, the spear the vig’rous arm confess’d,
And pierc’d, obliquely, King Hypsenor’s breast;        520
Warm’d in his liver, to the ground it bore
The Chief, his people’s guardian now no more!
  ‘Not unattended’ (the proud Trojan cries)
‘Nor unrevenged, lamented Asius lies:
For thee, tho’ Hell’s black portals stand display’d,        525
This mate shall joy thy melancholy shade.’
  Heart-piercing anguish, at the haughty boast,
Touch’d every Greek, but Nestor’s son the most:
Griev’d as he was, his pious arms attend,
And his broad buckler shields his slaughter’d friend:        530
Till sad Mecistheus and Alastor bore
His honour’d body to the tented shore.
  Nor yet from fight Idomeneus withdraws;
Resolv’d to perish in his country’s cause,
Or find some foe, whom Heav’n and he shall doom        535
To wail his fate in death’s eternal gloom.
He sees Alcathoüs in the front aspire:
Great Æsyetes was the hero’s sire:
His spouse Hippodame, divinely fair,
Anchises’ eldest hope, and darling care:        540
Who charm’d her parent’s and her husband’s heart,
With beauty, sense, and every work of art:
He, once, of Ilion’s youth the loveliest boy,
The fairest she, of all the fair of Troy.
By Neptune now the hapless hero dies,        545
Who covers with a cloud those beauteous eyes,
And fetters every limb: yet bent to meet
His fate, he stands; nor shuns the lance of Crete.
Fix’d as some column, or deep-rooted oak,
(While the winds sleep,) his breast receiv’d the stroke.        550
Before the pond’rous stroke his corslet yields,
Long used to ward the death in fighting fields.
The riven armour sends a jarring sound:
His lab’ring heart heaves with so strong a bound,
The long lance shakes, and vibrates in the wound:        555
Fast flowing from its source, as prone he lay,
Life’s purple tide impetuous gush’d away.
  Then Idomen, insulting o’er the slain:
‘Behold, Deïphobus! nor vaunt in vain:
See! on one Greek three Trojan ghosts attend,        560
This, my third victim, to the shades I send.
Approaching now, thy boasted might approve,
And try the prowess of the seed of Jove.
From Jove, enamour’d on a mortal dame,
Great Minos, guardian of his country, came;        565
Deucalion, blameless Prince! was Minos’ heir;
His first-born I, the third from Jupiter:
O’er spacious Crete and her bold sons I reign,
And thence my ships transport me thro’ the main:
Lord of a host, o’er all my host I shine,        570
A scourge to thee, thy father, and thy line.’
  The Trojan heard; uncertain, or to meet
Alone, with venturous arms, the King of Crete;
Or seek auxiliar force; at length decreed
To call some hero to partake the deed.        575
Forthwith Æneas rises to his thought;
For him, in Troy’s remotest lines he sought,
Where he, incens’d at partial Priam, stands,
And sees superior posts in meaner hands.
To him, ambitious of so great an aid,        580
The bold Deïphobus approach’d, and said:
  ‘Now, Trojan Prince, employ thy pious arms,
If e’er thy bosom felt fair honour’s charms.
Alcathoüs dies, thy brother and thy friend.
Come, and the warrior’s lov’d remains defend.        585
Beneath his cares thy early youth was train’d,
One table fed you, and one roof contain’d.
This deed to fierce Idomeneus we owe;
Haste, and revenge it on th’ insulting foe.’
  Æneas heard, and for a space resign’d        590
To tender pity all his manly mind;
Then, rising in his rage, he burns to fight:
The Greek awaits him, with collected might.
As the fell boar on some rough mountain’s head,
Arm’d with wild terrors, and to slaughter bred,        595
When the loud rustics rise, and shout from far,
Attends the tumult, and expects the war;
O’er his bent back the bristly horrors rise,
Fires stream in lightning from his sanguine eyes;
His foaming tusks both dogs and men engage,        600
But most his hunters rouse his mighty rage:
So stood Idomeneus, his jav’lin shook,
And met the Trojan with a low’ring look.
Antilochus, Deïpyrus, were near,
The youthful offspring of the God of War;        605
Merion, and Aphareus, in field renown’d:
To these the warrior sent his voice around:
‘Fellows in arms! your timely aid unite:
Lo, great Æneas rushes to the fight:
Sprung from a God, and more than mortal bold:        610
He fresh in youth, and I in arms grown old.
Else should this hand, this hour, decide the strife,
The great dispute, of glory, or of life.’
  He spoke, and all as with one soul obey’d;
Their lifted bucklers cast a dreadful shade        615
Around the Chief. Æneas too demands
Th’ assisting forces of his native bands:
Paris, Deïphobus, Agenor join;
(Co-aids and captains of the Trojan line;)
In order follow all th’ embodied train;        620
Like Ida’s flocks proceeding o’er the plain:
Before his fleecy care, erect and bold,
Stalks the proud ram, the father of the fold:
With joy the swain surveys them, as he leads
To the cool fountains thro’ the well-known meads:        625
So joys Æneas, as his native band
Moves on in rank, and stretches o’er the land.
  Round dead Alcathoüs now the battle rose;
On ev’ry side the steely circle grows;
Now batter’d breast-plates and hack’d helmets ring,        630
And o’er their heads unheeded jav’lins sing.
Above the rest, two tow’ring Chiefs appear,
There great Idomeneus, Æneas here.
Like Gods of War, dispensing fate, they stood,
And burn’d to drench the ground with mutual blood.        635
The Trojan weapon whizz’d along in air:
The Cretan saw, and shunn’d the brazen spear,
Sent from an arm so strong, the missive wood
Stuck deep in earth, and quiver’d where it stood.
But Œnomas receiv’d the Cretan’s stroke;        640
The forceful spear his hollow corslet broke;
It ripp’d his belly with a ghastly wound,
And roll’d the smoking entrails to the ground.
Stretch’d on the plain, he sobs away his breath,
And furious grasps the bloody dust in death.        645
The victor from his breast the weapon tears
(His spoils he could not, for the shower of spears);
Tho’ now unfit an active war to wage,
Heavy with cumbrous arms, stiff with cold age,
His listless limbs unable for the course;        650
In standing fight he yet maintains his force:
Till, faint with labour, and by foes repell’d,
His tired slow steps he drags along the field.
  Deïphobus beheld him as he pass’d,
And, fired with hate, a parting jav’lin cast:        655
The jav’lin err’d, but held its course along,
And pierc’d Ascalaphus, the brave and young:
The son of Mars fell gasping on the ground,
And gnash’d the dust all bloody with his wound.
  Nor knew the furious father of his fall;        660
High-throned amidst the great Olympian hall,
On golden clouds th’ immortal synod sat;
Detain’d from bloody war by Jove and Fate.
  Now, where in dust the breathless hero lay,
For slain Ascalaphus commenc’d the fray.        665
Deïphobus to seize his helmet flies,
And from his temples rends the glitt’ring prize:
Valiant as Mars, Meriones drew near,
And on his loaded arm discharged his spear.
He drops the weight, disabled with the pain;        670
The hollow helmet rings against the plain.
Swift as a vulture leaping on his prey,
From his torn arm the Grecian rent away
The reeking jav’lin, and rejoin’d his friends.
His wounded brother good Polites tends;        675
Around his waist his pious arms he threw,
And from the rage of combat gently drew:
Him his swift coursers, on his splendid car,
Rapt from the less’ning thunder of the war;
To Troy they drove him, groaning, from the shore,        680
And sprinkling, as he pass’d, the sands with gore.
  Meanwhile fresh slaughter bathes the sanguine ground,
Heaps fall on heaps, and Heav’n and Earth resound.
Bold Aphareus by great Æneas bled;
As toward the Chief he turn’d his daring head,        685
He pierc’d his throat; the bending head, depress’d
Beneath his helmet, nods upon his breast;
His shield revers’d o’er the fall’n warrior lies;
And everlasting slumber seals his eyes.
Antilochus, as Thoön turn’d him round,        690
Transpierc’d his back with a dishonest wound:
The hollow vein that to the neck extends
Along the chine, his eager jav’lin rends:
Supine he falls, and to his social train
Spreads his imploring arms, but spreads in vain.        695
Th’ exulting victor, leaping where he lay,
From his broad shoulders tore the spoils away;
His time observ’d; for, closed by foes around,
On all sides thick, the peals of arms resound.
His shield, emboss’d, the ringing storm sustains,        700
But he impervious and untouch’d remains.
(Great Neptune’s care preserv’d from hostile rage
This youth, the joy of Nestor’s glorious age.)
In arms intrepid with the first he fought,
Faced ev’ry foe, and ev’ry danger sought;        705
His winged lance, resistless as the wind,
Obeys each motion of the master’s mind:
Restless it flies, impatient to be free,
And meditates the distant enemy.
The son of Asius, Adamas, drew near,        710
And struck his target with the brazen spear,
Fierce in his front; but Neptune wards the blow,
And blunts the jav’lin of th’ eluded foe.
In the broad buckler half the weapon stood;
Splinter’d on earth flew half the broken wood.        715
Disarm’d, he mingled in the Trojan crew;
But Merion’s spear o’ertook him as he flew,
Deep in the belly’s rim an entrance found,
Where sharp the pang, and mortal is the wound.
Bending he fell, and, doubled to the ground,        720
Lay panting. Thus an ox, in fetters tied,
While death’s strong pangs distend his lab’ring side,
His bulk enormous on the field displays;
His heaving heart beats thick, as ebbing life decays.
The spear the conqueror from his body drew,        725
And death’s dim shadows swam before his view.
Next brave Deïpyrus in dust was laid:
King Helenus waved high the Thracian blade,
And smote his temples with an arm so strong,
The helm fell off, and roll’d amid the throng;        730
There, for some luckier Greek it rests a prize,
For dark in death the godlike owner lies!
With raging grief great Menelaus burns,
And, fraught with vengeance, to the victor turns;
That shook the pond’rous lance, in act to throw,        735
And this stood adverse with the bended bow:
Full on his breast the Trojan arrow fell,
But harmless bounded from the plated steel.
As on some ample barn’s well-harden’d floor,
(The winds collected at each open door,)        740
While the broad fan with force is whirl’d around,
Light leaps the golden grain, resulting from the ground:
So from the steel that guards Atrides’ heart,
Repell’d to distance flies the bounding dart.
Atrides, watchful of th’ unwary foe,        745
Pierc’d with his lance the hand that grasp’d the bow,
And nail’d it to the yew: the wounded hand
Trail’d the long lance that mark’d with blood the sand;
But good Agenor gently from the wound
The spear solicits, and the bandage bound;        750
A sling’s soft wool, snatch’d from a soldier’s side,
At once the tent and ligature supplied.
  Behold! Pisander, urged by Fate’s decree,
Springs thro’ the ranks to fall, and fall by thee,
Great Menelaus! to enhance thy fame;        755
High tow’ring in the front, the warrior came.
First the sharp lance was by Atrides thrown;
The lance far distant by the winds was blown.
Nor pierc’d Pisander thro’ Atrides’ shield;
Pisander’s spear fell shiver’d on the field.        760
Not so discouraged, to the future blind,
Vain dreams of conquest swell his haughty mind;
Dauntless he rushes where the Spartan lord
Like lightning brandish’d his far-beaming sword.
His left arm high opposed the shining shield;        765
His right, beneath, the cover’d pole-axe held;
(An olive’s cloudy grain the handle made,
Distinct with studs; and brazen was the blade);
This on the helm discharged a noble blow;
The plume dropp’d nodding to the plain below,        770
Shorn from the crest. Atrides waved his steel;
Deep thro’ his front the weighty falchion fell;
The crashing bones before its force gave way;
In dust and blood the groaning hero lay;
Forc’d from their ghastly orbs, and spouting gore,        775
The clotted eye-balls tumble on the shore.
The fierce Atrides spurn’d him as he bled,
Tore off his arms, and loud exulting said:
  ‘Thus, Trojans, thus, at length be taught to fear;
O race perfidious, who delight in war!        780
Already noble deeds ye have perform’d,
A Princess raped transcends a navy storm’d:
In such bold feats your impious might approve,
Without th’ assistance or the fear of Jove.
The violated rites, the ravish’d dame,        785
Our heroes slaughter’d, and our ships on flame,
Crimes heap’d on crimes, shall bend your glory down,
And whelm in ruins yon flagitious town.
O thou, great Father, lord of earth and skies,
Above the thought of man, supremely wise!        790
If from thy hand the fates of mortals flow,
From whence this favour to an impious foe,
A godless crew, abandon’d and unjust,
Still breathing rapine, violence, and lust?
The best of things, beyond their measure, cloy;        795
Sleep’s balmy blessing, love’s endearing joy;
The feast, the dance; whate’er mankind desire,
Ev’n the sweet charms of sacred numbers tire.
But Troy for ever reaps a dire delight
In thirst of slaughter, and in lust of fight.’        800
  This said, he seiz’d (while yet the carcass heav’d)
The bloody armour, which his train receiv’d:
Then sudden mix’d among the warring crew,
And the bold son of Pylæmenes slew.
Harpalion had thro’ Asia travell’d far,        805
Following his martial father to the war;
Thro’ filial love he left his native shore,
Never, ah never, to behold it more!
His unsuccessful spear he chanc’d to fling
Against the target of the Spartan king;        810
Thus of his lance disarm’d, from death he flies,
And turns around his apprehensive eyes.
Him, thro’ the hip transpiercing as he fled,
The shaft of Merion mingled with the dead.
Beneath the bone the glancing point descends,        815
And, driving down, the swelling bladder rends:
Sunk in his sad companions’ arms he lay,
And in short pantings sobb’d his soul away
(Like some vile worm extended on the ground),
While life’s red torrent gush’d from out the wound.        820
  Him on his car the Paphlagonian train
In slow procession bore from off the plain.
The pensive father, father now no more!
Attends the mournful pomp along the shore;
And unavailing tears profusely shed,        825
And unrevenged deplor’d his offspring dead.
  Paris from far the moving sight beheld,
With pity soften’d, and with fury swell’d:
His honour’d host, a youth of matchless grace,
And lov’d of all the Paphlagonian race!        830
With his full strength he bent his angry bow,
And wing’d the feather’d vengeance at the foe.
A Chief there was, the brave Euchenor named,
For riches much, and more for virtue, famed,
Who held his seat in Corinth’s stately town;        835
Polydus’ son, a seer of old renown.
Oft had the father told his early doom,
By arms abroad, or slow disease at home:
He climb’d his vessel, prodigal of breath,
And chose the certain glorious path to death.        840
Beneath his ear the pointed arrow went;
The soul came issuing at the narrow vent;
His limbs, unnerv’d, drop useless on the ground,
And everlasting darkness shades him round.
  Nor knew great Hector how his legions yield        845
(Wrapp’d in the cloud and tumult of the field);
Wide on the left the force of Greece commands,
And conquest hovers o’er th’ Achaian bands:
With such a tide superior virtue sway’d,
And he that shakes the solid earth, gave aid.        850
But in the centre Hector fix’d remain’d,
Where first the gates were forc’d, and bulwarks gain’d;
There, on the margin of the hoary deep
(Their naval station where th’ Ajaces keep,
And where low walls confine the beating tides,        855
Whose humble barrier scarce the foe divides;
Where late in fight both foot and horse engaged,
And all the thunder of the battle raged),
There join’d, the whole Bœotian strength remains,
The proud Ionians with their sweeping trains,        860
Locrians and Phthians, and th’ Epeian force;
But, join’d, repel not Hector’s fiery course.
The flower of Athens, Stichius, Phidas led,
Bias and great Menestheus at their head.
Meges the strong th’ Epeian bands controll’d,        865
And Dracius prudent, and Amphion bold;
The Phthians Medon, famed for martial might,
And brave Podarces, active in the fight.
This drew from Phylacus his noble line,
Iphiclus’ son; and that, Oïleus, thine        870
(Young Ajax’ brother, by a stol’n embrace;
He dwelt far distant from his native place;
By his fierce stepdame from his father’s reign
Expell’d and exiled for her brother slain):
These rule the Phthians, and their arms employ,        875
Mix’d with Bœotians, on the shores of Troy.
  Now side by side, with like unwearied care,
Each Ajax labour’d thro’ the field of war.
So when two lordly bulls, with equal toil,
Force the bright ploughshare thro’ the fallow soil,        880
Join’d to one yoke, the stubborn earth they tear,
And trace large furrows with the shining share:
O’er their huge limbs the foam descends in snow,
And streams of sweat down their sour foreheads flow.
A train of heroes follow’d thro’ the field,        885
Who bore by turns great Ajax’ seven-fold shield;
Whene’er he breathed, remissive of his might,
Tired with th’ incessant slaughters of the fight.
No foll’wing troops his brave associate grace;
In close engagement an unpractis’d race,        890
The Locrian squadrons nor the jav’lin wield,
Nor bear the helm, nor lift the moony shield;
But skill’d from far the flying shaft to wing,
Or whirl the sounding pebble from the sling;
Dext’rous with these they aim a certain wound,        895
Or fell the distant warrior to the ground.
Thus in the van, the Telamonian train,
Throng’d in bright arms, a pressing fight maintain;
Far in the rear the Locrian archers lie,
Whose stones and arrows intercept the sky:        900
The mingled tempest on the foes they pour;
Troy’s scatt’ring orders open to the shower.
  Now had the Greeks eternal fame acquired,
And the gall’d Ilians to their walls retired;
But sage Polydamas, discreetly brave,        905
Address’d great Hector, and this counsel gave:
  ‘Tho’ great in all, thou seem’st averse to lend
Impartial audience to a faithful friend:
To Gods and men thy matchless worth is known,
And ev’ry art of glorious war thy own;        910
But in cool thought and counsel to excel,
How widely differs this from warring well!
Content with what the bounteous Gods have giv’n,
Seek not alone t’ engross the gifts of Heav’n.
To some the powers of bloody war belong,        915
To some, sweet music, and the charm of song;
To few, and wondrous few, has Jove assign’d
A wise, extensive, all-consid’ring mind;
Their guardians these the nations round confess,
And towns and empires for their safety bless.        920
If Heav’n have lodg’d this virtue in my breast,
Attend, O Hector, what I judge the best.
See, as thou mov’st, on dangers dangers spread,
And war’s whole fury burns around thy head:
Behold! distress’d within yon hostile wall,        925
How many Trojans yield, disperse, or fall!
What troops, out-number’d, scarce the war maintain!
And what brave heroes at the ships lie slain!
Here cease thy fury; and, the Chiefs and Kings
Convoked to council, weigh the sum of things.        930
Whether (the Gods succeeding our desires)
To yon tall ships to bear the Trojan fires;
Or quit the fleet, and pass unhurt away,
Contented with the conquest of the day.
I fear, I fear, lest Greece (not yet undone)        935
Pay the large debt of last revolving sun.
Achilles, great Achilles, yet remains
On yonder decks, and yet o’erlooks the plains!’
  The counsel pleas’d; and Hector, with a bound,
Leap’d from his chariot on the trembling ground;        940
Swift as he leap’d, his clanging arms resound.
‘To guard this post’ (he cried) ‘thy art employ,
And here detain the scatter’d youth of Troy;
Where yonder heroes faint, I bend my way,
And hasten back to end the doubtful day.’        945
  This said, the tow’ring Chief prepares to go,
Shakes his white plumes that to the breezes flow,
And seems a moving mountain topp’d with snow.
Thro’ all his host inspiring force, he flies,
And bids anew the martial thunder rise.        950
To Panthus’ son, at Hector’s high command,
Haste the bold leaders of the Trojan band:
But round the battlements, and round the plain,
For many a Chief he look’d, but look’d in vain;
Deïphobus, nor Helenus the seer,        955
Nor Asius’ son, nor Asius’ self appear.
For these were pierc’d with many a ghastly wound,
Some cold in death, some groaning on the ground;
Some low in dust (a mournful object) lay,
High on the wall some breathed their souls away.        960
  Far on the left, amidst the throng he found
(Cheering the troops, and dealing deaths around),
The graceful Paris: whom, with fury mov’d,
Opprobrious, thus th’ impatient Chief reprov’d:
  ‘Ill-fated Paris! slave to womankind,        965
As smooth of face as fraudulent of mind!
Where is Deïphobus, where Asius gone?
The godlike father, and th’ intrepid son?
The force of Helenus, dispensing fate,
And great Othryoneus, so fear’d of late?        970
Black fate hangs o’er thee from th’ avenging Gods,
Imperial Troy from her foundation nods;
Whelm’d in thy country’s ruins shalt thou fall,
And one devouring vengeance swallow all.’
  When Paris thus: ‘My brother and my friend,        975
Thy warm impatience makes thy tongue offend.
In other battles I deserv’d thy blame,
Tho’ then not deedless, nor unknown to Fame:
But since you rampart by thy arms lay low,
I scatter’d slaughter from my fatal bow.        980
The Chiefs you seek on yonder shore lie slain;
Of all those heroes, two alone remain;
Deïphobus, and Helenus the seer:
Each now disabled by a hostile spear.
Go then, successful, where thy soul inspires;        985
This heart and hand shall second all thy fires:
What with this arm I can, prepare to know,
Till death for death be paid, and blow for blow.
But ’t is not ours, with forces not our own
To combat; strength is of the Gods alone.’        990
  These words the hero’s angry mind assuage:
Then fierce they mingle where the thickest rage.
Around Polydamas, distain’d with blood,
Cebrion, Phalces, stern Orthæus, stood;
Palmus, with Polypœtes the divine,        995
And two bold brothers of Hippotion’s line:
(Who reach’d fair Ilion, from Ascania far,
The former day; the next, engaged in war).
As when from gloomy clouds a whirlwind springs,
That bears Jove’s thunder on its dreadful wings,        1000
Wide o’er the blasted fields the tempest sweeps,
Then, gather’d, settles on the hoary deeps;
Th’ afflicted deeps tumultuous mix and roar;
The waves behind impel the waves before,
Wide-rolling, foaming high, and tumbling to the shore:        1005
Thus rank on rank the Chief battalions throng,
Chief urged on Chief, and man drove man along:
Far o’er the plains in dreadful order bright,
The brazen arms reflect a beamy light.
Full in the blazing van great Hector shined,        1010
Like Mars commission’d to confound mankind.
Before him flaming, his enormous shield,
Like the broad sun, illumin’d all the field;
His nodding helm emits a streamy ray;
His piercing eyes thro’ all the battle stray,        1015
And, while beneath his targe he flash’d along,
Shot terrors round, that wither’d ev’n the strong.
  Thus stalk’d he dreadful; death was in his look;
Whole nations fear’d; but not an Argive shook.
The tow’ring Ajax, with an ample stride,        1020
Advanc’d the first, and thus the Chief defied:
  ‘Hector! come on, thy empty threats forbear:
’T is not thy arm, ’t is thund’ring Jove, we fear:
The skill of war to us not idly giv’n,
Lo! Greece is humbled, not by Troy, but Heav’n.        1025
Vain are the hopes that haughty mind imparts
To force our fleet: the Greeks have hands and hearts.
Long ere in flames our lofty navy fall,
Your boasted city, and your god-built wall,
Shall sink beneath us, smoking on the ground;        1030
And spread a long unmeasured ruin round.
The time shall come, when, chased along the plain,
Ev’n thou shalt call on Jove, and call in vain;
Ev’n thou shalt wish, to aid thy desp’rate course,
The wings of falcons for thy flying horse;        1035
Shalt run, forgetful of a warrior’s fame,
While clouds of friendly dust conceal thy shame.’
  As thus he spoke, behold, in open view,
On sounding wings a dexter eagle flew.
To Jove’s glad omen all the Grecians rise,        1040
And hail, with shouts, his progress thro’ the skies.
Far-echoing clamours bound from side to side;
They ceas’d; and thus the Chief of Troy replied:
  ‘From whence this menace, this insulting strain?
Enormous boaster! doom’d to vaunt in vain.        1045
So may the Gods on Hector life bestow
(Not that short life which mortals lead below,
But such as those of Jove’s high lineage born,
The Blue-eyed Maid, or He that gilds the morn),
As this decisive day shall end the fame        1050
Of Greece, and Argos be no more a name.
And thou, imperious! if thy madness wait
The lance of Hector, thou shalt meet thy fate:
That giant-corpse, extended on the shore,
Shall largely feast the fowls with fat and gore.’        1055
  He said, and like a lion stalk’d along:
With shouts incessant earth and ocean rung,
Sent from his foll’wing host. The Grecian train
With answering thunders fill’d the echoing plain;
A shout that tore Heav’n’s concave, and above        1060
Shook the fix’d splendours of the throne of Jove.
 
 
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