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Alexander Pope (1688–1744).  Complete Poetical Works.  1903.
 
Translations from Homer
The Iliad
Book XIV. Juno Deceives Jupiter by the Girdle of Venus
 
        
The Argument
  Nestor, sitting at the table with Machaon, is alarmed with the increasing clamour of the war, and hastens to Agamemnon: on his way he meets that Prince with Diomed and Ulysses, whom he informs of the extremity of the danger. Agamemnon proposes to make their escape by night, which Ulysses withstands; to which Diomed adds his advice, that, wounded as they were, they should go forth and encourage the army with their presence; which advice is pursued. Juno seeing the partiality of Jupiter to the Trojans, forms a design to overreach him; she sets off her charms with the utmost care, and (the more surely to enchant him) obtains the magic girdle of Venus. She then applies herself to the God of Sleep, and with some difficulty persuades him to seal the eyes of Jupiter; this done, she goes to Mount Ida, where the God, at first sight, is ravished with her beauty, sinks in her embraces, and is laid asleep. Neptune takes advantage of his slumber, and succours the Greeks; Hector is struck to the ground with a prodigious stone by Ajax, and carried off from the battle: several actions succeed; till the Trojans, much distressed, are obliged to give way; the lesser Ajax signalizes himself in a particular manner.

  BUT nor the genial feast, nor flowing bowl,
Could charm the cares of Nestor’s watchful soul;
His startled ears th’ increasing cries attend;
Then thus, impatient, to his wounded friend:
  ‘What new alarms, divine Machaon, say,        5
What mix’d events attend this mighty day?
Hark! how the shouts divide, and how they meet,
And now come full, and thicken to the fleet!
Here, with the cordial draught dispel thy care,
Let Hecamede the strength’ning bath prepare,        10
Refresh thy wound, and cleanse the clotted gore,
While I th’ adventures of the day explore.’
  He said: and, seizing Thrasymedes’ shield
(His valiant offspring), hasten’d to the field
(That day, the son his father’s buckler bore);        15
Then snatch’d a lance, and issued from the door.
Soon as the prospect open’d to his view,
His wounded eyes the scene of sorrow knew;
Dire disarray! the tumult of the fight,
The wall in ruins, and the Greeks in flight.        20
As when old Ocean’s silent surface sleeps,
The waves just heaving on the purple deeps;
While yet th’ expected tempest hangs on high,
Weighs down the cloud, and blackens in the sky,
The mass of waters will no wind obey;        25
Jove sends one gust, and bids them roll away.
While wav’ring counsels thus his mind engage,
Fluctuates in doubtful thought the Pylian sage;
To join the host, or to the Gen’ral haste;
Debating long, he fixes on the last:        30
Yet, as he moves, the fight his bosom warms;
The field rings dreadful with the clang of arms;
The gleaming falchions flash, the jav’lins fly;
Blows echo blows, and all or kill or die.
  Him, in his march, the wounded Princes meet,        35
By tardy steps ascending from the fleet;
The King of Men, Ulysses the divine,
And who to Tydeus owes his noble line.
(Their ships at distance from the battle stand,
In lines advanc’d along the shelving strand;        40
Whose bay the fleet unable to contain
At length, beside the margin of the main,
Rank above rank, the crowded ships they moor:
Who landed first, lay highest on the shore.)
Supported on their spears they took their way,        45
Unfit to fight, but anxious for the day.
Nestor’s approach alarm’d each Grecian breast,
Whom thus the Gen’ral of the host address’d:
  ‘O grace and glory of th’ Achaian name!
What drives thee, Nestor, from the Field of Fame?        50
Shall then proud Hector see his boast fulfill’d,
Our fleets in ashes, and our heroes kill’d?
Such was his threat, ah! now too soon made good,
On many a Grecian bosom writ in blood.
Is every heart inflamed with equal rage        55
Against your King, nor will one Chief engage?
And have I liv’d to see with mournful eyes
In ev’ry Greek a new Achilles rise?’
  Gerenian Nestor then: ‘So Fate has will’d;
And all confirming time has Fate fulfill’d,        60
Not he that thunders from th’ aërial bower.
Not Jove himself, upon the past has power.
The wall, our late inviolable bound,
And best defence, lies smoking on the ground:
Ev’n to the ships their conquering arms extend,        65
And groans of slaughter’d Greeks to Heav’n ascend.
On speedy measures then employ your thought;
In such distress if counsel profit aught;
Arms cannot much: tho’ Mars our souls incite,
These gaping wounds withhold us from the fight.’        70
  To him the Monarch: ‘That our army bends,
That Troy triumphant our high fleet ascends,
And that the rampart, late our surest trust,
And best defence, lies smoking in the dust:
All this, from Jove’s afflictive hand we bear,        75
Who, far from Argos, wills our ruin here,
Past are the days when happier Greece was bless’d,
And all his favour, all his aid, confess’d;
Now Heav’n, averse, our hands from battle ties,
And lifts the Trojan glory to the skies.        80
Cease we at length to waste our blood in vain,
And launch what ships lie nearest to the main;
Leave these at anchor till the coming night;
Then, if impetuous Troy forbear the fight,
Bring all to sea, and hoist each sail for flight.        85
Better from evils, well foreseen, to run,
Than perish in the danger we may shun.’
  Thus he. The sage Ulysses thus replies,
While anger flash’d from his disdainful eyes:
‘What shameful words (unkingly as thou art)        90
Fall from that trembling tongue and tim’rous heart!
Oh were thy sway the curse of meaner powers,
And thou the shame of any host but ours!
A host, by Jove endued with martial might,
And taught to conquer, or to fall in fight:        95
Adventurous combats and bold wars to wage,
Employ’d our youth, and yet employs our age.
And wilt thou thus desert the Trojan plain?
And have whole streams of blood been spilt in vain?
In such base sentence if thou couch thy fear,        100
Speak it in whispers, lest a Greek should hear.
Lives there a man so dead to fame, who dares
To think such meanness, or the thought declares?
And comes it ev’n from him whose sov’reign sway
The banded legions of all Greece obey?        105
Is this a Gen’ral’s voice, that calls to flight?
While war hangs doubtful, while his soldiers fight?
What more could Troy? What yet their fate denies
Thou giv’st the foe: all Greece becomes their prize.
No more the troops (our hoisted sails in view,        110
Themselves abandon’d) shall the fight pursue;
But thy ships flying with despair shall see,
And owe destruction to a Prince like thee.’
  ‘Thy just reproofs’ (Atrides calm replies)
‘Like arrows pierce me, for thy words are wise.        115
Unwilling as I am to lose the host,
I force not Greece to quit this hateful coast.
Glad I submit, whoe’er, or young or old,
Aught, more conducive to our weal, unfold.’
  Tydides cut him short, and thus began:        120
‘Such counsel if ye seek, behold the man
Who boldly gives it, and what he shall say,
Young tho’ he be, disdain not to obey:
A youth, who from the mighty Tydeus springs,
May speak to councils and assembled Kings.        125
Hear then in me the great Œnides’ son,
Whose honour’d dust (his race of glory run)
Lies whelm’d in ruins of the Theban wall;
Brave in his life, and glorious in his fall.
With three bold, sons was gen’rous Prothous bless’d,        130
Who Pleuron’s walls and Calydon possess’d:
Melas and Agrius, but (who far surpass’d
The rest in courage) Œneus was the last:
From him, my sire. From Calydon expell’d,
He pass’d to Argos, and in exile dwell’d;        135
The Monarch’s daughter there (so Jove ordain’d)
He won, and flourish’d where Adrastus reign’d:
There, rich in fortune’s gifts, his acres till’d,
Beheld his vines their liquid harvest yield,
And numerous flocks that whiten’d all the field.        140
Such Tydeus was, the foremost once in fame!
Nor lives in Greece a stranger to his name.
Then, what for common good my thoughts inspire,
Attend, and in the son respect the sire.
Tho’ sore of battle, tho’ with wounds opprest,        145
Let each go forth, and animate the rest,
Advance the glory which he cannot share,
Tho’ not partaker, witness of the war.
But lest new wounds on wounds o’erpower us quite,
Beyond the missile jav’lin’s sounding flight,        150
Safe let us stand; and, from the tumult far,
Inspire the ranks, and rule the distant war.’
  He added not: the list’ning Kings obey,
Slow moving on; Atrides leads the way.
The God of Ocean (to inflame their rage)        155
Appears a warrior furrow’d o’er with age;
Press’d in his own, the Gen’ral’s hand he took,
And thus the venerable hero spoke:
  ‘Atrides, lo! with what disdainful eye
Achilles sees his country’s forces fly:        160
Blind impious man! whose anger is his guide,
Who glories in unutterable pride.
So may he perish, so may Jove disclaim
The wretch relentless, and o’erwhelm with shame!
But Heav’n forsakes not thee: o’er yonder sands        165
Soon shalt thou view the scatter’d Trojan bands
Fly diverse; while proud Kings, and Chiefs renown’d,
Driv’n heaps on heaps, with clouds involv’d around
Of rolling dust, their winged wheels employ
To hide their ignominious heads in Troy.’        170
  He spoke, then rush’d among the warrior crew:
And sent his voice before him as he flew,
Loud, as the shout encount’ring armies yield,
When twice ten thousand shake the lab’ring field;
Such was the voice, and such the thund’ring sound        175
Of him whose trident rends the solid ground.
Each Argive bosom beats to meet the fight,
And grisly war appears a pleasing sight.
  Meantime Saturnia from Olympus’ brow,
High-throned in gold, beheld the fields below;        180
With joy the glorious conflict she survey’d,
Where her great brother gave the Grecians aid.
But placed aloft, on Ida’s shady height
She sees her Jove, and trembles at the sight.
Jove to deceive, what methods shall she try,        185
What arts, to blind his all-beholding eye?
At length she trusts her power; resolv’d to prove
The old, yet still successful, cheat of love;
Against his wisdom to oppose her charms,
And lull the Lord of Thunders in her arms.        190
  Swift to her bright apartment she repairs,
Sacred to dress, and beauty’s pleasing cares:
With skill divine had Vulcan form’d the bower,
Safe from access of each intruding power.
Touch’d with her secret key, the doors unfold        195
Self-closed, behind her shut the valves of gold.
Here first she bathes; and round her body pours
Soft oils of fragrance, and ambrosial showers:
The winds, perfumed, the balmy gale convey
Thro’ Heav’n, thro’ earth, and all th’ aërial way;        200
Spirit divine! whose exhalation greets
The sense of Gods with more than mortal sweets.
Thus while she breathed of Heav’n, with decent pride
Her artful hands the radiant tresses tied;
Part on her head in shining ringlets roll’d,        205
Part o’er her shoulders waved like melted gold.
Around her next a heav’nly mantle flow’d,
That rich with Pallas’ labour’d colours glow’d;
Large clasps of gold the foldings gather’d round,
A golden zone her swelling bosom bound.        210
Far-beaming pendants tremble in her ear,
Each gem illumin’d with a triple star.
Then o’er her head she cast a veil more white
Than new-fall’n snow, and dazzling as the light.
Last her fair feet celestial sandals grace.        215
Thus issuing radiant, with majestic pace,
Forth from the dome th’ imperial Goddess moves,
And calls the mother of the smiles and loves.
  ‘How long’ (to Venus thus apart she cried)
‘Shall human strife celestial minds divide?        220
Ah yet, will Venus aid Saturnia’s joy,
And set aside the cause of Greece and Troy?’
‘Let Heav’n’s dread Empress’ (Cytherea said)
‘Speak her request, and deem her will obey’d.’
  ‘Then grant me’ (said the Queen) ‘those conquering charms,        225
That Power, which mortals and immortals warms,
That love, which melts mankind in fierce desires,
And burns the sons of Heav’n with sacred fires!
For lo! I haste to those remote abodes,
Where the great parents (sacred source of Gods!)        230
Ocean and Tethys their old empire keep,
On the last limits of the land and deep.
In their kind arms my tender years were pass’d;
What time old Saturn, from Olympus cast,
Of upper Heav’n to Jove resign’d the reign,        235
Whelm’d under the huge mass of earth and main.
For strife, I hear, has made the union cease,
Which held so long that ancient pair in peace.
What honour, and what love, shall I obtain,
If I compose those fatal feuds again?        240
Once more their minds in mutual ties engage,
And what my youth has owed, repay their age.’
  She said. With awe divine the Queen of Love
Obey’d the sister and the wife of Jove;
And from her fragrant breast the zone unbraced,        245
With various skill and high embroid’ry graced.
In this was ev’ry art, and ev’ry charm,
To win the wisest, and the coldest warm:
Fond love, the gentle vow, the gay desire,
The kind deceit, the still reviving fire;        250
Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
This on her hand the Cyprian Goddess laid;
‘Take this, and with it all thy wish,’ she said:
With smiles she took the charm; and smiling press’d        255
The powerful cestus to her snowy breast.
  Then Venus to the courts of Jove withdrew;
Whilst from Olympus pleas’d Saturnia flew.
O’er high Pieria thence her course she bore,
O’er fair Emathia’s ever-pleasing shore,        260
O’er Hæmus’ hills with snows eternal crown’d:
Nor once her flying foot approach’d the ground.
Then taking wing from Athos’ lofty steep,
She speeds to Lemnos o’er the rolling deep,
And seeks the cave of Death’s half-brother, Sleep.        265
  ‘Sweet pleasing Sleep!’ (Saturnia thus began)
‘Who spread’st thy empire o’er each God and man;
If e’er obsequious to thy Juno’s will,
O Power of Slumbers! hear, and favour still.
Shed thy soft dews on Jove’s immortal eyes,        270
While sunk in love’s entrancing joys he lies.
A splendid footstool, and a throne, that shine
With gold unfading, Somnus, shall be thine;
The work of Vulcan, to indulge thy ease,
When wine and feasts thy golden humours please.’        275
  ‘Imperial Dame’ (the balmy Power replies),
‘Great Saturn’s heir, and Empress of the Skies!
O’er other Gods I spread my easy chain;
The sire of all, old Ocean, owns my reign,
And his hush’d waves lie silent on the main.        280
But how, unbidden, shall I dare to steep
Jove’s awful temples in the dew of sleep?
Long since, too venturous, at thy bold command,
On those eternal lids I laid my hand;
What time, deserting Ilion’s wasted plain,        285
His conquering son, Alcides, plough’d the main:
When lo! the deeps arise, the tempests roar,
And drive the hero to the Coan shore;
Great Jove, awaking, shook the bless’d abodes
With rising wrath, and tumbled Gods on Gods;        290
Me chief he sought, and from the realms on high
Had hurl’d indignant to the nether sky,
But gentle Night, to whom I fled for aid
(The friend of Earth and Heav’n), her wings display’d;
Empower’d the wrath of Gods and men to tame,        295
Ev’n Jove revered the venerable dame.’
  ‘Vain are thy fears’ (the Queen of Heav’n replies,
And, speaking, rolls her large majestic eyes);
‘Think’st thou that Troy has Jove’s high favour won,
Like great Alcides, his all-conquering son?        300
Hear, and obey the Mistress of the Skies,
Nor for the deed expect a vulgar prize:
For know, thy lov’d-one shall be ever thine,
The youngest Grace, Pasithaë the divine.’
  ‘Swear then’ (he said) ‘by those tremendous floods,        305
That roar thro’ Hell, and bind th’ invoking Gods:
Let the great parent earth one hand sustain,
And stretch the other o’er the sacred main:
Call the black Titans that with Cronos dwell,
To hear and witness from the depths of Hell;        310
That she, my lov’d-one, shall be ever mine,
The youngest Grace, Pasithaë the divine.’
  The Queen assents, and from th’ infernal bowers
Invokes the sable subtartarean powers,
And those who rule th’ inviolable floods,        315
Whom mortals name the dread Titanian Gods.
  Then, swift as wind, o’er Lemnos’ smoky isle,
They wing their way, and Imbrus’ sea-beat soil,
Thro’ air, unseen, involv’d in darkness glide,
And light on Lectos, on the point of Ide        320
(Mother of savages, whose echoing hills
Are heard resounding with a hundred rills);
Fair Ida trembles underneath the God;
Hush’d are her mountains, and her forests nod.
There, on a fir, whose spiry branches rise        325
To join its summit to the neighb’ring skies,
Dark in embow’ring shade, conceal’d from sight,
Sat Sleep, in likeness of the bird of night
(Chalcis his name with those of heav’nly birth,
But called Cymindis by the race of earth).        330
  To Ida’s top successful Juno flies;
Great Jove surveys her with desiring eyes:
The God, whose lightning sets the Heav’ns on fire,
Thro’ all his bosom feels the fierce desire;
Fierce as when first by stealth he seiz’d her charms,        335
Mix’d with her soul, and melted in her arms.
Fix’d on her eyes he fed his eager look,
Then press’d her hand, and then with transport spoke:
‘Why comes my Goddess from th’ ethereal sky,
And not her steeds and flaming chariot nigh!’        340
  Then she—‘I haste to those remote abodes,
Where the great parents of the deathless Gods,
The rev’rend Ocean and great Tethys, reign,
On the last limits of the land and main.
I visit these, to whose indulgent cares        345
I owe the nursing of my tender years.
For strife, I hear, has made that union cease,
Which held so long this ancient pair in peace.
The steeds, prepared my chariot to convey
O’er earth and seas, and thro’ th’ aërial way,        350
Wait under Ide: of thy superior power
To ask consent, I leave th’ Olympian bower;
Nor seek, unknown to thee, the sacred cells
Deep under, seas, where hoary Ocean dwells.’
  ‘For that’ (said Jove) ‘suffice another day;        355
But eager love denies the least delay.
Let softer cares the present hour employ,
And be these moments sacred all to joy.
Ne’er did my soul so strong a passion prove,
Or for an earthly, or a heav’nly love;        360
Not when I press’d Ixion’s matchless dame,
Whence rose Pirithous, like the Gods in fame.
Not when fair Danaë felt the shower of gold
Stream into life, whence Perseus brave and bold.
Not thus I burn’d for either Theban dame        365
(Bacchus from this, from that Alcides came),
Not Phœnix’ daughter, beautiful and young,
Whence Godlike Rhadamanth and Minos sprung;
Not thus I burn’d for fair Latona’s face,
Nor comelier Ceres’ more majestic grace.        370
Not thus ev’n for thyself I felt desire,
As now my veins receive the pleasing fire.’
  He spoke; the Goddess with the charming eyes
Glows with celestial red, and thus replies:
‘Is this a scene for love? On Ida’s height,        375
Exposed to mortal and immortal sight;
Our joys profaned by each familiar eye;
The sport of Heav’n, and fable of the sky!
How shall I e’er review the bless’d abodes,
Or mix among the Senate of the Gods?        380
Shall I not think, that, with disorder’d charms,
All Heav’n beholds me recent from thy arms?
With skill divine has Vulcan form’d thy bower,
Sacred to love and to the genial hour;
If such thy will, to that recess retire,        385
And secret there indulge thy soft desire.’
  She ceas’d: and smiling with superior love,
Thus answer’d mild the cloud-compelling Jove:
‘Not God nor mortal shall our joys behold,
Shaded with clouds, and circumfused in gold;        390
Not ev’n the sun, who darts thro’ Heav’n his rays,
And whose broad eye th’ extended earth surveys.’
  Gazing he spoke, and, kindling at the view,
His eager arms around the Goddess threw.
Glad Earth perceives, and from her bosom pours        395
Unbidden herbs, and voluntary flowers;
Thick new-born violets a soft carpet spread,
And clust’ring lotos swell’d the rising bed,
And sudden hyacinths the turf bestrow,
And flamy crocus made the mountain glow.        400
There golden clouds conceal the heav’nly pair,
Steep’d in soft joys, and circumfused with air;
Celestial dews, descending o’er the ground,
Perfume the mount, and breathe ambrosia round.
At length with Love and Sleep’s soft power oppress’d,        405
The panting Thund’rer nods, and sinks to rest.
  Now to the navy borne on silent wings,
To Neptune’s ear soft Sleep his message brings;
Beside him sudden, unperceiv’d he stood,
And thus with gentle words address’d the God:        410
  ‘Now, Neptune! now, th’ important hour employ,
To check awhile the haughty hopes of Troy:
While Jove yet rests, while yet my vapours shed
The golden vision round his sacred head;
For Juno’s love, and Somnus’ pleasing ties,        415
Have closed those awful and eternal eyes.’
  Thus having said, the Power of Slumber flew,
On human lids to drop the balmy dew.
Neptune, with zeal increas’d, renews his care,
And tow’ring in the foremost ranks of war,        420
Indignant thus: ‘Oh once of martial fame!
O Greeks! if yet ye can deserve the name!
This half-recover’d day shall Troy obtain?
Shall Hector thunder at your ships again?
Lo, still he vaunts, and threats the fleet with fires,        425
While stern Achilles in his wrath retires.
One hero’s loss too tamely you deplore,
Be still yourselves, and we shall need no more.
Oh yet, if glory any bosom warms,
Brace on your firmest helms, and stand to arms:        430
His strongest spear each valiant Grecian wield,
Each valiant Grecian seize his broadest shield;
Let to the weak the lighter arms belong,
The pond’rous targe be wielded by the strong.
Thus arm’d, not Hector shall our presence stay;        435
Myself, ye Greeks! myself will lead the way.’
  The troops assent; their martial arms they change,
The busy chiefs their banded legions range.
The Kings, tho’ wounded, and oppress’d with pain,
With helpful hands themselves assist the train.        440
The strong and cumbrous arms the valiant wield,
The weaker warrior takes a lighter shield.
Thus sheathed in shining brass, in bright array
The legions march, and Neptune leads the way:
His brandish’d falchion flames before their eyes,        445
Like lightning flashing thro’ the frighted skies.
Clad in his might th’ earth-shaking Power appears;
Pale mortals tremble, and confess their fears.
  Troy’s great defender stands alone unaw’d,
Arms his proud host, and dares oppose a God:        450
And lo! the God and wondrous man appear;
The sea’s stern ruler there, and Hector here.
The roaring main, at her great master’s call,
Rose in huge ranks, and form’d a wat’ry wall
Around the ships, seas hanging o’er the shores;        455
Both armies join; earth thunders, ocean roars.
Not half so loud the bell’wing deeps resound,
When stormy winds disclose the dark profound;
Less loud the winds that from th’ Æolian hall
Roar thro’ the woods, and make whole forests fall;        460
Less loud the woods, when flames in torrents pour,
Catch the dry mountain and its shades devour.
With such a rage the meeting hosts are driv’n,
And such a clamour shakes the sounding Heav’n.
  The first bold jav’lin, urged by Hector’s force,        465
Direct at Ajax’ bosom wing’d its course;
But there no pass the crossing belts afford
(One braced his shield, and one sustain’d his sword).
Then back the disappointed Trojan drew,
And curs’d the lance that unavailing flew:        470
But ’scaped not Ajax; his tempestuous hand
A pond’rous stone up-heaving from the sand
(Where heaps, laid loose beneath the warrior’s feet,
Or serv’d to ballast, or to prop the fleet),
Toss’d round and round, the missive marble flings;        475
On the rais’d shield the falling ruin rings,
Full on his breast and throat with force descends;
Nor deaden’d there its giddy fury spends,
But, whirling on, with many a fiery round,
Smokes in the dust, and ploughs into the ground.        480
As when the bolt, red-hissing from above,
Darts on the consecrated plant of Jove,
The mountain-oak in flaming ruin lies,
Black from the blow, and smokes of sulphur rise:
Stiff with amaze the pale beholders stand,        485
And own the terrors of th’ almighty hand!
So lies great Hector prostrate on the shore;
His slacken’d hand deserts the lance it bore;
His foll’wing shield the fallen chief o’er-spread;
Beneath his helmet dropp’d his fainting head;        490
His load of armour, sinking to the ground,
Clanks on the field: a dead and hollow sound.
Loud shouts of triumph fill the crowded plain;
Greece sees, in hope, Troy’s great defender slain:
All spring to seize him: storms of arrows fly;        495
And thicker jav’lins intercept the sky.
In vain an iron tempest hisses round:
He lies protected and without a wound.
Polydamas, Agenor the divine,
The pious warrior of Anchises’ line,        500
And each bold leader of the Lysian band,
With cov’ring shields (a friendly circle) stand.
His mournful foll’wers, with assistant care,
The groaning hero to his chariot bear;
His foaming coursers, swifter than the wind        505
Speed to the town, and leave the war behind.
  When now they touch’d the mead’s enamell’d side,
Where gentle Xanthus rolls his easy tide,
With wat’ry drops the chief they sprinkle round,
Placed on the margin of the flowery ground.        510
Rais’d on his knees, he now ejects the gore;
Now faints anew, low sinking on the shore:
By fits he breathes, half views the fleeting skies,
And seals again, by fits, his swimming eyes.
  Soon as the Greeks the chief’s retreat beheld,        515
With double fury each invades the field.
Oïlean Ajax first his jav’lin sped,
Pierc’d by whose point the son of Enops bled
(Satnius the brave, whom beauteous Neïs bore
Amidst her flocks, on Satnio’s silver shore).        520
Struck thro’ the belly’s rim, the warrior lies
Supine, and shades eternal veil his eyes.
An arduous battle rose around the dead;
By turns the Greeks, by turns the Trojans, bled.
  Fired with revenge, Polydamas drew near,        525
And at Prothœnor shook the trembling spear:
The driving jav’lin thro’ his shoulder thrust,
He sinks to earth, and grasps the bloody dust.
  ‘Lo! thus’ (the Victor cries) ‘we rule the field,
And thus their arms the race of Panthus wield:        530
From this unerring hand there flies no dart,
But bathes its point within a Grecian heart.
Propp’d on that spear to which thou ow’st thy fall,
Go, guide thy darksome steps to Pluto’s dreary hall.’
  He said, and sorrow touch’d each Argive breast;        535
The soul of Ajax burn’d above the rest.
As by his side the groaning warrior fell,
At the fierce foe he lanc’d his piercing steel;
The foe, reclining, shunn’d the flying death;
But Fate, Archilochus, demands thy breath;        540
Thy lofty birth no succour could impart,
The wings of death o’ertook thee on the dart:
Swift to perform Heav’n’s fatal will it fled,
Full on the juncture of the neck and head,
And took the joint, and cut the nerves in twain;        545
The drooping head first tumbled to the plain:
So just the stroke, that yet the body stood
Erect, then roll’d along the sands in blood.
  ‘Here, proud Polydamas, here turn thy eyes!’
The tow’ring Ajax loud-insulting cries:        550
‘Say, is this chief, extended on the plain,
A worthy vengeance for Prothœnor slain?
Mark well his port! his figure and his face
Nor speak him vulgar, nor of vulgar race;
Some lines, methinks, may make his lineage known,        555
Antenor’s brother, or perhaps his son.’
  He spake, and smil’d severe, for well he knew
The bleeding youth: Troy sadden’d at the view.
But furious Acamas avenged his cause;
As Promachus his slaughter’d brother draws,        560
He pierc’d his heart—‘Such fate attends you all,
Proud Argives! destin’d by our arms to fall.
Not Troy alone, but haughty Greece, shall share
The toils, the sorrows, and the wounds of war.
Behold your Promachus deprived of breath,        565
A victim owed to my brave brother’s death.
Not unappeas’d he enters Pluto’s gate,
Who leaves a brother to revenge his fate.’
  Heart-piercing anguish struck the Grecian host,
But touch’d the breast of bold Peneleus most:        570
At the proud boaster he directs his course;
The boaster flies, and shuns superior force.
But young Ilioneus receiv’d the spear;
Ilioneus, his father’s only care
(Phorbas the rich, of all the Trojan train        575
Whom Hermes lov’d, and taught the arts of gain):
Full in his eye the weapon chanc’d to fall,
And from the fibres scoop’d the rooted ball,
Drove thro’ the neck, and hurl’d him to the plain:
He lifts his miserable arms in vain!        580
Swift his broad falchion fierce Peneleus spread,
And from the spouting shoulders struck his head;
To earth at once the head and helmet fly:
The lance, yet sticking thro’ the bleeding eye,
The victor seiz’d; and as aloft he shook        585
The gory visage, thus insulting spoke:
  ‘Trojans! your great Ilioneus beheld!
Haste, to his father let the tale be told.
Let his high roofs resound with frantic woe,
Such as the house of Promachus must know;        590
Let doleful tidings greet his mother’s ear,
Such as to Promachus’ sad spouse we bear;
When we victorious shall to Greece return,
And the pale matron in our triumphs mourn.’
  Dreadful he spoke, then toss’d the head on high;        595
The Trojans hear, they tremble, and they fly:
Aghast they gaze around the fleet and wall,
And dread the ruin that impends on all.
  Daughters of Jove! that on Olympus shine,
Ye all beholding, all-recording Nine!        600
O say, when Neptune made proud Ilion yield,
What Chief, what hero, first imbrued the field?
Of all the Grecians, what immortal name,
And whose bless’d trophies, will ye raise to Fame?
  Thou first, great Ajax! on th’ ensanguin’d plain        605
Laid Hyrtius, leader of the Mysian train.
Phalces and Mermer, Nestor’s son o’er threw,
Bold Merion, Morys and Hippotion slew.
Strong Periphætes and Prothoön bled,
By Teucer’s arrows mingled with the dead.        610
Pierc’d in the flank by Menelaus’ steel,
His people’s pastor, Hyperenor fell;
Eternal darkness wrapp’d the warrior round,
And the fierce soul came rushing thro’ the wound.
But stretch’d in heaps before Oïleus’ son,        615
Fall mighty numbers, mighty numbers run,
Ajax the less, of all the Grecian race
Skill’d in pursuit, and swiftest in the chase.
 
 
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