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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Hector Pursued by Achilles around Troy
By Homer (fl. 850 B.C.)
 
From the Iliad, xxii. 136–185: Translation of John Conington

  HECTOR beheld and trembled: naught he dared
    To wait, but left the gates, and shuddering flew.
  Achilleus with swift feet behind him fared.
    As mountain hawk, most fleet of feathered crew,
    A trembling dove doth easily pursue;        5
  Swerving she flutters; he, intent to seize,
    With savage scream close hounds her through the blue;—
  So keenly he swept onward; Hector flees
Beneath his own Troy wall, and plies his limber knees.
 
  All past the watch-tower and the fig-tree tall        10
    Along the chariot road at speed they fare,
  Still swerving outward from the city’s wall;
    Then reach the two fair-flowing streamlets, where
    Scamander’s twofold source breaks forth to air.
  One flows in a warm tide, and steam doth go        15
    Up from it, as a blazing fire were there;
  But the other runs in summer’s midmost glow
Cold as the frozen hail, or ice, or chilly snow.
 
  Thereby great troughs and meet for washing stand,
    Beautiful, stony, where their robes of pride        20
  Troy’s wives and daughters washed, ere to the land
    The foeman came, in happy peaceful tide.
    Flying and following, these they ran beside,
  He good that flies, he better that pursues;
    For no fat victim ’twas, nor bullock’s hide,        25
  Such meed as men for conquering runners choose,
But Hector’s life the prize they ran to win or lose.
 
  Look how prize-bearing horses, hard of hoof,
    Circle about the goal with eager bound,
  And a great guerdon stands, not far aloof,        30
    Tripod or woman, at the funeral mound
    Of some dead chief; so thrice they circled round
  King Priam’s town, their swift feet winged for flight:
    While all the gods Olympus’s summit crowned,
  Looking from high to see the wondrous sight;        35
And thus the almighty Sire their counsel did invite:—
 
  “Alas! I see a loved one with mine eyes
    Chased round the city: and my heart doth bleed
  For Hector, for that many an ox’s thighs
    He burnt, where Ida overlooks the mead,        40
    Or in the topmost tower; now with fell speed
  Achilleus hunts him round King Priam’s town.
    But come, ye gods, take counsel and arede,
  Or shall we save him now, or strike him down
Under Achilleus’s spear, despite his fair renown.”        45
 
  To him stern-eyed Athene answered so:—
    “Dread Thunderer in dark cloud, what words are these?
  What, a mere mortal, fated long ago,
    Wouldst thou set free from death’s severe decrees?
    Do it; but us gods thy doing shall not please.”        50
  And cloud-compelling Zeus in turn rejoined:—
    “Take heart, dear child, and set thy soul at ease;
  I meant it not, but would to thee be kind:
Now do it, nor delay, whate’er is in thy mind.”
 
 
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