Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
The First Book of Homer’s Ilias
  CHRYSES, 1 Priest of Apollo, brings Presents to the Grecian Princes, to ransom his Daughter Chryseis, Who was Prisoner in the Fleet. Agamemnon, the General, whose Captive and Mistress the young Lady was, refuses to deliver her, threatens the Venerable Old Man, and dismisses him with Contumely.—The Priest craves Vengeance of his God; who sends a Plague among the Greeks: which occasions Achilles, their Great Champion, to summon a Council of the Chief Officers: He encourages Calchas, the High Priest and Prophet, to tell the Reason, why the Gods were so much incensed against them.—Calchas is fearful of provoking Agamemnon, till Achilles engages to protect him: Then, embolden’d by the Heroe, he accuses the General as the Cause of all, by detaining the Fair Captive, and refusing the Presents offer’d for her Ransom. By this Proceeding, Agamemnon is oblig’d, against his Will, to restore Chryseis, with Gifts, that he might appease the Wrath of Phœbus; but at the same time, to revenge himself on Achilles, sends to seize his Slave Briseis. Achilles, thus affronted, complains to his Mother Thetis; and begs her to revenge his Injury, not only on the General, but on all the Army, by giving Victory to the Trojans, till the ungrateful King became sensible of his Injustice. At the same time, he retires from the Camp into his Ships, and withdraws his aid from his Countrymen. Thetis prefers her Son’s Petition to Jupiter, who grants her Sute. Juno suspects her Errand, and quarrels with her Husband, for his Grant; till Vulcan reconciles his Parents with a Bowl of Nectar, and sends them peaceably to Bed.

THE WRATH of Peleus 2 Son, O Muse, resound;
Whose dire Effects the Grecian Army found:
And many a Heroe, King, and hardy Knight,
Were sent, in early Youth, to Shades of Night:
Their Limbs a Prey to Dogs and Vultures made;        5
So was the Sov’reign Will of Jove obey’d:
From that ill-omen’d Hour when Strife begun,
Betwixt Atrides Great, and Thetis God-like Son.
  What Pow’r provok’d, and for what Cause, relate,
Sow’d, in their Breasts, the Seeds of stern Debate:        10
Jove’s and Latona’s Son his Wrath express’d,
In Vengeance of his violated Priest,
Against the King of Men; who swoln with Pride.
Refus’d his Presents, and his Pray’rs deny’d.
For this the God a swift Contagion spread        15
Amid the Camp, where Heaps on Heaps lay dead.
  For Venerable Chryses came to buy,
With Gold and Gifts of Price, his Daughter’s Liberty.
Suppliant before the Grecian chiefs he stood;
Awful, and arm’d with Ensigns of his God:        20
Bare was his hoary Head; one holy Hand
Held forth his Laurel Crown, and one his Sceptre of Command.
His Suit was common; but above the rest,
To both the Brother-Princes thus address’d:
  Ye Sons of Atreus, and ye Grecian Pow’rs,        25
So may the Gods who dwell in Heav’nly Bow’rs
Succeed your Siege, accord the Vows you make,
And give you Troys Imperial Town to take;
So, by their happy Conduct, may you come
With Conquest back to your sweet Native Home;        30
As you receive the Ransom which I bring,
(Respecting love, and the far-shooting King,)
And break my Daughters Bonds, at my desire;
And glad with her Return her grieving Sire.
  With Shouts of loud Acclaim the Greeks decree        35
To take the Gifts, to set the Damsel free.
The King of Men alone with Fury burn’d;
And haughty, these opprobrious Words return’d:
Hence, Holy Dotard, and avoid my Sight,
E’r Evil intercept thy tardy Flight:        40
Nor dare to tread this interdicted Strand,
Lest not that idle Sceptre in thy Hand,
Nor thy God’s Crown, my vow’d Revenge withstand.
Hence on thy Life: The Captive-Maid is mine;
Whom not for Price or Pray’rs I will resign:        45
Mine she shall be, till creeping Age and Time
Her Bloom have wither’d, and consum’d her Prime:
Till then my Royal Bed she shall attend;
And having first adorn’d it, late ascend:
This, for the Night; by Day, the Web and Loom        50
And homely Household-task, shall be her Doom,
Far from thy lov’d Embrace, and her sweet Native Home.
He said: The helpless Priest reply’d no more,
But sped his Steps along the hoarse-resounding Shore:
Silent he fled; secure at length he stood,        55
Devoutly curs’d his Foes, and thus invok’d his God.
  O Source of Sacred Light, attend my Pray’r,
God with the Silver Bow, and Golden Hair;
Whom Chrysa, Cilla, Tenedos obeys,
And whose broad Eye their happy Soil surveys;        60
If, Smintheus, I have pour’d before thy Shrine
The Blood of Oxen, Goats, and ruddy Wine,
And Larded Thighs on loaded Altars laid,
Hear, and my just Revenge propitious aid,
Pierce the proud Greeks, and with thy Shafts attest        65
How much thy pow’r is injured in thy Priest.
  He pray’d, and Phœbus hearing, urg’d his Flight,
With fury kindled, from Olympus Height;
His Quiver o’er his ample Shoulders threw;
His Bow twang’d, and his Arrows rattl’d as they flew.        70
Black as a stormy Night, he rang’d around
The Tents, and compass’d the devoted Ground.
Then with full Force his deadly Bowe he bent,
And Feather’d Fates among the Mules and Sumpters sent,
Th’ Essay of Rage, on faithful Dogs the next;        75
And last, in Humane Hearts his Arrows fix’d.
The God nine Days the Greeks at Rovers kill’d,
Nine Days the Camp with Fun’ral Fires was fill’d;
The tenth, Achilles, by the Queens Command,
Who bears Heav’ns awful Sceptre in her Hand,        80
A Council summon’d: for the Goddess griev’d
Her favour’d Hoast shou’d perish unreliev’d.
  The Kings assembled, soon their Chief inclose;
Then from his Seat the Goddess-born arose,
And thus undaunted spoke: What now remains,        85
But that once more we tempt the watry Plains,
And wandring homeward, seek our Safety hence,
In Flight at least if we can find Defence?
Such Woes at once encompass us about,
The Plague within the Camp, the Sword without.        90
Consult, O King, the Prophets of th’ Event:
And whence these Ills, and what the Gods intent,
Let them by Dreams explore; for Dreams from Jove are sent.
What want of offer’d Victims, what Offence
In Fact committed cou’d the Sun incense,        95
To deal his deadly Shafts? What may remove
His settled Hate, and reconcile his Love?
That he may look propitious on our Toils;
And hungry Graves no more be glutted with our Spoils.
  Thus to the King of Men the Hero spoke,        100
Then Calchas the desir’d Occasion took:
Calchas the sacred Seer, who had in view
Things present and the past; and Things to come foreknew,
Supream of Augurs, who by Phœbus taught,
The Grecian Pow’rs to Troy’s Destruction brought.        105
Skill’d in the secret Causes of their Woes,
The Reverend Priest in graceful Act arose:
And thus bespoke Pelides: Care of Jove,
Favour’d of all th’ Immortal Pow’rs above;
Wou’dst thou the Seeds deep sown of Mischief know,        110
And why, provok’d Apollo bends his bow?
Plight first thy Faith, inviolably true,
To save me from those Ills, that may ensue.
  For I shall tell ungrateful Truths, to those
Whose boundless Pow’rs of Life and Death dispose.        115
And Sov’reigns, ever jealous of their State,
Forgive not those whom once they mark for Hate;
Ev’n tho’ th’ Offence they seemingly digest,
Revenge, like Embers, rak’d within their Breast,
Bursts forth in Flames; whose unresisted Pow’r        120
Will seize th’ unwary Wretch, and soon devour.
Such, and no less is he, on whom depends
The sum of Things; and whom my Tongue of force offends.
Secure me then from his foreseen Intent,
That what his Wrath may doom, thy Valour may prevent.        125
  To this the stern Achilles made Reply:
Be bold; and on my plighted Faith rely,
To speak what Phœbus has inspir’d thy Soul
For common Good; and speak without controul.
His Godhead I invoke, by him I swear,        130
That while my Nostrils draw this vital Air,
None shall presume to violate those Bands;
Or touch thy Person with unhallow’d Hands:
Ev’n not the King of Men that all commands.
  At this, resuming Heart, the Prophet said:        135
Nor Hecatombs 3 unslain, nor Vows unpaid,
On Greeks, accurs’d, this dire Contagion bring;
Or call for Vengeance from the Bowyer King;
But he the Tyrant, whom none dares resist,
Affronts the Godhead in his injur’d Priest:        140
He keeps the Damsel Captive in his Chain,
And Presents are refus’d, and Pray’rs preferr’d in vain.
For this th’ avenging Pow’r employs his Darts;
And empties all his Quiver in our Hearts:
Thus will persist, relentless in his ire,        145
Till the fair Slave be render’d to her Syre:
And Ransom-free restor’d to his Abode,
With Sacrifice to reconcile the God:
Then he, perhaps, atton’d by Pray’r, may cease
His Vengeance justly vow’d, and give the Peace.        150
  Thus having said, he sate: Thus answer’d then
Upstarting from his Throne, the King of Men,
His Breast with Fury fill’d, his Eyes with Fire;
Which rowling round, he shot in Sparkles on the Sire:
Augur of Ill, whose Tongue was never found        155
Without a Priestly Curse or boding Sound;
For not one bless’d Event foretold to me
Pass’d through that Mouth, or pass’d unwillingly.
And now thou dost with Lies the Throne invade,
By Practice harden’d in thy sland’ring Trade.        160
Obtending Heav’n, for what e’er Ills befal;
And sputtring under specious Names thy Gall.
Now Phœbus is provok’d; his Rites and Laws
Are in his Priest profan’d, and I the Cause:
Since I detain a Slave, my Sov’reign Prize;        165
And sacred Gold, your Idol-God, despise.
I love her well: And well her Merits claim,
To stand preferr’d before my Grecian Dame:
Not Clytemnestra’s self in Beauties Bloom
More charm’d, or better ply’d the various Loom:        170
Mine is the Maid; and brought in happy Hour
With every Household-grace adorn’d, to bless my Nuptial Bow’r.
Yet shall she be restor’d; since publick Good
For private Int’rest ought not to be withstood,
To save th’ Effusion of my People’s Blood.        175
But Right requires, if I resign my own,
I shou’d not suffer for your sakes alone;
Alone excluded from the Prize I gain’d,
And by your common Suffrage have obtain’d
The Slave without a Ransom shall be sent:        180
It rests for you to make th’ Equivalent.
  To this the fierce Thessalian Prince reply’d:
O first in Pow’r, but passing all in Pride,
Griping, and still tenacious of thy Hold,
Would’st thou the Grecian Chiefs, though largely Sould,        185
Shou’d give the Prizes they had gain’d before,
And with their Loss thy Sacrilege restore?
Whate’er by force of Arms the Soldier got,
Is each his own, by dividend of Lot:
Which to resume, were both unjust, and base;        190
Not to be borne but by a servile Race.
But this we can: If Saturn’s Son bestows
The Sack of Troy, which he by Promise owes;
Then shall the conquering Greeks thy Loss restore,
And with large Int’rest make th’ advantage more.        195
  To this Atrides answer’d, Though thy Boast
Assumes the foremost Name of all our Host,
Pretend not, mighty Man, that what is mine,
Controll’d by thee, I tamely shou’d resign.
Shall I release the Prize I gain’d by Right,        200
In taken Towns, and many a bloody Fight,
While thou detain’st Briseis in thy Bands,
By priestly glossing on the God’s Commands?
Resolve on this, (a short Alternative)
Quit mine, or, in Exchange, another give;        205
Else I, assure thy Soul, by Sov’reign Right
Will seize thy Captive in thy own Despight.
Or from stout Ajax, or Ulysses, bear
What other Prize my Fancy shall prefer:
Then softly murmur, or aloud complain,        210
Rage as you please, you shall resist in vain.
But more of this, in proper Time and Place;
To Things of greater Moment let us pass.
A Ship to sail the sacred Seas prepare;
Proud in her Trim; and put on board the Fair,        215
With Sacrifice and Gifts, and all the Pomp of Pray’r.
The Crew well chosen, the Command shall be
In Ajax; or if other I decree,
In Creta’s King, or Ithacus, or, if I please in Thee:
Most fit thy self to see perform’d th’ Intent        220
From which my Pris’ner from my Sight is sent;
(Thanks to thy pious Care) that Phœbus may relent.
  At this, Achilles roul’d his furious Eyes,
Fix’d on the King askant; and thus replies:
O, Impudent, regardful of thy own,        225
Whose thoughts are center’d on thy self alone,
Advanc’d to Sovereign Sway, for better Ends
Than thus like abject Slaves to treat thy Friends.
What Greek is he, that urg’d by thy Command,
Against the Trojan Troops will lift his Hand?        230
Not I: Nor such inforc’d Respect I owe;
Nor Pergamus I hate, nor Priam is my Foe.
What Wrong from Troy remote, cou’d I sustain,
To leave my fruitful Soil, and happy Reign,
And plough the Surges of the stormy Main?        235
Thee, frontless Man, we follow’d from afar;
Thy Instruments of Death, and Tools of War.
Thine is the Triumph; ours the Toil alone:
We bear thee on our Backs, and mount thee on the Throne.
For thee we fall in Fight; for thee redress        240
Thy baffled Brother; not the Wrongs of Greece.
And now thou threaten’st with unjust Decree,
To punish thy affronting Heav’n, on me.
To seize the Prize which I so dearly bought;
By common Suffrage giv’n, confirm’d by Lot.        245
Mean Match to thine: For still above the rest,
Thy hook’d rapacious Hands usurp the best.
Though mine are first in Fight, to force the Prey;
And last sustain the Labours of the Day.
Nor grudge I thee the much the Grecians give;        250
Nor murm’ring take the little I receive.
Yet ev’n this little, thou, who woud’st ingross
The whole, Insatiate, envy’st as thy Loss.
Know, then, for Phthya fix’d is my return:
Better at home my ill-paid Pains to mourn,        255
Than from an Equal here sustain the publick Scorn.
  The King, whose Brows with shining Gold were bound,
Who saw his Throne with scepter’d Slaves encompass’d round,
Thus answer’d stern: Go, at thy Pleasure, go:
We need not such a Friend, nor fear we such a Foe.        260
There will not want to follow me in Fight:
Jove will assist, and Jove assert my Right.
But thou of all the Kings, (his Care below)
Art least at my Command, and most my Foe.
Debates, Dissentions, Uproars are thy Joy;        265
Provok’d without Offence, and practis’d to destroy.
Strength is of Brutes; and not thy Boast alone;
At least ’tis lent from Heav’n; and not thy own.
Fly then, ill-manner’d, to thy Native Land,
And there, thy Ant-born Myrmidons command.        270
But mark this Menace; since I must resign
My black-ey’d Maid, to please the Pow’rs divine:
(A well-rigg’d Vessel in the Port attends,
Mann’d at my Charge, commanded by my Friends)
The Ship shall waft her to her wish’d Abode,        275
Full fraught with holy Bribes to the far-shooting God.
This thus dispatch’d, I owe my self the Care,
My Fame and injur’d Honour to repair:
From thy own Tent, proud Man, in thy despight,
This Hand shall ravish thy pretended Right.        280
Briseis shall be mine, and thou shalt see,
What odds of awful Pow’r I have on thee:
That others at thy cost may learn the diff’rence of degree.
  At this th’ Impatient Hero sowrly smil’d.
His Heart, impetuous in his Bosom boil’d,        285
And justled by two Tides of equal sway,
Stood, for a while, suspended in his way.
Betwixt his Reason and his Rage untam’d;
One whisper’d soft, and one aloud reclaim’d:
That only counsell’d to the safer side;        290
This to the Sword his ready Hand apply’d.
Unpunish’d to support th’ Affront was hard:
Nor easy was th’ Attempt to force the Guard.
But soon the Thirst of Vengeance fir’d his Blood:
Half shone his Faulchion, and half sheath’d it stood.        295
  In that nice Moment, Pallas, from above,
Commission’d by th’ Imperial Wife of Jove,
Descended swift: (the white-arm’d Queen was loath
The Fight shou’d follow; for she favour’d both:)
Just as in Act he stood, in Clouds inshrin’d,        300
Her Hand she fasten’d on his Hair behind;
Then backward by his yellow Curls she drew;
To him and him alone confess’d in view.
Tam’d by superiour Force, he turn’d his Eyes
Aghast at first, and stupid with Surprize:        305
But by her sparkling Eyes, and ardent Look,
The Virgin-Warrior known, he thus bespoke.
  Com’st thou, Celestial, to behold my Wrongs?
Then 4 view the Vengeance which to Crimes belongs.
  Thus He. The blue-ey’d Goddess thus rejoin’d:        310
I come to calm thy turbulence of Mind,
If Reason will resume her soveraign Sway,
And, sent by Juno, her Commands obey.
Equal she loves you both, and I protect:
Then give thy Guardian Gods their due respect;        315
And cease Contention; be thy Words severe,
Sharp as he merits: But the Sword forbear.
An Hour unhop’d already wings her way,
When he his dire Affront shall dearly pay:
When the proud King shall sue, with trebble Gain,        320
To quit thy Loss, and conquer thy Disdain.
But thou, secure of my unfailing Word,
Compose thy swelling Soul; and sheath the Sword.
  The Youth thus answer’d mild; Auspicious Maid,
Heaven’s will be mine, and your Commands obey’d.        325
The Gods are just, and when subduing Sense,
We serve their Pow’rs, provide the Recompence.
He said; with surly Faith believ’d her Word,
And, in the Sheath, reluctant, plung’d the Sword.
Her Message done, she mounts the bless’d Abodes,        330
And mix’d among the Senate of the Gods.
  At her Departure his Disdain return’d:
The Fire she fan’d, with greater Fury burn’d;
Rumbling within till thus it found a Vent:
Dastard, and Drunkard, Mean and Insolent:        335
Tongue-valiant Hero, Vaunter of thy Might,
In Threats the foremost, but the lag in Fight;
When did’st thou thrust amid the mingled Preace,
Content to bid 5 the War aloof in Peace?
Arms are the Trade of each Plebeyan soul;        340
’Tis Death to fight; but Kingly to controul.
Lord-like at ease, with arbitrary Pow’r,
To peel the Chiefs, the People to devour.
These, Traitor, are thy Tallents; safer far
Than to contend in Fields, and Toils of War.        345
Nor coud’st thou thus have dar’d the common Hate,
Were not their Souls as abject as their State.
But, by this Scepter, solemnly I swear,
(Which never more green Leaf or growing Branch shall bear:
Torn from the Tree, and giv’n by Jove to those        350
Who Laws dispence and mighty Wrongs oppose)
That when the Grecians want my wonted Aid,
No Gift shall bribe it, and no Pray’r persuade.
When Hector comes, the Homicide, to wield
His conquering Arms, with Corps to strow the Field,        355
Then shalt thou mourn thy Pride; and late confess
My Wrong repented, when ’tis past Redress.
He said: And with Disdain, in open view,
Against the Ground his golden Scepter threw;
Then sate: with boiling Rage Atrides burn’d:        360
And Foam betwixt his gnashing Grinders churn’d.
  But from his Seat the Pylian Prince arose,
With Reas’ning mild, their Madness to compose:
Words, sweet as Hony, from his Mouth distill’d;
Two Centuries already he fulfill’d;        365
And now began the third; unbroken yet:
Once fam’d for Courage; still in Council great.
  What worse, he said, can Argos undergo,
What can more gratify the Phrygian Foe,
Than these distemper’d Heats? If both the Lights        370
Of Greece their private Int’rest disunites!
Believe a Friend, with thrice your Years increas’d,
And let these youthful Passions be repress’d:
I flourish’d long before your Birth; and then
Liv’d equal with a Race of braver Men,        375
Than these dim Eyes shall e’er behold agen.
Ceneus and Dryas, and, excelling them,
Great Theseus, and the Force of greater Polypheme.
With these I went, a Brother of the War,
Their Dangers to divide; their Fame to share.        380
Nor idle stood with unassisting Hands,
When salvage Beasts, and Men’s more salvage Bands,
Their virtuous Toil subdued: yet those I sway’d,
With pow’rful Speech: I spoke, and they obey’d.
If such as those, my Councils cou’d reclaim,        385
Think not, young Warriors, your diminish’d Name
Shall lose of Lustre, by subjecting Rage
To the cool Dictates of experienc’d Age.
Thou, King of Men, stretch not thy sovereign Sway
Beyond the Bounds free Subjects can obey:        390
But let Pelides in his Prize rejoice,
Atchiev’d in arms, allow’d by publick Voice.
Nor Thou, brave Champion, with his Pow’r contend,
Before whose Throne ev’n Kings their lower’d Scepters bend.
The Head of Action He, and Thou the Hand,        395
Matchless thy Force; but mightier his Command:
Thou first, O king, release the rights of Sway;
Pow’r, self-restrain’d, the People best obey.
Sanctions of Law from Thee derive their Source;
Command thy Self, whom no Commands can force.        400
The Son of Thetis Rampire of our Host,
Is worth our Care to keep; nor shall my Pray’rs be lost.
  Thus Nestor said, and ceas’d: Atrides broke
His Silence next; but ponder’d e’er he spoke.
Wise are thy Words, and glad I would obey,        405
But this proud Man affects Imperial Sway.
Controlling Kings, and trampling on our State
His Will is Law; and what he wills is Fate.
The Gods have giv’n him Strength: But whence the Style,
Of lawless Pow’r assum’d, or Licence to revile?        410
  Achilles cut him short; and thus reply’d:
My Worth allow’d in Words, is in effect deny’d.
For who but a Poltron, possess’d with Fear,
Such haughty Insolence can tamely bear?
Command thy Slaves: My freeborn Soul disdains        415
A Tyrant’s Curb; and restiff breaks the Reins.
Take this along; that no Dispute shall rise
(Though mine the Woman) for my ravish’d Prize:
But, she excepted, as unworthy Strife,
Dare not, I charge thee dare not, on thy Life,        420
Touch ought of mine beside, by Lot my due,
But stand aloof, and think profane to view:
This Fauchion, else, not hitherto withstood,
These hostile Fields shall fatten with thy Blood.
  He said; and rose the first: the Council broke;        425
And all their grave Consults dissolv’d in Smoke.
  The Royal Youth retir’d, on Vengeance bent,
Patroclus follow’d silent to his Tent.
  Mean time, the King with Gifts a Vessel stores;
Supplies the Banks with twenty chosen Oars:        430
And next, to reconcile the shooter God,
Within her hollow Sides the Sacrifice he stow’d:
Chryseis last was set on board; whose Hand
Ulysses took, intrusted with Command;
They plow the liquid Seas; and leave the less’ning Land.        435
  Atrides then his outward Zeal to boast,
Bade purify the Sin-polluted Host.
With perfect Hecatombs the God they grac’d;
Whose offer’d Entrails in the Main were cast.
Black Bulls, and bearded Goats on Altars lie;        440
And clouds of sav’ry stench involve the Sky.
These Pomps the Royal Hypocrite design’d
For Shew: But harbour’d Vengeance in his Mind:
Till holy Malice, longing for a Vent,
At length, discover’d his conceal’d Intent.        445
Talthybius, and Eurybates the just,
Heralds of Arms, and Ministers of Trust,
He call’d; and thus bespoke: Haste hence your way;
And from the Goddess-born demand his Prey.
If yielded, bring the Captive: If deny’d,        450
The King (so tell him) shall chastise his Pride:
And with arm’d Multitudes in Person come
To vindicate his Pow’r, and justify his Doom.
  This hard Command unwilling they obey,
And o’er the barren Shore pursue their way,        455
Where quarter’d in their Camp, the fierce Thessalians lay.
Their Sov’reign seated on his Chair, they find;
His pensive Cheek upon his Hand reclin’d,
And anxious Thoughts revolving in his Mind.
With gloomy Looks he saw them entring in        460
Without Salute: Nor durst they first begin,
Fearful of rash Offence and Death foreseen.
He soon the Cause divining, clear’d his Brow;
And thus did liberty of Speech allow.
  Interpreters of Gods and Men, be bold        465
Awful your Character, and uncontroll’d:
Howe’er unpleasing be the News you bring,
I blame not you, but your Imperious King.
You come, I know, my Captive to demand;
Patroclus, give her to the Herald’s Hand.        470
But you, authentick Witnesses I bring,
Before the Gods, and your ungrateful King,
Of this my Manifest: That never more
This Hand shall combate on the crooked Shore:
No, let the Grecian Pow’rs oppress’d in Fight,        475
Unpity’d perish in their Tyrants Sight.
Blind of the future, and by Rage misled,
He pulls his Crimes upon his People’s Head
Forc’d from the Field in Trenches to contend,
And his Insulted Camp from foes defend.        480
He said, and soon, obeying his Intent,
Patroclus brought Briseis from her Tent;
Then to th’ intrusted Messengers resign’d:
She wept, and often cast her Eyes behind;
Forc’d from the Man she lov’d: They led her thence,        485
Along the Shore a Pris’ner to their Prince.
  Sole on the barren Sands the suff’ring Chief
Roar’d out for Anguish, and indulg’d his Grief;
Cast on his Kindred Seas a stormy Look,
And his upbraided Mother thus bespoke.        490
  Unhappy Parent of a short-liv’d Son,
Since Jove in Pity by thy Pray’rs was won
To grace my small Remains of Breath with Fame,
Why loads he this imbitter’d Life with Shame?
Suff’ring his King of Men to force my Slave,        495
Whom well deserv’d in War, the Grecians gave.
  Set by old Ocean’s side the Goddess heard;
Then from the sacred Deep her Head she rear’d:
Rose like a Morning-mist; and thus begun
To soothe the Sorrows of her plaintive Son.        500
Why cry’s my Care, and why conceals his Smart?
Let thy afflicted Parent share her part.
  Then sighing from the bottom of his Breast,
To the Sea-Goddess thus the Goddess-born address’d.
Thou know’st my Pain, which telling but recals:        505
By Force of Arms we raz’d the Theban Walls;
The ransack’d City, taken by our Toils,
We left, and hither brought the golden Spoils;
Equal we shar’d them; but before the rest,
The proud Prerogative had seiz’d the best.        510
Chryseis was the greedy Tyrant’s Prize,
Chryseis, rosy-cheek’d, with charming Eyes.
Her Syre, Apollo’s Priest, arriv’d to buy
With proffer’d Gifts of Price, his Daughter’s Liberty.
Suppliant before the Grecians Chiefs he stood,        515
Awful, and arm’d with Ensigns of his God:
Bare was his hoary Head, one holy Hand
Held forth his Lawrel-Crown, and one, his Scepter of Command.
His suit was common, but above the rest
To both the Brother-Princes was address’d.        520
With Shouts of loud Acclaim the Greeks agree
To take the Gifts, to set the Pris’ner free.
Not so the Tyrant, who with scorn the Priest
Receiv’d, and with opprobrious Words dismiss’d.
The good old Man, forlorn of human Aid,        525
For Vengeance to his heav’nly Patron pray’d:
The Godhead gave a favourable Ear,
And granted all to him he held so dear;
In an ill Hour his piercing Shafts he sped;
And Heaps on Heaps of slaughter’d Greeks lay dead,        530
While round the Camp he rang’d: At length arose
A Seer who well divin’d; and durst disclose
The Source of all our Ills: I took the Word;
And urg’d the sacred Slave to be restor’d,
The God appeas’d: The swelling Monarch storm’d:        535
And then the Vengeance vow’d, he since perform’d:
The Greeks’ ’tis true, their Ruin to prevent,
Have to the Royal Priest his Daughter sent;
But from their haughty King his Heralds came,
And seiz’d by his command, my Captive Dame,        540
By common Suffrage given; but, thou, be won,
If in thy Pow’r, t’ avenge thy injur’d Son:
Ascend the Skies; and supplicating move
Thy just Complaint to Cloud-compelling Jove.
If thou by either Word or Deed hast wrought        545
A kind remembrance in his grateful Thought,
Urge him by that: For often hast thou said
Thy Pow’r was once not useless in his Aid,
When He who high above the Highest reigns,
Surpriz’d by Traytor-Gods, was bound in Chains.        550
When Juno, Pallas, with Ambition fir’d,
And his blue Brother of the Seas conspir’d,
Thou freed’st the Soveraign from unworthy Bands,
Thou brought’st Briareus with his hundred Hands,
(So call’d in Heav’n, but mortal Men below        555
By his terrestrial Name, Ægeon know:
Twice stronger than his Syre, who sate above
Assessor to the Throne of thundring Jove.)
The Gods, dismay’d at his approach, withdrew,
Nor durst their unaccomplish’d Crime pursue.        560
That Action to his grateful Mind recal:
Embrace his Knees, and at his Footstool fall:
That now if ever, he will aid our Foes;
Let Troy’s triumphant Troops the Camp inclose:
Ours beaten to the Shore, the Siege forsake;        565
And what their King deserves with him partake;
That the proud Tyrant at his proper Cost,
May learn the Value of the Man he lost.
  To whom the Mother-Goddess thus reply’d,
Sigh’d ere she spoke, and while she spoke she cry’d,        570
Ah wretched me! by Fates averse decreed
To bring thee forth with Pain, with care to breed!
Did envious Heav’n not otherwise ordain,
Safe in thy hollow Ships thou shou’d’st remain;
Nor ever tempt the fatal Field again.        575
But now thy Planet sheds his pois’nous Rays:
And short, and full of Sorrow are thy Days.
For what remains, to Heav’n I will ascend,
And at the Thund’rer’s Throne thy Suit commend.
Till then, secure in Ships, abstain from Fight;        580
Indulge thy Grief in Tears, and vent thy Spight.
For yesterday the Court of Heav’n with Jove
Remov’d: ’Tis dead Vacation now above.
Twelve Days the Gods their solemn Revels keep,
And quaff with blameless Ethiops in the Deep.        585
Return’d from thence, to Heav’n my Flight I take,
Knock at the brazen Gates, and Providence awake,
Embrace his Knees, and suppliant to the Sire,
Doubt not I will obtain the grant of thy desire.
  She said: And parting left him on the place,        590
Swoln with Disdain, resenting his Disgrace:
Revengeful Thoughts revolving in his Mind,
He wept for Anger and for Love he pin’d.
  Mean time with prosperous Gales, Ulysses brought
The Slave, and Ship with Sacrifices fraught,        595
To Chrysa’s Port: Where entring with the Tide,
He drop’d his Anchors, and his Oars he ply’d.
Furl’d every Sail, and drawing down the Mast,
His Vessel moor’d; and made with Haulsers fast.
Descending on the Plain, ashore they bring        600
The Hecatomb to please the shooter King.
The Dame before an Altars holy Fire
Ulysses led; and thus bespoke her Sire.
  Reverenc’d be thou, and be thy God ador’d:
The King of Men thy Daughter has restor’d;        605
And sent by me with Presents and with Pray’r;
He recommends him to thy pious Care;
That Phœbus at thy Sute his Wrath may cease,
And give the penitent Offenders Peace.
  He said, and gave her to her Father’s Hands,        610
Who glad receiv’d her, free from servile Bands.
This done, in Order they with sober Grace,
Their gifts around the well-built Altar place.
Then wash’d, and took the Cakes; while Chryses stood
With Hands upheld, and thus invok’d his God.        615
  God of the Silver Bow, whose Eyes survey
The sacred Cilla, thou whose awful Sway,
Chrysa the bless’d, and Tenedos obey:
Now hear, as thou before my Pray’r hast heard,
Against the Grecians, and their Prince, preferr’d:        620
Once thou hast honour’d, honour once again
Thy Priest; nor let his second Vows be vain;
But from th’ afflicted Host and humbled Prince
Avert thy Wrath, and cease thy Pestilence.
Apollo heard, and, conquering his Disdain,        625
Unbent his Bow and Greece respir’d again.
  Now when the solemn Rites of Pray’r were past,
Their salted Cakes on crackling Flames they cast.
Then, turning back, the Sacrifice they sped:
The fatted Oxen slew, and flea’d 6 the Dead,        630
Chopp’d off their nervous Thighs, and next prepar’d
T’ involve the lean in Cauls, and mend with Lard.
Sweet-breads and Collops were with Skewers prick’d
About the Sides; inbibing what they deck’d.
The Priest with holy Hands was seen to tine        635
The cloven Wood, and pour the ruddy Wine,
The Youth approach’d the Fire, and as it burn’d
On five sharp Broachers rank’d, the Roast they turn’d;
These Morsels stay’d their stomachs; then the rest
They cut in Legs and Fillets for the Feast;        640
Which drawn and serv’d, their Hunger they appease
With sav’ry Meat, and set their Minds at ease.
  Now when the rage of Eating was repell’d,
The Boys with generous Wine the Goblets fill’d.
The first Libations to the Gods they pour:        645
And then with Songs indulge the Genial Hour,
Holy Debauch! till Day to Night they bring,
With Hymns and Pæans to the Bowyer King.
At Sun-set to their Ship they make return,
And snore secure on Decks, till rosy Morn.        650
  The Skies with dawning Day were purpled o’er;
Awak’d, with lab’ring Oars they leave the Shore:
The Pow’r appeas’d, with Winds suffic’d the Sail,
The bellying Canvass strutted with the Gale;
The Waves indignant roar with surly Pride,        655
And press against the Sides, and beaten off divide.
They cut the foamy way, with Force impell’d
Superiour, till the Trojan Port they held:
Then hauling on the Strand, their Gally moor, 7
And pitch their Tents along the crooked Shore.        660
  Mean time the Goddess-born in secret pin’d;
Nor visited the Camp, nor in the Council join’d,
But, keeping close, his gnawing Heart he fed
With Hopes of Vengeance on the Tyrant’s Head:
And wish’d for bloody Wars and mortal Wounds,        665
And of the Greeks oppress’d in Fight, to hear the dying Sounds.
  Now, when twelve Days compleat had run their Race,
The Gods bethought them of the Cares belonging to their place.
Jove at their Head ascending from the Sea,
A shoal of puny Pow’rs attend his way.        670
Then Thetis not unmindful of her Son
Emerging from the Deep, to beg her Boon,
Pursu’d their Track; and waken’d from his Rest,
Before the Soveraign stood a Morning Guest.
Him in the Circle but apart, she found:        675
The rest at awful Distance stood around.
She bow’d, and e’er she durst her Sute begin,
One Hand embrac’d his Knees, one prop’d his Chin.
Then thus. If I, Celestial Sire, in aught
Have serv’d thy Will, or gratify’d thy Thought,        680
One glimpse of Glory to my Issue give;
Grac’d for the little time he has to live.
Dishonour’d by the King of Men he stands:
His rightful Prize is ravish’d from his Hands.
But thou, O Father, in my Son’s Defence,        685
Assume thy Pow’r, assert thy Providence.
Let Troy prevail, till Greece th’ Affront has paid
With doubled Honours; and redeem’d his Aid.
  She ceas’d, but the consid’ring God was mute:
Till she, resolv’d to win, renew’d her Sute:        690
Nor loos’d her Hold, but forc’d him to reply,
Or grant me my Petition, or deny:
Jove cannot fear: then tell me to my Face
That I, of all the Gods am least in Grace.
This I can bear: The Cloud-compeller mourn’d,        695
And sighing first, this Answer he return’d:
  Know’st thou what Clamors will disturb my Reign,
What my stun’d Ears from Juno must sustain?
In Council she gives Licence to her Tongue,
Loquacious, Brawling, ever in the wrong.        700
And now she will my partial Pow’r up-braid,
If alienate from Greece, I give the Trojans Aid.
But thou depart, and shun her jealous Sight,
The Care be mine, to do Pelides right.
Go then, and on the Faith of Jove rely,        705
When nodding to thy Sute, he bows the Sky.
This ratifies th’ irrevocable Doom:
The Sign ordain’d, that what I will shall come:
The Stamp of Heav’n, and Seal of Fate: He said,
And shook the sacred Honours of his Head.        710
With Terror trembled Heav’ns subsiding Hill:
And from his shaken Curls Ambrosial Dews distil.
The Goddess goes exulting from his Sight,
And seeks the Seas profound; and leaves the Realms of Light.
  He moves into his Hall: The Pow’rs resort,        715
Each from his House to fill the Sovraign’s Court.
Nor waiting Summons, nor expecting stood;
But met with Reverence, and receiv’d the God.
He mounts the Throne; and Juno took her place:
But sullen Discontent sate lowring on her Face.        720
With jealous Eyes, at distance she had seen,
Whisp’ring with Jove the Silver-footed Queen;
Then, impotent of Tongue (her Silence broke)
Thus turbulent in rattling Tone she spoke:
Author of Ills, and close Contriver Jove,        725
Which of thy Dames, what Prostitute of Love,
Has held thy Ear so long, and begg’d so hard
For some old Service done, some new Reward?
Apart you talk’d, for that’s your special Care,
The Consort never must the Council share.        730
One gracious Word is for a Wife too much:
Such is a Marriage-Vow, and Jove’s own Faith is such.
  Then thus the Sire of Gods, and Men below:
What I have hidden, hope not thou to know.
Ev’n Goddesses are Women: And no Wife        735
Has Pow’r to regulate her Husband’s Life:
Counsel she may; and I will give thy Ear
The Knowledge first, of what is fit to hear.
What I transact with others, or alone,
Beware to learn; nor press too near the Throne.        740
  To whom the Goddess with the charming Eyes:
What hast thou said, O Tyrant of the Skies!
When did I search the Secrets of thy Reign,
Though priviledg’d to know, but priviledg’d in vain?
But well thou dost, to hide from common Sight        745
Thy close Intrigues, too bad to bear the Light.
Nor doubt I, but the Silver-footed Dame,
Tripping from Sea, on such an Errand came
To grace her Issue, at the Grecians Cost,
And for one peevish Man destroy an Host.        750
  To whom the Thund’rer made this stern Reply;
My Household Curse, my lawful Plague, the Spy
Of Jove’s Designs, his other squinting Eye;
Why this vain prying, and for what avail?
Jove will be Master still, and Juno fail.        755
Shou’d thy suspicious Thoughts divine aright,
Thou but becom’st more odious to my Sight,
For this Attempt: uneasy Life to me
Still watch’d, and importun’d, but worse for thee.
Curb that impetuous Tongue, before too late        760
The Gods behold, and tremble at thy Fate;
Pitying, but daring not, in thy Defence,
To lift a Hand against Omnipotence.
  This heard, the Imperious Queen sate mute with Fear:
Nor further durst incense the gloomy Thunderer.        765
Silence was in the Court at this Rebuke:
Nor cou’d the Gods abash’d, sustain their Sov’reigns Look.
  The Limping Smith observ’d the sadden’d Feast,
And hopping here and there (himself a Jest)
Put in his Word, that neither might offend;        770
To Jove obsequious, yet his Mother’s Friend.
What End in Heav’n will be of civil War,
If Gods of Pleasure will for Mortals jar?
Such Discord but disturbs our Jovial Feast;
One Grain of Bad embitters all the best.        775
Mother, tho’ wise your self, my Counsel weigh;
’Tis much unsafe my Sire to disobey
Not only you provoke him to your Cost,
But Mirth is marr’d, and the good Chear is lost.
Tempt not his heavy Hand; for he has Pow’r        780
To throw you Headlong, from his Heav’nly Tow’r.
But one submissive Word, which you let fall,
Will make him in good Humour with us All.
  He said no more but crown’d a Bowl, unbid:
The laughing Nectar overlook’d the Lid:        785
Then put it to her Hand; and thus pursued:
This cursed Quarrel be no more renew’d.
Be, as becomes a Wife, obedient still;
Though griev’d, yet subject to her Husband’s Will.
I would not see you beaten; yet affraid        790
Of Jove’s superiour Force, I dare not aid.
Too well I know him, since that hapless Hour
When I, and all the Gods employ’d our Pow’r
To break your Bonds: Me by the Heel he drew;
And o’er Heav’n’s Battlements with Fury threw.        795
All Day I fell; My flight at Morn begun,
And ended not but with the setting Sun.
Pitch’d on my Head, at length the Lemnian-Ground
Receiv’d my batter’d Skull, the Sinthians heal’d my Wound.
  At Vulcan’s homely Mirth his Mother smil’d,        800
And smiling took the Cup the Clown had filled.
The Reconciler Bowl went round the Board,
Which empty’d, the rude Skinker still restor’d.
Louds Fits of Laughter seiz’d the Guests, to see
The limping God so deft at his new Ministry.        805
The Feast continued till declining Light:
They drank, they laugh’d, they lov’d, and then ’twas Night.
Nor wanted tuneful Harp, nor vocal Quire;
The Muses sung; Apollo touch’d the Lyre.
Drunken at last, and drowsy they depart,        810
Each to his House; Adorn’d with labour’d Art
Of the lame Architect: The thund’ring God
Ev’n he withdrew to rest, and had his Load.
His swimming Head to needful Sleep apply’d;
And Juno lay unheeded by his Side.        815
Note 1. The text from the original edition of 1700. The text is given with fair accuracy in most editions. In the original there are some obvious misprints and some false stops. [back]
Note 2. Peleus] Peleu’s 1700. [back]
Note 3. Hecatombs] The editors give Hecatomb. [back]
Note 4. Then] Edd. give To. [back]
Note 5. bid] Dryden’s spelling of bide. [back]
Note 6. moor] Moor 1700. [back]
Note 7.  [back]

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