The Iliad of Homer
Page: 100All Greece recedes, and 'midst her triumphs fears;
Some god, they thought, who ruled the fate of wars,
Shot down avenging from the vault of stars.
Then thus aloud: "Ye dauntless Dardans, hear!
And you whom distant nations send to war!
Be mindful of the strength your fathers bore;
Be still yourselves, and Hector asks no more.
One hour demands me in the Trojan wall,
To bid our altars flame, and victims fall:
Nor shall, I trust, the matrons' holy train,
And reverend elders, seek the gods in vain."
This said, with ample strides the hero pass'd;
The shield's large orb behind his shoulder cast,
His neck o'ershading, to his ankle hung;
And as he march'd the brazen buckler rung.
Between both armies met: the chiefs from far
Observed each other, and had mark'd for war.
Near as they drew, Tydides thus began:
"What art thou, boldest of the race of man?
Our eyes till now that aspect ne'er beheld,
Where fame is reap'd amid the embattled field;
Yet far before the troops thou dar'st appear,
And meet a lance the fiercest heroes fear.
Unhappy they, and born of luckless sires,
Who tempt our fury when Minerva fires!
But if from heaven, celestial, thou descend,
Know with immortals we no more contend.
Not long Lycurgus view'd the golden light,
That daring man who mix'd with gods in fight.
Bacchus, and Bacchus' votaries, he drove,
With brandish'd steel, from Nyssa's sacred grove:
Their consecrated spears lay scatter'd round,
With curling vines and twisted ivy bound;
While Bacchus headlong sought the briny flood,
And Thetis' arms received the trembling god.
Nor fail'd the crime the immortals' wrath to move;
(The immortals bless'd with endless ease above;)
Deprived of sight by their avenging doom,
Cheerless he breathed, and wander'd in the gloom,
Then sunk unpitied to the dire abodes,
A wretch accursed, and hated by the gods!
I brave not heaven: but if the fruits of earth
Sustain thy life, and human be thy birth,
Bold as thou art, too prodigal of breath,
Approach, and enter the dark gates of death."
"What, or from whence I am, or who my sire,
(Replied the chief,) can Tydeus' son inquire?
Like leaves on trees the race of man is found,
Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
Another race the following spring supplies;
They fall successive, and successive rise:
So generations in their course decay;
So flourish these, when those are pass'd away.
But if thou still persist to search my birth,
Then hear a tale that fills the spacious earth.
"A city stands on Argos' utmost bound,
(Argos the fair, for warlike steeds renown'd,)
Aeolian Sisyphus, with wisdom bless'd,
In ancient time the happy wall possess'd,
Then call'd Ephyre: Glaucus was his son;
Who o'er the sons of men in beauty shined,[pg 114]
Loved for that valour which preserves mankind.
Then mighty Praetus Argos' sceptre sway'd,