The Iliad of Homer
Page: 103Let chiefs abstain, and spare the sacred juice
To sprinkle to the gods, its better use.[pg 117]
By me that holy office were profaned;
Ill fits it me, with human gore distain'd,
To the pure skies these horrid hands to raise,
Or offer heaven's great Sire polluted praise.
You, with your matrons, go! a spotless train,
And burn rich odours in Minerva's fane.
The largest mantle your full wardrobes hold,
Most prized for art, and labour'd o'er with gold,
Before the goddess' honour'd knees be spread,
And twelve young heifers to her altar led.
So may the power, atoned by fervent prayer,
Our wives, our infants, and our city spare;
And far avert Tydides' wasteful ire,
Who mows whole troops, and makes all Troy retire.
Be this, O mother, your religious care:
I go to rouse soft Paris to the war;
If yet not lost to all the sense of shame,
The recreant warrior hear the voice of fame.
Oh, would kind earth the hateful wretch embrace,
Deep to the dark abyss might he descend,
Troy yet should flourish, and my sorrows end."
This heard, she gave command: and summon'd came
Each noble matron and illustrious dame.
The Phrygian queen to her rich wardrobe went,
Where treasured odours breathed a costly scent.
There lay the vestures of no vulgar art,
Sidonian maids embroider'd every part,
Whom from soft Sidon youthful Paris bore,
With Helen touching on the Tyrian shore.
Here, as the queen revolved with careful eyes
The various textures and the various dyes,
She chose a veil that shone superior far,
And glow'd refulgent as the morning star.
Herself with this the long procession leads;
The train majestically slow proceeds.
Soon as to Ilion's topmost tower they come,
And awful reach the high Palladian dome,
Antenor's consort, fair Theano, waits
As Pallas' priestess, and unbars the gates.
With hands uplifted and imploring eyes,
They fill the dome with supplicating cries.[pg 118]
The priestess then the shining veil displays,
Placed on Minerva's knees, and thus she prays:
"Oh awful goddess! ever-dreadful maid,
Break thou Tydides' spear, and let him fall
Prone on the dust before the Trojan wall!
So twelve young heifers, guiltless of the yoke,
Shall fill thy temple with a grateful smoke.
But thou, atoned by penitence and prayer,
Ourselves, our infants, and our city spare!"
So pray'd the priestess in her holy fane;
So vow'd the matrons, but they vow'd in vain.
While these appear before the power with prayers,
Himself the mansion raised, from every part
Assembling architects of matchless art.
The pompous structure, and the town commands.
A spear the hero bore of wondrous strength,
Of full ten cubits was the lance's length,
The steely point with golden ringlets join'd,
Before him brandish'd, at each motion shined
Thus entering, in the glittering rooms he found
His brother-chief, whose useless arms lay round,