The Iliad of Homer
Page: 113Felt his great heart suspended in his breast:
'Twas vain to seek retreat, and vain to fear;
Himself had challenged, and the foe drew near.
Stern Telamon behind his ample shield,
As from a brazen tower, o'erlook'd the field.
Huge was its orb, with seven thick folds o'ercast,
Of tough bull-hides; of solid brass the last,
(The work of Tychius, who in Hyle dwell'd
And in all arts of armoury excell'd,)
This Ajax bore before his manly breast,
And, threatening, thus his adverse chief address'd:
"Hector! approach my arm, and singly know
What strength thou hast, and what the Grecian foe.
Achilles shuns the fight; yet some there are,
Not void of soul, and not unskill'd in war:
Let him, unactive on the sea-beat shore,
Indulge his wrath, and aid our arms no more;
Whole troops of heroes Greece has yet to boast,
And sends thee one, a sample of her host,
Such as I am, I come to prove thy might;
No more—be sudden, and begin the fight."
"O son of Telamon, thy country's pride!
(To Ajax thus the Trojan prince replied)
Me, as a boy, or woman, wouldst thou fright,
New to the field, and trembling at the fight?
Thou meet'st a chief deserving of thy arms,
To combat born, and bred amidst alarms:
I know to shift my ground, remount the car,
Turn, charge, and answer every call of war;
To right, to left, the dexterous lance I wield,
And bear thick battle on my sounding shield
But open be our fight, and bold each blow;
I steal no conquest from a noble foe."
He said, and rising, high above the field
Whirl'd the long lance against the sevenfold shield.
Full on the brass descending from above
Through six bull-hides the furious weapon drove,
Till in the seventh it fix'd. Then Ajax threw;
Through Hector's shield the forceful javelin flew,
His corslet enters, and his garment rends,
And glancing downwards, near his flank descends.
The wary Trojan shrinks, and bending low
Beneath his buckler, disappoints the blow.
From their bored shields the chiefs their javelins drew,
Then close impetuous, and the charge renew;[pg 134]
Fierce as the mountain-lions bathed in blood,
Or foaming boars, the terror of the wood.
The blunted point against the buckler bends;
But Ajax, watchful as his foe drew near,
Drove through the Trojan targe the knotty spear;
It reach'd his neck, with matchless strength impell'd!
Spouts the black gore, and dims his shining shield.
Yet ceased not Hector thus; but stooping down,
In his strong hand up-heaved a flinty stone,
Black, craggy, vast: to this his force he bends;
Full on the brazen boss the stone descends;
The hollow brass resounded with the shock:
Then Ajax seized the fragment of a rock,
Applied each nerve, and swinging round on high,
With force tempestuous, let the ruin fly;
The huge stone thundering through his buckler broke:
His slacken'd knees received the numbing stroke;
Great Hector falls extended on the field,