The Iliad of Homer

Page: 118

[pg 141]




Jupiter assembles a council of the deities, and threatens them with the pains of Tartarus if they assist either side: Minerva only obtains of him that she may direct the Greeks by her counsels.189 his balances the fates of both, and affrights the Greeks with his thunders and lightnings. Nestor alone continues in the field in great danger: Diomed relieves him; whose exploits, and those of Hector, are excellently described. Juno endeavours to animate Neptune to the assistance of the Greeks, but in vain. The acts of Teucer, who is at length wounded by Hector, and carried off. Juno and Minerva prepare to aid the Grecians, but are restrained by Iris, sent from Jupiter. The night puts an end to the battle. Hector continues in the field, (the Greeks being driven to their fortifications before the ships,) and gives orders to keep the watch all night in the camp, to prevent the enemy from re-embarking and escaping by flight. They kindle fires through all the fields, and pass the night under arms.

The time of seven and twenty days is employed from the opening of the poem to the end of this book. The scene here (except of the celestial machines) lies in the field towards the seashore.

Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn,
Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn;
When Jove convened the senate of the skies,
Where high Olympus' cloudy tops arise,
The sire of gods his awful silence broke;
The heavens attentive trembled as he spoke:
"Celestial states! immortal gods! give ear,
Hear our decree, and reverence what ye hear;
The fix'd decree which not all heaven can move;
Thou, fate! fulfil it! and, ye powers, approve!
[pg 142]
What god but enters yon forbidden field,
Who yields assistance, or but wills to yield,
Back to the skies with shame he shall be driven,
Gash'd with dishonest wounds, the scorn of heaven;
Or far, oh far, from steep Olympus thrown,
Low in the dark Tartarean gulf shall groan,
With burning chains fix'd to the brazen floors,
And lock'd by hell's inexorable doors;
As deep beneath the infernal centre hurl'd,190
As from that centre to the ethereal world.
Let him who tempts me, dread those dire abodes:
And know, the Almighty is the god of gods.
League all your forces, then, ye powers above,
Join all, and try the omnipotence of Jove.
Let down our golden everlasting chain191
Whose strong embrace holds heaven, and earth, and main
Strive all, of mortal and immortal birth,
To drag, by this, the Thunderer down to earth
Ye strive in vain! if I but stretch this hand,
I heave the gods, the ocean, and the land;
I fix the chain to great Olympus' height,
And the vast world hangs trembling in my sight!
For such I reign, unbounded and above;
And such are men, and gods, compared to Jove."
The all-mighty spoke, nor durst the powers reply:
A reverend horror silenced all the sky;