The Iliad of Homer
Page: 120Nestor alone, amidst the storm remain'd.
Unwilling he remain'd, for Paris' dart
Had pierced his courser in a mortal part;
Fix'd in the forehead, where the springing man
Curl'd o'er the brow, it stung him to the brain;
Mad with his anguish, he begins to rear,
Paw with his hoofs aloft, and lash the air.
Scarce had his falchion cut the reins, and freed
The encumber'd chariot from the dying steed,
When dreadful Hector, thundering through the war,
Pour'd to the tumult on his whirling car.
That day had stretch'd beneath his matchless hand
The hoary monarch of the Pylian band,
But Diomed beheld; from forth the crowd
He rush'd, and on Ulysses call'd aloud:
"Whither, oh whither does Ulysses run?
Oh, flight unworthy great Laertes' son!
Mix'd with the vulgar shall thy fate be found,
Pierced in the back, a vile, dishonest wound?
Oh turn and save from Hector's direful rage
The glory of the Greeks, the Pylian sage."
His fruitless words are lost unheard in air,
Ulysses seeks the ships, and shelters there.
But bold Tydides to the rescue goes,
A single warrior midst a host of foes;
Before the coursers with a sudden spring
He leap'd, and anxious thus bespoke the king:
"Great perils, father! wait the unequal fight;
These younger champions will oppress thy might.
Thy veins no more with ancient vigour glow,
Weak is thy servant, and thy coursers slow.
Then haste, ascend my seat, and from the car
Observe the steeds of Tros, renown'd in war.[pg 145]
Practised alike to turn, to stop, to chase,
To dare the fight, or urge the rapid race:
These late obey'd Æneas' guiding rein;
Leave thou thy chariot to our faithful train;
With these against yon Trojans will we go,
Nor shall great Hector want an equal foe;
Fierce as he is, even he may learn to fear
The thirsty fury of my flying spear."
Thus said the chief; and Nestor, skill'd in war,
Approves his counsel, and ascends the car:
The steeds he left, their trusty servants hold;
Eurymedon, and Sthenelus the bold:
The reverend charioteer directs the course,
And strains his aged arm to lash the horse.
Hector they face; unknowing how to fear,
Fierce he drove on; Tydides whirl'd his spear.
The spear with erring haste mistook its way,
But plunged in Eniopeus' bosom lay.
His opening hand in death forsakes the rein;
The steeds fly back: he falls, and spurns the plain.
Great Hector sorrows for his servant kill'd,
Yet unrevenged permits to press the field;
Till, to supply his place and rule the car,
Rose Archeptolemus, the fierce in war.
And now had death and horror cover'd all;193
Like timorous flocks the Trojans in their wall
Inclosed had bled: but Jove with awful sound
Roll'd the big thunder o'er the vast profound:
Full in Tydides' face the lightning flew;
The ground before him flamed with sulphur blue;
The quivering steeds fell prostrate at the sight;
And Nestor's trembling hand confess'd his fright:
He dropp'd the reins: and, shook with sacred dread,