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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 122

Served with pure wheat, and by a princess' hand;
For this my spouse, of great Aetion's line,
So oft has steep'd the strengthening grain in wine.
Now swift pursue, now thunder uncontroll'd:
Give me to seize rich Nestor's shield of gold;
From Tydeus' shoulders strip the costly load,
Vulcanian arms, the labour of a god:
These if we gain, then victory, ye powers!
This night, this glorious night, the fleet is ours!"
That heard, deep anguish stung Saturnia's soul;
She shook her throne, that shook the starry pole:
And thus to Neptune: "Thou, whose force can make
The stedfast earth from her foundations shake,
Seest thou the Greeks by fates unjust oppress'd,
Nor swells thy heart in that immortal breast?
Yet Ægae, Helice, thy power obey,195
And gifts unceasing on thine altars lay.
Would all the deities of Greece combine,
In vain the gloomy Thunderer might repine:
Sole should he sit, with scarce a god to friend,
And see his Trojans to the shades descend:
Such be the scene from his Idaean bower;
Ungrateful prospect to the sullen power!"
Neptune with wrath rejects the rash design:
"What rage, what madness, furious queen! is thine?
I war not with the highest. All above
Submit and tremble at the hand of Jove."
Now godlike Hector, to whose matchless might
Jove gave the glory of the destined fight,
Squadrons on squadrons drives, and fills the fields
With close-ranged chariots, and with thicken'd shields.
Where the deep trench in length extended lay,
Compacted troops stand wedged in firm array,
A dreadful front! they shake the brands, and threat
With long-destroying flames the hostile fleet.
The king of men, by Juno's self inspired,
Toil'd through the tents, and all his army fired.
Swift as he moved, he lifted in his hand
His purple robe, bright ensign of command.
High on the midmost bark the king appear'd:
There, from Ulysses' deck, his voice was heard:
To Ajax and Achilles reach'd the sound,
Whose distant ships the guarded navy bound.
"O Argives! shame of human race! (he cried:
The hollow vessels to his voice replied,)
Where now are all your glorious boasts of yore,
[pg 148]
Your hasty triumphs on the Lemnian shore?
Each fearless hero dares a hundred foes,
While the feast lasts, and while the goblet flows;
But who to meet one martial man is found,
When the fight rages, and the flames surround?
O mighty Jove! O sire of the distress'd!
Was ever king like me, like me oppress'd?
With power immense, with justice arm'd in vain;
My glory ravish'd, and my people slain!
To thee my vows were breathed from every shore;
What altar smoked not with our victims' gore?
With fat of bulls I fed the constant flame,
And ask'd destruction to the Trojan name.
Now, gracious god! far humbler our demand;
Give these at least to 'scape from Hector's hand,
And save the relics of the Grecian land!"
Thus pray'd the king, and heaven's great father heard
His vows, in bitterness of soul preferr'd:

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