The Iliad of Homer
Page: 128The noble Hector on his lance reclined,
And, bending forward, thus reveal'd his mind:
"Ye valiant Trojans, with attention hear!
Ye Dardan bands, and generous aids, give ear!
This day, we hoped, would wrap in conquering flame
Greece with her ships, and crown our toils with fame.
But darkness now, to save the cowards, falls,
And guards them trembling in their wooden walls.
Obey the night, and use her peaceful hours
Our steeds to forage, and refresh our powers.
Straight from the town be sheep and oxen sought,[pg 156]
And strengthening bread and generous wine be brought
Wide o'er the field, high blazing to the sky,
Let numerous fires the absent sun supply,
The flaming piles with plenteous fuel raise,
Till the bright morn her purple beam displays;
Lest, in the silence and the shades of night,
Greece on her sable ships attempt her flight.
Not unmolested let the wretches gain
Their lofty decks, or safely cleave the main;
Some hostile wound let every dart bestow,
Some lasting token of the Phrygian foe,
Wounds, that long hence may ask their spouses' care.
And warn their children from a Trojan war.
Now through the circuit of our Ilion wall,
Let sacred heralds sound the solemn call;
To bid the sires with hoary honours crown'd,
And beardless youths, our battlements surround.
Firm be the guard, while distant lie our powers,
And let the matrons hang with lights the towers;
Lest, under covert of the midnight shade,
The insidious foe the naked town invade.
Suffice, to-night, these orders to obey;
A nobler charge shall rouse the dawning day.
The gods, I trust, shall give to Hector's hand
From these detested foes to free the land,
Who plough'd, with fates averse, the watery way:
For Trojan vultures a predestined prey.
Our common safety must be now the care;
But soon as morning paints the fields of air,
Sheathed in bright arms let every troop engage,
And the fired fleet behold the battle rage.
Then, then shall Hector and Tydides prove
Whose fates are heaviest in the scales of Jove.
To-morrow's light (O haste the glorious morn!)
Shall see his bloody spoils in triumph borne,
With this keen javelin shall his breast be gored,
And prostrate heroes bleed around their lord.
Certain as this, oh! might my days endure,
From age inglorious, and black death secure;
So might my life and glory know no bound,
Like Pallas worshipp'd, like the sun renown'd!
As the next dawn, the last they shall enjoy,
Shall crush the Greeks, and end the woes of Troy."
The leader spoke. From all his host around
Shouts of applause along the shores resound.
Each from the yoke the smoking steeds untied,
And fix'd their headstalls to his chariot-side.
Fat sheep and oxen from the town are led,
With generous wine, and all-sustaining bread,
Full hecatombs lay burning on the shore:[pg 157]
The winds to heaven the curling vapours bore.
Ungrateful offering to the immortal powers!197
Whose wrath hung heavy o'er the Trojan towers: