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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 130

Down his wan cheek a briny torrent flows.
[pg 160]
So silent fountains, from a rock's tall head,
In sable streams soft-trickling waters shed.
With more than vulgar grief he stood oppress'd;
Words, mix'd with sighs, thus bursting from his breast:
"Ye sons of Greece! partake your leader's care;
Fellows in arms and princes of the war!
Of partial Jove too justly we complain,
And heavenly oracles believed in vain.
A safe return was promised to our toils,
With conquest honour'd and enrich'd with spoils:
Now shameful flight alone can save the host;
Our wealth, our people, and our glory lost.
So Jove decrees, almighty lord of all!
Jove, at whose nod whole empires rise or fall,
Who shakes the feeble props of human trust,
And towers and armies humbles to the dust.
Haste then, for ever quit these fatal fields,
Haste to the joys our native country yields;
Spread all your canvas, all your oars employ,
Nor hope the fall of heaven-defended Troy."
He said: deep silence held the Grecian band;
Silent, unmov'd in dire dismay they stand;
A pensive scene! till Tydeus' warlike son
Roll'd on the king his eyes, and thus begun:
"When kings advise us to renounce our fame,
First let him speak who first has suffer'd shame.
If I oppose thee, prince! thy wrath withhold,
The laws of council bid my tongue be bold.
Thou first, and thou alone, in fields of fight,
Durst brand my courage, and defame my might:
Nor from a friend the unkind reproach appear'd,
The Greeks stood witness, all our army heard.
The gods, O chief! from whom our honours spring,
The gods have made thee but by halves a king:
They gave thee sceptres, and a wide command;
They gave dominion o'er the seas and land;
The noblest power that might the world control
They gave thee not—a brave and virtuous soul.
Is this a general's voice, that would suggest
Fears like his own to every Grecian breast?
Confiding in our want of worth, he stands;
And if we fly, 'tis what our king commands.
Go thou, inglorious! from the embattled plain;
Ships thou hast store, and nearest to the main;
A noble care the Grecians shall employ,
To combat, conquer, and extirpate Troy.
Here Greece shall stay; or, if all Greece retire,
Myself shall stay, till Troy or I expire;
Myself, and Sthenelus, will fight for fame;
God bade us fight, and 'twas with God we came."
[pg 161]
He ceased; the Greeks loud acclamations raise,
And voice to voice resounds Tydides' praise.
Wise Nestor then his reverend figure rear'd;
He spoke: the host in still attention heard:200
"O truly great! in whom the gods have join'd
Such strength of body with such force of mind:
In conduct, as in courage, you excel,
Still first to act what you advise so well.
These wholesome counsels which thy wisdom moves,
Applauding Greece with common voice approves.
Kings thou canst blame; a bold but prudent youth:
And blame even kings with praise, because with truth.

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