The Iliad of Homer
Page: 131And yet those years that since thy birth have run
Would hardly style thee Nestor's youngest son.
Then let me add what yet remains behind,
A thought unfinish'd in that generous mind;
Age bids me speak! nor shall the advice I bring
Distaste the people, or offend the king:
"Cursed is the man, and void of law and right,
Unworthy property, unworthy light,
Unfit for public rule, or private care,
That wretch, that monster, who delights in war;
Whose lust is murder, and whose horrid joy,
To tear his country, and his kind destroy!
This night, refresh and fortify thy train;
Between the trench and wall let guards remain:
Be that the duty of the young and bold;
But thou, O king, to council call the old;
Great is thy sway, and weighty are thy cares;
Thy high commands must spirit all our wars.
With Thracian wines recruit thy honour'd guests,
For happy counsels flow from sober feasts.
Wise, weighty counsels aid a state distress'd,
And such a monarch as can choose the best.
See what a blaze from hostile tents aspires,
How near our fleet approach the Trojan fires!
Who can, unmoved, behold the dreadful light?
What eye beholds them, and can close to-night?
This dreadful interval determines all;
To-morrow, Troy must flame, or Greece must fall."
Thus spoke the hoary sage: the rest obey;
Swift through the gates the guards direct their way.
His son was first to pass the lofty mound,
The generous Thrasymed, in arms renown'd:
Next him, Ascalaphus, Ialmen, stood,
The double offspring of the warrior-god:[pg 162]
Deipyrus, Aphareus, Merion join,
And Lycomed of Creon's noble line.
Seven were the leaders of the nightly bands,
And each bold chief a hundred spears commands.
The fires they light, to short repasts they fall,
Some line the trench, and others man the wall.
The king of men, on public counsels bent,
Convened the princes in his ample tent,
Each seized a portion of the kingly feast,
But stay'd his hand when thirst and hunger ceased.
Then Nestor spoke, for wisdom long approved,
And slowly rising, thus the council moved.
"Monarch of nations! whose superior sway
Assembled states, and lords of earth obey,
The laws and sceptres to thy hand are given,
And millions own the care of thee and Heaven.
O king! the counsels of my age attend;
With thee my cares begin, with thee must end.
Thee, prince! it fits alike to speak and hear,
Pronounce with judgment, with regard give ear,
To see no wholesome motion be withstood,
And ratify the best for public good.
Nor, though a meaner give advice, repine,
But follow it, and make the wisdom thine.
Hear then a thought, not now conceived in haste,
At once my present judgment and my past.
When from Pelides' tent you forced the maid,
I first opposed, and faithful, durst dissuade;
But bold of soul, when headlong fury fired,
You wronged the man, by men and gods admired:
Now seek some means his fatal wrath to end,