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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 134

The parts transfixes, and with skill divides.
Meanwhile Patroclus sweats, the fire to raise;
The tent is brighten'd with the rising blaze:
Then, when the languid flames at length subside,
He strows a bed of glowing embers wide,
Above the coals the smoking fragments turns
And sprinkles sacred salt from lifted urns;
With bread the glittering canisters they load,
Which round the board Menoetius' son bestow'd;
Himself, opposed to Ulysses full in sight,
Each portion parts, and orders every rite.
The first fat offering to the immortals due,
Amidst the greedy flames Patroclus threw;
Then each, indulging in the social feast,
His thirst and hunger soberly repress'd.
That done, to Phoenix Ajax gave the sign:
Not unperceived; Ulysses crown'd with wine
The foaming bowl, and instant thus began,
His speech addressing to the godlike man.
"Health to Achilles! happy are thy guests!
Not those more honour'd whom Atrides feasts:
Though generous plenty crown thy loaded boards,
That, Agamemnon's regal tent affords;
[pg 167]
But greater cares sit heavy on our souls,
Nor eased by banquets or by flowing bowls.
What scenes of slaughter in yon fields appear!
The dead we mourn, and for the living fear;
Greece on the brink of fate all doubtful stands,
And owns no help but from thy saving hands:
Troy and her aids for ready vengeance call;
Their threatening tents already shade our wall:
Hear how with shouts their conquest they proclaim,
And point at every ship their vengeful flame!
For them the father of the gods declares,
Theirs are his omens, and his thunder theirs.
See, full of Jove, avenging Hector rise!
See! heaven and earth the raging chief defies;
What fury in his breast, what lightning in his eyes!
He waits but for the morn, to sink in flame
The ships, the Greeks, and all the Grecian name.
Heavens! how my country's woes distract my mind,
Lest Fate accomplish all his rage design'd!
And must we, gods! our heads inglorious lay
In Trojan dust, and this the fatal day?
Return, Achilles: oh return, though late,
To save thy Greeks, and stop the course of Fate;
If in that heart or grief or courage lies,
Rise to redeem; ah, yet to conquer, rise!
The day may come, when, all our warriors slain,
That heart shall melt, that courage rise in vain:
Regard in time, O prince divinely brave!
Those wholesome counsels which thy father gave.
When Peleus in his aged arms embraced
His parting son, these accents were his last:
"'My child! with strength, with glory, and success,
Thy arms may Juno and Minerva bless!
Trust that to Heaven: but thou, thy cares engage
To calm thy passions, and subdue thy rage:
From gentler manners let thy glory grow,
And shun contention, the sure source of woe;
That young and old may in thy praise combine,
The virtues of humanity be thine—'
This now-despised advice thy father gave;
Ah! check thy anger; and be truly brave.
If thou wilt yield to great Atrides' prayers,

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