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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 136

What in my secret soul is understood,
My tongue shall utter, and my deeds make good.
Let Greece then know, my purpose I retain:
Nor with new treaties vex my peace in vain.
Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
"Then thus in short my fix'd resolves attend,
Which nor Atrides nor his Greeks can bend;
Long toils, long perils in their cause I bore,
But now the unfruitful glories charm no more.
Fight or not fight, a like reward we claim,
The wretch and hero find their prize the same.
Alike regretted in the dust he lies,
Who yields ignobly, or who bravely dies.
Of all my dangers, all my glorious pains,
A life of labours, lo! what fruit remains?
As the bold bird her helpless young attends,
From danger guards them, and from want defends;
In search of prey she wings the spacious air,
And with the untasted food supplies her care:
For thankless Greece such hardships have I braved,
Her wives, her infants, by my labours saved;
Long sleepless nights in heavy arms I stood,
And sweat laborious days in dust and blood.
I sack'd twelve ample cities on the main,207
And twelve lay smoking on the Trojan plain:
Then at Atrides' haughty feet were laid
The wealth I gathered, and the spoils I made.
Your mighty monarch these in peace possess'd;
Some few my soldiers had, himself the rest.
Some present, too, to every prince was paid;
And every prince enjoys the gift he made:
I only must refund, of all his train;
See what pre-eminence our merits gain!
My spoil alone his greedy soul delights:
My spouse alone must bless his lustful nights:
The woman, let him (as he may) enjoy;
[pg 170]
But what's the quarrel, then, of Greece to Troy?
What to these shores the assembled nations draws,
What calls for vengeance but a woman's cause?
Are fair endowments and a beauteous face
Beloved by none but those of Atreus' race?
The wife whom choice and passion doth approve,
Sure every wise and worthy man will love.
Nor did my fair one less distinction claim;
Slave as she was, my soul adored the dame.
Wrong'd in my love, all proffers I disdain;
Deceived for once, I trust not kings again.
Ye have my answer—what remains to do,
Your king, Ulysses, may consult with you.
What needs he the defence this arm can make?
Has he not walls no human force can shake?
Has he not fenced his guarded navy round
With piles, with ramparts, and a trench profound?
And will not these (the wonders he has done)
Repel the rage of Priam's single son?
There was a time ('twas when for Greece I fought)
When Hector's prowess no such wonders wrought;
He kept the verge of Troy, nor dared to wait
Achilles' fury at the Scaean gate;
He tried it once, and scarce was saved by fate.
But now those ancient enmities are o'er;

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