The Iliad of Homer

Page: 138

Here, if I stay, before the Trojan town,
Short is my date, but deathless my renown:
If I return, I quit immortal praise
For years on years, and long-extended days.
Convinced, though late, I find my fond mistake,
And warn the Greeks the wiser choice to make;
To quit these shores, their native seats enjoy,
Nor hope the fall of heaven-defended Troy.
Jove's arm display'd asserts her from the skies!
Her hearts are strengthen'd, and her glories rise.
Go then to Greece, report our fix'd design;
Bid all your counsels, all your armies join,
Let all your forces, all your arts conspire,
To save the ships, the troops, the chiefs, from fire.
One stratagem has fail'd, and others will:
Ye find, Achilles is unconquer'd still.
Go then—digest my message as ye may—
But here this night let reverend Phoenix stay:
His tedious toils and hoary hairs demand
A peaceful death in Pthia's friendly land.
But whether he remain or sail with me,
His age be sacred, and his will be free."

Illustration: GREEK GALLEY.

The son of Peleus ceased: the chiefs around
In silence wrapt, in consternation drown'd,
Attend the stern reply. Then Phoenix rose;
(Down his white beard a stream of sorrow flows;)
And while the fate of suffering Greece he mourn'd,
With accent weak these tender words return'd.

Illustration: PROSERPINE.
"Divine Achilles! wilt thou then retire,
And leave our hosts in blood, our fleets on fire?
If wrath so dreadful fill thy ruthless mind,
The royal Peleus, when from Pthia's coast
[pg 173]
He sent thee early to the Achaian host;
Thy youth as then in sage debates unskill'd,
And new to perils of the direful field:
He bade me teach thee all the ways of war,
To shine in councils, and in camps to dare.
Never, ah, never let me leave thy side!
No time shall part us, and no fate divide,
Not though the god, that breathed my life, restore
The bloom I boasted, and the port I bore,
When Greece of old beheld my youthful flames
(Delightful Greece, the land of lovely dames),
My father faithless to my mother's arms,
Old as he was, adored a stranger's charms.
I tried what youth could do (at her desire)
To win the damsel, and prevent my sire.
My sire with curses loads my hated head,
And cries, 'Ye furies! barren be his bed.'
Infernal Jove, the vengeful fiends below,
And ruthless Proserpine, confirm'd his vow.
Despair and grief distract my labouring mind!
Gods! what a crime my impious heart design'd!
I thought (but some kind god that thought suppress'd)
To plunge the poniard in my father's breast;
Then meditate my flight: my friends in vain
With prayers entreat me, and with force detain.
On fat of rams, black bulls, and brawny swine,
They daily feast, with draughts of fragrant wine;
Strong guards they placed, and watch'd nine nights entire;
The roofs and porches flamed with constant fire.
The tenth, I forced the gates, unseen of all: