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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 139

And, favour'd by the night, o'erleap'd the wall,
My travels thence through spacious Greece extend;
In Phthia's court at last my labours end.
Your sire received me, as his son caress'd,
With gifts enrich'd, and with possessions bless'd.
The strong Dolopians thenceforth own'd my reign,
And all the coast that runs along the main.
By love to thee his bounties I repaid,
And early wisdom to thy soul convey'd:
[pg 174]
Great as thou art, my lessons made thee brave:
A child I took thee, but a hero gave.
Thy infant breast a like affection show'd;
Still in my arms (an ever-pleasing load)
Or at my knee, by Phoenix wouldst thou stand;
No food was grateful but from Phoenix' hand.211
I pass my watchings o'er thy helpless years,
The tender labours, the compliant cares,
The gods (I thought) reversed their hard decree,
And Phoenix felt a father's joys in thee:
Thy growing virtues justified my cares,
And promised comfort to my silver hairs.
Now be thy rage, thy fatal rage, resign'd;
A cruel heart ill suits a manly mind:
The gods (the only great, and only wise)
Are moved by offerings, vows, and sacrifice;
Offending man their high compassion wins,
And daily prayers atone for daily sins.
Prayers are Jove's daughters, of celestial race,
Lame are their feet, and wrinkled is their face;
With humble mien, and with dejected eyes,
Constant they follow, where injustice flies.
Injustice swift, erect, and unconfined,
Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o'er mankind,
While Prayers, to heal her wrongs, move slow behind.
Who hears these daughters of almighty Jove,
For him they mediate to the throne above
When man rejects the humble suit they make,
The sire revenges for the daughters' sake;
From Jove commission'd, fierce injustice then
Descends to punish unrelenting men.
O let not headlong passion bear the sway
These reconciling goddesses obey
Due honours to the seed of Jove belong,
Due honours calm the fierce, and bend the strong.
[pg 175]
Were these not paid thee by the terms we bring,
Were rage still harbour'd in the haughty king;
Nor Greece nor all her fortunes should engage
Thy friend to plead against so just a rage.
But since what honour asks the general sends,
And sends by those whom most thy heart commends;
The best and noblest of the Grecian train;
Permit not these to sue, and sue in vain!
Let me (my son) an ancient fact unfold,
A great example drawn from times of old;
Hear what our fathers were, and what their praise,
Who conquer'd their revenge in former days.
"Where Calydon on rocky mountains stands212
Once fought the Ætolian and Curetian bands;
To guard it those; to conquer, these advance;
And mutual deaths were dealt with mutual chance.
The silver Cynthia bade contention rise,
In vengeance of neglected sacrifice;
On OEneus fields she sent a monstrous boar,
That levell'd harvests, and whole forests tore:
This beast (when many a chief his tusks had slain)
Great Meleager stretch'd along the plain,

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