The Iliad of Homer
Page: 144Ourself to hoary Nestor will repair;
To keep the guards on duty be his care,[pg 182]
(For Nestor's influence best that quarter guides,
Whose son with Merion, o'er the watch presides.")
To whom the Spartan: "These thy orders borne,
Say, shall I stay, or with despatch return?"
"There shall thou stay, (the king of men replied,)
Else may we miss to meet, without a guide,
The paths so many, and the camp so wide.
Still, with your voice the slothful soldiers raise,
Urge by their fathers' fame their future praise.
Forget we now our state and lofty birth;
Not titles here, but works, must prove our worth.
To labour is the lot of man below;
And when Jove gave us life, he gave us woe."
This said, each parted to his several cares:
The king to Nestor's sable ship repairs;
The sage protector of the Greeks he found
Stretch'd in his bed with all his arms around
The various-colour'd scarf, the shield he rears,
The shining helmet, and the pointed spears;
The dreadful weapons of the warrior's rage,
That, old in arms, disdain'd the peace of age.
Then, leaning on his hand his watchful head,
The hoary monarch raised his eyes and said:
"What art thou, speak, that on designs unknown,
While others sleep, thus range the camp alone;
Seek'st thou some friend or nightly sentinel?
Stand off, approach not, but thy purpose tell."
"O son of Neleus, (thus the king rejoin'd,)
Pride of the Greeks, and glory of thy kind!
Lo, here the wretched Agamemnon stands,
The unhappy general of the Grecian bands,
Whom Jove decrees with daily cares to bend,
And woes, that only with his life shall end!
Scarce can my knees these trembling limbs sustain,
And scarce my heart support its load of pain.
No taste of sleep these heavy eyes have known,
Confused, and sad, I wander thus alone,
With fears distracted, with no fix'd design;
And all my people's miseries are mine.
If aught of use thy waking thoughts suggest,
(Since cares, like mine, deprive thy soul of rest,)
Impart thy counsel, and assist thy friend;
Now let us jointly to the trench descend,
At every gate the fainting guard excite,
Tired with the toils of day and watch of night;
Else may the sudden foe our works invade,
So near, and favour'd by the gloomy shade."
To him thus Nestor: "Trust the powers above,
Nor think proud Hector's hopes confirm'd by Jove:
How ill agree the views of vain mankind,[pg 183]
And the wise counsels of the eternal mind!
Audacious Hector, if the gods ordain
That great Achilles rise and rage again,
What toils attend thee, and what woes remain!
Lo, faithful Nestor thy command obeys;
The care is next our other chiefs to raise:
Ulysses, Diomed, we chiefly need;
Meges for strength, Oileus famed for speed.
Some other be despatch'd of nimbler feet,
To those tall ships, remotest of the fleet,
To rouse the Spartan I myself decree;