The Iliad of Homer
Page: 145Dear as he is to us, and dear to thee,
Yet must I tax his sloth, that claims no share
With his great brother in his martial care:
Him it behoved to every chief to sue,
Preventing every part perform'd by you;
For strong necessity our toils demands,
Claims all our hearts, and urges all our hands."
To whom the king: "With reverence we allow
Thy just rebukes, yet learn to spare them now:
My generous brother is of gentle kind,
He seems remiss, but bears a valiant mind;
Through too much deference to our sovereign sway,
Content to follow when we lead the way:
But now, our ills industrious to prevent,
Long ere the rest he rose, and sought my tent.
The chiefs you named, already at his call,
Prepare to meet us near the navy-wall;
Assembling there, between the trench and gates,
Near the night-guards, our chosen council waits."
"Then none (said Nestor) shall his rule withstand,
For great examples justify command."
With that, the venerable warrior rose;
The shining greaves his manly legs enclose;
His purple mantle golden buckles join'd,
Warm with the softest wool, and doubly lined.
Then rushing from his tent, he snatch'd in haste
His steely lance, that lighten'd as he pass'd.
The camp he traversed through the sleeping crowd,
Stopp'd at Ulysses' tent, and call'd aloud.
Ulysses, sudden as the voice was sent,
Awakes, starts up, and issues from his tent.
"What new distress, what sudden cause of fright,
Thus leads you wandering in the silent night?"
"O prudent chief! (the Pylian sage replied)
Wise as thou art, be now thy wisdom tried:
Whatever means of safety can be sought,
Whatever counsels can inspire our thought,[pg 184]
Whatever methods, or to fly or fight;
All, all depend on this important night!"
He heard, return'd, and took his painted shield;
Then join'd the chiefs, and follow'd through the field.
Without his tent, bold Diomed they found,
All sheathed in arms, his brave companions round:
Each sunk in sleep, extended on the field,
His head reclining on his bossy shield.
A wood of spears stood by, that, fix'd upright,
Shot from their flashing points a quivering light.
A bull's black hide composed the hero's bed;
A splendid carpet roll'd beneath his head.
Then, with his foot, old Nestor gently shakes
The slumbering chief, and in these words awakes:
"Rise, son of Tydeus! to the brave and strong
Rest seems inglorious, and the night too long.
But sleep'st thou now, when from yon hill the foe
Hangs o'er the fleet, and shades our walls below?"
At this, soft slumber from his eyelids fled;
The warrior saw the hoary chief, and said:
"Wondrous old man! whose soul no respite knows,
Though years and honours bid thee seek repose,
Let younger Greeks our sleeping warriors wake;
Ill fits thy age these toils to undertake."
"My friend, (he answered,) generous is thy care;
These toils, my subjects and my sons might bear;
Their loyal thoughts and pious love conspire