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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 148

A long-wing'd heron great Minerva sent:
This, though surrounding shades obscured their view.
By the shrill clang and whistling wings they knew.
As from the right she soar'd, Ulysses pray'd,
Hail'd the glad omen, and address'd the maid:
"O daughter of that god whose arm can wield
The avenging bolt, and shake the dreadful shield!
O thou! for ever present in my way,
Who all my motions, all my toils survey!
Safe may we pass beneath the gloomy shade,
Safe by thy succour to our ships convey'd,
And let some deed this signal night adorn,
To claim the tears of Trojans yet unborn."
Then godlike Diomed preferr'd his prayer:
"Daughter of Jove, unconquer'd Pallas! hear.
Great queen of arms, whose favour Tydeus won,
As thou defend'st the sire, defend the son.
When on Æsopus' banks the banded powers
Of Greece he left, and sought the Theban towers,
Peace was his charge; received with peaceful show,
He went a legate, but return'd a foe:
Then help'd by thee, and cover'd by thy shield,
He fought with numbers, and made numbers yield.
So now be present, O celestial maid!
So still continue to the race thine aid!
A youthful steer shall fall beneath the stroke,
Untamed, unconscious of the galling yoke,
With ample forehead, and with spreading horns,
Whose taper tops refulgent gold adorns."
The heroes pray'd, and Pallas from the skies
Accords their vow, succeeds their enterprise.
Now, like two lions panting for the prey,
With dreadful thoughts they trace the dreary way,
Through the black horrors of the ensanguined plain,
Through dust, through blood, o'er arms, and hills of slain.
Nor less bold Hector, and the sons of Troy,
On high designs the wakeful hours employ;
The assembled peers their lofty chief enclosed;
Who thus the counsels of his breast proposed:
"What glorious man, for high attempts prepared,
Dares greatly venture for a rich reward?
Of yonder fleet a bold discovery make,
[pg 188]
What watch they keep, and what resolves they take?
If now subdued they meditate their flight,
And, spent with toil, neglect the watch of night?
His be the chariot that shall please him most,
Of all the plunder of the vanquish'd host;
His the fair steeds that all the rest excel,
And his the glory to have served so well."
A youth there was among the tribes of Troy,
Dolon his name, Eumedes' only boy,
(Five girls beside the reverend herald told.)
Rich was the son in brass, and rich in gold;
Not bless'd by nature with the charms of face,
But swift of foot, and matchless in the race.
"Hector! (he said) my courage bids me meet
This high achievement, and explore the fleet:
But first exalt thy sceptre to the skies,
And swear to grant me the demanded prize;
The immortal coursers, and the glittering car,
That bear Pelides through the ranks of war.
Encouraged thus, no idle scout I go,
Fulfil thy wish, their whole intention know,
Even to the royal tent pursue my way,

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