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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 164

Shake the dry field, and thunder toward the fleet.
But now Cebriones, from Hector's car,
Survey'd the various fortune of the war:
"While here (he cried) the flying Greeks are slain,
Trojans on Trojans yonder load the plain.
Before great Ajax see the mingled throng
Of men and chariots driven in heaps along!
I know him well, distinguish'd o'er the field
By the broad glittering of the sevenfold shield.
Thither, O Hector, thither urge thy steeds,
There danger calls, and there the combat bleeds;
There horse and foot in mingled deaths unite,
And groans of slaughter mix with shouts of fight."
Thus having spoke, the driver's lash resounds;
Swift through the ranks the rapid chariot bounds;
Stung by the stroke, the coursers scour the fields,
O'er heaps of carcases, and hills of shields.
The horses' hoofs are bathed in heroes' gore,
And, dashing, purple all the car before;
The groaning axle sable drops distils,
And mangled carnage clogs the rapid wheels.
Here Hector, plunging through the thickest fight,
Broke the dark phalanx, and let in the light:
(By the long lance, the sword, or ponderous stone.
The ranks he scatter'd and the troops o'erthrown:)
Ajax he shuns, through all the dire debate,
And fears that arm whose force he felt so late.
But partial Jove, espousing Hector's part,
Shot heaven-bred horror through the Grecian's heart;
Confused, unnerved in Hector's presence grown,
Amazed he stood, with terrors not his own.
[pg 210]
O'er his broad back his moony shield he threw,
And, glaring round, by tardy steps withdrew.
Thus the grim lion his retreat maintains,
Beset with watchful dogs, and shouting swains;
Repulsed by numbers from the nightly stalls,
Though rage impels him, and though hunger calls,
Long stands the showering darts, and missile fires;
Then sourly slow the indignant beast retires:
So turn'd stern Ajax, by whole hosts repell'd,
While his swoln heart at every step rebell'd.
As the slow beast, with heavy strength endued,
In some wide field by troops of boys pursued,
Though round his sides a wooden tempest rain,
Crops the tall harvest, and lays waste the plain;
Thick on his hide the hollow blows resound,
The patient animal maintains his ground,
Scarce from the field with all their efforts chased,
And stirs but slowly when he stirs at last:
On Ajax thus a weight of Trojans hung,
The strokes redoubled on his buckler rung;
Confiding now in bulky strength he stands,
Now turns, and backward bears the yielding bands;
Now stiff recedes, yet hardly seems to fly,
And threats his followers with retorted eye.
Fix'd as the bar between two warring powers,
While hissing darts descend in iron showers:
In his broad buckler many a weapon stood,
Its surface bristled with a quivering wood;
And many a javelin, guiltless on the plain,
Marks the dry dust, and thirsts for blood in vain.
But bold Eurypylus his aid imparts,
And dauntless springs beneath a cloud of darts;
Whose eager javelin launch'd against the foe,
Great Apisaon felt the fatal blow;

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