The Iliad of Homer
Page: 165From his torn liver the red current flow'd,
And his slack knees desert their dying load.
The victor rushing to despoil the dead,
From Paris' bow a vengeful arrow fled;
Fix'd in his nervous thigh the weapon stood,
Fix'd was the point, but broken was the wood.
Back to the lines the wounded Greek retired,
Yet thus retreating, his associates fired:
"What god, O Grecians! has your hearts dismay'd?
Oh, turn to arms; 'tis Ajax claims your aid.
This hour he stands the mark of hostile rage,
And this the last brave battle he shall wage:
Haste, join your forces; from the gloomy grave
The warrior rescue, and your country save."
Thus urged the chief: a generous troop appears,
Who spread their bucklers, and advance their spears,[pg 211]
To guard their wounded friend: while thus they stand
With pious care, great Ajax joins the band:
Each takes new courage at the hero's sight;
The hero rallies, and renews the fight.
Thus raged both armies like conflicting fires,
While Nestor's chariot far from fight retires:
His coursers steep'd in sweat, and stain'd with gore,
The Greeks' preserver, great Machaon, bore.
That hour Achilles, from the topmost height
Of his proud fleet, o'erlook'd the fields of fight;
His feasted eyes beheld around the plain
The Grecian rout, the slaying, and the slain.
His friend Machaon singled from the rest,
A transient pity touch'd his vengeful breast.
Straight to Menoetius' much-loved son he sent:
Graceful as Mars, Patroclus quits his tent;
In evil hour! Then fate decreed his doom,
And fix'd the date of all his woes to come.
"Why calls my friend? thy loved injunctions lay;
Whate'er thy will, Patroclus shall obey."
"O first of friends! (Pelides thus replied)
Still at my heart, and ever at my side!
The time is come, when yon despairing host
Shall learn the value of the man they lost:
Now at my knees the Greeks shall pour their moan,
And proud Atrides tremble on his throne.
Go now to Nestor, and from him be taught
What wounded warrior late his chariot brought:
For, seen at distance, and but seen behind,
His form recall'd Machaon to my mind;
Nor could I, through yon cloud, discern his face,
The coursers pass'd me with so swift a pace."
The hero said. His friend obey'd with haste,
Through intermingled ships and tents he pass'd;
The chiefs descending from their car he found:
The panting steeds Eurymedon unbound.
The warriors standing on the breezy shore,
To dry their sweat, and wash away the gore,
Here paused a moment, while the gentle gale
Convey'd that freshness the cool seas exhale;
Then to consult on farther methods went,
And took their seats beneath the shady tent.
The draught prescribed, fair Hecamede prepares,
Arsinous' daughter, graced with golden hairs:
(Whom to his aged arms, a royal slave,
Greece, as the prize of Nestor's wisdom gave:)
A table first with azure feet she placed;
Whose ample orb a brazen charger graced;
Honey new-press'd, the sacred flour of wheat,