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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 166

And wholesome garlic, crown'd the savoury treat,
[pg 212]
Next her white hand an antique goblet brings,
A goblet sacred to the Pylian kings
From eldest times: emboss'd with studs of gold,
Two feet support it, and four handles hold;
On each bright handle, bending o'er the brink,
In sculptured gold, two turtles seem to drink:
A massy weight, yet heaved with ease by him,
When the brisk nectar overlook'd the brim.
Temper'd in this, the nymph of form divine
Pours a large portion of the Pramnian wine;
With goat's-milk cheese a flavourous taste bestows,
And last with flour the smiling surface strows:
This for the wounded prince the dame prepares:
The cordial beverage reverend Nestor shares:
Salubrious draughts the warriors' thirst allay,
And pleasing conference beguiles the day.
Meantime Patroclus, by Achilles sent,
Unheard approached, and stood before the tent.
Old Nestor, rising then, the hero led
To his high seat: the chief refused and said:
"'Tis now no season for these kind delays;
The great Achilles with impatience stays.
To great Achilles this respect I owe;
Who asks, what hero, wounded by the foe,
Was borne from combat by thy foaming steeds?
With grief I see the great Machaon bleeds.
This to report, my hasty course I bend;
Thou know'st the fiery temper of my friend."
"Can then the sons of Greece (the sage rejoin'd)
Excite compassion in Achilles' mind?
Seeks he the sorrows of our host to know?
This is not half the story of our woe.
Tell him, not great Machaon bleeds alone,
Our bravest heroes in the navy groan,
Ulysses, Agamemnon, Diomed,
And stern Eurypylus, already bleed.
But, ah! what flattering hopes I entertain!
Achilles heeds not, but derides our pain:
Even till the flames consume our fleet he stays,
And waits the rising of the fatal blaze.
Chief after chief the raging foe destroys;
Calm he looks on, and every death enjoys.
Now the slow course of all-impairing time
Unstrings my nerves, and ends my manly prime;
Oh! had I still that strength my youth possess'd,
When this bold arm the Epeian powers oppress'd,
The bulls of Elis in glad triumph led,
And stretch'd the great Itymonaeus dead!
Then from my fury fled the trembling swains,
And ours was all the plunder of the plains:
[pg 213]
Fifty white flocks, full fifty herds of swine,
As many goats, as many lowing kine:
And thrice the number of unrivall'd steeds,
All teeming females, and of generous breeds.
These, as my first essay of arms, I won;
Old Neleus gloried in his conquering son.
Thus Elis forced, her long arrears restored,
And shares were parted to each Pylian lord.
The state of Pyle was sunk to last despair,
When the proud Elians first commenced the war:
For Neleus' sons Alcides' rage had slain;
Of twelve bold brothers, I alone remain!
Oppress'd, we arm'd; and now this conquest gain'd,
My sire three hundred chosen sheep obtain'd.
(That large reprisal he might justly claim,
For prize defrauded, and insulted fame,

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