The Iliad of Homer

Page: 169

Once taught Achilles, and Achilles thee.
Of two famed surgeons, Podalirius stands
This hour surrounded by the Trojan bands;
And great Machaon, wounded in his tent,
Now wants that succour which so oft he lent."
[pg 216]Illustration: HERCULES.

[pg 217]




The Greeks having retired into their intrenchments, Hector attempts to force them; but it proving impossible to pass the ditch, Polydamas advises to quit their chariots, and manage the attack on foot. The Trojans follow his counsel; and having divided their army into five bodies of foot, begin the assault. But upon the signal of an eagle with a serpent in his talons, which appeared on the left hand of the Trojans, Polydamas endeavours to withdraw them again. This Hector opposes, and continues the attack; in which, after many actions, Sarpedon makes the first breach in the wall. Hector also, casting a stone of vast size, forces open one of the gates, and enters at the head of his troops, who victoriously pursue the Grecians even to their ships.

While thus the hero's pious cares attend
The cure and safety of his wounded friend,
Trojans and Greeks with clashing shields engage,
And mutual deaths are dealt with mutual rage.
Nor long the trench or lofty walls oppose;
With gods averse the ill-fated works arose;
Their powers neglected, and no victim slain,
The walls were raised, the trenches sunk in vain.
Without the gods, how short a period stands
The proudest monument of mortal hands!
This stood while Hector and Achilles raged.
While sacred Troy the warring hosts engaged;
But when her sons were slain, her city burn'd,
And what survived of Greece to Greece return'd;
Then Neptune and Apollo shook the shore,
Then Ida's summits pour'd their watery store;
Rhesus and Rhodius then unite their rills,
Caresus roaring down the stony hills,
Æsepus, Granicus, with mingled force,
And Xanthus foaming from his fruitful source;
And gulfy Simois, rolling to the main224
[pg 218]
Helmets, and shields, and godlike heroes slain:
These, turn'd by Phoebus from their wonted ways,
Deluged the rampire nine continual days;
The weight of waters saps the yielding wall,
And to the sea the floating bulwarks fall.
Incessant cataracts the Thunderer pours,
And half the skies descend in sluicy showers.
The god of ocean, marching stern before,
With his huge trident wounds the trembling shore,