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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 170

Vast stones and piles from their foundation heaves,
And whelms the smoky ruin in the waves.
Now smooth'd with sand, and levell'd by the flood,
No fragment tells where once the wonder stood;
In their old bounds the rivers roll again,
Shine 'twixt the hills, or wander o'er the plain.225
But this the gods in later times perform;
As yet the bulwark stood, and braved the storm;
The strokes yet echoed of contending powers;
War thunder'd at the gates, and blood distain'd the towers.
Smote by the arm of Jove with dire dismay,
Close by their hollow ships the Grecians lay:
Hector's approach in every wind they hear,
And Hector's fury every moment fear.
He, like a whirlwind, toss'd the scattering throng,
Mingled the troops, and drove the field along.
So 'midst the dogs and hunters' daring bands,
Fierce of his might, a boar or lion stands;
Arm'd foes around a dreadful circle form,
And hissing javelins rain an iron storm:
His powers untamed, their bold assault defy,
And where he turns the rout disperse or die:
He foams, he glares, he bounds against them all,
And if he falls, his courage makes him fall.
With equal rage encompass'd Hector glows;
Exhorts his armies, and the trenches shows.
The panting steeds impatient fury breathe,
And snort and tremble at the gulf beneath;
Just at the brink they neigh, and paw the ground,
And the turf trembles, and the skies resound.
Eager they view'd the prospect dark and deep,
Vast was the leap, and headlong hung the steep;
The bottom bare, (a formidable show!)
And bristled thick with sharpen'd stakes below.
The foot alone this strong defence could force,
And try the pass impervious to the horse.
[pg 219]
This saw Polydamas; who, wisely brave,
Restrain'd great Hector, and this counsel gave:
"O thou, bold leader of the Trojan bands!
And you, confederate chiefs from foreign lands!
What entrance here can cumbrous chariots find,
The stakes beneath, the Grecian walls behind?
No pass through those, without a thousand wounds,
No space for combat in yon narrow bounds.
Proud of the favours mighty Jove has shown,
On certain dangers we too rashly run:
If 'tis will our haughty foes to tame,
Oh may this instant end the Grecian name!
Here, far from Argos, let their heroes fall,
And one great day destroy and bury all!
But should they turn, and here oppress our train,
What hopes, what methods of retreat remain?
Wedged in the trench, by our own troops confused,
In one promiscuous carnage crush'd and bruised,
All Troy must perish, if their arms prevail,
Nor shall a Trojan live to tell the tale.
Hear then, ye warriors! and obey with speed;
Back from the trenches let your steeds be led;
Then all alighting, wedged in firm array,
Proceed on foot, and Hector lead the way.
So Greece shall stoop before our conquering power,
And this (if Jove consent) her fatal hour."

Illustration: POLYDAMAS ADVISING <strong><a href=HECTOR." title= "POLYDAMAS ADVISING HECTOR." />
POLYDAMAS ADVISING HECTOR.
This counsel pleased: the godlike Hector sprung
Swift from his seat; his clanging armour rung.

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