The Iliad of Homer
Page: 171The chief's example follow'd by his train,
Each quits his car, and issues on the plain,
By orders strict the charioteers enjoin'd
Compel the coursers to their ranks behind.[pg 220]
The forces part in five distinguish'd bands,
And all obey their several chiefs' commands.
The best and bravest in the first conspire,
Pant for the fight, and threat the fleet with fire:
Great Hector glorious in the van of these,
Polydamas, and brave Cebriones.
Before the next the graceful Paris shines,
And bold Alcathous, and Agenor joins.
The sons of Priam with the third appear,
Deiphobus, and Helenas the seer;
In arms with these the mighty Asius stood,
Who drew from Hyrtacus his noble blood,
And whom Arisba's yellow coursers bore,
The coursers fed on Selle's winding shore.
Antenor's sons the fourth battalion guide,
And great Æneas, born on fountful Ide.
Divine Sarpedon the last band obey'd,
Whom Glaucus and Asteropaeus aid.
Next him, the bravest, at their army's head,
But he more brave than all the hosts he led.
Now with compacted shields in close array,
The moving legions speed their headlong way:
Already in their hopes they fire the fleet,
And see the Grecians gasping at their feet.
While every Trojan thus, and every aid,
The advice of wise Polydamas obey'd,
Asius alone, confiding in his car,
His vaunted coursers urged to meet the war.
Unhappy hero! and advised in vain;
Those wheels returning ne'er shall mark the plain;
No more those coursers with triumphant joy
Restore their master to the gates of Troy!
Black death attends behind the Grecian wall,
And great Idomeneus shall boast thy fall!
Fierce to the left he drives, where from the plain
The flying Grecians strove their ships to gain;
Swift through the wall their horse and chariots pass'd,
The gates half-open'd to receive the last.
Thither, exulting in his force, he flies:
His following host with clamours rend the skies:
To plunge the Grecians headlong in the main,
Such their proud hopes; but all their hopes were vain!
To guard the gates, two mighty chiefs attend,
Who from the Lapiths' warlike race descend;
This Polypoetes, great Perithous' heir,
And that Leonteus, like the god of war.
As two tall oaks, before the wall they rise;
Their roots in earth, their heads amidst the skies:
Whose spreading arms with leafy honours crown'd,
Forbid the tempest, and protect the ground;[pg 221]
High on the hills appears their stately form,
And their deep roots for ever brave the storm.
So graceful these, and so the shock they stand
Of raging Asius, and his furious band.
Orestes, Acamas, in front appear,
And OEnomaus and Thoon close the rear:
In vain their clamours shake the ambient fields,
In vain around them beat their hollow shields;
The fearless brothers on the Grecians call,
To guard their navies, and defend the wall.
Even when they saw Troy's sable troops impend,
And Greece tumultuous from her towers descend,
Forth from the portals rush'd the intrepid pair,
Opposed their breasts, and stood themselves the war.