The Iliad of Homer
Page: 172So two wild boars spring furious from their den,
Roused with the cries of dogs and voice of men;
On every side the crackling trees they tear,
And root the shrubs, and lay the forest bare;
They gnash their tusks, with fire their eye-balls roll,
Till some wide wound lets out their mighty soul.
Around their heads the whistling javelins sung,
With sounding strokes their brazen targets rung;
Fierce was the fight, while yet the Grecian powers
Maintain'd the walls, and mann'd the lofty towers:
To save their fleet their last efforts they try,
And stones and darts in mingled tempests fly.
As when sharp Boreas blows abroad, and brings
The dreary winter on his frozen wings;
Beneath the low-hung clouds the sheets of snow
Descend, and whiten all the fields below:
So fast the darts on either army pour,
So down the rampires rolls the rocky shower:
Heavy, and thick, resound the batter'd shields,
And the deaf echo rattles round the fields.
With shame repulsed, with grief and fury driven,
The frantic Asius thus accuses Heaven:
"In powers immortal who shall now believe?
Can those too flatter, and can Jove deceive?
What man could doubt but Troy's victorious power
Should humble Greece, and this her fatal hour?
But like when wasps from hollow crannies drive,
To guard the entrance of their common hive,
Darkening the rock, while with unwearied wings
They strike the assailants, and infix their stings;
A race determined, that to death contend:
So fierce these Greeks their last retreats defend.
Gods! shall two warriors only guard their gates,
Repel an army, and defraud the fates?"
These empty accents mingled with the wind,
Nor moved great Jove's unalterable mind;[pg 222]
To godlike Hector and his matchless might
Was owed the glory of the destined fight.
Like deeds of arms through all the forts were tried,
And all the gates sustain'd an equal tide;
Through the long walls the stony showers were heard,
The blaze of flames, the flash of arms appear'd.
The spirit of a god my breast inspire,
To raise each act to life, and sing with fire!
While Greece unconquer'd kept alive the war,
Secure of death, confiding in despair;
And all her guardian gods, in deep dismay,
With unassisting arms deplored the day.
Even yet the dauntless Lapithae maintain
The dreadful pass, and round them heap the slain.
First Damasus, by Polypoetes' steel,
Pierced through his helmet's brazen visor, fell;
The weapon drank the mingled brains and gore!
The warrior sinks, tremendous now no more!
Next Ormenus and Pylon yield their breath:
Nor less Leonteus strews the field with death;
First through the belt Hippomachus he gored,
Then sudden waved his unresisted sword:
Antiphates, as through the ranks he broke,
The falchion struck, and fate pursued the stroke:
Iamenus, Orestes, Menon, bled;
And round him rose a monument of dead.
Meantime, the bravest of the Trojan crew,
Bold Hector and Polydamas, pursue;
Fierce with impatience on the works to fall,
And wrap in rolling flames the fleet and wall.