The Iliad of Homer
Page: 177The rolling ruins smoke along the field.
A mighty breach appears; the walls lie bare;
And, like a deluge, rushes in the war.
At once bold Teucer draws the twanging bow,
And Ajax sends his javelin at the foe;
Fix'd in his belt the feather'd weapon stood,[pg 228]
And through his buckler drove the trembling wood;
But Jove was present in the dire debate,
To shield his offspring, and avert his fate.
The prince gave back, not meditating flight,
But urging vengeance, and severer fight;
Then raised with hope, and fired with glory's charms,
His fainting squadrons to new fury warms.
"O where, ye Lycians, is the strength you boast?
Your former fame and ancient virtue lost!
The breach lies open, but your chief in vain
Attempts alone the guarded pass to gain:
Unite, and soon that hostile fleet shall fall:
The force of powerful union conquers all."
This just rebuke inflamed the Lycian crew;
They join, they thicken, and the assault renew:
Unmoved the embodied Greeks their fury dare,
And fix'd support the weight of all the war;
Nor could the Greeks repel the Lycian powers,
Nor the bold Lycians force the Grecian towers.
As on the confines of adjoining grounds,
Two stubborn swains with blows dispute their bounds;
They tug, they sweat; but neither gain, nor yield,
One foot, one inch, of the contended field;
Thus obstinate to death, they fight, they fall;
Nor these can keep, nor those can win the wall.
Their manly breasts are pierced with many a wound,
Loud strokes are heard, and rattling arms resound;
The copious slaughter covers all the shore,
And the high ramparts drip with human gore.
As when two scales are charged with doubtful loads,
From side to side the trembling balance nods,
(While some laborious matron, just and poor,
With nice exactness weighs her woolly store,)
Till poised aloft, the resting beam suspends
Each equal weight; nor this, nor that, descends:227
So stood the war, till Hector's matchless might,
With fates prevailing, turn'd the scale of fight.
Fierce as a whirlwind up the walls he flies,
And fires his host with loud repeated cries.
"Advance, ye Trojans! lend your valiant hands,
Haste to the fleet, and toss the blazing brands!"
They hear, they run; and, gathering at his call,
Raise scaling engines, and ascend the wall:
Around the works a wood of glittering spears
Shoots up, and all the rising host appears.
A ponderous stone bold Hector heaved to throw,
Pointed above, and rough and gross below:[pg 229]
Not two strong men the enormous weight could raise,
Such men as live in these degenerate days:
Yet this, as easy as a swain could bear
The snowy fleece, he toss'd, and shook in air;
For Jove upheld, and lighten'd of its load
The unwieldy rock, the labour of a god.
Thus arm'd, before the folded gates he came,
Of massy substance, and stupendous frame;
With iron bars and brazen hinges strong,
On lofty beams of solid timber hung:
Then thundering through the planks with forceful sway,