The Iliad of Homer
Page: 181Another's is the crime, but yours the shame.
Grant that our chief offend through rage or lust,
Must you be cowards, if your king's unjust?
Prevent this evil, and your country save:
Small thought retrieves the spirits of the brave.
Think, and subdue! on dastards dead to fame
I waste no anger, for they feel no shame:
But you, the pride, the flower of all our host,
My heart weeps blood to see your glory lost!
Nor deem this day, this battle, all you lose;
A day more black, a fate more vile, ensues.
Let each reflect, who prizes fame or breath,
On endless infamy, on instant death:
For, lo! the fated time, the appointed shore:
Hark! the gates burst, the brazen barriers roar!
Impetuous Hector thunders at the wall;
The hour, the spot, to conquer, or to fall."
These words the Grecians' fainting hearts inspire,
And listening armies catch the godlike fire.
Fix'd at his post was each bold Ajax found,
With well-ranged squadrons strongly circled round:
So close their order, so disposed their fight,
As Pallas' self might view with fix'd delight;
Or had the god of war inclined his eyes,
The god of war had own'd a just surprise.
A chosen phalanx, firm, resolved as fate,
Descending Hector and his battle wait.
An iron scene gleams dreadful o'er the fields,
Armour in armour lock'd, and shields in shields,
Spears lean on spears, on targets targets throng,
Helms stuck to helms, and man drove man along.
The floating plumes unnumber'd wave above,
As when an earthquake stirs the nodding grove;
And levell'd at the skies with pointing rays,
Their brandish'd lances at each motion blaze.
Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
The close compacted legions urged their way:
Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy;[pg 235]
As from some mountain's craggy forehead torn,
A rock's round fragment flies, with fury borne,
(Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends,)
Precipitate the ponderous mass descends:
From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds;
At every shock the crackling wood resounds;
Still gathering force, it smokes; and urged amain,
Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain:
Resistless when he raged, and, when he stopp'd, unmoved.
On him the war is bent, the darts are shed,
And all their falchions wave around his head:
Repulsed he stands, nor from his stand retires;
But with repeated shouts his army fires.
"Trojans! be firm; this arm shall make your way
Through yon square body, and that black array:
Stand, and my spear shall rout their scattering power,
Strong as they seem, embattled like a tower;
For he that Juno's heavenly bosom warms,
The first of gods, this day inspires our arms."
He said; and roused the soul in every breast:
Urged with desire of fame, beyond the rest,
Forth march'd Deiphobus; but, marching, held
Before his wary steps his ample shield.
Bold Merion aim'd a stroke (nor aim'd it wide);