The Iliad of Homer
Page: 184And thence these trophies, and these arms I gain.
Enter, and see on heaps the helmets roll'd,
And high-hung spears, and shields that flame with gold."
"Nor vain (said Merion) are our martial toils;
We too can boast of no ignoble spoils:
But those my ship contains; whence distant far,
I fight conspicuous in the van of war,
What need I more? If any Greek there be
Who knows not Merion, I appeal to thee."
To this, Idomeneus: "The fields of fight
Have proved thy valour, and unconquer'd might:
And were some ambush for the foes design'd,
Even there thy courage would not lag behind:
In that sharp service, singled from the rest,
The fear of each, or valour, stands confess'd.
No force, no firmness, the pale coward shows;
He shifts his place: his colour comes and goes:
A dropping sweat creeps cold on every part;
Against his bosom beats his quivering heart;
Terror and death in his wild eye-balls stare;
With chattering teeth he stands, and stiffening hair,
And looks a bloodless image of despair!
Not so the brave—still dauntless, still the same,
Unchanged his colour, and unmoved his frame:
Composed his thought, determined is his eye,
And fix'd his soul, to conquer or to die:
If aught disturb the tenour of his breast,
'Tis but the wish to strike before the rest.
"In such assays thy blameless worth is known,
And every art of dangerous war thy own.
By chance of fight whatever wounds you bore,
Those wounds were glorious all, and all before;
Such as may teach, 'twas still thy brave delight
T'oppose thy bosom where thy foremost fight.
But why, like infants, cold to honour's charms,
Stand we to talk, when glory calls to arms?
Go—from my conquer'd spears the choicest take,
And to their owners send them nobly back."
Swift at the word bold Merion snatch'd a spear
And, breathing slaughter, follow'd to the war.[pg 239]
So Mars armipotent invades the plain,
(The wide destroyer of the race of man,)
Terror, his best-beloved son, attends his course,
Arm'd with stern boldness, and enormous force;
The pride of haughty warriors to confound,
And lay the strength of tyrants on the ground:
From Thrace they fly, call'd to the dire alarms
Of warring Phlegyans, and Ephyrian arms;
Invoked by both, relentless they dispose,
To these glad conquest, murderous rout to those.
So march'd the leaders of the Cretan train,
And their bright arms shot horror o'er the plain.
Then first spake Merion: "Shall we join the right,
Or combat in the centre of the fight?
Or to the left our wonted succour lend?
Hazard and fame all parts alike attend."
"Not in the centre (Idomen replied:)
Our ablest chieftains the main battle guide;
Each godlike Ajax makes that post his care,
And gallant Teucer deals destruction there,
Skill'd or with shafts to gall the distant field,
Or bear close battle on the sounding shield.
These can the rage of haughty Hector tame:
Safe in their arms, the navy fears no flame,