The Iliad of Homer
Page: 185Till Jove himself descends, his bolts to shed,
And hurl the blazing ruin at our head.
Great must he be, of more than human birth,
Nor feed like mortals on the fruits of earth.
Him neither rocks can crush, nor steel can wound,
Whom Ajax fells not on the ensanguined ground.
In standing fight he mates Achilles' force,
Excell'd alone in swiftness in the course.
Then to the left our ready arms apply,
And live with glory, or with glory die."
He said: and Merion to th' appointed place,
Fierce as the god of battles, urged his pace.
Soon as the foe the shining chiefs beheld
Rush like a fiery torrent o'er the field,
Their force embodied in a tide they pour;
The rising combat sounds along the shore.
As warring winds, in Sirius' sultry reign,
From different quarters sweep the sandy plain;
On every side the dusty whirlwinds rise,
And the dry fields are lifted to the skies:
Thus by despair, hope, rage, together driven,
Met the black hosts, and, meeting, darken'd heaven.
All dreadful glared the iron face of war,
Bristled with upright spears, that flash'd afar;
Dire was the gleam of breastplates, helms, and shields,
And polish'd arms emblazed the flaming fields:[pg 240]
Tremendous scene! that general horror gave,
But touch'd with joy the bosoms of the brave.
Saturn's great sons in fierce contention vied,
And crowds of heroes in their anger died.
The sire of earth and heaven, by Thetis won
To crown with glory Peleus' godlike son,
Will'd not destruction to the Grecian powers,
But spared awhile the destined Trojan towers;
While Neptune, rising from his azure main,
Warr'd on the king of heaven with stern disdain,
And breathed revenge, and fired the Grecian train.
Gods of one source, of one ethereal race,
Alike divine, and heaven their native place;
But Jove the greater; first-born of the skies,
And more than men, or gods, supremely wise.
For this, of Jove's superior might afraid,
Neptune in human form conceal'd his aid.
These powers enfold the Greek and Trojan train
In war and discord's adamantine chain,
Indissolubly strong: the fatal tie
Is stretch'd on both, and close compell'd they die.
Dreadful in arms, and grown in combats grey,
The bold Idomeneus controls the day.
First by his hand Othryoneus was slain,
Swell'd with false hopes, with mad ambition vain;
Call'd by the voice of war to martial fame,
From high Cabesus' distant walls he came;
Cassandra's love he sought, with boasts of power,
And promised conquest was the proffer'd dower.
The king consented, by his vaunts abused;
The king consented, but the fates refused.
Proud of himself, and of the imagined bride,
The field he measured with a larger stride.
Him as he stalk'd, the Cretan javelin found;
Vain was his breastplate to repel the wound:
His dream of glory lost, he plunged to hell;
His arms resounded as the boaster fell.
The great Idomeneus bestrides the dead;
"And thus (he cries) behold thy promise sped!
Such is the help thy arms to Ilion bring,