The Iliad of Homer
Page: 196And groans of slaughter'd Greeks to heaven ascend.
On speedy measures then employ your thought
In such distress! if counsel profit aught:
Arms cannot much: though Mars our souls incite,
These gaping wounds withhold us from the fight."
To him the monarch: "That our army bends,
That Troy triumphant our high fleet ascends,
And that the rampart, late our surest trust
And best defence, lies smoking in the dust;
All this from Jove's afflictive hand we bear,
Who, far from Argos, wills our ruin here.
Past are the days when happier Greece was blest,
And all his favour, all his aid confess'd;
Now heaven averse, our hands from battle ties,
And lifts the Trojan glory to the skies.
Cease we at length to waste our blood in vain,
And launch what ships lie nearest to the main;
Leave these at anchor, till the coming night:
Then, if impetuous Troy forbear the fight,
Bring all to sea, and hoist each sail for flight.
Better from evils, well foreseen, to run,
Than perish in the danger we may shun."
Thus he. The sage Ulysses thus replies,
While anger flash'd from his disdainful eyes:
"What shameful words (unkingly as thou art)
Fall from that trembling tongue and timorous heart?
Oh were thy sway the curse of meaner powers,
And thou the shame of any host but ours!
A host, by Jove endued with martial might,
And taught to conquer, or to fall in fight:
Adventurous combats and bold wars to wage,
Employ'd our youth, and yet employs our age.
And wilt thou thus desert the Trojan plain?
And have whole streams of blood been spilt in vain?
In such base sentence if thou couch thy fear,
Speak it in whispers, lest a Greek should hear.
Lives there a man so dead to fame, who dares
To think such meanness, or the thought declares?
And comes it even from him whose sovereign sway
The banded legions of all Greece obey?
Is this a general's voice that calls to flight,
While war hangs doubtful, while his soldiers fight?
What more could Troy? What yet their fate denies
Thou givest the foe: all Greece becomes their prize.
No more the troops (our hoisted sails in view,
Themselves abandon'd) shall the fight pursue;
But thy ships flying, with despair shall see;
And owe destruction to a prince like thee."
"Thy just reproofs (Atrides calm replies)
Like arrows pierce me, for thy words are wise.
Unwilling as I am to lose the host,[pg 256]
I force not Greece to quit this hateful coast;
Glad I submit, whoe'er, or young, or old,
Aught, more conducive to our weal, unfold."
Tydides cut him short, and thus began:
"Such counsel if you seek, behold the man
Who boldly gives it, and what he shall say,
Young though he be, disdain not to obey:
A youth, who from the mighty Tydeus springs,
May speak to councils and assembled kings.
Hear then in me the great OEnides' son,
Whose honoured dust (his race of glory run)