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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 223

Or if a surer, great Patroclus! thine.
The fourth by Phoenix' grave command was graced,
Laerces' valiant offspring led the last.
Soon as Achilles with superior care
Had call'd the chiefs, and order'd all the war,
[pg 294]Illustration: <strong><a href=DIANA." title= "DIANA." />
Thus while he roused the fire in every breast,
Close and more close the listening cohorts press'd;
Ranks wedged in ranks; of arms a steely ring
Still grows, and spreads, and thickens round the king.
As when a circling wall the builder forms,
Of strength defensive against wind and storms,
Compacted stones the thickening work compose,
And round him wide the rising structure grows:
So helm to helm, and crest to crest they throng,
Shield urged on shield, and man drove man along;
Thick, undistinguish'd plumes, together join'd,
Float in one sea, and wave before the wind.
Far o'er the rest in glittering pomp appear,
There bold Automedon, Patroclus here;
Brothers in arms, with equal fury fired;
Two friends, two bodies with one soul inspired.
But mindful of the gods, Achilles went
To the rich coffer in his shady tent;
There lay on heaps his various garments roll'd,
And costly furs, and carpets stiff with gold,
(The presents of the silver-footed dame)
From thence he took a bowl, of antique frame,
Which never man had stained with ruddy wine,
Nor raised in offerings to the power divine,
[pg 295]
But Peleus' son; and Peleus' son to none
Had raised in offerings, but to Jove alone.
This tinged with sulphur, sacred first to flame,
He purged; and wash'd it in the running stream.
Then cleansed his hands; and fixing for a space
His eyes on heaven, his feet upon the place
Of sacrifice, the purple draught he pour'd
Forth in the midst; and thus the god implored:
"O thou supreme! high-throned all height above!
O great Pelasgic, Dodonaean Jove!
Who 'midst surrounding frosts, and vapours chill,
Presid'st on bleak Dodona's vocal hill:
(Whose groves the Selli, race austere! surround,
Their feet unwash'd, their slumbers on the ground;
Who hear, from rustling oaks, thy dark decrees;
And catch the fates, low-whispered in the breeze;)
Hear, as of old! Thou gav'st, at Thetis' prayer,
Glory to me, and to the Greeks despair.
Lo, to the dangers of the fighting field
The best, the dearest of my friends, I yield,

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