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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 228

And lasting honours to his ashes give;
His fame ('tis all the dead can have) shall live."
She said: the cloud-compeller, overcome,
Assents to fate, and ratifies the doom.
Then touch'd with grief, the weeping heavens distill'd
A shower of blood o'er all the fatal field:
[pg 301]
The god, his eyes averting from the plain,
Laments his son, predestined to be slain,
Far from the Lycian shores, his happy native reign.
Now met in arms, the combatants appear;
Each heaved the shield, and poised the lifted spear;
From strong Patroclus' hand the javelin fled,
And pass'd the groin of valiant Thrasymed;
The nerves unbraced no more his bulk sustain,
He falls, and falling bites the bloody plain.
Two sounding darts the Lycian leader threw:
The first aloof with erring fury flew,
The next transpierced Achilles' mortal steed,
The generous Pedasus of Theban breed:
Fix'd in the shoulder's joint, he reel'd around,
Roll'd in the bloody dust, and paw'd the slippery ground.
His sudden fall the entangled harness broke;
Each axle crackled, and the chariot shook:
When bold Automedon, to disengage
The starting coursers, and restrain their rage,
Divides the traces with his sword, and freed
The encumbered chariot from the dying steed:
The rest move on, obedient to the rein:
The car rolls slowly o'er the dusty plain.
The towering chiefs to fiercer fight advance:
And first Sarpedon whirl'd his weighty lance,
Which o'er the warrior's shoulder took its course,
And spent in empty air its dying force.
Not so Patroclus' never-erring dart;
Aim'd at his breast it pierced a mortal part,
Where the strong fibres bind the solid heart.
Then as the mountain oak, or poplar tall,
Or pine (fit mast for some great admiral)
Nods to the axe, till with a groaning sound
It sinks, and spreads its honours on the ground,
Thus fell the king; and laid on earth supine,
Before his chariot stretch'd his form divine:
He grasp'd the dust distain'd with streaming gore,
And, pale in death, lay groaning on the shore.
So lies a bull beneath the lion's paws,
While the grim savage grinds with foamy jaws
The trembling limbs, and sucks the smoking blood;
Deep groans, and hollow roars, rebellow through the wood.
Then to the leader of the Lycian band
The dying chief address'd his last command;
"Glaucus, be bold; thy task be first to dare
The glorious dangers of destructive war,
To lead my troops, to combat at their head,
Incite the living, and supply the dead.
Tell them, I charged them with my latest breath
Not unrevenged to bear Sarpedon's death.
[pg 302]
What grief, what shame, must Glaucus undergo,
If these spoil'd arms adorn a Grecian foe!
Then as a friend, and as a warrior fight;
Defend my body, conquer in my right:
That, taught by great examples, all may try
Like thee to vanquish, or like me to die."
He ceased; the Fates suppress'd his labouring breath,
And his eyes darken'd with the shades of death.
The insulting victor with disdain bestrode

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