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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 231

(Insulted Merion thus retorts the boast)
Strong as you are, 'tis mortal force you trust,
An arm as strong may stretch thee in the dust.
And if to this my lance thy fate be given,
Vain are thy vaunts; success is still from heaven:
This, instant, sends thee down to Pluto's coast;
Mine is the glory, his thy parting ghost."
"O friend (Menoetius' son this answer gave)
With words to combat, ill befits the brave;
Not empty boasts the sons of Troy repel,
Your swords must plunge them to the shades of hell.
[pg 305]
To speak, beseems the council; but to dare
In glorious action, is the task of war."
This said, Patroclus to the battle flies;
Great Merion follows, and new shouts arise:
Shields, helmets rattle, as the warriors close;
And thick and heavy sounds the storm of blows.
As through the shrilling vale, or mountain ground,
The labours of the woodman's axe resound;
Blows following blows are heard re-echoing wide,
While crackling forests fall on every side:
Thus echoed all the fields with loud alarms,
So fell the warriors, and so rung their arms.
Now great Sarpedon on the sandy shore,
His heavenly form defaced with dust and gore,
And stuck with darts by warring heroes shed,
Lies undistinguish'd from the vulgar dead.
His long-disputed corse the chiefs enclose,
On every side the busy combat grows;
Thick as beneath some shepherd's thatch'd abode
(The pails high foaming with a milky flood)
The buzzing flies, a persevering train,
Incessant swarm, and chased return again.
Jove view'd the combat with a stern survey,
And eyes that flash'd intolerable day.
Fix'd on the field his sight, his breast debates
The vengeance due, and meditates the fates:
Whether to urge their prompt effect, and call
The force of Hector to Patroclus' fall,
This instant see his short-lived trophies won,
And stretch him breathless on his slaughter'd son;
Or yet, with many a soul's untimely flight,
Augment the fame and horror of the fight.
To crown Achilles' valiant friend with praise
At length he dooms; and, that his last of days
Shall set in glory, bids him drive the foe;
Nor unattended see the shades below.
Then Hector's mind he fills with dire dismay;
He mounts his car, and calls his hosts away;
Sunk with Troy's heavy fates, he sees decline
The scales of Jove, and pants with awe divine.
Then, nor before, the hardy Lycians fled,
And left their monarch with the common dead:
Around, in heaps on heaps, a dreadful wall
Of carnage rises, as the heroes fall.
(So Jove decreed!) At length the Greeks obtain
The prize contested, and despoil the slain.
The radiant arms are by Patroclus borne;
Patroclus' ships the glorious spoils adorn.
Then thus to Phoebus, in the realms above,
Spoke from his throne the cloud-compelling Jove:
[pg 306]
"Descend, my Phoebus! on the Phrygian plain,
And from the fight convey Sarpedon slain;
Then bathe his body in the crystal flood,
With dust dishonour'd, and deform'd with blood;

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