The Iliad of Homer
Page: 237Affrighted Troy the towering victor flies:
Flies, as before some mountain lion's ire
The village curs and trembling swains retire,
When o'er the slaughter'd bull they hear him roar,
And see his jaws distil with smoking gore:
All pale with fear, at distance scatter'd round,
They shout incessant, and the vales resound.
Meanwhile Apollo view'd with envious eyes,
And urged great Hector to dispute the prize;
(In Mentes' shape, beneath whose martial care
The rough Ciconians learn'd the trade of war;)247
"Forbear (he cried) with fruitless speed to chase
Achilles' coursers, of ethereal race;
They stoop not, these, to mortal man's command,
Or stoop to none but great Achilles' hand.
Too long amused with a pursuit so vain,
Turn, and behold the brave Euphorbus slain;
By Sparta slain! for ever now suppress'd
The fire which burn'd in that undaunted breast!"
Thus having spoke, Apollo wing'd his flight,
And mix'd with mortals in the toils of fight:
His words infix'd unutterable care
Deep in great Hector's soul: through all the war
He darts his anxious eye; and, instant, view'd
The breathless hero in his blood imbued,
(Forth welling from the wound, as prone he lay)
And in the victor's hands the shining prey.
Sheath'd in bright arms, through cleaving ranks he flies,
And sends his voice in thunder to the skies:
Fierce as a flood of flame by Vulcan sent,
It flew, and fired the nations as it went.
Atrides from the voice the storm divined,
And thus explored his own unconquer'd mind:
"Then shall I quit Patroclus on the plain,
Slain in my cause, and for my honour slain!
Desert the arms, the relics, of my friend?
Or singly, Hector and his troops attend?
Sure where such partial favour heaven bestow'd,
To brave the hero were to brave the god:
Forgive me, Greece, if once I quit the field;
'Tis not to Hector, but to heaven I yield.
Yet, nor the god, nor heaven, should give me fear,
Did but the voice of Ajax reach my ear:
Still would we turn, still battle on the plains,
And give Achilles all that yet remains
Of his and our Patroclus—" This, no more
The time allow'd: Troy thicken'd on the shore.
A sable scene! The terrors Hector led.
Slow he recedes, and sighing quits the dead.
So from the fold the unwilling lion parts,[pg 315]
Forced by loud clamours, and a storm of darts;
He flies indeed, but threatens as he flies,
With heart indignant and retorted eyes.
Now enter'd in the Spartan ranks, he turn'd
His manly breast, and with new fury burn'd;
O'er all the black battalions sent his view,
And through the cloud the godlike Ajax knew;
Where labouring on the left the warrior stood,
All grim in arms, and cover'd o'er with blood;
There breathing courage, where the god of day
Had sunk each heart with terror and dismay.
To him the king: "Oh Ajax, oh my friend!
Haste, and Patroclus' loved remains defend:
The body to Achilles to restore