The Iliad of Homer
Page: 238Demands our care; alas, we can no more!
For naked now, despoiled of arms, he lies;
And Hector glories in the dazzling prize."
He said, and touch'd his heart. The raging pair
Pierced the thick battle, and provoke the war.
Already had stern Hector seized his head,
And doom'd to Trojan gods the unhappy dead;
But soon as Ajax rear'd his tower-like shield,
Sprung to his car, and measured back the field,
His train to Troy the radiant armour bear,
To stand a trophy of his fame in war.
Meanwhile great Ajax (his broad shield display'd)
Guards the dead hero with the dreadful shade;
And now before, and now behind he stood:
Thus in the centre of some gloomy wood,
With many a step, the lioness surrounds
Her tawny young, beset by men and hounds;
Elate her heart, and rousing all her powers,
Dark o'er the fiery balls each hanging eyebrow lours.
Fast by his side the generous Spartan glows
With great revenge, and feeds his inward woes.
A manly form, without a manly mind.
Is this, O chief! a hero's boasted fame?
How vain, without the merit, is the name!
Since battle is renounced, thy thoughts employ
What other methods may preserve thy Troy:
'Tis time to try if Ilion's state can stand
By thee alone, nor ask a foreign hand:
Mean, empty boast! but shall the Lycians stake
Their lives for you? those Lycians you forsake?
What from thy thankless arms can we expect?
Thy friend Sarpedon proves thy base neglect;
Say, shall our slaughter'd bodies guard your walls,[pg 316]
While unreveng'd the great Sarpedon falls?
Even where he died for Troy, you left him there,
A feast for dogs, and all the fowls of air.
On my command if any Lycian wait,
Hence let him march, and give up Troy to fate.
Did such a spirit as the gods impart
Impel one Trojan hand or Trojan heart,
(Such as should burn in every soul that draws
The sword for glory, and his country's cause)
Even yet our mutual arms we might employ,
And drag yon carcase to the walls of Troy.
Oh! were Patroclus ours, we might obtain
Sarpedon's arms and honour'd corse again!
Greece with Achilles' friend should be repaid,
And thus due honours purchased to his shade.
But words are vain—Let Ajax once appear,
And Hector trembles and recedes with fear;
Thou dar'st not meet the terrors of his eye;
And lo! already thou prepar'st to fly."
The Trojan chief with fix'd resentment eyed
The Lycian leader, and sedate replied:
"Say, is it just, my friend, that Hector's ear
From such a warrior such a speech should hear?
I deem'd thee once the wisest of thy kind,
But ill this insult suits a prudent mind.
I shun great Ajax? I desert my train?
'Tis mine to prove the rash assertion vain;
I joy to mingle where the battle bleeds,