The Iliad of Homer
Page: 240To boast our numbers, and the pomp of war:
Ye came to fight; a valiant foe to chase,
To save our present, and our future race.
Tor this, our wealth, our products, you enjoy,
And glean the relics of exhausted Troy.[pg 318]
Now then, to conquer or to die prepare;
To die or conquer are the terms of war.
Whatever hand shall win Patroclus slain,
Whoe'er shall drag him to the Trojan train,
With Hector's self shall equal honours claim;
With Hector part the spoil, and share the fame."
Fired by his words, the troops dismiss their fears,
They join, they thicken, they protend their spears;
Full on the Greeks they drive in firm array,
And each from Ajax hopes the glorious prey:
Vain hope! what numbers shall the field o'erspread,
What victims perish round the mighty dead!
Great Ajax mark'd the growing storm from far,
And thus bespoke his brother of the war:
"Our fatal day, alas! is come, my friend;
And all our wars and glories at an end!
'Tis not this corse alone we guard in vain,
Condemn'd to vultures on the Trojan plain;
We too must yield: the same sad fate must fall
On thee, on me, perhaps, my friend, on all.
See what a tempest direful Hector spreads,
And lo! it bursts, it thunders on our heads!
Call on our Greeks, if any hear the call,
The bravest Greeks: this hour demands them all."
The warrior raised his voice, and wide around
The field re-echoed the distressful sound.
"O chiefs! O princes, to whose hand is given
The rule of men; whose glory is from heaven!
Whom with due honours both Atrides grace:
Ye guides and guardians of our Argive race!
All, whom this well-known voice shall reach from far,
All, whom I see not through this cloud of war;
Come all! let generous rage your arms employ,
Oilean Ajax first the voice obey'd,
Swift was his pace, and ready was his aid:
Next him Idomeneus, more slow with age,
And Merion, burning with a hero's rage.
The long-succeeding numbers who can name?
But all were Greeks, and eager all for fame.
Fierce to the charge great Hector led the throng;
Whole Troy embodied rush'd with shouts along.
Thus, when a mountain billow foams and raves,
Where some swoln river disembogues his waves,
Full in the mouth is stopp'd the rushing tide,
The boiling ocean works from side to side,
The river trembles to his utmost shore,
And distant rocks re-bellow to the roar.
Nor less resolved, the firm Achaian band
With brazen shields in horrid circle stand.[pg 319]
Jove, pouring darkness o'er the mingled fight,
Conceals the warriors' shining helms in night:
To him, the chief for whom the hosts contend
Had lived not hateful, for he lived a friend:
Dead he protects him with superior care.
Nor dooms his carcase to the birds of air.
The first attack the Grecians scarce sustain,