The Iliad of Homer
Page: 244Safe to the navy through the storm of war.
For yet 'tis given to Troy to ravage o'er
The field, and spread her slaughters to the shore;
The sun shall see her conquer, till his fall
With sacred darkness shades the face of all."
He said; and breathing in the immortal horse
Excessive spirit, urged them to the course;
From their high manes they shake the dust, and bear
The kindling chariot through the parted war:
So flies a vulture through the clamorous train
Of geese, that scream, and scatter round the plain.
From danger now with swiftest speed they flew,
And now to conquest with like speed pursue;
Sole in the seat the charioteer remains,
Now plies the javelin, now directs the reins:
Him brave Alcimedon beheld distress'd,
Approach'd the chariot, and the chief address'd:
"What god provokes thee rashly thus to dare,
Alone, unaided, in the thickest war?[pg 324]
Alas! thy friend is slain, and Hector wields
Achilles' arms triumphant in the fields."
"In happy time (the charioteer replies)
The bold Alcimedon now greets my eyes;
No Greek like him the heavenly steeds restrains,
Or holds their fury in suspended reins:
Patroclus, while he lived, their rage could tame,
But now Patroclus is an empty name!
To thee I yield the seat, to thee resign
The ruling charge: the task of fight be mine."
He said. Alcimedon, with active heat,
Snatches the reins, and vaults into the seat.
His friend descends. The chief of Troy descried,
And call'd Æneas fighting near his side.
"Lo, to my sight, beyond our hope restored,
Achilles' car, deserted of its lord!
The glorious steeds our ready arms invite,
Scarce their weak drivers guide them through the fight.
Can such opponents stand when we assail?
Unite thy force, my friend, and we prevail."
The son of Venus to the counsel yields;
Then o'er their backs they spread their solid shields:
With brass refulgent the broad surface shined,
And thick bull-hides the spacious concave lined.
Them Chromius follows, Aretus succeeds;
Each hopes the conquest of the lofty steeds:
In vain, brave youths, with glorious hopes ye burn,
In vain advance! not fated to return.
Unmov'd, Automedon attends the fight,
Implores the Eternal, and collects his might.
Then turning to his friend, with dauntless mind:
"Oh keep the foaming coursers close behind!
Full on my shoulders let their nostrils blow,
For hard the fight, determined is the foe;
'Tis Hector comes: and when he seeks the prize,
War knows no mean; he wins it or he dies."
Then through the field he sends his voice aloud,
And calls the Ajaces from the warring crowd,
With great Atrides. "Hither turn, (he said,)
Turn where distress demands immediate aid;
The dead, encircled by his friends, forego,
And save the living from a fiercer foe.
Unhelp'd we stand, unequal to engage
The force of Hector, and Æneas' rage:
Yet mighty as they are, my force to prove
Is only mine: the event belongs to Jove."
He spoke, and high the sounding javelin flung,