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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 249

Still close they follow, close the rear engage;
Aeneas storms, and Hector foams with rage:
While Greece a heavy, thick retreat maintains,
Wedged in one body, like a flight of cranes,
That shriek incessant, while the falcon, hung
High on poised pinions, threats their callow young.
So from the Trojan chiefs the Grecians fly,
Such the wild terror, and the mingled cry:
Within, without the trench, and all the way,
Strow'd in bright heaps, their arms and armour lay;
Such horror Jove impress'd! yet still proceeds
The work of death, and still the battle bleeds.

Illustration: VULCAN FROM AN ANTIQUE GEM.

VULCAN FROM AN ANTIQUE GEM.

[pg 331]

BOOK XVIII.

ARGUMENT.

THE GRIEF OF ACHILLES, AND NEW ARMOUR MADE HIM BY VULCAN.

The news of the death of Patroclus is brought to Achilles by Antilochus. Thetis, hearing his lamentations, comes with all her sea- nymphs to comfort him. The speeches of the mother and son on this occasion. Iris appears to Achilles by the command of Juno, and orders him to show himself at the head of the intrenchments. The sight of him turns the fortunes of the day, and the body of Patroclus is carried off by the Greeks. The Trojans call a council, where Hector and Polydamas disagree in their opinions: but the advice of the former prevails, to remain encamped in the field. The grief of Achilles over the body of Patroclus.

Thetis goes to the palace of Vulcan to obtain new arms for her son. The description of the wonderful works of Vulcan: and, lastly, that noble one of the shield of Achilles.

The latter part of the nine-and-twentieth day, and the night ensuing, take up this book: the scene is at Achilles' tent on the sea-shore, from whence it changes to the palace of Vulcan.

Thus like the rage of fire the combat burns,250
And now it rises, now it sinks by turns.
Meanwhile, where Hellespont's broad waters flow,
Stood Nestor's son, the messenger of woe:
There sat Achilles, shaded by his sails,
On hoisted yards extended to the gales;
Pensive he sat; for all that fate design'd
Rose in sad prospect to his boding mind.
Thus to his soul he said: "Ah! what constrains
The Greeks, late victors, now to quit the plains?
Is this the day, which heaven so long ago
Ordain'd, to sink me with the weight of woe?
(So Thetis warn'd;) when by a Trojan hand
The bravest of the Myrmidonian band
Should lose the light! Fulfilled is that decree;
Fallen is the warrior, and Patroclus he!
In vain I charged him soon to quit the plain,
And warn'd to shun Hectorean force in vain!"
[pg 332]
Thus while he thinks, Antilochus appears,
And tells the melancholy tale with tears.
"Sad tidings, son of Peleus! thou must hear;
And wretched I, the unwilling messenger!
Dead is Patroclus! For his corse they fight;
His naked corse: his arms are Hector's right."
A sudden horror shot through all the chief,
And wrapp'd his senses in the cloud of grief;
Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread

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