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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 262

Is past, forgotten, and resign'd to fate.
Why should, alas, a mortal man, as I,
Burn with a fury that can never die?
Here then my anger ends: let war succeed,
And even as Greece has bled, let Ilion bleed.
Now call the hosts, and try if in our sight
Troy yet shall dare to camp a second night!
I deem, their mightiest, when this arm he knows,
Shall 'scape with transport, and with joy repose."
He said: his finish'd wrath with loud acclaim
The Greeks accept, and shout Pelides' name.
When thus, not rising from his lofty throne,
In state unmoved, the king of men begun:
"Hear me, ye sons of Greece! with silence hear!
And grant your monarch an impartial ear:
Awhile your loud, untimely joy suspend,
And let your rash, injurious clamours end:
Unruly murmurs, or ill-timed applause,
Wrong the best speaker, and the justest cause.
Nor charge on me, ye Greeks, the dire debate:
Know, angry Jove, and all-compelling Fate,
With fell Erinnys, urged my wrath that day
When from Achilles' arms I forced the prey.
What then could I against the will of heaven?
Not by myself, but vengeful Ate driven;
She, Jove's dread daughter, fated to infest
The race of mortals, enter'd in my breast.
Not on the ground that haughty fury treads,
But prints her lofty footsteps on the heads
Of mighty men; inflicting as she goes
Long-festering wounds, inextricable woes!
Of old, she stalk'd amid the bright abodes;
And Jove himself, the sire of men and gods,
[pg 352]
The world's great ruler, felt her venom'd dart;
Deceived by Juno's wiles, and female art:
For when Alcmena's nine long months were run,
And Jove expected his immortal son,
To gods and goddesses the unruly joy
He show'd, and vaunted of his matchless boy:
'From us, (he said) this day an infant springs,
Fated to rule, and born a king of kings.'
Saturnia ask'd an oath, to vouch the truth,
And fix dominion on the favour'd youth.
The Thunderer, unsuspicious of the fraud,
Pronounced those solemn words that bind a god.
The joyful goddess, from Olympus' height,
Swift to Achaian Argos bent her flight:
Scarce seven moons gone, lay Sthenelus's wife;
She push'd her lingering infant into life:
Her charms Alcmena's coming labours stay,
And stop the babe, just issuing to the day.
Then bids Saturnius bear his oath in mind;
'A youth (said she) of Jove's immortal kind
Is this day born: from Sthenelus he springs,
And claims thy promise to be king of kings.'
Grief seized the Thunderer, by his oath engaged;
Stung to the soul, he sorrow'd, and he raged.
From his ambrosial head, where perch'd she sate,
He snatch'd the fury-goddess of debate,
The dread, the irrevocable oath he swore,
The immortal seats should ne'er behold her more;
And whirl'd her headlong down, for ever driven
From bright Olympus and the starry heaven:
Thence on the nether world the fury fell;
Ordain'd with man's contentious race to dwell.

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