The Iliad of Homer
Page: 273Like us they stand, encompass'd with the crowd,
And vent their anger impotent and loud.
Cease then—Our business in the field of fight
Is not to question, but to prove our might.
To all those insults thou hast offer'd here,
Receive this answer: 'tis my flying spear."
He spoke. With all his force the javelin flung,
Fix'd deep, and loudly in the buckler rung.
Far on his outstretch'd arm, Pelides held
(To meet the thundering lance) his dreadful shield,
That trembled as it stuck; nor void of fear
Saw, ere it fell, the immeasurable spear.
His fears were vain; impenetrable charms
Secured the temper of the ethereal arms.
Through two strong plates the point its passage held,
But stopp'd, and rested, by the third repell'd.
Five plates of various metal, various mould,
Composed the shield; of brass each outward fold,
Of tin each inward, and the middle gold:
There stuck the lance. Then rising ere he threw,
The forceful spear of great Achilles flew,
And pierced the Dardan shield's extremest bound,
Where the shrill brass return'd a sharper sound:
Through the thin verge the Pelean weapon glides,
And the slight covering of expanded hides.
Æneas his contracted body bends,
And o'er him high the riven targe extends,
Sees, through its parting plates, the upper air,
And at his back perceives the quivering spear:
A fate so near him, chills his soul with fright;
And swims before his eyes the many-colour'd light.
Achilles, rushing in with dreadful cries,
Draws his broad blade, and at Æneas flies:
Æneas rousing as the foe came on,
With force collected, heaves a mighty stone:[pg 368]
A mass enormous! which in modern days
No two of earth's degenerate sons could raise.
But ocean's god, whose earthquakes rock the ground.
Saw the distress, and moved the powers around:
"Lo! on the brink of fate Æneas stands,
An instant victim to Achilles' hands;
By Phoebus urged; but Phoebus has bestow'd
His aid in vain: the man o'erpowers the god.
And can ye see this righteous chief atone
With guiltless blood for vices not his own?
To all the gods his constant vows were paid;
Sure, though he wars for Troy, he claims our aid.
Fate wills not this; nor thus can Jove resign
The future father of the Dardan line:266
The first great ancestor obtain'd his grace,
And still his love descends on all the race:
At length are odious to the all-seeing mind;
On great Æneas shall devolve the reign,
And sons succeeding sons the lasting line sustain."
The great earth-shaker thus: to whom replies
The imperial goddess with the radiant eyes:
"Good as he is, to immolate or spare
The Dardan prince, O Neptune! be thy care;
Pallas and I, by all that gods can bind,
Have sworn destruction to the Trojan kind;
Not even an instant to protract their fate,
Or save one member of the sinking state;
Till her last flame be quench'd with her last gore,