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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 280

His earthly honours, and immortal name?
In vain your immolated bulls are slain,
Your living coursers glut his gulfs in vain!
Thus he rewards you, with this bitter fate;
Thus, till the Grecian vengeance is complete:
Thus is atoned Patroclus' honour'd shade,
And the short absence of Achilles paid."
These boastful words provoked the raging god;
With fury swells the violated flood.
What means divine may yet the power employ
To check Achilles, and to rescue Troy?
Meanwhile the hero springs in arms, to dare
The great Asteropeus to mortal war;
The son of Pelagon, whose lofty line
Flows from the source of Axius, stream divine!
(Fair Peribaea's love the god had crown'd,
With all his refluent waters circled round:)
On him Achilles rush'd; he fearless stood,
And shook two spears, advancing from the flood;
[pg 378]
The flood impell'd him, on Pelides' head
To avenge his waters choked with heaps of dead.
Near as they drew, Achilles thus began:
"What art thou, boldest of the race of man?
Who, or from whence? Unhappy is the sire
Whose son encounters our resistless ire."
"O son of Peleus! what avails to trace
(Replied the warrior) our illustrious race?
From rich Paeonia's valleys I command,
Arm'd with protended spears, my native band;
Now shines the tenth bright morning since I came
In aid of Ilion to the fields of fame:
Axius, who swells with all the neighbouring rills,
And wide around the floated region fills,
Begot my sire, whose spear much glory won:
Now lift thy arm, and try that hero's son!"
Threatening he said: the hostile chiefs advance;
At once Asteropeus discharged each lance,
(For both his dexterous hands the lance could wield,)
One struck, but pierced not, the Vulcanian shield;
One razed Achilles' hand; the spouting blood
Spun forth; in earth the fasten'd weapon stood.
Like lightning next the Pelean javelin flies:
Its erring fury hiss'd along the skies;
Deep in the swelling bank was driven the spear,
Even to the middle earth; and quiver'd there.
Then from his side the sword Pelides drew,
And on his foe with double fury flew.
The foe thrice tugg'd, and shook the rooted wood;
Repulsive of his might the weapon stood:
The fourth, he tries to break the spear in vain;
Bent as he stands, he tumbles to the plain;
His belly open'd with a ghastly wound,
The reeking entrails pour upon the ground.
Beneath the hero's feet he panting lies,
And his eye darkens, and his spirit flies;
While the proud victor thus triumphing said,
His radiant armour tearing from the dead:
"So ends thy glory! Such the fate they prove,
Who strive presumptuous with the sons of Jove!
Sprung from a river, didst thou boast thy line?
But great Saturnius is the source of mine.
How durst thou vaunt thy watery progeny?
Of Peleus, ├ćacus, and Jove, am I.
The race of these superior far to those,
As he that thunders to the stream that flows.
What rivers can, Scamander might have shown;

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