The Iliad of Homer
Page: 286Like us, their present, future sons destroy,
And from its deep foundations heave their Troy?"
Apollo thus: "To combat for mankind
Ill suits the wisdom of celestial mind;
For what is man? Calamitous by birth,
They owe their life and nourishment to earth;
Like yearly leaves, that now, with beauty crown'd,
Smile on the sun; now, wither on the ground.
To their own hands commit the frantic scene,
Nor mix immortals in a cause so mean."
Then turns his face, far-beaming heavenly fires,
And from the senior power submiss retires:
Him thus retreating, Artemis upbraids,
The quiver'd huntress of the sylvan shades:
"And is it thus the youthful Phoebus flies,
And yields to ocean's hoary sire the prize?
How vain that martial pomp, and dreadful show
Of pointed arrows and the silver bow!
Now boast no more in yon celestial bower,
Thy force can match the great earth-shaking power."
Silent he heard the queen of woods upbraid:
Not so Saturnia bore the vaunting maid:
But furious thus: "What insolence has driven
Thy pride to face the majesty of heaven?
What though by Jove the female plague design'd,
Fierce to the feeble race of womankind,
The wretched matron feels thy piercing dart;
Thy sex's tyrant, with a tiger's heart?
What though tremendous in the woodland chase
Thy certain arrows pierce the savage race?
How dares thy rashness on the powers divine
Employ those arms, or match thy force with mine?
Learn hence, no more unequal war to wage—"
She said, and seized her wrists with eager rage;
These in her left hand lock'd, her right untied
The bow, the quiver, and its plumy pride.
About her temples flies the busy bow;
Now here, now there, she winds her from the blow;
The scattering arrows, rattling from the case,
Drop round, and idly mark the dusty place.
Swift from the field the baffled huntress flies,
And scarce restrains the torrent in her eyes:
So, when the falcon wings her way above,
To the cleft cavern speeds the gentle dove;
(Not fated yet to die;) there safe retreats,
Yet still her heart against the marble beats.
To her Latona hastes with tender care;[pg 387]
Whom Hermes viewing, thus declines the war:
"How shall I face the dame, who gives delight
To him whose thunders blacken heaven with night?
Go, matchless goddess! triumph in the skies,
And boast my conquest, while I yield the prize."
He spoke; and pass'd: Latona, stooping low,
Collects the scatter'd shafts and fallen bow,
That, glittering on the dust, lay here and there
Dishonour'd relics of Diana's war:
Then swift pursued her to her blest abode,
Where, all confused, she sought the sovereign god;
Weeping, she grasp'd his knees: the ambrosial vest
Shook with her sighs, and panted on her breast.
The sire superior smiled, and bade her show
What heavenly hand had caused his daughter's woe?
Abash'd, she names his own imperial spouse;
And the pale crescent fades upon her brows.
Thus they above: while, swiftly gliding down,