The Iliad of Homer
Page: 287Apollo enters Ilion's sacred town;
The guardian-god now trembled for her wall,
And fear'd the Greeks, though fate forbade her fall.
Back to Olympus, from the war's alarms,
Return the shining bands of gods in arms;
Some proud in triumph, some with rage on fire;
And take their thrones around the ethereal sire.
Through blood, through death, Achilles still proceeds,
O'er slaughter'd heroes, and o'er rolling steeds.
As when avenging flames with fury driven
On guilty towns exert the wrath of heaven;
The pale inhabitants, some fall, some fly;
And the red vapours purple all the sky:
So raged Achilles: death and dire dismay,
And toils, and terrors, fill'd the dreadful day.
High on a turret hoary Priam stands,
And marks the waste of his destructive hands;
Views, from his arm, the Trojans' scatter'd flight,
And the near hero rising on his sight!
No stop, no check, no aid! With feeble pace,
And settled sorrow on his aged face,
Fast as he could, he sighing quits the walls;
And thus descending, on the guards he calls:
"You to whose care our city-gates belong,
Set wide your portals to the flying throng:
For lo! he comes, with unresisted sway;
He comes, and desolation marks his way!
But when within the walls our troops take breath,
Lock fast the brazen bars, and shut out death."
Thus charged the reverend monarch: wide were flung
The opening folds; the sounding hinges rung.
Phoebus rush'd forth, the flying bands to meet;[pg 388]
Struck slaughter back, and cover'd the retreat,
On heaps the Trojans crowd to gain the gate,
And gladsome see their last escape from fate.
Thither, all parch'd with thirst, a heartless train,
Hoary with dust, they beat the hollow plain:
And gasping, panting, fainting, labour on
With heavier strides, that lengthen toward the town.
Enraged Achilles follows with his spear;
Wild with revenge, insatiable of war.
Then had the Greeks eternal praise acquired,
And Troy inglorious to her walls retired;
But he, the god who darts ethereal flame,
Shot down to save her, and redeem her fame:
To young Agenor force divine he gave;
(Antenor's offspring, haughty, bold, and brave;)
In aid of him, beside the beech he sate,
And wrapt in clouds, restrain'd the hand of fate.
When now the generous youth Achilles spies.
Thick beats his heart, the troubled motions rise.
(So, ere a storm, the waters heave and roll.)
He stops, and questions thus his mighty soul;
"What, shall I fly this terror of the plain!
Like others fly, and be like others slain?
Vain hope! to shun him by the self-same road
Yon line of slaughter'd Trojans lately trod.
No: with the common heap I scorn to fall—
What if they pass'd me to the Trojan wall,
While I decline to yonder path, that leads
To Ida's forests and surrounding shades?
So may I reach, conceal'd, the cooling flood,
From my tired body wash the dirt and blood,
As soon as night her dusky veil extends,
Return in safety to my Trojan friends.