The Iliad of Homer
Page: 289The Trojans being safe within the walls, Hector only stays to oppose Achilles. Priam is struck at his approach, and tries to persuade his son to re-enter the town. Hecuba joins her entreaties, but in vain. Hector consults within himself what measures to take; but at the advance of Achilles, his resolution fails him, and he flies. Achilles pursues him thrice round the walls of Troy. The gods debate concerning the fate of Hector; at length Minerva descends to the aid of Achilles. She deludes Hector in the shape of Deiphobus; he stands the combat, and is slain. Achilles drags the dead body at his chariot in the sight of Priam and Hecuba. Their lamentations, tears, and despair. Their cries reach the ears of Andromache, who, ignorant of this, was retired into the inner part of the palace: she mounts up to the walls, and beholds her dead husband. She swoons at the spectacle. Her excess of grief and lamentation.
The thirtieth day still continues. The scene lies under the walls, and on the battlements of Troy.
Thus to their bulwarks, smit with panic fear,
The herded Ilians rush like driven deer:
There safe they wipe the briny drops away,
And drown in bowls the labours of the day.
Close to the walls, advancing o'er the fields
Beneath one roof of well-compacted shields,
March, bending on, the Greeks' embodied powers,
Far stretching in the shade of Trojan towers.
Great Hector singly stay'd: chain'd down by fate
There fix'd he stood before the Scaean gate;
Still his bold arms determined to employ,
The guardian still of long-defended Troy.
(The power confess'd in all his glory burns:)
"And what (he cries) has Peleus' son in view,
With mortal speed a godhead to pursue?
For not to thee to know the gods is given,
Unskill'd to trace the latent marks of heaven.
What boots thee now, that Troy forsook the plain?
Vain thy past labour, and thy present vain:[pg 391]
Safe in their walls are now her troops bestow'd,
While here thy frantic rage attacks a god."
The chief incensed—"Too partial god of day!
To check my conquests in the middle way:
How few in Ilion else had refuge found!
What gasping numbers now had bit the ground!
Thou robb'st me of a glory justly mine,
Powerful of godhead, and of fraud divine:
Mean fame, alas! for one of heavenly strain,
To cheat a mortal who repines in vain."
Then to the city, terrible and strong,
With high and haughty steps he tower'd along,
So the proud courser, victor of the prize,
To the near goal with double ardour flies.
Him, as he blazing shot across the field,
The careful eyes of Priam first beheld.
Not half so dreadful rises to the sight,274
Through the thick gloom of some tempestuous night,
Orion's dog (the year when autumn weighs),
And o'er the feebler stars exerts his rays;
Terrific glory! for his burning breath
Taints the red air with fevers, plagues, and death.