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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 293

A man, a mortal, pre-ordain'd to death!
And will no murmurs fill the courts above?
No gods indignant blame their partial Jove?"
"Go then (return'd the sire) without delay,
Exert thy will: I give the Fates their way.
Swift at the mandate pleased Tritonia flies,
And stoops impetuous from the cleaving skies.
As through the forest, o'er the vale and lawn,
The well-breath'd beagle drives the flying fawn,
In vain he tries the covert of the brakes,
Or deep beneath the trembling thicket shakes;
Sure of the vapour in the tainted dews,
The certain hound his various maze pursues.
Thus step by step, where'er the Trojan wheel'd,
There swift Achilles compass'd round the field.
Oft as to reach the Dardan gates he bends,
And hopes the assistance of his pitying friends,
(Whose showering arrows, as he coursed below,
From the high turrets might oppress the foe,)
So oft Achilles turns him to the plain:
He eyes the city, but he eyes in vain.
As men in slumbers seem with speedy pace,
One to pursue, and one to lead the chase,
Their sinking limbs the fancied course forsake,
Nor this can fly, nor that can overtake:
[pg 396]
No less the labouring heroes pant and strain:
While that but flies, and this pursues in vain.
What god, O muse, assisted Hector's force
With fate itself so long to hold the course?
Phoebus it was; who, in his latest hour,
Endued his knees with strength, his nerves with power:
And great Achilles, lest some Greek's advance
Should snatch the glory from his lifted lance,
Sign'd to the troops to yield his foe the way,
And leave untouch'd the honours of the day.
Jove lifts the golden balances, that show
The fates of mortal men, and things below:
Here each contending hero's lot he tries,
And weighs, with equal hand, their destinies.
Low sinks the scale surcharged with Hector's fate;
Heavy with death it sinks, and hell receives the weight.
Then Phoebus left him. Fierce Minerva flies
To stern Pelides, and triumphing, cries:
"O loved of Jove! this day our labours cease,
And conquest blazes with full beams on Greece.
Great Hector falls; that Hector famed so far,
Drunk with renown, insatiable of war,
Falls by thy hand, and mine! nor force, nor flight,
Shall more avail him, nor his god of light.
See, where in vain he supplicates above,
Roll'd at the feet of unrelenting Jove;
Rest here: myself will lead the Trojan on,
And urge to meet the fate he cannot shun."
Her voice divine the chief with joyful mind
Obey'd; and rested, on his lance reclined
While like Deiphobus the martial dame
(Her face, her gesture, and her arms the same),
In show an aid, by hapless Hector's side
Approach'd, and greets him thus with voice belied:
"Too long, O Hector! have I borne the sight
Of this distress, and sorrow'd in thy flight:
It fits us now a noble stand to make,
And here, as brothers, equal fates partake."
Then he: "O prince! allied in blood and fame,

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