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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 297

"Hector is dead, and Ilion is no more."
Then his fell soul a thought of vengeance bred;
(Unworthy of himself, and of the dead;)
The nervous ancles bored, his feet he bound
With thongs inserted through the double wound;
These fix'd up high behind the rolling wain,
His graceful head was trail'd along the plain.
Proud on his car the insulting victor stood,
And bore aloft his arms, distilling blood.
[pg 401]
He smites the steeds; the rapid chariot flies;
The sudden clouds of circling dust arise.
Now lost is all that formidable air;
The face divine, and long-descending hair,
Purple the ground, and streak the sable sand;
Deform'd, dishonour'd, in his native land,
Given to the rage of an insulting throng,
And, in his parents' sight, now dragg'd along!
The mother first beheld with sad survey;
She rent her tresses, venerable grey,
And cast, far off, the regal veils away.
With piercing shrieks his bitter fate she moans,
While the sad father answers groans with groans
Tears after tears his mournful cheeks o'erflow,
And the whole city wears one face of woe:
No less than if the rage of hostile fires.
From her foundations curling to her spires,
O'er the proud citadel at length should rise,
And the last blaze send Ilion to the skies.
The wretched monarch of the falling state,
Distracted, presses to the Dardan gate.
Scarce the whole people stop his desperate course,
While strong affliction gives the feeble force:
Grief tears his heart, and drives him to and fro,
In all the raging impotence of woe.
At length he roll'd in dust, and thus begun,
Imploring all, and naming one by one:
"Ah! let me, let me go where sorrow calls;
I, only I, will issue from your walls
(Guide or companion, friends! I ask ye none),
And bow before the murderer of my son.
My grief perhaps his pity may engage;
Perhaps at least he may respect my age.
He has a father too; a man like me;
One, not exempt from age and misery
(Vigorous no more, as when his young embrace
Begot this pest of me, and all my race).
How many valiant sons, in early bloom,
Has that cursed hand send headlong to the tomb!
Thee, Hector! last: thy loss (divinely brave)
Sinks my sad soul with sorrow to the grave.
O had thy gentle spirit pass'd in peace,
The son expiring in the sire's embrace,
While both thy parents wept the fatal hour,
And, bending o'er thee, mix'd the tender shower!
Some comfort that had been, some sad relief,
To melt in full satiety of grief!"
Thus wail'd the father, grovelling on the ground,
And all the eyes of Ilion stream'd around.
Amidst her matrons Hecuba appears:
[pg 402]
(A mourning princess, and a train in tears;)
"Ah why has Heaven prolong'd this hated breath,
Patient of horrors, to behold thy death?
O Hector! late thy parents' pride and joy,
The boast of nations! the defence of Troy!
To whom her safety and her fame she owed;

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