The Iliad of Homer
Page: 302And now the rosy-finger'd morn appears,
Shows every mournful face with tears o'erspread,
And glares on the pale visage of the dead.
But Agamemnon, as the rites demand,
With mules and waggons sends a chosen band
To load the timber, and the pile to rear;
A charge consign'd to Merion's faithful care.
With proper instruments they take the road,
Axes to cut, and ropes to sling the load.
First march the heavy mules, securely slow,
O'er hills, o'er dales, o'er crags, o'er rocks they go:285
Jumping, high o'er the shrubs of the rough ground,
Rattle the clattering cars, and the shock'd axles bound
But when arrived at Ida's spreading woods,286[pg 409]
(Fair Ida, water'd with descending floods,)
Loud sounds the axe, redoubling strokes on strokes;
On all sides round the forest hurls her oaks
Headlong. Deep echoing groan the thickets brown;
Then rustling, crackling, crashing, thunder down.
The wood the Grecians cleave, prepared to burn;
And the slow mules the same rough road return
The sturdy woodmen equal burdens bore
(Such charge was given them) to the sandy shore;
There on the spot which great Achilles show'd,
They eased their shoulders, and disposed the load;
Circling around the place, where times to come
The hero bids his martial troops appear
High on their cars in all the pomp of war;
Each in refulgent arms his limbs attires,
All mount their chariots, combatants and squires.
The chariots first proceed, a shining train;
Then clouds of foot that smoke along the plain;
Next these the melancholy band appear;
Amidst, lay dead Patroclus on the bier;
O'er all the corse their scattered locks they throw;
Achilles next, oppress'd with mighty woe,
Supporting with his hands the hero's head,
Bends o'er the extended body of the dead.
Patroclus decent on the appointed ground
They place, and heap the sylvan pile around.
But great Achilles stands apart in prayer,
And from his head divides the yellow hair;
Those curling locks which from his youth he vow'd,287
And sacred grew, to Sperchius' honour'd flood:
Then sighing, to the deep his locks he cast,
And roll'd his eyes around the watery waste:
"Sperchius! whose waves in mazy errors lost
Delightful roll along my native coast!
To whom we vainly vow'd, at our return,
These locks to fall, and hecatombs to burn:
Full fifty rams to bleed in sacrifice,
Where to the day thy silver fountains rise,
And where in shade of consecrated bowers
Thy altars stand, perfumed with native flowers!
So vow'd my father, but he vow'd in vain;
No more Achilles sees his native plain;[pg 410]
In that vain hope these hairs no longer grow,
Patroclus bears them to the shades below."
On his cold hand the sacred lock he laid.
Once more afresh the Grecian sorrows flow:
And now the sun had set upon their woe;
But to the king of men thus spoke the chief:
"Enough, Atrides! give the troops relief: