The Iliad of Homer
Page: 307First flew Eumelus on Pheretian steeds;
With those of Tros bold Diomed succeeds:
Close on Eumelus' back they puff the wind,
And seem just mounting on his car behind;
Full on his neck he feels the sultry breeze,
And, hovering o'er, their stretching shadows sees.
Then had he lost, or left a doubtful prize;[pg 416]
But angry Phoebus to Tydides flies,
Strikes from his hand the scourge, and renders vain
His matchless horses' labour on the plain.
Rage fills his eye with anguish, to survey
Snatch'd from his hope the glories of the day.
The fraud celestial Pallas sees with pain,
Springs to her knight, and gives the scourge again,
And fills his steeds with vigour. At a stroke
She breaks his rival's chariot from the yoke:
No more their way the startled horses held;
The car reversed came rattling on the field;
Shot headlong from his seat, beside the wheel,
Prone on the dust the unhappy master fell;
His batter'd face and elbows strike the ground;
Nose, mouth, and front, one undistinguish'd wound:
Grief stops his voice, a torrent drowns his eyes:
Before him far the glad Tydides flies;
Minerva's spirit drives his matchless pace,
And crowns him victor of the labour'd race.
The next, though distant, Menelaus succeeds;
While thus young Nestor animates his steeds:
"Now, now, my generous pair, exert your force;
Not that we hope to match Tydides' horse,
Since great Minerva wings their rapid way,
And gives their lord the honours of the day;
But reach Atrides! shall his mare outgo
Your swiftness? vanquish'd by a female foe?
Through your neglect, if lagging on the plain
The last ignoble gift be all we gain,
No more shall Nestor's hand your food supply,
The old man's fury rises, and ye die.
Haste then: yon narrow road, before our sight,
Presents the occasion, could we use it right."
Thus he. The coursers at their master's threat
With quicker steps the sounding champaign beat.
And now Antilochus with nice survey
Observes the compass of the hollow way.
'Twas where, by force of wintry torrents torn,
Fast by the road a precipice was worn:
Here, where but one could pass, to shun the throng
The Spartan hero's chariot smoked along.
Close up the venturous youth resolves to keep,
Still edging near, and bears him toward the steep.
Atrides, trembling, casts his eye below,
And wonders at the rashness of his foe.
"Hold, stay your steeds—What madness thus to ride
This narrow way! take larger field (he cried),
Or both must fall."—Atrides cried in vain;
He flies more fast, and throws up all the rein.
Far as an able arm the disk can send,[pg 417]
When youthful rivals their full force extend,
So far, Antilochus! thy chariot flew
Before the king: he, cautious, backward drew
His horse compell'd; foreboding in his fears
The rattling ruin of the clashing cars,
The floundering coursers rolling on the plain,
And conquest lost through frantic haste to gain.
But thus upbraids his rival as he flies: