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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 308

"Go, furious youth! ungenerous and unwise!
Go, but expect not I'll the prize resign;
Add perjury to fraud, and make it thine—"
Then to his steeds with all his force he cries,
"Be swift, be vigorous, and regain the prize!
Your rivals, destitute of youthful force,
With fainting knees shall labour in the course,
And yield the glory yours."—The steeds obey;
Already at their heels they wing their way,
And seem already to retrieve the day.
Meantime the Grecians in a ring beheld
The coursers bounding o'er the dusty field.
The first who mark'd them was the Cretan king;
High on a rising ground, above the ring,
The monarch sat: from whence with sure survey
He well observed the chief who led the way,
And heard from far his animating cries,
And saw the foremost steed with sharpen'd eyes;
On whose broad front a blaze of shining white,
Like the full moon, stood obvious to the sight.
He saw; and rising, to the Greeks begun:
"Are yonder horse discern'd by me alone?
Or can ye, all, another chief survey,
And other steeds than lately led the way?
Those, though the swiftest, by some god withheld,
Lie sure disabled in the middle field:
For, since the goal they doubled, round the plain
I search to find them, but I search in vain.
Perchance the reins forsook the driver's hand,
And, turn'd too short, he tumbled on the strand,
Shot from the chariot; while his coursers stray
With frantic fury from the destined way.
Rise then some other, and inform my sight,
For these dim eyes, perhaps, discern not right;
Yet sure he seems, to judge by shape and air,
The great Ætolian chief, renown'd in war."
"Old man! (Oileus rashly thus replies)
Thy tongue too hastily confers the prize;
Of those who view the course, nor sharpest eyed,
Nor youngest, yet the readiest to decide.
Eumelus' steeds, high bounding in the chase,
Still, as at first, unrivall'd lead the race:
[pg 418]
I well discern him, as he shakes the rein,
And hear his shouts victorious o'er the plain."
Thus he. Idomeneus, incensed, rejoin'd:
"Barbarous of words! and arrogant of mind!
Contentious prince, of all the Greeks beside
The last in merit, as the first in pride!
To vile reproach what answer can we make?
A goblet or a tripod let us stake,
And be the king the judge. The most unwise
Will learn their rashness, when they pay the price."
He said: and Ajax, by mad passion borne,
Stern had replied; fierce scorn enhancing scorn
To fell extremes. But Thetis' godlike son
Awful amidst them rose, and thus begun:
"Forbear, ye chiefs! reproachful to contend;
Much would ye blame, should others thus offend:
And lo! the approaching steeds your contest end."
No sooner had he spoke, but thundering near,
Drives, through a stream of dust, the charioteer.
High o'er his head the circling lash he wields:
His bounding horses scarcely touch the fields:
His car amidst the dusty whirlwind roll'd,

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