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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 322

Next with the gifts (the price of Hector slain)
The sad attendants load the groaning wain:
Last to the yoke the well-matched mules they bring,
(The gift of Mysia to the Trojan king.)
But the fair horses, long his darling care,
Himself received, and harness'd to his car:
Grieved as he was, he not this task denied;
The hoary herald help'd him, at his side.
While careful these the gentle coursers join'd,
Sad Hecuba approach'd with anxious mind;
A golden bowl that foam'd with fragrant wine,
(Libation destined to the power divine,)
Held in her right, before the steed she stands,
And thus consigns it to the monarch's hands:
"Take this, and pour to Jove; that safe from harms
His grace restore thee to our roof and arms.
Since victor of thy fears, and slighting mine,
[pg 438]
Heaven, or thy soul, inspires this bold design;
Pray to that god, who high on Ida's brow
Surveys thy desolated realms below,
His winged messenger to send from high,
And lead thy way with heavenly augury:
Let the strong sovereign of the plumy race
Tower on the right of yon ethereal space.
That sign beheld, and strengthen'd from above,
Boldly pursue the journey mark'd by Jove:
But if the god his augury denies,
Suppress thy impulse, nor reject advice."
"'Tis just (said Priam) to the sire above
To raise our hands; for who so good as Jove?"
He spoke, and bade the attendant handmaid bring
The purest water of the living spring:
(Her ready hands the ewer and bason held:)
Then took the golden cup his queen had fill'd;
On the mid pavement pours the rosy wine,
Uplifts his eyes, and calls the power divine:
"O first and greatest! heaven's imperial lord!
On lofty Ida's holy hill adored!
To stern Achilles now direct my ways,
And teach him mercy when a father prays.
If such thy will, despatch from yonder sky
Thy sacred bird, celestial augury!
Let the strong sovereign of the plumy race
Tower on the right of yon ethereal space;
So shall thy suppliant, strengthen'd from above,
Fearless pursue the journey mark'd by Jove."
Jove heard his prayer, and from the throne on high,
Despatch'd his bird, celestial augury!
The swift-wing'd chaser of the feather'd game,
And known to gods by Percnos' lofty name.
Wide as appears some palace-gate display'd.
So broad, his pinions stretch'd their ample shade,
As stooping dexter with resounding wings
The imperial bird descends in airy rings.
A dawn of joy in every face appears:
The mourning matron dries her timorous tears:
Swift on his car the impatient monarch sprung;
The brazen portal in his passage rung;
The mules preceding draw the loaded wain,
Charged with the gifts: Idaeus holds the rein:
The king himself his gentle steeds controls,
And through surrounding friends the chariot rolls.
On his slow wheels the following people wait,
Mourn at each step, and give him up to fate;
With hands uplifted eye him as he pass'd,
And gaze upon him as they gazed their last.

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