The Iliad of Homer
Page: 325Respecting him, my soul abjures the offence;
And as the crime, I dread the consequence.[pg 442]
Thee, far as Argos, pleased I could convey;
Guard of thy life, and partner of thy way:
On thee attend, thy safety to maintain,
O'er pathless forests, or the roaring main."
He said, then took the chariot at a bound,
And snatch'd the reins, and whirl'd the lash around:
Before the inspiring god that urged them on,
The coursers fly with spirit not their own.
And now they reach'd the naval walls, and found
The guards repasting, while the bowls go round;
On these the virtue of his wand he tries,
And pours deep slumber on their watchful eyes:
Then heaved the massy gates, removed the bars,
And o'er the trenches led the rolling cars.
Unseen, through all the hostile camp they went,
And now approach'd Pelides' lofty tent.
On firs the roof was raised, and cover'd o'er
With reeds collected from the marshy shore;
And, fenced with palisades, a hall of state,
(The work of soldiers,) where the hero sat.
Large was the door, whose well-compacted strength
A solid pine-tree barr'd of wondrous length:
Scarce three strong Greeks could lift its mighty weight,
But great Achilles singly closed the gate.
This Hermes (such the power of gods) set wide;
Then swift alighted the celestial guide,
And thus reveal'd—"Hear, prince! and understand
Thou ow'st thy guidance to no mortal hand:
Hermes I am, descended from above,
The king of arts, the messenger of Jove,
Farewell: to shun Achilles' sight I fly;
Uncommon are such favours of the sky,
Nor stand confess'd to frail mortality.
Now fearless enter, and prefer thy prayers;
Adjure him by his father's silver hairs,
His son, his mother! urge him to bestow
Whatever pity that stern heart can know."
Thus having said, he vanish'd from his eyes,
And in a moment shot into the skies:
The king, confirm'd from heaven, alighted there,
And left his aged herald on the car,
With solemn pace through various rooms he went,
And found Achilles in his inner tent:
There sat the hero: Alcimus the brave,
And great Automedon, attendance gave:
These served his person at the royal feast;
Around, at awful distance, stood the rest.
Unseen by these, the king his entry made:
And, prostrate now before Achilles laid,
Sudden (a venerable sight!) appears;[pg 443]
Embraced his knees, and bathed his hands in tears;
Those direful hands his kisses press'd, embrued
Even with the best, the dearest of his blood!
As when a wretch (who, conscious of his crime,
Pursued for murder, flies his native clime)
Just gains some frontier, breathless, pale, amazed,
All gaze, all wonder: thus Achilles gazed:
Thus stood the attendants stupid with surprise:
All mute, yet seem'd to question with their eyes:
Each look'd on other, none the silence broke,
Till thus at last the kingly suppliant spoke:
"Ah think, thou favour'd of the powers divine!295
Think of thy father's age, and pity mine!
In me that father's reverend image trace,