The Iliad of Homer
Page: 327From thence the cup of mortal man he fills,
Blessings to these, to those distributes ill;
To most he mingles both: the wretch decreed
To taste the bad unmix'd, is cursed indeed;
Pursued by wrongs, by meagre famine driven,
He wanders, outcast both of earth and heaven.
The happiest taste not happiness sincere;[pg 445]
But find the cordial draught is dash'd with care.
Who more than Peleus shone in wealth and power
What stars concurring bless'd his natal hour!
A realm, a goddess, to his wishes given;
Graced by the gods with all the gifts of heaven.
One evil yet o'ertakes his latest day:
No race succeeding to imperial sway;
An only son; and he, alas! ordain'd
To fall untimely in a foreign land.
See him, in Troy, the pious care decline
Of his weak age, to live the curse of thine!
Thou too, old man, hast happier days beheld;
In riches once, in children once excell'd;
Extended Phrygia own'd thy ample reign,
And all fair Lesbos' blissful seats contain,
And all wide Hellespont's unmeasured main.
But since the god his hand has pleased to turn,
And fill thy measure from his bitter urn,
What sees the sun, but hapless heroes' falls?
War, and the blood of men, surround thy walls!
What must be, must be. Bear thy lot, nor shed
These unavailing sorrows o'er the dead;
Thou canst not call him from the Stygian shore,
But thou, alas! may'st live to suffer more!"
To whom the king: "O favour'd of the skies!
Here let me grow to earth! since Hector lies
On the bare beach deprived of obsequies.
O give me Hector! to my eyes restore
His corse, and take the gifts: I ask no more.
Thou, as thou may'st, these boundless stores enjoy;
Safe may'st thou sail, and turn thy wrath from Troy;
So shall thy pity and forbearance give
A weak old man to see the light and live!"
"Move me no more, (Achilles thus replies,
While kindling anger sparkled in his eyes,)
Nor seek by tears my steady soul to bend:
To yield thy Hector I myself intend:
For know, from Jove my goddess-mother came,
(Old Ocean's daughter, silver-footed dame,)
Nor comest thou but by heaven; nor comest alone,
Some god impels with courage not thy own:
No human hand the weighty gates unbarr'd,
Nor could the boldest of our youth have dared
To pass our outworks, or elude the guard.
Cease; lest, neglectful of high Jove's command,
I show thee, king! thou tread'st on hostile land;
Release my knees, thy suppliant arts give o'er,
And shake the purpose of my soul no more."
The sire obey'd him, trembling and o'eraw'd.
Achilles, like a lion, rush'd abroad:[pg 446]
Automedon and Alcimus attend,
(Whom most he honour'd, since he lost his friend,)
These to unyoke the mules and horses went,
And led the hoary herald to the tent;
Next, heap'd on high, the numerous presents bear,
(Great Hector's ransom,) from the polish'd car.
Two splendid mantles, and a carpet spread,