<<<
>>>

The Iliad of Homer

Page: 329

And each indulging shared in sweet repast.
When now the rage of hunger was repress'd,
The wondering hero eyes his royal guest:
No less the royal guest the hero eyes,
His godlike aspect and majestic size;
Here, youthful grace and noble fire engage;
And there, the mild benevolence of age.
Thus gazing long, the silence neither broke,
(A solemn scene!) at length the father spoke:
"Permit me now, beloved of Jove! to steep
My careful temples in the dew of sleep:
For, since the day that number'd with the dead
My hapless son, the dust has been my bed;
Soft sleep a stranger to my weeping eyes;
My only food, my sorrows and my sighs!
Till now, encouraged by the grace you give,
I share thy banquet, and consent to live."
[pg 448]
With that, Achilles bade prepare the bed,
With purple soft and shaggy carpets spread;
Forth, by the flaming lights, they bend their way,
And place the couches, and the coverings lay.
Then he: "Now, father, sleep, but sleep not here;
Consult thy safety, and forgive my fear,
Lest any Argive, at this hour awake,
To ask our counsel, or our orders take,
Approaching sudden to our open'd tent,
Perchance behold thee, and our grace prevent.
Should such report thy honour'd person here,
The king of men the ransom might defer;
But say with speed, if aught of thy desire
Remains unask'd; what time the rites require
To inter thy Hector? For, so long we stay
Our slaughtering arm, and bid the hosts obey."
"If then thy will permit (the monarch said)
To finish all due honours to the dead,
This of thy grace accord: to thee are known
The fears of Ilion, closed within her town;
And at what distance from our walls aspire
The hills of Ide, and forests for the fire.
Nine days to vent our sorrows I request,
The tenth shall see the funeral and the feast;
The next, to raise his monument be given;
The twelfth we war, if war be doom'd by heaven!"
"This thy request (replied the chief) enjoy:
Till then our arms suspend the fall of Troy."
Then gave his hand at parting, to prevent
The old man's fears, and turn'd within the tent;
Where fair Briseis, bright in blooming charms,
Expects her hero with desiring arms.
But in the porch the king and herald rest;
Sad dreams of care yet wandering in their breast.
Now gods and men the gifts of sleep partake;
Industrious Hermes only was awake,
The king's return revolving in his mind,
To pass the ramparts, and the watch to blind.
The power descending hover'd o'er his head:
"And sleep'st thou, father! (thus the vision said:)
Now dost thou sleep, when Hector is restored?
Nor fear the Grecian foes, or Grecian lord?
Thy presence here should stern Atrides see,
Thy still surviving sons may sue for thee;
May offer all thy treasures yet contain,
To spare thy age; and offer all in vain."
Waked with the word the trembling sire arose,

<<<
>>>