The Iliad of Homer

Page: 44

The first of gods above, and men below;
But thou, nor they, shall search the thoughts that roll
Deep in the close recesses of my soul."
Full on the sire the goddess of the skies
Roll'd the large orbs of her majestic eyes,
And thus return'd:—"Austere Saturnius, say,
From whence this wrath, or who controls thy sway?
[pg 021]Illustration: VULCAN.
The thunderer spoke, nor durst the queen reply;
A reverent horror silenced all the sky.
The feast disturb'd, with sorrow Vulcan saw
His mother menaced, and the gods in awe;
Peace at his heart, and pleasure his design,
Thus interposed the architect divine:
"The wretched quarrels of the mortal state
Are far unworthy, gods! of your debate:
Let men their days in senseless strife employ,
We, in eternal peace and constant joy.
Thou, goddess-mother, with our sire comply,
Nor break the sacred union of the sky:
Lest, roused to rage, he shake the bless'd abodes,
Launch the red lightning, and dethrone the gods.
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If you submit, the thunderer stands appeased;
The gracious power is willing to be pleased."

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Jupiter, in pursuance of the request of Thetis, sends a deceitful vision to Agamemnon, persuading him to lead the army to battle, in order to make the Greeks sensible of their want of Achilles. The general, who is deluded with the hopes of taking Troy without his assistance, but fears the army was discouraged by his absence, and the late plague, as well as by the length of time, contrives to make trial of their disposition by a stratagem. He first communicates his design to the princes in council, that he would propose a return to the soldiers, and that they should put a stop to them if the proposal was embraced. Then he assembles the whole host, and upon moving for a return to Greece, they unanimously agree to it, and run to prepare the ships. They are detained by the management of Ulysses, who chastises the insolence of Thersites. The assembly is recalled, several speeches made on the occasion, and at length the advice of Nestor followed, which was to make a general muster of the troops, and to divide them into their several nations, before they proceeded to battle. This gives occasion to the poet to enumerate all the forces of the Greeks and Trojans, and in a large catalogue.

The time employed in this book consists not entirely of one day. The scene lies in the Grecian camp, and upon the sea-shore; towards the end it removes to Troy.

Now pleasing sleep had seal'd each mortal eye,
Stretch'd in the tents the Grecian leaders lie:
The immortals slumber'd on their thrones above;
All, but the ever-wakeful eyes of Jove.76
To honour Thetis' son he bends his care,
And plunge the Greeks in all the woes of war:
Then bids an empty phantom rise to sight,
And thus commands the vision of the night.
"Fly hence, deluding Dream! and light as air,77
To Agamemnon's ample tent repair.
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Bid him in arms draw forth the embattled train,
Lead all his Grecians to the dusty plain.
Declare, e'en now 'tis given him to destroy
The lofty towers of wide-extended Troy.
For now no more the gods with fate contend,
At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilion waits the impending fall."
Swift as the word the vain illusion fled,
Descends, and hovers o'er Atrides' head;
Clothed in the figure of the Pylian sage,
Renown'd for wisdom, and revered for age: