<<<
>>>

The Iliad of Homer

Page: 46

At Juno's suit the heavenly factions end.
Destruction hangs o'er yon devoted wall,
And nodding Ilion waits the impending fall.
Awake, but waking this advice approve,
And trust the vision that descends from Jove."
The phantom said; then vanish'd from his sight,
Resolves to air, and mixes with the night.
A thousand schemes the monarch's mind employ;
Elate in thought he sacks untaken Troy:
Vain as he was, and to the future blind,
Nor saw what Jove and secret fate design'd,
What mighty toils to either host remain,
What scenes of grief, and numbers of the slain!
Eager he rises, and in fancy hears
The voice celestial murmuring in his ears.
First on his limbs a slender vest he drew,
Around him next the regal mantle threw,
The embroider'd sandals on his feet were tied;
The starry falchion glitter'd at his side;
And last, his arm the massy sceptre loads,
Unstain'd, immortal, and the gift of gods.
Now rosy Morn ascends the court of Jove,
Lifts up her light, and opens day above.
The king despatch'd his heralds with commands
To range the camp and summon all the bands:
The gathering hosts the monarch's word obey;
While to the fleet Atrides bends his way.
In his black ship the Pylian prince he found;
There calls a senate of the peers around:
The assembly placed, the king of men express'd
The counsels labouring in his artful breast.
"Friends and confederates! with attentive ear
Receive my words, and credit what you hear.
Late as I slumber'd in the shades of night,
A dream divine appear'd before my sight;
Whose visionary form like Nestor came,
The same in habit, and in mien the same.80
The heavenly phantom hover'd o'er my head,
'And, dost thou sleep, O Atreus' son? (he said)
Ill fits a chief who mighty nations guides,
Directs in council, and in war presides;
To whom its safety a whole people owes,
To waste long nights in indolent repose.
[pg 028]
Monarch, awake! 'tis Jove's command I bear,
Thou and thy glory claim his heavenly care.
In just array draw forth the embattled train,
And lead the Grecians to the dusty plain;
E'en now, O king! 'tis given thee 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.
This hear observant, and the gods obey!'
The vision spoke, and pass'd in air away.
Now, valiant chiefs! since heaven itself alarms,
Unite, and rouse the sons of Greece to arms.
But first, with caution, try what yet they dare,
Worn with nine years of unsuccessful war.
To move the troops to measure back the main,
Be mine; and yours the province to detain."
He spoke, and sat: when Nestor, rising said,
(Nestor, whom Pylos' sandy realms obey'd,)
"Princes of Greece, your faithful ears incline,
Nor doubt the vision of the powers divine;
Sent by great Jove to him who rules the host,
Forbid it, heaven! this warning should be lost!
Then let us haste, obey the god's alarms,
And join to rouse the sons of Greece to arms."
Thus spoke the sage: the kings without delay
Dissolve the council, and their chief obey:
The sceptred rulers lead; the following host,
Pour'd forth by thousands, darkens all the coast.
As from some rocky cleft the shepherd sees
Clustering in heaps on heaps the driving bees,
Rolling and blackening, swarms succeeding swarms,
With deeper murmurs and more hoarse alarms;
Dusky they spread, a close embodied crowd,
And o'er the vale descends the living cloud.81
So, from the tents and ships, a lengthen'd train
Spreads all the beach, and wide o'ershades the plain:
Along the region runs a deafening sound;
Beneath their footsteps groans the trembling ground.
Fame flies before the messenger of Jove,
And shining soars, and claps her wings above.
[pg 029]
Nine sacred heralds now, proclaiming loud82
The monarch's will, suspend the listening crowd.
Soon as the throngs in order ranged appear,
And fainter murmurs died upon the ear,
The king of kings his awful figure raised:
High in his hand the golden sceptre blazed;
The golden sceptre, of celestial flame,
By Vulcan form'd, from Jove to Hermes came.
To Pelops he the immortal gift resign'd;
The immortal gift great Pelops left behind,
In Atreus' hand, which not with Atreus ends,
To rich Thyestes next the prize descends;
And now the mark of Agamemnon's reign,
Subjects all Argos, and controls the main.83
On this bright sceptre now the king reclined,
And artful thus pronounced the speech design'd:
"Ye sons of Mars, partake your leader's care,
Heroes of Greece, and brothers of the war!
Of partial Jove with justice I complain,
And heavenly oracles believed in vain
A safe return was promised to our toils,
Renown'd, triumphant, and enrich'd with spoils.
Now shameful flight alone can save the host,
Our blood, our treasure, and our glory lost.
So Jove decrees, resistless lord of all!
At whose command whole empires rise or fall:
He shakes the feeble props of human trust,
And towns and armies humbles to the dust
What shame to Greece a fruitful war to wage,
Oh, lasting shame in every future age!
Once great in arms, the common scorn we grow,

<<<
>>>