The Iliad of Homer
Page: 51To grudge the conquests mighty Jove prepares,
And view with envy our successful wars.
On that great day, when first the martial train,
Big with the fate of Ilion, plough'd the main,
Jove, on the right, a prosperous signal sent,
And thunder rolling shook the firmament.
Encouraged hence, maintain the glorious strife,
Till every soldier grasp a Phrygian wife,[pg 036]
Till Helen's woes at full revenged appear,
And Troy's proud matrons render tear for tear.
Before that day, if any Greek invite
His country's troops to base, inglorious flight,
Stand forth that Greek! and hoist his sail to fly,
And die the dastard first, who dreads to die.
But now, O monarch! all thy chiefs advise:91
Nor what they offer, thou thyself despise.
Among those counsels, let not mine be vain;
In tribes and nations to divide thy train:
His separate troops let every leader call,
Each strengthen each, and all encourage all.
What chief, or soldier, of the numerous band,
Or bravely fights, or ill obeys command,
When thus distinct they war, shall soon be known
And what the cause of Ilion not o'erthrown;
If fate resists, or if our arms are slow,
If gods above prevent, or men below."
To him the king: "How much thy years excel
In arts of counsel, and in speaking well!
O would the gods, in love to Greece, decree
But ten such sages as they grant in thee;
Such wisdom soon should Priam's force destroy,
And soon should fall the haughty towers of Troy!
But Jove forbids, who plunges those he hates
In fierce contention and in vain debates:
Now great Achilles from our aid withdraws,
By me provoked; a captive maid the cause:
If e'er as friends we join, the Trojan wall
Must shake, and heavy will the vengeance fall!
But now, ye warriors, take a short repast;
And, well refresh'd, to bloody conflict haste.
His sharpen'd spear let every Grecian wield,
And every Grecian fix his brazen shield,
Let all excite the fiery steeds of war,
And all for combat fit the rattling car.
This day, this dreadful day, let each contend;
No rest, no respite, till the shades descend;
Till darkness, or till death, shall cover all:
Let the war bleed, and let the mighty fall;
Till bathed in sweat be every manly breast,
With the huge shield each brawny arm depress'd,
Each aching nerve refuse the lance to throw,
And each spent courser at the chariot blow.
Who dares, inglorious, in his ships to stay,
Who dares to tremble on this signal day;
That wretch, too mean to fall by martial power,
The birds shall mangle, and the dogs devour."
The monarch spoke; and straight a murmur rose,
Loud as the surges when the tempest blows,
That dash'd on broken rocks tumultuous roar,
And foam and thunder on the stony shore.
Straight to the tents the troops dispersing bend,
The fires are kindled, and the smokes ascend;
With hasty feasts they sacrifice, and pray,
To avert the dangers of the doubtful day.