The Iliad of Homer
Page: 62Soon to thy cost the field would make thee know
Thou keep'st the consort of a braver foe.
Thy graceful form instilling soft desire,
Thy curling tresses, and thy silver lyre,
Beauty and youth; in vain to these you trust,
When youth and beauty shall be laid in dust:
Troy yet may wake, and one avenging blow
Crush the dire author of his country's woe."
His silence here, with blushes, Paris breaks:
"'Tis just, my brother, what your anger speaks:
But who like thee can boast a soul sedate,
So firmly proof to all the shocks of fate?
Thy force, like steel, a temper'd hardness shows,
Still edged to wound, and still untired with blows,
Like steel, uplifted by some strenuous swain,
With falling woods to strew the wasted plain.
Thy gifts I praise; nor thou despise the charms
With which a lover golden Venus arms;
Soft moving speech, and pleasing outward show,
No wish can gain them, but the gods bestow.
Yet, would'st thou have the proffer'd combat stand,
The Greeks and Trojans seat on either hand;
Then let a midway space our hosts divide,
And, on that stage of war, the cause be tried:
By Paris there the Spartan king be fought,
For beauteous Helen and the wealth she brought;
And who his rival can in arms subdue,
His be the fair, and his the treasure too.
Thus with a lasting league your toils may cease,
And Troy possess her fertile fields in peace;[pg 054]
Thus may the Greeks review their native shore,
Much famed for generous steeds, for beauty more."
He said. The challenge Hector heard with joy,
Then with his spear restrain'd the youth of Troy,
Held by the midst, athwart; and near the foe
Advanced with steps majestically slow:
While round his dauntless head the Grecians pour
Their stones and arrows in a mingled shower.
Then thus the monarch, great Atrides, cried:
"Forbear, ye warriors! lay the darts aside:
A parley Hector asks, a message bears;
We know him by the various plume he wears."
Awed by his high command the Greeks attend,
The tumult silence, and the fight suspend.
While from the centre Hector rolls his eyes
On either host, and thus to both applies:
"Hear, all ye Trojan, all ye Grecian bands,
What Paris, author of the war, demands.
Your shining swords within the sheath restrain,
And pitch your lances in the yielding plain.
Here in the midst, in either army's sight,
He dares the Spartan king to single fight;
And wills that Helen and the ravish'd spoil,
That caused the contest, shall reward the toil.
Let these the brave triumphant victor grace,
And different nations part in leagues of peace."
He spoke: in still suspense on either side
Each army stood: the Spartan chief replied:
"Me too, ye warriors, hear, whose fatal right
A world engages in the toils of fight.
To me the labour of the field resign;
Me Paris injured; all the war be mine.
Fall he that must, beneath his rival's arms;