The Iliad of Homer
Page: 66Slow they proceed: the sage Ulysses then
Arose, and with him rose the king of men.
On either side a sacred herald stands,
The wine they mix, and on each monarch's hands
Pour the full urn; then draws the Grecian lord
His cutlass sheathed beside his ponderous sword;
From the sign'd victims crops the curling hair;121
The heralds part it, and the princes share;
Then loudly thus before the attentive bands
He calls the gods, and spreads his lifted hands:
"O first and greatest power! whom all obey,
Who high on Ida's holy mountain sway,
Eternal Jove! and you bright orb that roll
From east to west, and view from pole to pole!
Thou mother Earth! and all ye living floods!
Infernal furies, and Tartarean gods,
Who rule the dead, and horrid woes prepare
For perjured kings, and all who falsely swear!
Hear, and be witness. If, by Paris slain,
Great Menelaus press the fatal plain;
The dame and treasures let the Trojan keep,
And Greece returning plough the watery deep.
If by my brother's lance the Trojan bleed,
Be his the wealth and beauteous dame decreed:
The appointed fine let Ilion justly pay,
And every age record the signal day.
This if the Phrygians shall refuse to yield,
Arms must revenge, and Mars decide the field."
With that the chief the tender victims slew,
And in the dust their bleeding bodies threw;
The vital spirit issued at the wound,
And left the members quivering on the ground.
From the same urn they drink the mingled wine,
And add libations to the powers divine.
While thus their prayers united mount the sky,
"Hear, mighty Jove! and hear, ye gods on high!
And may their blood, who first the league confound,[pg 060]
Shed like this wine, disdain the thirsty ground;
May all their consorts serve promiscuous lust,
And all their lust be scatter'd as the dust!"
Thus either host their imprecations join'd,
Which Jove refused, and mingled with the wind.
The rites now finish'd, reverend Priam rose,
And thus express'd a heart o'ercharged with woes:
"Ye Greeks and Trojans, let the chiefs engage,
But spare the weakness of my feeble age:
In yonder walls that object let me shun,
Nor view the danger of so dear a son.
Whose arms shall conquer and what prince shall fall,
Heaven only knows; for heaven disposes all."
This said, the hoary king no longer stay'd,
But on his car the slaughter'd victims laid:
Then seized the reins his gentle steeds to guide,
Bold Hector and Ulysses now dispose
The lists of combat, and the ground inclose:
Next to decide, by sacred lots prepare,
Who first shall launch his pointed spear in air.
The people pray with elevated hands,
And words like these are heard through all the bands:
"Immortal Jove, high Heaven's superior lord,
On lofty Ida's holy mount adored!
Whoe'er involved us in this dire debate,
O give that author of the war to fate