The Iliad of Homer
Page: 76To you the glorious conflict I resign,
Let sage advice, the palm of age, be mine."
He said. With joy the monarch march'd before,
And found Menestheus on the dusty shore,
With whom the firm Athenian phalanx stands;
And next Ulysses, with his subject bands.
Remote their forces lay, nor knew so far
The peace infringed, nor heard the sounds of war;
The tumult late begun, they stood intent
To watch the motion, dubious of the event.
The king, who saw their squadrons yet unmoved,
With hasty ardour thus the chiefs reproved:
"Can Peleus' son forget a warrior's part.
And fears Ulysses, skill'd in every art?
Why stand you distant, and the rest expect
To mix in combat which yourselves neglect?
From you 'twas hoped among the first to dare
The shock of armies, and commence the war;
For this your names are call'd before the rest,
To share the pleasures of the genial feast:
And can you, chiefs! without a blush survey
Whole troops before you labouring in the fray?
Say, is it thus those honours you requite?
The first in banquets, but the last in fight."
Ulysses heard: the hero's warmth o'erspread
His cheek with blushes: and severe, he said:
"Take back the unjust reproach! Behold we stand
Sheathed in bright arms, and but expect command.
If glorious deeds afford thy soul delight,
Behold me plunging in the thickest fight.
Then give thy warrior-chief a warrior's due,
Who dares to act whate'er thou dar'st to view."
Struck with his generous wrath, the king replies:
"O great in action, and in council wise!
With ours, thy care and ardour are the same,[pg 077]
Nor need I to commend, nor aught to blame.
Sage as thou art, and learn'd in human kind,
Forgive the transport of a martial mind.
Haste to the fight, secure of just amends;
The gods that make, shall keep the worthy, friends."
He said, and pass'd where great Tydides lay,
His steeds and chariots wedged in firm array;
(The warlike Sthenelus attends his side;)135
To whom with stern reproach the monarch cried:
"O son of Tydeus! (he, whose strength could tame
The bounding steed, in arms a mighty name)
Canst thou, remote, the mingling hosts descry,
With hands unactive, and a careless eye?
Not thus thy sire the fierce encounter fear'd;
Still first in front the matchless prince appear'd:
What glorious toils, what wonders they recite,
Who view'd him labouring through the ranks of fight?
I saw him once, when gathering martial powers,
A peaceful guest, he sought Mycenae's towers;
Armies he ask'd, and armies had been given,
Not we denied, but Jove forbade from heaven;
While dreadful comets glaring from afar,
Forewarn'd the horrors of the Theban war.136
Next, sent by Greece from where Asopus flows,
A fearless envoy, he approach'd the foes;
Thebes' hostile walls unguarded and alone,
Dauntless he enters, and demands the throne.
The tyrant feasting with his chiefs he found,
And dared to combat all those chiefs around:
Dared, and subdued before their haughty lord;