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The Iliad of Homer

Page: 84

I wing'd an arrow, which not idly fell,
The stroke had fix'd him to the gates of hell;
And, but some god, some angry god withstands,
His fate was due to these unerring hands.
Skill'd in the bow, on foot I sought the war,
Nor join'd swift horses to the rapid car.
Ten polish'd chariots I possess'd at home,
And still they grace Lycaon's princely dome:
There veil'd in spacious coverlets they stand;
And twice ten coursers wait their lord's command.
The good old warrior bade me trust to these,
When first for Troy I sail'd the sacred seas;
In fields, aloft, the whirling car to guide,
And through the ranks of death triumphant ride.
But vain with youth, and yet to thrift inclined,
I heard his counsels with unheedful mind,
And thought the steeds (your large supplies unknown)
Might fail of forage in the straiten'd town;
So took my bow and pointed darts in hand
And left the chariots in my native land.
[pg 089]
"Too late, O friend! my rashness I deplore;
These shafts, once fatal, carry death no more.
Tydeus' and Atreus' sons their points have found,
And undissembled gore pursued the wound.
In vain they bleed: this unavailing bow
Serves, not to slaughter, but provoke the foe.
In evil hour these bended horns I strung,
And seized the quiver where it idly hung.
Cursed be the fate that sent me to the field
Without a warrior's arms, the spear and shield!
If e'er with life I quit the Trojan plain,
If e'er I see my spouse and sire again,
This bow, unfaithful to my glorious aims,
Broke by my hand, shall feed the blazing flames."
To whom the leader of the Dardan race:
"Be calm, nor Phoebus' honour'd gift disgrace.
The distant dart be praised, though here we need
The rushing chariot and the bounding steed.
Against yon hero let us bend our course,
And, hand to hand, encounter force with force.
Now mount my seat, and from the chariot's height
Observe my father's steeds, renown'd in fight;
Practised alike to turn, to stop, to chase,
To dare the shock, or urge the rapid race;
Secure with these, through fighting fields we go;
Or safe to Troy, if Jove assist the foe.
Haste, seize the whip, and snatch the guiding rein;
The warrior's fury let this arm sustain;
Or, if to combat thy bold heart incline,
Take thou the spear, the chariot's care be mine."
"O prince! (Lycaon's valiant son replied)
As thine the steeds, be thine the task to guide.
The horses, practised to their lord's command,
Shall bear the rein, and answer to thy hand;
But, if, unhappy, we desert the fight,
Thy voice alone can animate their flight;
Else shall our fates be number'd with the dead,
And these, the victor's prize, in triumph led.
Thine be the guidance, then: with spear and shield
Myself will charge this terror of the field."
And now both heroes mount the glittering car;
The bounding coursers rush amidst the war;

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