The Iliad of Homer
Page: 99Shall these, shall these Atrides' mercy find?
Well hast thou known proud Troy's perfidious land,
And well her natives merit at thy hand!
Not one of all the race, nor sex, nor age,
Shall save a Trojan from our boundless rage:
Ilion shall perish whole, and bury all;
Her babes, her infants at the breast, shall fall;165
A dreadful lesson of exampled fate,
To warn the nations, and to curb the great!"
The monarch spoke; the words, with warmth address'd,
To rigid justice steel'd his brother's breast
Fierce from his knees the hapless chief he thrust;
The monarch's javelin stretch'd him in the dust,
Then pressing with his foot his panting heart,
Forth from the slain he tugg'd the reeking dart.
Old Nestor saw, and roused the warrior's rage;
"Thus, heroes! thus the vigorous combat wage;
No son of Mars descend, for servile gains,
To touch the booty, while a foe remains.
Behold yon glittering host, your future spoil!
First gain the conquest, then reward the toil."
And now had Greece eternal fame acquired,
And frighted Troy within her walls, retired,
Had not sage Helenus her state redress'd,
Taught by the gods that moved his sacred breast.
Where Hector stood, with great Æneas join'd,
The seer reveal'd the counsels of his mind:
"Ye generous chiefs! on whom the immortals lay
The cares and glories of this doubtful day;
On whom your aids, your country's hopes depend;
Wise to consult, and active to defend!
Here, at our gates, your brave efforts unite,
Turn back the routed, and forbid the flight,
Ere yet their wives' soft arms the cowards gain,
The sport and insult of the hostile train.
When your commands have hearten'd every band,
Ourselves, here fix'd, will make the dangerous stand;
Press'd as we are, and sore of former fight,
These straits demand our last remains of might.
Meanwhile thou, Hector, to the town retire,[pg 112]
And teach our mother what the gods require:
Direct the queen to lead the assembled train
Unbar the sacred gates, and seek the power,
With offer'd vows, in Ilion's topmost tower.
The largest mantle her rich wardrobes hold,
Most prized for art, and labour'd o'er with gold,
Before the goddess' honour'd knees be spread,
And twelve young heifers to her altars led:
If so the power, atoned by fervent prayer,
Our wives, our infants, and our city spare,
And far avert Tydides' wasteful ire,
That mows whole troops, and makes all Troy retire;
Not thus Achilles taught our hosts to dread,
Sprung though he was from more than mortal bed;
Not thus resistless ruled the stream of fight,
In rage unbounded, and unmatch'd in might."
Hector obedient heard: and, with a bound,
Leap'd from his trembling chariot to the ground;
Through all his host inspiring force he flies,
And bids the thunder of the battle rise.
With rage recruited the bold Trojans glow,
And turn the tide of conflict on the foe:
Fierce in the front he shakes two dazzling spears;