The Iliad of Homer
Page: 137To-morrow we the favouring gods implore;
Then shall you see our parting vessels crown'd,
And hear with oars the Hellespont resound.
The third day hence shall Pthia greet our sails,208
If mighty Neptune send propitious gales;
Pthia to her Achilles shall restore[pg 171]
The wealth he left for this detested shore:
Thither the spoils of this long war shall pass,
The ruddy gold, the steel, and shining brass:
My beauteous captives thither I'll convey,
And all that rests of my unravish'd prey.
One only valued gift your tyrant gave,
And that resumed—the fair Lyrnessian slave.
Then tell him: loud, that all the Greeks may hear,
And learn to scorn the wretch they basely fear;
(For arm'd in impudence, mankind he braves,
And meditates new cheats on all his slaves;
Though shameless as he is, to face these eyes
Is what he dares not: if he dares he dies;)
Tell him, all terms, all commerce I decline,
Nor share his council, nor his battle join;
For once deceiv'd, was his; but twice were mine,
No—let the stupid prince, whom Jove deprives
Of sense and justice, run where frenzy drives;
His gifts are hateful: kings of such a kind
Stand but as slaves before a noble mind,
Not though he proffer'd all himself possess'd,
And all his rapine could from others wrest:
Not all the golden tides of wealth that crown
The many-peopled Orchomenian town;209
Not all proud Thebes' unrivall'd walls contain,
The world's great empress on the Egyptian plain
(That spreads her conquests o'er a thousand states,
And pours her heroes through a hundred gates,
Two hundred horsemen and two hundred cars
From each wide portal issuing to the wars);210
Though bribes were heap'd on bribes, in number more
Than dust in fields, or sands along the shore;
Should all these offers for my friendship call,
'Tis he that offers, and I scorn them all.
Atrides' daughter never shall be led
(An ill-match'd consort) to Achilles' bed;
Like golden Venus though she charm'd the heart,
And vied with Pallas in the works of art;
Some greater Greek let those high nuptials grace,
I hate alliance with a tyrant's race.
If heaven restore me to my realms with life,[pg 172]
The reverend Peleus shall elect my wife;
Thessalian nymphs there are of form divine,
And kings that sue to mix their blood with mine.
Bless'd in kind love, my years shall glide away,
Content with just hereditary sway;
There, deaf for ever to the martial strife,
Enjoy the dear prerogative of life.
Life is not to be bought with heaps of gold.
Not all Apollo's Pythian treasures hold,
Or Troy once held, in peace and pride of sway,
Can bribe the poor possession of a day!
Lost herds and treasures we by arms regain,
And steeds unrivall'd on the dusty plain:
But from our lips the vital spirit fled,
Returns no more to wake the silent dead.
My fates long since by Thetis were disclosed,
And each alternate, life or fame, proposed;