The Iliad of Homer

Page: 153

Say whence these coursers? by what chance bestow'd,
The spoil of foes, or present of a god?
Not those fair steeds, so radiant and so gay,
That draw the burning chariot of the day.
Old as I am, to age I scorn to yield,
And daily mingle in the martial field;
But sure till now no coursers struck my sight
Like these, conspicuous through the ranks of fight.
Some god, I deem, conferred the glorious prize,
Bless'd as ye are, and favourites of the skies;
The care of him who bids the thunder roar,
And her, whose fury bathes the world with gore."
"Father! not so, (sage Ithacus rejoin'd,)
The gifts of heaven are of a nobler kind.
Of Thracian lineage are the steeds ye view,
Whose hostile king the brave Tydides slew;
Sleeping he died, with all his guards around,
And twelve beside lay gasping on the ground.
These other spoils from conquer'd Dolon came,
A wretch, whose swiftness was his only fame;
By Hector sent our forces to explore,
He now lies headless on the sandy shore."
Then o'er the trench the bounding coursers flew;
The joyful Greeks with loud acclaim pursue.
Straight to Tydides' high pavilion borne,
The matchless steeds his ample stalls adorn:
The neighing coursers their new fellows greet,
And the full racks are heap'd with generous wheat.
But Dolon's armour, to his ships convey'd,
High on the painted stern Ulysses laid,
A trophy destin'd to the blue-eyed maid.
Now from nocturnal sweat and sanguine stain
They cleanse their bodies in the neighb'ring main:
Then in the polished bath, refresh'd from toil,
Their joints they supple with dissolving oil,
In due repast indulge the genial hour,
And first to Pallas the libations pour:
They sit, rejoicing in her aid divine,
And the crown'd goblet foams with floods of wine.

[pg 195]




Agamemnon, having armed himself, leads the Grecians to battle; Hector prepares the Trojans to receive them, while Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva give the signals of war. Agamemnon bears all before him and Hector is commanded by Jupiter (who sends Iris for that purpose) to decline the engagement, till the king shall be wounded and retire from the field. He then makes a great slaughter of the enemy. Ulysses and Diomed put a stop to him for a time but the latter, being wounded by Paris, is obliged to desert his companion, who is encompassed by the Trojans, wounded, and in the utmost danger, till Menelaus and Ajax rescue him. Hector comes against Ajax, but that hero alone opposes multitudes, and rallies the Greeks. In the meantime Machaon, in the other wing of the army, is pierced with an arrow by Paris, and carried from the fight in Nestor's chariot. Achilles (who overlooked the action from his ship) sent Patroclus to inquire which of the Greeks was wounded in that manner; Nestor entertains him in his tent with an account of the accidents of the day, and a long recital of some former wars which he remembered, tending to put Patroclus upon persuading Achilles to fight for his countrymen, or at least to permit him to do it, clad in Achilles' armour. Patroclus, on his return, meets Eurypylus also wounded, and assists him in that distress.