The Iliad of Homer
Page: 183Whom in the chance of war a javelin tore,
And his sad comrades from the battle bore;
Him to the surgeons of the camp he sent:[pg 237]
That office paid, he issued from his tent
Fierce for the fight: to whom the god begun,
In Thoas' voice, Andraemon's valiant son,
Who ruled where Calydon's white rocks arise,
And Pleuron's chalky cliffs emblaze the skies:
"Where's now the imperious vaunt, the daring boast,
Of Greece victorious, and proud Ilion lost?"
To whom the king: "On Greece no blame be thrown;
Arms are her trade, and war is all her own.
Her hardy heroes from the well-fought plains
Nor fear withholds, nor shameful sloth detains:
'Tis heaven, alas! and Jove's all-powerful doom,
That far, far distant from our native home
Wills us to fall inglorious! Oh, my friend!
Once foremost in the fight, still prone to lend
Or arms or counsels, now perform thy best,
And what thou canst not singly, urge the rest."
Thus he: and thus the god whose force can make
The solid globe's eternal basis shake:
"Ah! never may he see his native land,
But feed the vultures on this hateful strand,
Who seeks ignobly in his ships to stay,
Nor dares to combat on this signal day!
For this, behold! in horrid arms I shine,
And urge thy soul to rival acts with mine.
Together let us battle on the plain;
Two, not the worst; nor even this succour vain:
Not vain the weakest, if their force unite;
But ours, the bravest have confess'd in fight."
This said, he rushes where the combat burns;
Swift to his tent the Cretan king returns:
From thence, two javelins glittering in his hand,
And clad in arms that lighten'd all the strand,
Fierce on the foe the impetuous hero drove,
Like lightning bursting from the arm of Jove,
Which to pale man the wrath of heaven declares,
Or terrifies the offending world with wars;
In streamy sparkles, kindling all the skies,
From pole to pole the trail of glory flies:
Thus his bright armour o'er the dazzled throng
Gleam'd dreadful, as the monarch flash'd along.
Him, near his tent, Meriones attends;
Whom thus he questions: "Ever best of friends!
O say, in every art of battle skill'd,
What holds thy courage from so brave a field?
On some important message art thou bound,
Or bleeds my friend by some unhappy wound?
Inglorious here, my soul abhors to stay,
And glows with prospects of th' approaching day."
"O prince! (Meriones replies) whose care[pg 238]
Leads forth the embattled sons of Crete to war;
This speaks my grief: this headless lance I wield;
The rest lies rooted in a Trojan shield."
To whom the Cretan: "Enter, and receive
The wonted weapons; those my tent can give;
Spears I have store, (and Trojan lances all,)
That shed a lustre round the illumined wall,
Though I, disdainful of the distant war,
Nor trust the dart, nor aim the uncertain spear,
Yet hand to hand I fight, and spoil the slain;