The Iliad of Homer
Page: 192By his fierce step-dame from his father's reign
Expell'd and exiled for her brother slain:)
These rule the Phthians, and their arms employ,
Mix'd with Boeotians, on the shores of Troy.
Now side by side, with like unwearied care,
Each Ajax laboured through the field of war:
So when two lordly bulls, with equal toil,
Force the bright ploughshare through the fallow soil,
Join'd to one yoke, the stubborn earth they tear,
And trace large furrows with the shining share;
O'er their huge limbs the foam descends in snow,
And streams of sweat down their sour foreheads flow.[pg 249]
A train of heroes followed through the field,
Who bore by turns great Ajax' sevenfold shield;
Whene'er he breathed, remissive of his might,
Tired with the incessant slaughters of the fight.
No following troops his brave associate grace:
In close engagement an unpractised race,
The Locrian squadrons nor the javelin wield,
Nor bear the helm, nor lift the moony shield;
But skill'd from far the flying shaft to wing,
Or whirl the sounding pebble from the sling,
Dexterous with these they aim a certain wound,
Or fell the distant warrior to the ground.
Thus in the van the Telamonian train,
Throng'd in bright arms, a pressing fight maintain:
Far in the rear the Locrian archers lie,
Whose stones and arrows intercept the sky,
The mingled tempest on the foes they pour;
Troy's scattering orders open to the shower.
Now had the Greeks eternal fame acquired,
And the gall'd Ilians to their walls retired;
But sage Polydamas, discreetly brave,
Address'd great Hector, and this counsel gave:
"Though great in all, thou seem'st averse to lend
Impartial audience to a faithful friend;
To gods and men thy matchless worth is known,
And every art of glorious war thy own;
But in cool thought and counsel to excel,
How widely differs this from warring well!
Content with what the bounteous gods have given,
Seek not alone to engross the gifts of Heaven.
To some the powers of bloody war belong,
To some sweet music and the charm of song;
To few, and wondrous few, has Jove assign'd
A wise, extensive, all-considering mind;
Their guardians these, the nations round confess,
And towns and empires for their safety bless.
If Heaven have lodged this virtue in my breast,
Attend, O Hector! what I judge the best,
See, as thou mov'st, on dangers dangers spread,
And war's whole fury burns around thy head.
Behold! distress'd within yon hostile wall,
How many Trojans yield, disperse, or fall!
What troops, out-number'd, scarce the war maintain!
And what brave heroes at the ships lie slain!
Here cease thy fury: and, the chiefs and kings
Convoked to council, weigh the sum of things.
Whether (the gods succeeding our desires)
To yon tall ships to bear the Trojan fires;
Or quit the fleet, and pass unhurt away,
Contented with the conquest of the day.[pg 250]
I fear, I fear, lest Greece, not yet undone,
Pay the large debt of last revolving sun;