The Iliad of Homer
Page: 211Forbids to plunder, animates the fight,
Points to the fleet: "For, by the gods! who flies,240
Who dares but linger, by this hand he dies;
No weeping sister his cold eye shall close,
No friendly hand his funeral pyre compose.
Who stops to plunder at this signal hour,
The birds shall tear him, and the dogs devour."
Furious he said; the smarting scourge resounds;
The coursers fly; the smoking chariot bounds;
The hosts rush on; loud clamours shake the shore;
The horses thunder, earth and ocean roar!
Apollo, planted at the trench's bound,
Push'd at the bank: down sank the enormous mound:
Roll'd in the ditch the heapy ruin lay;
A sudden road! a long and ample way.
O'er the dread fosse (a late impervious space)
Now steeds, and men, and cars tumultuous pass.
The wondering crowds the downward level trod;
Before them flamed the shield, and march'd the god.
Then with his hand he shook the mighty wall;[pg 277]
And lo! the turrets nod, the bulwarks fall:
Easy as when ashore an infant stands,
And draws imagined houses in the sands;
The sportive wanton, pleased with some new play,
Sweeps the slight works and fashion'd domes away:
Thus vanish'd at thy touch, the towers and walls;
The toil of thousands in a moment falls.
The Grecians gaze around with wild despair,
Confused, and weary all the powers with prayer:
Exhort their men, with praises, threats, commands;
And urge the gods, with voices, eyes, and hands.
Experienced Nestor chief obtests the skies,
And weeps his country with a father's eyes.
"O Jove! if ever, on his native shore,
One Greek enrich'd thy shrine with offer'd gore;
If e'er, in hope our country to behold,
We paid the fattest firstlings of the fold;
If e'er thou sign'st our wishes with thy nod:
Perform the promise of a gracious god!
This day preserve our navies from the flame,
And save the relics of the Grecian name."
Thus prayed the sage: the eternal gave consent,
And peals of thunder shook the firmament.
Presumptuous Troy mistook the accepting sign,
And catch'd new fury at the voice divine.
As, when black tempests mix the seas and skies,
The roaring deeps in watery mountains rise,
Above the sides of some tall ship ascend,
Its womb they deluge, and its ribs they rend:
Thus loudly roaring, and o'erpowering all,
Mount the thick Trojans up the Grecian wall;
Legions on legions from each side arise:
Thick sound the keels; the storm of arrows flies.
Fierce on the ships above, the cars below,
These wield the mace, and those the javelin throw.
While thus the thunder of the battle raged,
And labouring armies round the works engaged,
Still in the tent Patroclus sat to tend
The good Eurypylus, his wounded friend.
He sprinkles healing balms, to anguish kind,
And adds discourse, the medicine of the mind.
But when he saw, ascending up the fleet,
Victorious Troy; then, starting from his seat,
With bitter groans his sorrows he express'd,
He wrings his hands, he beats his manly breast.