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Text - "The Iliad" Homer


"My brother and my friend, Thy warm impatience makes thy tongue offend, In other battles I deserved thy blame, Though then not deedless, nor unknown to fame: But since yon rampart by thy arms lay low, I scatter'd slaughter from my fatal bow. The chiefs you seek on yonder shore lie slain; Of all those heroes, two alone remain; Deiphobus, and Helenus the seer, Each now disabled by a hostile spear. Go then, successful, where thy soul inspires: This heart and hand shall second all thy fires: What with this arm I can, prepare to know, Till death for death be paid, and blow for blow. But 'tis not ours, with forces not our own To combat: strength is of the gods alone." These words the hero's angry mind assuage: Then fierce they mingle where the thickest rage. Around Polydamas, distain'd with blood, Cebrion, Phalces, stern Orthaeus stood, Palmus, with Polypoetes the divine, And two bold brothers of Hippotion's line (Who reach'd fair Ilion, from Ascania far, The former day; the next engaged in war). As when from gloomy clouds a whirlwind springs, That bears Jove's thunder on its dreadful wings, Wide o'er the blasted fields the tempest sweeps; Then, gather'd, settles on the hoary deeps; The afflicted deeps tumultuous mix and roar; The waves behind impel the waves before, Wide rolling, foaming high, and tumbling to the shore: Thus rank on rank, the thick battalions throng, Chief urged on chief, and man drove man along. Far o'er the plains, in dreadful order bright, The brazen arms reflect a beamy light: Full in the blazing van great Hector shined, Like Mars commission'd to confound mankind. Before him flaming his enormous shield, Like the broad sun, illumined all the field; His nodding helm emits a streamy ray; His piercing eyes through all the battle stray, And, while beneath his targe he flash'd along, Shot terrors round, that wither'd e'en the strong. Thus stalk'd he, dreadful; death was in his look: Whole nations fear'd; but not an Argive shook. The towering Ajax, with an ample stride, Advanced the first, and thus the chief defied: "Hector! come on; thy empty threats forbear; 'Tis not thy arm, 'tis thundering Jove we fear: The skill of war to us not idly given, Lo! Greece is humbled, not by Troy, but Heaven. Vain are the hopes that haughty mind imparts, To force our fleet: the Greeks have hands and hearts. Long ere in flames our lofty navy fall, Your boasted city, and your god-built wall, Shall sink beneath us, smoking on the ground; And spread a long unmeasured ruin round. The time shall come, when, chased along the plain, Even thou shalt call on Jove, and call in vain; Even thou shalt wish, to aid thy desperate course, The wings of falcons for thy flying horse; Shalt run, forgetful of a warrior's fame, While clouds of friendly dust conceal thy shame." As thus he spoke, behold, in open view, On sounding wings a dexter eagle flew. To Jove's glad omen all the Grecians rise, And hail, with shouts, his progress through the skies: Far-echoing clamours bound from side to side; They ceased; and thus the chief of Troy replied: "From whence this menace, this insulting strain? Enormous boaster! doom'd to vaunt in vain. So may the gods on Hector life bestow, (Not that short life which mortals lead below, But such as those of Jove's high lineage born, The blue-eyed maid, or he that gilds the morn,) As this decisive day shall end the fame Of Greece, and Argos be no more a name. And thou, imperious! if thy madness wait The lance of Hector, thou shalt meet thy fate: That giant-corse, extended on the shore, Shall largely feast the fowls with fat and gore." He said; and like a lion stalk'd along: With shouts incessant earth and ocean rung, Sent from his following host: the Grecian train With answering thunders fill'd the echoing plain; A shout that tore heaven's concave, and, above, Shook the fix'd splendours of the throne of Jove.

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