About this Edition
- Alexander Pope
The Acts of Diomed
Diomed, assisted by Pallas, performs wonders in this day’s battle. Pandarus wounds him with an arrow, but the goddess cures him, enables him to discern gods from mortals, and prohibits him from contending with any of the former, excepting Venus. AEneas joins Pandarus to oppose him; Pandarus is killed, and AEneas in great danger but for the assistance of Venus; who, as she is removing her son from the fight, is wounded on the hand by Diomed. Apollo seconds her in his rescue, and at length carries off AEneas to Troy, where he is healed in the temple of Pergamus. Mars rallies the Trojans, and assists Hector to make a stand. In the meantime AEneas is restored to the field, and they overthrow several of the Greeks; among the rest Tlepolemus is slain by Sarpedon. Juno and Minerva descend to resist Mars; the latter incites Diomed to go against that god; he wounds him, and sends him groaning to heaven.
The first battle continues through this book. The scene is the same as in the former.
But Pallas now Tydides’ soul inspires, Fills with her force, and warms with all her fires, Above the Greeks his deathless fame to raise, And crown her hero with distinguish’d praise. High on his helm celestial lightnings play, His beamy shield emits a living ray; The unwearied blaze incessant streams supplies, Like the red star that fires the autumnal skies, When fresh he rears his radiant orb to sight, And, bathed in ocean, shoots a keener light. Such glories Pallas on the chief bestow’d, Such, from his arms, the fierce effulgence flow’d: Onward she drives him, furious to engage, Where the fight burns, and where the thickest rage.
The sons of Dares first the combat sought, A wealthy priest, but rich without a fault; In Vulcan’s fane the father’s days were led, The sons to toils of glorious battle bred; These singled from their troops the fight maintain, These, from their steeds, Tydides on the plain. Fierce for renown the brother-chiefs draw near, And first bold Phegeus cast his sounding spear, Which o’er the warrior’s shoulder took its course, And spent in empty air its erring force. Not so, Tydides, flew thy lance in vain, But pierced his breast, and stretch’d him on the plain. Seized with unusual fear, Idaeus fled, Left the rich chariot, and his brother dead. And had not Vulcan lent celestial aid, He too had sunk to death’s eternal shade; But in a smoky cloud the god of fire Preserved the son, in pity to the sire. The steeds and chariot, to the navy led, Increased the spoils of gallant Diomed.
Struck with amaze and shame, the Trojan crew, Or slain, or fled, the sons of Dares view; When by the blood-stain’d hand Minerva press’d The god of battles, and this speech address’d:
“Stern power of war! by whom the mighty fall, Who bathe in blood, and shake the lofty wall! Let the brave chiefs their glorious toils divide; And whose the conquest, mighty Jove decide: While we from interdicted fields retire, Nor tempt the wrath of heaven’s avenging sire.”
Her words allay the impetuous warrior’s heat, The god of arms and martial maid retreat; Removed from fight, on Xanthus’ flowery bounds They sat, and listen’d to the dying sounds.
Meantime, the Greeks the Trojan race pursue, And some bold chieftain every leader slew: First Odius falls, and bites the bloody sand, His death ennobled by Atrides’ hand:
As he to flight his wheeling car address’d, The speedy javelin drove from back to breast. In dust the mighty Halizonian lay, His arms resound, the spirit wings its way.
Thy fate was next, O Phaestus! doom’d to feel The great Idomeneus’ protended steel; Whom Borus sent (his son and only joy) From fruitful Tarne to the fields of Troy. The Cretan javelin reach’d him from afar, And pierced his shoulder as he mounts his car; Back from the car he tumbles to the ground, And everlasting shades his eyes surround.
Then died Scamandrius, expert in the chase, In woods and wilds to wound the savage race; Diana taught him all her sylvan arts, To bend the bow, and aim unerring darts: But vainly here Diana’s arts he tries, The fatal lance arrests him as he flies; From Menelaus’ arm the weapon sent, Through his broad back and heaving bosom went: Down sinks the warrior with a thundering sound, His brazen armour rings against the ground.
Next artful Phereclus untimely fell; Bold Merion sent him to the realms of hell. Thy father’s skill, O Phereclus! was thine, The graceful fabric and the fair design; For loved by Pallas, Pallas did impart To him the shipwright’s and the builder’s art. Beneath his hand the fleet of Paris rose, The fatal cause of all his country’s woes; But he, the mystic will of heaven unknown, Nor saw his country’s peril, nor his own. The hapless artist, while confused he fled, The spear of Merion mingled with the dead. Through his right hip, with forceful fury cast, Between the bladder and the bone it pass’d; Prone on his knees he falls with fruitless cries, And death in lasting slumber seals his eyes.
From Meges’ force the swift Pedaeus fled, Antenor’s offspring from a foreign bed, Whose generous spouse, Theanor, heavenly fair, Nursed the young stranger with a mother’s care. How vain those cares! when Meges in the rear Full in his nape infix’d the fatal spear; Swift through his crackling jaws the weapon glides, And the cold tongue and grinning teeth divides.
Then died Hypsenor, generous and divine, Sprung from the brave Dolopion’s mighty line, Who near adored Scamander made abode, Priest of the stream, and honoured as a god. On him, amidst the flying numbers found, Eurypylus inflicts a deadly wound; On his broad shoulders fell the forceful brand, Thence glancing downwards, lopp’d his holy hand, Which stain’d with sacred blood the blushing sand. Down sunk the priest: the purple hand of death Closed his dim eye, and fate suppress’d his breath.
Thus toil’d the chiefs, in different parts engaged. In every quarter fierce Tydides raged; Amid the Greek, amid the Trojan train, Rapt through the ranks he thunders o’er the plain; Now here, now there, he darts from place to place, Pours on the rear, or lightens in their face. Thus from high hills the torrents swift and strong Deluge whole fields, and sweep the trees along, Through ruin’d moles the rushing wave resounds, O’erwhelm’s the bridge, and bursts the lofty bounds; The yellow harvests of the ripen’d year, And flatted vineyards, one sad waste appear! While Jove descends in sluicy sheets of rain, And all the labours of mankind are vain.
So raged Tydides, boundless in his ire, Drove armies back, and made all Troy retire. With grief the leader of the Lycian band Saw the wide waste of his destructive hand: His bended bow against the chief he drew; Swift to the mark the thirsty arrow flew, Whose forky point the hollow breastplate tore, Deep in his shoulder pierced, and drank the gore: The rushing stream his brazen armour dyed, While the proud archer thus exulting cried:
“Hither, ye Trojans, hither drive your steeds! Lo! by our hand the bravest Grecian bleeds, Not long the deathful dart he can sustain; Or Phoebus urged me to these fields in vain.” So spoke he, boastful: but the winged dart Stopp’d short of life, and mock’d the shooter’s art. The wounded chief, behind his car retired, The helping hand of Sthenelus required; Swift from his seat he leap’d upon the ground, And tugg’d the weapon from the gushing wound; When thus the king his guardian power address’d, The purple current wandering o’er his vest:
“O progeny of Jove! unconquer’d maid! If e’er my godlike sire deserved thy aid, If e’er I felt thee in the fighting field; Now, goddess, now, thy sacred succour yield. O give my lance to reach the Trojan knight, Whose arrow wounds the chief thou guard’st in fight; And lay the boaster grovelling on the shore, That vaunts these eyes shall view the light no more.”
Thus pray’d Tydides, and Minerva heard, His nerves confirm’d, his languid spirits cheer’d; He feels each limb with wonted vigour light; His beating bosom claim’d the promised fight. “Be bold, (she cried), in every combat shine, War be thy province, thy protection mine; Rush to the fight, and every foe control; Wake each paternal virtue in thy soul: Strength swells thy boiling breast, infused by me, And all thy godlike father breathes in thee; Yet more, from mortal mists I purge thy eyes, And set to view the warring deities. These see thou shun, through all the embattled plain; Nor rashly strive where human force is vain. If Venus mingle in the martial band, Her shalt thou wound: so Pallas gives command.”
With that, the blue-eyed virgin wing’d her flight; The hero rush’d impetuous to the fight; With tenfold ardour now invades the plain, Wild with delay, and more enraged by pain. As on the fleecy flocks when hunger calls, Amidst the field a brindled lion falls; If chance some shepherd with a distant dart The savage wound, he rouses at the smart, He foams, he roars; the shepherd dares not stay, But trembling leaves the scattering flocks a prey; Heaps fall on heaps; he bathes with blood the ground, Then leaps victorious o’er the lofty mound. Not with less fury stern Tydides flew; And two brave leaders at an instant slew; Astynous breathless fell, and by his side, His people’s pastor, good Hypenor, died; Astynous’ breast the deadly lance receives, Hypenor’s shoulder his broad falchion cleaves. Those slain he left, and sprung with noble rage Abas and Polyidus to engage; Sons of Eurydamus, who, wise and old, Could fate foresee, and mystic dreams unfold; The youths return’d not from the doubtful plain, And the sad father tried his arts in vain; No mystic dream could make their fates appear, Though now determined by Tydides’ spear.
Young Xanthus next, and Thoon felt his rage; The joy and hope of Phaenops’ feeble age: Vast was his wealth, and these the only heirs Of all his labours and a life of cares. Cold death o’ertakes them in their blooming years, And leaves the father unavailing tears: To strangers now descends his heapy store, The race forgotten, and the name no more.
Two sons of Priam in one chariot ride, Glittering in arms, and combat side by side. As when the lordly lion seeks his food Where grazing heifers range the lonely wood, He leaps amidst them with a furious bound, Bends their strong necks, and tears them to the ground: So from their seats the brother chiefs are torn, Their steeds and chariot to the navy borne.
With deep concern divine AEneas view’d The foe prevailing, and his friends pursued; Through the thick storm of singing spears he flies, Exploring Pandarus with careful eyes. At length he found Lycaon’s mighty son; To whom the chief of Venus’ race begun:
“Where, Pandarus, are all thy honours now, Thy winged arrows and unerring bow, Thy matchless skill, thy yet unrivall’d fame, And boasted glory of the Lycian name? O pierce that mortal! if we mortal call That wondrous force by which whole armies fall; Or god incensed, who quits the distant skies To punish Troy for slighted sacrifice; (Which, oh avert from our unhappy state! For what so dreadful as celestial hate)? Whoe’er he be, propitiate Jove with prayer; If man, destroy; if god, entreat to spare.”
To him the Lycian: “Whom your eyes behold, If right I judge, is Diomed the bold: Such coursers whirl him o’er the dusty field, So towers his helmet, and so flames his shield. If ’tis a god, he wears that chief’s disguise: Or if that chief, some guardian of the skies, Involved in clouds, protects him in the fray, And turns unseen the frustrate dart away. I wing’d an arrow, which not idly fell, The stroke had fix’d him to the gates of hell; And, but some god, some angry god withstands, His fate was due to these unerring hands. Skill’d in the bow, on foot I sought the war, Nor join’d swift horses to the rapid car. Ten polish’d chariots I possess’d at home, And still they grace Lycaon’s princely dome: There veil’d in spacious coverlets they stand; And twice ten coursers wait their lord’s command. The good old warrior bade me trust to these, When first for Troy I sail’d the sacred seas; In fields, aloft, the whirling car to guide, And through the ranks of death triumphant ride. But vain with youth, and yet to thrift inclined, I heard his counsels with unheedful mind, And thought the steeds (your large supplies unknown) Might fail of forage in the straiten’d town; So took my bow and pointed darts in hand And left the chariots in my native land.
“Too late, O friend! my rashness I deplore; These shafts, once fatal, carry death no more. Tydeus’ and Atreus’ sons their points have found, And undissembled gore pursued the wound. In vain they bleed: this unavailing bow Serves, not to slaughter, but provoke the foe. In evil hour these bended horns I strung, And seized the quiver where it idly hung. Cursed be the fate that sent me to the field Without a warrior’s arms, the spear and shield! If e’er with life I quit the Trojan plain, If e’er I see my spouse and sire again, This bow, unfaithful to my glorious aims, Broke by my hand, shall feed the blazing flames.”
To whom the leader of the Dardan race: “Be calm, nor Phoebus’ honour’d gift disgrace. The distant dart be praised, though here we need The rushing chariot and the bounding steed. Against yon hero let us bend our course, And, hand to hand, encounter force with force. Now mount my seat, and from the chariot’s height Observe my father’s steeds, renown’d in fight; Practised alike to turn, to stop, to chase, To dare the shock, or urge the rapid race; Secure with these, through fighting fields we go; Or safe to Troy, if Jove assist the foe. Haste, seize the whip, and snatch the guiding rein; The warrior’s fury let this arm sustain; Or, if to combat thy bold heart incline, Take thou the spear, the chariot’s care be mine."
“O prince! (Lycaon’s valiant son replied) As thine the steeds, be thine the task to guide. The horses, practised to their lord’s command, Shall bear the rein, and answer to thy hand; But, if, unhappy, we desert the fight, Thy voice alone can animate their flight; Else shall our fates be number’d with the dead, And these, the victor’s prize, in triumph led. Thine be the guidance, then: with spear and shield Myself will charge this terror of the field.”
And now both heroes mount the glittering car; The bounding coursers rush amidst the war; Their fierce approach bold Sthenelus espied, Who thus, alarm’d, to great Tydides cried:
“O friend! two chiefs of force immense I see, Dreadful they come, and bend their rage on thee: Lo the brave heir of old Lycaon’s line, And great AEneas, sprung from race divine! Enough is given to fame. Ascend thy car! And save a life, the bulwark of our war.”
At this the hero cast a gloomy look, Fix’d on the chief with scorn; and thus he spoke:
“Me dost thou bid to shun the coming fight? Me wouldst thou move to base, inglorious flight? Know, ’tis not honest in my soul to fear, Nor was Tydides born to tremble here. I hate the cumbrous chariot’s slow advance, And the long distance of the flying lance; But while my nerves are strong, my force entire, Thus front the foe, and emulate my sire. Nor shall yon steeds, that fierce to fight convey Those threatening heroes, bear them both away; One chief at least beneath this arm shall die; So Pallas tells me, and forbids to fly. But if she dooms, and if no god withstand, That both shall fall by one victorious hand, Then heed my words: my horses here detain, Fix’d to the chariot by the straiten’d rein; Swift to AEneas’ empty seat proceed, And seize the coursers of ethereal breed; The race of those, which once the thundering god For ravish’d Ganymede on Tros bestow’d, The best that e’er on earth’s broad surface run, Beneath the rising or the setting sun. Hence great Anchises stole a breed unknown, By mortal mares, from fierce Laomedon: Four of this race his ample stalls contain, And two transport AEneas o’er the plain. These, were the rich immortal prize our own, Through the wide world should make our glory known.”
Thus while they spoke, the foe came furious on, And stern Lycaon’s warlike race begun:
“Prince, thou art met. Though late in vain assail’d, The spear may enter where the arrow fail’d.”
He said, then shook the ponderous lance, and flung; On his broad shield the sounding weapon rung, Pierced the tough orb, and in his cuirass hung, “He bleeds! the pride of Greece! (the boaster cries,) Our triumph now, the mighty warrior lies!” “Mistaken vaunter! (Diomed replied;) Thy dart has erred, and now my spear be tried; Ye ‘scape not both; one, headlong from his car, With hostile blood shall glut the god of war.”
He spoke, and rising hurl’d his forceful dart, Which, driven by Pallas, pierced a vital part; Full in his face it enter’d, and betwixt The nose and eye-ball the proud Lycian fix’d; Crash’d all his jaws, and cleft the tongue within, Till the bright point look’d out beneath the chin. Headlong he falls, his helmet knocks the ground: Earth groans beneath him, and his arms resound; The starting coursers tremble with affright; The soul indignant seeks the realms of night.
To guard his slaughter’d friend, AEneas flies, His spear extending where the carcase lies; Watchful he wheels, protects it every way, As the grim lion stalks around his prey. O’er the fall’n trunk his ample shield display’d, He hides the hero with his mighty shade, And threats aloud! the Greeks with longing eyes Behold at distance, but forbear the prize. Then fierce Tydides stoops; and from the fields Heaved with vast force, a rocky fragment wields. Not two strong men the enormous weight could raise, Such men as live in these degenerate days: He swung it round; and, gathering strength to throw, Discharged the ponderous ruin at the foe. Where to the hip the inserted thigh unites, Full on the bone the pointed marble lights; Through both the tendons broke the rugged stone, And stripp’d the skin, and crack’d the solid bone. Sunk on his knees, and staggering with his pains, His falling bulk his bended arm sustains; Lost in a dizzy mist the warrior lies; A sudden cloud comes swimming o’er his eyes. There the brave chief, who mighty numbers sway’d, Oppress’d had sunk to death’s eternal shade, But heavenly Venus, mindful of the love She bore Anchises in the Idaean grove, His danger views with anguish and despair, And guards her offspring with a mother’s care. About her much-loved son her arms she throws, Her arms whose whiteness match the falling snows. Screen’d from the foe behind her shining veil, The swords wave harmless, and the javelins fail; Safe through the rushing horse, and feather’d flight Of sounding shafts, she bears him from the fight.
Nor Sthenelus, with unassisting hands, Remain’d unheedful of his lord’s commands: His panting steeds, removed from out the war, He fix’d with straiten’d traces to the car, Next, rushing to the Dardan spoil, detains The heavenly coursers with the flowing manes: These in proud triumph to the fleet convey’d, No longer now a Trojan lord obey’d. That charge to bold Deipylus he gave, (Whom most he loved, as brave men love the brave,) Then mounting on his car, resumed the rein, And follow’d where Tydides swept the plain.
Meanwhile (his conquest ravished from his eyes) The raging chief in chase of Venus flies: No goddess she, commission’d to the field, Like Pallas dreadful with her sable shield, Or fierce Bellona thundering at the wall, While flames ascend, and mighty ruins fall; He knew soft combats suit the tender dame, New to the field, and still a foe to fame. Through breaking ranks his furious course he bends, And at the goddess his broad lance extends; Through her bright veil the daring weapon drove, The ambrosial veil which all the Graces wove; Her snowy hand the razing steel profaned, And the transparent skin with crimson stain’d, From the clear vein a stream immortal flow’d, Such stream as issues from a wounded god; Pure emanation! uncorrupted flood! Unlike our gross, diseased, terrestrial blood: (For not the bread of man their life sustains, Nor wine’s inflaming juice supplies their veins:) With tender shrieks the goddess fill’d the place, And dropp’d her offspring from her weak embrace. Him Phoebus took: he casts a cloud around The fainting chief, and wards the mortal wound.
Then with a voice that shook the vaulted skies, The king insults the goddess as she flies: “Ill with Jove’s daughter bloody fights agree, The field of combat is no scene for thee: Go, let thy own soft sex employ thy care, Go, lull the coward, or delude the fair. Taught by this stroke renounce the war’s alarms, And learn to tremble at the name of arms.”
Tydides thus. The goddess, seized with dread, Confused, distracted, from the conflict fled. To aid her, swift the winged Iris flew, Wrapt in a mist above the warring crew. The queen of love with faded charms she found. Pale was her cheek, and livid look’d the wound. To Mars, who sat remote, they bent their way: Far, on the left, with clouds involved he lay; Beside him stood his lance, distain’d with gore, And, rein’d with gold, his foaming steeds before. Low at his knee, she begg’d with streaming eyes Her brother’s car, to mount the distant skies, And show’d the wound by fierce Tydides given, A mortal man, who dares encounter heaven. Stern Mars attentive hears the queen complain, And to her hand commits the golden rein; She mounts the seat, oppress’d with silent woe, Driven by the goddess of the painted bow. The lash resounds, the rapid chariot flies, And in a moment scales the lofty skies: They stopp’d the car, and there the coursers stood, Fed by fair Iris with ambrosial food; Before her mother, love’s bright queen appears, O’erwhelmed with anguish, and dissolved in tears: She raised her in her arms, beheld her bleed, And ask’d what god had wrought this guilty deed?
Then she: “This insult from no god I found, An impious mortal gave the daring wound! Behold the deed of haughty Diomed! ’Twas in the son’s defence the mother bled. The war with Troy no more the Grecians wage; But with the gods (the immortal gods) engage.”
Dione then: “Thy wrongs with patience bear, And share those griefs inferior powers must share: Unnumber’d woes mankind from us sustain, And men with woes afflict the gods again. The mighty Mars in mortal fetters bound, And lodged in brazen dungeons underground, Full thirteen moons imprison’d roar’d in vain; Otus and Ephialtes held the chain: Perhaps had perish’d had not Hermes’ care Restored the groaning god to upper air. Great Juno’s self has borne her weight of pain, The imperial partner of the heavenly reign; Amphitryon’s son infix’d the deadly dart, And fill’d with anguish her immortal heart. E’en hell’s grim king Alcides’ power confess’d, The shaft found entrance in his iron breast; To Jove’s high palace for a cure he fled, Pierced in his own dominions of the dead; Where Paeon, sprinkling heavenly balm around, Assuaged the glowing pangs, and closed the wound. Rash, impious man! to stain the bless’d abodes, And drench his arrows in the blood of gods!
“But thou (though Pallas urged thy frantic deed), Whose spear ill-fated makes a goddess bleed, Know thou, whoe’er with heavenly power contends, Short is his date, and soon his glory ends; From fields of death when late he shall retire, No infant on his knees shall call him sire. Strong as thou art, some god may yet be found, To stretch thee pale and gasping on the ground; Thy distant wife, AEgiale the fair, Starting from sleep with a distracted air, Shall rouse thy slaves, and her lost lord deplore, The brave, the great, the glorious now no more!”
This said, she wiped from Venus’ wounded palm The sacred ichor, and infused the balm. Juno and Pallas with a smile survey’d, And thus to Jove began the blue-eyed maid:
“Permit thy daughter, gracious Jove! to tell How this mischance the Cyprian queen befell, As late she tried with passion to inflame The tender bosom of a Grecian dame; Allured the fair, with moving thoughts of joy, To quit her country for some youth of Troy; The clasping zone, with golden buckles bound, Razed her soft hand with this lamented wound.”
The sire of gods and men superior smiled, And, calling Venus, thus address’d his child: “Not these, O daughter are thy proper cares, Thee milder arts befit, and softer wars; Sweet smiles are thine, and kind endearing charms; To Mars and Pallas leave the deeds of arms.”
Thus they in heaven: while on the plain below The fierce Tydides charged his Dardan foe, Flush’d with celestial blood pursued his way, And fearless dared the threatening god of day; Already in his hopes he saw him kill’d, Though screen’d behind Apollo’s mighty shield. Thrice rushing furious, at the chief he strook; His blazing buckler thrice Apollo shook: He tried the fourth: when, breaking from the cloud, A more than mortal voice was heard aloud.
“O son of Tydeus, cease! be wise and see How vast the difference of the gods and thee; Distance immense! between the powers that shine Above, eternal, deathless, and divine, And mortal man! a wretch of humble birth, A short-lived reptile in the dust of earth.”
So spoke the god who darts celestial fires: He dreads his fury, and some steps retires. Then Phoebus bore the chief of Venus’ race To Troy’s high fane, and to his holy place; Latona there and Phoebe heal’d the wound, With vigour arm’d him, and with glory crown’d. This done, the patron of the silver bow A phantom raised, the same in shape and show With great AEneas; such the form he bore, And such in fight the radiant arms he wore. Around the spectre bloody wars are waged, And Greece and Troy with clashing shields engaged. Meantime on Ilion’s tower Apollo stood, And calling Mars, thus urged the raging god:
“Stern power of arms, by whom the mighty fall; Who bathest in blood, and shakest the embattled wall, Rise in thy wrath! to hell’s abhorr’d abodes Despatch yon Greek, and vindicate the gods. First rosy Venus felt his brutal rage; Me next he charged, and dares all heaven engage: The wretch would brave high heaven’s immortal sire, His triple thunder, and his bolts of fire.”
The god of battle issues on the plain, Stirs all the ranks, and fires the Trojan train; In form like Acamas, the Thracian guide, Enraged to Troy’s retiring chiefs he cried:
“How long, ye sons of Priam! will ye fly, And unrevenged see Priam’s people die? Still unresisted shall the foe destroy, And stretch the slaughter to the gates of Troy? Lo, brave AEneas sinks beneath his wound, Not godlike Hector more in arms renown’d: Haste all, and take the generous warrior’s part. He said; — new courage swell’d each hero’s heart. Sarpedon first his ardent soul express’d, And, turn’d to Hector, these bold words address’d:
“Say, chief, is all thy ancient valour lost? Where are thy threats, and where thy glorious boast, That propp’d alone by Priam’s race should stand Troy’s sacred walls, nor need a foreign hand? Now, now thy country calls her wonted friends, And the proud vaunt in just derision ends. Remote they stand while alien troops engage, Like trembling hounds before the lion’s rage. Far distant hence I held my wide command, Where foaming Xanthus laves the Lycian land; With ample wealth (the wish of mortals) bless’d, A beauteous wife, and infant at her breast; With those I left whatever dear could be: Greece, if she conquers, nothing wins from me; Yet first in fight my Lycian bands I cheer, And long to meet this mighty man ye fear; While Hector idle stands, nor bids the brave Their wives, their infants, and their altars save. Haste, warrior, haste! preserve thy threaten’d state, Or one vast burst of all-involving fate Full o’er your towers shall fall, and sweep away Sons, sires, and wives, an undistinguish’d prey. Rouse all thy Trojans, urge thy aids to fight; These claim thy thoughts by day, thy watch by night; With force incessant the brave Greeks oppose; Such cares thy friends deserve, and such thy foes.”
Stung to the heart the generous Hector hears, But just reproof with decent silence bears. From his proud car the prince impetuous springs, On earth he leaps, his brazen armour rings. Two shining spears are brandish’d in his hands; Thus arm’d, he animates his drooping bands, Revives their ardour, turns their steps from flight, And wakes anew the dying flames of fight. They turn, they stand; the Greeks their fury dare, Condense their powers, and wait the growing war.
As when, on Ceres’ sacred floor, the swain Spreads the wide fan to clear the golden grain, And the light chaff, before the breezes borne, Ascends in clouds from off the heapy corn; The grey dust, rising with collected winds, Drives o’er the barn, and whitens all the hinds: So white with dust the Grecian host appears. From trampling steeds, and thundering charioteers; The dusky clouds from labour’d earth arise, And roll in smoking volumes to the skies. Mars hovers o’er them with his sable shield, And adds new horrors to the darken’d field: Pleased with his charge, and ardent to fulfil, In Troy’s defence, Apollo’s heavenly will: Soon as from fight the blue-eyed maid retires, Each Trojan bosom with new warmth he fires. And now the god, from forth his sacred fane, Produced AEneas to the shouting train; Alive, unharm’d, with all his peers around, Erect he stood, and vigorous from his wound: Inquiries none they made; the dreadful day No pause of words admits, no dull delay; Fierce Discord storms, Apollo loud exclaims, Fame calls, Mars thunders, and the field’s in flames.
Stern Diomed with either Ajax stood, And great Ulysses, bathed in hostile blood. Embodied close, the labouring Grecian train The fiercest shock of charging hosts sustain. Unmoved and silent, the whole war they wait Serenely dreadful, and as fix’d as fate. So when the embattled clouds in dark array, Along the skies their gloomy lines display; When now the North his boisterous rage has spent, And peaceful sleeps the liquid element: The low-hung vapours, motionless and still, Rest on the summits of the shaded hill; Till the mass scatters as the winds arise, Dispersed and broken through the ruffled skies.
Nor was the general wanting to his train; From troop to troop he toils through all the plain, “Ye Greeks, be men! the charge of battle bear; Your brave associates and yourselves revere! Let glorious acts more glorious acts inspire, And catch from breast to breast the noble fire! On valour’s side the odds of combat lie, The brave live glorious, or lamented die; The wretch who trembles in the field of fame, Meets death, and worse than death, eternal shame!”
These words he seconds with his flying lance, To meet whose point was strong Deicoon’s chance: AEneas’ friend, and in his native place Honour’d and loved like Priam’s royal race: Long had he fought the foremost in the field, But now the monarch’s lance transpierced his shield: His shield too weak the furious dart to stay, Through his broad belt the weapon forced its way: The grisly wound dismiss’d his soul to hell, His arms around him rattled as he fell.
Then fierce AEneas, brandishing his blade, In dust Orsilochus and Crethon laid, Whose sire Diocleus, wealthy, brave and great, In well-built Pherae held his lofty seat: Sprung from Alpheus’ plenteous stream, that yields Increase of harvests to the Pylian fields. He got Orsilochus, Diocleus he, And these descended in the third degree. Too early expert in the martial toil, In sable ships they left their native soil, To avenge Atrides: now, untimely slain, They fell with glory on the Phrygian plain. So two young mountain lions, nursed with blood In deep recesses of the gloomy wood, Rush fearless to the plains, and uncontroll’d Depopulate the stalls and waste the fold: Till pierced at distance from their native den, O’erpowered they fall beneath the force of men. Prostrate on earth their beauteous bodies lay, Like mountain firs, as tall and straight as they. Great Menelaus views with pitying eyes, Lifts his bright lance, and at the victor flies; Mars urged him on; yet, ruthless in his hate, The god but urged him to provoke his fate. He thus advancing, Nestor’s valiant son Shakes for his danger, and neglects his own; Struck with the thought, should Helen’s lord be slain, And all his country’s glorious labours vain. Already met, the threatening heroes stand; The spears already tremble in their hand: In rush’d Antilochus, his aid to bring, And fall or conquer by the Spartan king. These seen, the Dardan backward turn’d his course, Brave as he was, and shunn’d unequal force. The breathless bodies to the Greeks they drew, Then mix in combat, and their toils renew.
First, Pylaemenes, great in battle, bled, Who sheathed in brass the Paphlagonians led. Atrides mark’d him where sublime he stood; Fix’d in his throat the javelin drank his blood. The faithful Mydon, as he turn’d from fight His flying coursers, sunk to endless night; A broken rock by Nestor’s son was thrown: His bended arm received the falling stone; From his numb’d hand the ivory-studded reins, Dropp’d in the dust, are trail’d along the plains: Meanwhile his temples feel a deadly wound; He groans in death, and ponderous sinks to ground: Deep drove his helmet in the sands, and there The head stood fix’d, the quivering legs in air, Till trampled flat beneath the coursers’ feet: The youthful victor mounts his empty seat, And bears the prize in triumph to the fleet.
Great Hector saw, and, raging at the view, Pours on the Greeks: the Trojan troops pursue: He fires his host with animating cries, And brings along the furies of the skies, Mars, stern destroyer! and Bellona dread, Flame in the front, and thunder at their head: This swells the tumult and the rage of fight; That shakes a spear that casts a dreadful light. Where Hector march’d, the god of battles shined, Now storm’d before him, and now raged behind.
Tydides paused amidst his full career; Then first the hero’s manly breast knew fear. As when some simple swain his cot forsakes, And wide through fens an unknown journey takes: If chance a swelling brook his passage stay, And foam impervious ‘cross the wanderer’s way, Confused he stops, a length of country pass’d, Eyes the rough waves, and tired, returns at last. Amazed no less the great Tydides stands: He stay’d, and turning thus address’d his bands:
“No wonder, Greeks! that all to Hector yield; Secure of favouring gods, he takes the field; His strokes they second, and avert our spears. Behold where Mars in mortal arms appears! Retire then, warriors, but sedate and slow; Retire, but with your faces to the foe. Trust not too much your unavailing might; ’Tis not with Troy, but with the gods ye fight.”
Now near the Greeks the black battalions drew; And first two leaders valiant Hector slew: His force Anchialus and Mnesthes found, In every art of glorious war renown’d; In the same car the chiefs to combat ride, And fought united, and united died. Struck at the sight, the mighty Ajax glows With thirst of vengeance, and assaults the foes. His massy spear with matchless fury sent, Through Amphius’ belt and heaving belly went; Amphius Apaesus’ happy soil possess’d, With herds abounding, and with treasure bless’d; But fate resistless from his country led The chief, to perish at his people’s head. Shook with his fall his brazen armour rung, And fierce, to seize it, conquering Ajax sprung; Around his head an iron tempest rain’d; A wood of spears his ample shield sustain’d: Beneath one foot the yet warm corpse he press’d, And drew his javelin from the bleeding breast: He could no more; the showering darts denied To spoil his glittering arms, and plumy pride. Now foes on foes came pouring on the fields, With bristling lances, and compacted shields; Till in the steely circle straiten’d round, Forced he gives way, and sternly quits the ground.
While thus they strive, Tlepolemus the great, Urged by the force of unresisted fate, Burns with desire Sarpedon’s strength to prove; Alcides’ offspring meets the son of Jove. Sheathed in bright arms each adverse chief came on. Jove’s great descendant, and his greater son. Prepared for combat, ere the lance he toss’d, The daring Rhodian vents his haughty boast:
“What brings this Lycian counsellor so far, To tremble at our arms, not mix in war! Know thy vain self, nor let their flattery move, Who style thee son of cloud-compelling Jove. How far unlike those chiefs of race divine, How vast the difference of their deeds and thine! Jove got such heroes as my sire, whose soul No fear could daunt, nor earth nor hell control. Troy felt his arm, and yon proud ramparts stand Raised on the ruins of his vengeful hand: With six small ships, and but a slender train, lie left the town a wide-deserted plain. But what art thou, who deedless look’st around, While unrevenged thy Lycians bite the ground! Small aid to Troy thy feeble force can be; But wert thou greater, thou must yield to me. Pierced by my spear, to endless darkness go! I make this present to the shades below.”
The son of Hercules, the Rhodian guide, Thus haughty spoke. The Lycian king replied:
“Thy sire, O prince! o’erturn’d the Trojan state, Whose perjured monarch well deserved his fate; Those heavenly steeds the hero sought so far, False he detain’d, the just reward of war. Nor so content, the generous chief defied, With base reproaches and unmanly pride. But you, unworthy the high race you boast, Shall raise my glory when thy own is lost: Now meet thy fate, and by Sarpedon slain, Add one more ghost to Pluto’s gloomy reign.”
He said: both javelins at an instant flew; Both struck, both wounded, but Sarpedon’s slew: Full in the boaster’s neck the weapon stood, Transfix’d his throat, and drank the vital blood; The soul disdainful seeks the caves of night, And his seal’d eyes for ever lose the light.
Yet not in vain, Tlepolemus, was thrown Thy angry lance; which piercing to the bone Sarpedon’s thigh, had robb’d the chief of breath; But Jove was present, and forbade the death. Borne from the conflict by his Lycian throng, The wounded hero dragg’d the lance along. (His friends, each busied in his several part, Through haste, or danger, had not drawn the dart.) The Greeks with slain Tlepolemus retired; Whose fall Ulysses view’d, with fury fired; Doubtful if Jove’s great son he should pursue, Or pour his vengeance on the Lycian crew. But heaven and fate the first design withstand, Nor this great death must grace Ulysses’ hand. Minerva drives him on the Lycian train; Alastor, Cronius, Halius, strew’d the plain, Alcander, Prytanis, Noemon fell: And numbers more his sword had sent to hell, But Hector saw; and, furious at the sight, Rush’d terrible amidst the ranks of fight. With joy Sarpedon view’d the wish’d relief, And, faint, lamenting, thus implored the chief:
“O suffer not the foe to bear away My helpless corpse, an unassisted prey; If I, unbless’d, must see my son no more, My much-loved consort, and my native shore, Yet let me die in Ilion’s sacred wall; Troy, in whose cause I fell, shall mourn my fall.”
He said, nor Hector to the chief replies, But shakes his plume, and fierce to combat flies; Swift as a whirlwind, drives the scattering foes; And dyes the ground with purple as he goes.
Beneath a beech, Jove’s consecrated shade, His mournful friends divine Sarpedon laid: Brave Pelagon, his favourite chief, was nigh, Who wrench’d the javelin from his sinewy thigh. The fainting soul stood ready wing’d for flight, And o’er his eye-balls swam the shades of night; But Boreas rising fresh, with gentle breath, Recall’d his spirit from the gates of death.
The generous Greeks recede with tardy pace, Though Mars and Hector thunder in their face; None turn their backs to mean ignoble flight, Slow they retreat, and even retreating fight. Who first, who last, by Mars’ and Hector’s hand, Stretch’d in their blood, lay gasping on the sand? Tenthras the great, Orestes the renown’d For managed steeds, and Trechus press’d the ground;, Next OEnomaus and OEnops’ offspring died; Oresbius last fell groaning at their side: Oresbius, in his painted mitre gay, In fat Boeotia held his wealthy sway, Where lakes surround low Hyle’s watery plain; A prince and people studious of their gain.
The carnage Juno from the skies survey’d, And touch’d with grief bespoke the blue-eyed maid: “Oh, sight accursed! Shall faithless Troy prevail, And shall our promise to our people fail? How vain the word to Menelaus given By Jove’s great daughter and the queen of heaven, Beneath his arms that Priam’s towers should fall, If warring gods for ever guard the wall! Mars, red with slaughter, aids our hated foes: Haste, let us arm, and force with force oppose!”
She spoke; Minerva burns to meet the war: And now heaven’s empress calls her blazing car. At her command rush forth the steeds divine; Rich with immortal gold their trappings shine. Bright Hebe waits; by Hebe, ever young, The whirling wheels are to the chariot hung. On the bright axle turns the bidden wheel Of sounding brass; the polished axle steel. Eight brazen spokes in radiant order flame; The circles gold, of uncorrupted frame, Such as the heavens produce: and round the gold Two brazen rings of work divine were roll’d. The bossy naves of sold silver shone; Braces of gold suspend the moving throne: The car, behind, an arching figure bore; The bending concave form’d an arch before. Silver the beam, the extended yoke was gold, And golden reins the immortal coursers hold. Herself, impatient, to the ready car, The coursers joins, and breathes revenge and war.
Pallas disrobes; her radiant veil untied, With flowers adorn’d, with art diversified, (The laboured veil her heavenly fingers wove,) Flows on the pavement of the court of Jove. Now heaven’s dread arms her mighty limbs invest, Jove’s cuirass blazes on her ample breast; Deck’d in sad triumph for the mournful field, O’er her broad shoulders hangs his horrid shield, Dire, black, tremendous! Round the margin roll’d, A fringe of serpents hissing guards the gold: Here all the terrors of grim War appear, Here rages Force, here tremble Flight and Fear, Here storm’d Contention, and here Fury frown’d, And the dire orb portentous Gorgon crown’d. The massy golden helm she next assumes, That dreadful nods with four o’ershading plumes; So vast, the broad circumference contains A hundred armies on a hundred plains. The goddess thus the imperial car ascends; Shook by her arm the mighty javelin bends, Ponderous and huge; that when her fury burns, Proud tyrants humbles, and whole hosts o’erturns.
Swift at the scourge the ethereal coursers fly, While the smooth chariot cuts the liquid sky. Heaven’s gates spontaneous open to the powers, Heaven’s golden gates, kept by the winged Hours; Commission’d in alternate watch they stand, The sun’s bright portals and the skies command, Involve in clouds the eternal gates of day, Or the dark barrier roll with ease away. The sounding hinges ring on either side The gloomy volumes, pierced with light, divide. The chariot mounts, where deep in ambient skies, Confused, Olympus’ hundred heads arise; Where far apart the Thunderer fills his throne, O’er all the gods superior and alone. There with her snowy hand the queen restrains The fiery steeds, and thus to Jove complains:
“O sire! can no resentment touch thy soul? Can Mars rebel, and does no thunder roll? What lawless rage on yon forbidden plain, What rash destruction! and what heroes slain! Venus, and Phoebus with the dreadful bow, Smile on the slaughter, and enjoy my woe. Mad, furious power! whose unrelenting mind No god can govern, and no justice bind. Say, mighty father! shall we scourge this pride, And drive from fight the impetuous homicide?”
To whom assenting, thus the Thunderer said: “Go! and the great Minerva be thy aid. To tame the monster-god Minerva knows, And oft afflicts his brutal breast with woes.”
He said; Saturnia, ardent to obey, Lash’d her white steeds along the aerial way Swift down the steep of heaven the chariot rolls, Between the expanded earth and starry poles Far as a shepherd, from some point on high, O’er the wide main extends his boundless eye, Through such a space of air, with thundering sound, At every leap the immortal coursers bound Troy now they reach’d and touch’d those banks divine, Where silver Simois and Scamander join There Juno stopp’d, and (her fair steeds unloosed) Of air condensed a vapour circumfused For these, impregnate with celestial dew, On Simois, brink ambrosial herbage grew. Thence to relieve the fainting Argive throng, Smooth as the sailing doves they glide along.
The best and bravest of the Grecian band (A warlike circle) round Tydides stand. Such was their look as lions bathed in blood, Or foaming boars, the terror of the wood Heaven’s empress mingles with the mortal crowd, And shouts, in Stentor’s sounding voice, aloud; Stentor the strong, endued with brazen lungs, Whose throats surpass’d the force of fifty tongues.
“Inglorious Argives! to your race a shame, And only men in figure and in name! Once from the walls your timorous foes engaged, While fierce in war divine Achilles raged; Now issuing fearless they possess the plain, Now win the shores, and scarce the seas remain.”
Her speech new fury to their hearts convey’d; While near Tydides stood the Athenian maid; The king beside his panting steeds she found, O’erspent with toil reposing on the ground; To cool his glowing wound he sat apart, (The wound inflicted by the Lycian dart.) Large drops of sweat from all his limbs descend, Beneath his ponderous shield his sinews bend, Whose ample belt, that o’er his shoulder lay, He eased; and wash’d the clotted gore away. The goddess leaning o’er the bending yoke, Beside his coursers, thus her silence broke:
“Degenerate prince! and not of Tydeus’ kind, Whose little body lodged a mighty mind; Foremost he press’d in glorious toils to share, And scarce refrain’d when I forbade the war. Alone, unguarded, once he dared to go, And feast, incircled by the Theban foe; There braved, and vanquish’d, many a hardy knight; Such nerves I gave him, and such force in fight. Thou too no less hast been my constant care; Thy hands I arm’d, and sent thee forth to war: But thee or fear deters, or sloth detains; No drop of all thy father warms thy veins.”
The chief thus answered mild: “Immortal maid! I own thy presence, and confess thy aid. Not fear, thou know’st, withholds me from the plains, Nor sloth hath seized me, but thy word restrains: From warring gods thou bad’st me turn my spear, And Venus only found resistance here. Hence, goddess! heedful of thy high commands, Loth I gave way, and warn’d our Argive bands: For Mars, the homicide, these eyes beheld, With slaughter red, and raging round the field.”
Then thus Minerva:—“Brave Tydides, hear! Not Mars himself, nor aught immortal, fear. Full on the god impel thy foaming horse: Pallas commands, and Pallas lends thee force. Rash, furious, blind, from these to those he flies, And every side of wavering combat tries; Large promise makes, and breaks the promise made: Now gives the Grecians, now the Trojans aid.”
She said, and to the steeds approaching near, Drew from his seat the martial charioteer. The vigorous power the trembling car ascends, Fierce for revenge; and Diomed attends: The groaning axle bent beneath the load; So great a hero, and so great a god. She snatch’d the reins, she lash’d with all her force, And full on Mars impelled the foaming horse: But first, to hide her heavenly visage, spread Black Orcus’ helmet o’er her radiant head.
Just then gigantic Periphas lay slain, The strongest warrior of the AEtolian train; The god, who slew him, leaves his prostrate prize Stretch’d where he fell, and at Tydides flies. Now rushing fierce, in equal arms appear The daring Greek, the dreadful god of war! Full at the chief, above his courser’s head, From Mars’s arm the enormous weapon fled: Pallas opposed her hand, and caused to glance Far from the car the strong immortal lance. Then threw the force of Tydeus’ warlike son; The javelin hiss’d; the goddess urged it on: Where the broad cincture girt his armour round, It pierced the god: his groin received the wound. From the rent skin the warrior tugs again The smoking steel. Mars bellows with the pain: Loud as the roar encountering armies yield, When shouting millions shake the thundering field. Both armies start, and trembling gaze around; And earth and heaven re-bellow to the sound. As vapours blown by Auster’s sultry breath, Pregnant with plagues, and shedding seeds of death, Beneath the rage of burning Sirius rise, Choke the parch’d earth, and blacken all the skies; In such a cloud the god from combat driven, High o’er the dusky whirlwind scales the heaven. Wild with his pain, he sought the bright abodes, There sullen sat beneath the sire of gods, Show’d the celestial blood, and with a groan Thus pour’d his plaints before the immortal throne:
“Can Jove, supine, flagitious facts survey, And brook the furies of this daring day? For mortal men celestial powers engage, And gods on gods exert eternal rage: From thee, O father! all these ills we bear, And thy fell daughter with the shield and spear; Thou gavest that fury to the realms of light, Pernicious, wild, regardless of the right. All heaven beside reveres thy sovereign sway, Thy voice we hear, and thy behests obey: ’Tis hers to offend, and even offending share Thy breast, thy counsels, thy distinguish’d care: So boundless she, and thou so partial grown, Well may we deem the wondrous birth thy own. Now frantic Diomed, at her command, Against the immortals lifts his raging hand: The heavenly Venus first his fury found, Me next encountering, me he dared to wound; Vanquish’d I fled; even I, the god of fight, From mortal madness scarce was saved by flight. Else hadst thou seen me sink on yonder plain, Heap’d round, and heaving under loads of slain! Or pierced with Grecian darts, for ages lie, Condemn’d to pain, though fated not to die.”
Him thus upbraiding, with a wrathful look The lord of thunders view’d, and stern bespoke: “To me, perfidious! this lamenting strain? Of lawless force shall lawless Mars complain? Of all the gods who tread the spangled skies, Thou most unjust, most odious in our eyes! Inhuman discord is thy dire delight, The waste of slaughter, and the rage of fight. No bounds, no law, thy fiery temper quells, And all thy mother in thy soul rebels. In vain our threats, in vain our power we use; She gives the example, and her son pursues. Yet long the inflicted pangs thou shall not mourn, Sprung since thou art from Jove, and heavenly-born. Else, singed with lightning, hadst thou hence been thrown, Where chain’d on burning rocks the Titans groan.”
Thus he who shakes Olympus with his nod; Then gave to Paeon’s care the bleeding god. With gentle hand the balm he pour’d around, And heal’d the immortal flesh, and closed the wound. As when the fig’s press’d juice, infused in cream, To curds coagulates the liquid stream, Sudden the fluids fix the parts combined; Such, and so soon, the ethereal texture join’d. Cleansed from the dust and gore, fair Hebe dress’d His mighty limbs in an immortal vest. Glorious he sat, in majesty restored, Fast by the throne of heaven’s superior lord. Juno and Pallas mount the bless’d abodes, Their task perform’d, and mix among the gods.