Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

In battle for their wives. I have destroyed
Twelve cities with my fleet; and twelve, save one
On foot contending, in the fields of Troy.
From all these cities precious spoil I took
Abundant, and to Agamemnon's hand
Gave all the treasure. He within his ships
Abode the while, and, having all received,
Little distributed, and much retained.
He gave, however, to the Kings and Chiefs
A portion, and they keep it. Me alone,
Of all the Grecian host, hath he despoiled!
My bride, my soul's delight, is in his hands!
Tell him my reply:

And tell it him aloud, that other Greeks
May indignation feel like me, if, armed
Always in impudence, he seek to wrong
Them also. Let him not henceforth presume-
Canine and hard in aspect though he be-
To look me in the face. I will not share
His counsels, neither will I aid his works.
Let it suffice him, that he wronged me once,
Deceived me once; - henceforth his glozing arts
Are lost on me! But, let him rot in peace,
Crazed as he is, and, by the stroke of Jove,
Infatuate! I detest his gifts!—and him
So honor as the thing which most I scorn!
And would he give me twenty times the worth
Of this his offer, — all the treasured heaps
Which he possesses, or shall yet possess,
All that Orchomenos within her walls,
And all that opulent Egyptian Thebes
Receives, the city with a hundred gates,
Whence twenty thousand chariots rush to war,
And would he give me riches as the sands,
And as the dust of earth, no gifts from him
Should soothe me, till my soul were first avenged
For all the offensive license of his tongue.
I will not wed the daughter of your Chief,
Of Agamemnon. Could she vie in charms
With golden Venus, had she all the skill
Of blue-eyed Pallas,-even so endowed,
She were no bride for me!


ye mine answer back.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]

7 HECTOR'S REBUKE TO POLYDAMAS.-Cowper's Homer. Abridged. POLYDAMAS to dauntless Hector spake:

Ofttimes in council, Hector, thou art wont

To censure me, although advising well;
Yet hear my best opinion once again:
Proceed we not in our attempt against
The Grecian fleet. The omens we have seen
All urge against it. When the eagle flew,
Clutching the spotted snake, then dropping it
Into the open space between the hosts,
Troy's host was on the left. Was this propitious?
No. Many a Trojan shall we leave behind,
Slain by the Grecians in their fleet's defence.
An augur skilled in omens would expound
This omen thus, and faith would win from all.

To whom dark-louring Hector thus replied:
Polydamas! I like not thy advice;
Thou couldst have framed far better; but if this
Be thy deliberate judgment, then the Gods
Make thy deliberate judgment nothing worth,
Who bidd 'st me disregard the Thunderer's firm
Assurance to myself announced, and make
The wild inhabitants of air my guides,
Which I alike despise, speed they their course
With right-hand flight toward the ruddy East,
Or leftward down into the shades of eve!
Consider we the will of Jove alone,
Sovereign of Heaven and Earth. Omens abound;
But the best omen is our country's cause.*
Wherefore should fiery war thy soul alarm?
For were we slaughtered, one and all, around
The fleet of Greece, thou need'st not fear to die,
Whose courage never will thy flight retard.
But if thou shrink thyself, or by smooth speech
Seduce one other from a soldier's part,
Pierced by this spear incontinent thou diest!


So hung the war in balance,

Till Jove himself, superior fame, at length,
To Priameian Hector gave, who sprang

First through the wall. In lofty sounds that reached
Their utmost ranks, he called on all his host:

Now press them! now, ye Trojans, steed-renowned,
Rush on break through the Grecian rampart! hurl
At once devouring flames into the fleet!

Such was his exhortation. They, his voice

The nobleness of this reply may have been paralleled, but not surpassed, by patriots of succeeding times.

All hearing, with close-ordered ranks, direct
Bore on the barrier, and up-swarming showed
On the high battlement their glittering spears.
But Hector seized a stone; of ample base,
But tapering to a point; before the gate
It stood. No two men, mightiest of a land
(Such men as now are mighty), could with ease
Have heaved it from the earth up to a wain;
He swung it easily alone, so light
The son of Saturn made it in his hand.
As in one hand with ease the shepherd bears
A ram's fleece home, nor toils beneath the weight
So Hector, right toward the planks of those
Majestic folding-gates, close-jointed, firm
And solid, bore the stone. Two bars within
Their corresponding force combined transverse
To guard them, and one bolt secured the bars.
He stood fast by them, parting wide his feet
For 'vantage sake, and smote them in the midst.
He burst both hinges; inward fell the rock
Ponderous, and the portals roared; the bars
Endured not, and the planks, riven by the force
Of that huge mass, flew scattered on all sides.
In leaped the godlike Hero at the breach,
Gloomy as night in aspect, but in arms
All-dazzling, and he grasped two quivering spears.
Him entering with a leap the gates, no force
Whate'er of opposition had repressed,
Save of the Gods alone. Fire filled his eyes;
Turning, he bade the multitude without
Ascend the rampart; they his voice obeyed;
Part climbed the wall, part poured into the gate;
The Grecians to their hollow galleys flew,
Scattered; and tumult infinite arose.

9. HECTOR SLAIN BY ACHILLES.-Cowper's Homer. BRIGHT as among stars the star of all, Most radiant Hesperus, at midnight moves, So in the right hand of Achilles beamed His brandished spear, while, meditating woe To Hector, he explored his noble form, Seeking where he was vulnerable most. But every part, his dazzling armor, torn From brave Patroclus' body, well secured, Save where the circling key-bone from the neck Disjoins the shoulder; there his throat appeared,

Whence injured life with swiftest flight escapes.
Achilles, plunging in that part his spear,
Impelled it through the yielding flesh beyond.
The ashen beam his power of utterance left
Still unimpaired, but in the dust he fell,
And the exulting conqueror exclaimed:

But Hector! thou had'st once far other hopes, And, stripping slain Patroclus, thought'st thee safe, Nor cared'st for absent me. Fond dream and vain! I was not distant far. In yonder fleet He left one able to avenge his death,

And he hath slain thee. Thee the dogs shall rend Dishonorably, and the fowls of air, —


But all Achaia's host shall him entomb!

[ocr errors]

To whom the Trojan Chief languid replied: By thy own life-by theirs who gave thee birthAnd by thy knees - O! let not Grecian dogs Rend and devour me; but in gold accept And brass a ransom at my father's hands, And at my mother's an illustrious price. Send home my body!-grant me burial rites Among the daughters and the sons of Troy!

To whom, with aspect stern, Achilles thus: Dog! neither knees nor parents name to me! I would my fierceness of revenge were such That I could carve and eat thee, to whose arms Such griefs I owe; so true it is and sure That none shall save thy carcass from the dogs! No, trust me, would thy parents bring me, weighed, Ten twenty ransoms, and engage, on oath, To add still more; - would thy Dardanian Sire, Priam, redeem thee with thy weight in gold,Not even at that price would I consent That she who bare should place thee on thy bier, With lamentation! Dogs and ravening fowls Shall rend thy body, while a shred remains!


Then, dying, warlike Hector thus replied: Full well I knew before how suit of mine Should speed, preferred to thee. Thy heart is steel. But, O! while yet thou liv'st, think, lest the Gods Requite thee on that day, when, pierced thyself, By Paris and Apollo, thou shalt fall, Brave as thou art, before the Scæan gate!

He ceased; and death involved him dark around. His spirit, from his limbs dismissed, the house Of Adés sought, mourning, in her descent, Youth's prime and vigor lost,— disastrous doom!

[ocr errors]

But him, though dead, Achilles thus bespake:
Die thou! My death shall find me at what hour
Jove gives commandment, and the Gods above.

[ocr errors]

TELEMACHUS TO THE ALLIED CHIEFS.-Fenelon. Born, 1651; died, 1715.
Original Abridgment.

FELLOW-SOLDIERS and confederated chiefs! I grant you, if ever man deserved to have the weapon of stratagem and deceit turned against him, it is he who has used it himself so often, -- the faithless Adrastus! But shall it be said that we, who have united to punish the perfidy of this man, that we are ourselves perfidious? Shall fraud be counteracted by fraud? If we can adopt the practices of Adrastus without guilt, Adrastus himself is innocent, and our present attempt to punish him is unwarrantable. You have sworn, by all that is most sacred, to leave Venusium a deposit in the hands of the Lucanians. The Lucanian garrison, you say, is corrupted by Adrastus. I do not doubt it. But this garrison is still Lucanian. It receives the pay of the Lucanians, and has not yet refused to obey them. It has preserved, at least, an appearance of neutrality. Neither Adrastus nor his people have yet entered it. The treaty is still subsisting; and the Gods have not forgotten your oath.

Is a promise never to be kept but when a plausible pretence to break it is wanting? Shall an oath be sacred only when nothing is to be gained by its violation? If you are insensible to the love of virtue, and the fear of the Gods, have you no regard to your interest and reputation? If, to terminate a war, you violate your oath, how many wars will this impious conduct excite? Who will hereafter trust you? What security can you ever give for your good faith? A solemn treaty ?—You have trampled one under foot! An oath? -You have committed perjury when perjury was profitable, and have defied the Gods! In peace, you will be regarded as treacherously preparing for war. Every affair, based on Every affair, based on a confidence in your probity, will become impracticable. Your promises will not be believed. Nay, the very league which now constitutes your strength will lose its cohesive principle. Your perjury will be the triumph of Adrastus! He will not need to attack you himself. Your own dissensions, your own mistrusts, your own duplicity, will be your ruin.

Ye mighty chiefs, renowned for magnanimity and wisdom, experienced and brave, governing uncounted thousands, — despise not the counsel of a youth! To whatever extremity war may reduce you, let your resources be diligence and virtue. True fortitude can never despair. But, if you once pass the barrier of honor and integrity, the ruin of your cause is irreparable. You can neither reëstablish that confidence without which no affair of importance can succeed, nor can you bring men back to the reverence of that virtue which you have taught them to despise. What have you to fear? Is not your courage equal to victory, without the aid of fraud? Your own power,

« AnteriorContinuar »