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But Meges, Phyleus' ample breastplate wore,
(Well-known in fight on Selle's winding shore;
For king Euphetes gave the golden mail
Compact, and firm with many a jointed scale)
Which oft, in cities storm'd, and battles won,
Had saved the father, and now saves the son.
Full at the Trojan's head he urged his lance,
Where the high plumes above the helmet dance,
New ting'd with Tyrian dye : in dust below,
Shorn from the crest, the purple honors glow.
Meantime their fight the Spartan king survey'd,
And stood by Meges’ side a sudden aid.
Through Dolops shoulder urged his forceful dart,
Which held its passage through the panting heart,
And issued at his breast. With thundering sound
The warrior falls, extended on the ground.
In rush the conquering Greeks to spoil the slain :
But Hector's voice excites his kindred train ;
The hero most, from Hicetaon sprung,
Fierce Melanippus, gallant, brave, and young,
He (ere to Troy the Grecians cross'd the main)
Fed his large oxen on Percotè's plain ;
But when oppress’d, his country claim'd his care,
Return’d to Ilion, and excell'd in war;
For this, in Priam's court, he held his place,
Beloved no less than Priam's royal race.
Him Hector singled, as his troops he led,
And thus inflamed him, pointing to the dead.
'Lo, Melanippus ! lo, where Dolops lies;
And is it thus our royal kinsman dies ?
O’ermatch'd he falls; to two at once a prey,
And lo! they bear the bloody arms away!
Come on-a distant war no longer wage,
But hand to hand thy country's foes engage:
Till Greece at once, and all her glory end ;
Or Ilion from her towery height descend,
Heaved from the lowest stone; and bury all
In one sad sepulchre, one commor fall.'
Hector (this said) rush'd forward on the foes;
With equal ardor Melanippus glows:
Then Ajax thus—“O Greeks! respect your fame,
Respect yourselves, and learn an honest shame :
Let mutual reverence mutual warmth inspire,
And catch from breast to breast the noble fire.
On valor's side the odds of combat lie;
The brave live glorious, or lamented die;
The wretch that trembles in the field of fame,
Meets death, and worse than death, eternal shame."
His generous sense he not in vain imparts;
It sunk, and rooted in the Grecian hearts :
They join, they throng, they thicken at his call,
And flank the navy with a brazen wall ;
Shields touching shields, in order blaze above,
And stop the Trojans, though impell’d by Jove.
The fiery Spartan first, with loud applause,
Warms the bold son of Nestor in his cause.
“ Is there (he said) in arms a youth like you,
So strong to fight, so active to pursue ?
Why stand you distant, nor attempt a deed ?
Lift the bold lance, and make some Trojan bleed.”
He said ; and backward to the lines retired;
Forth rush'd the youth with martial fury fired,
Beyond the foremost ranks; his lance he threw,
And round the black battalions cast his view.
The troops of Troy recede with sudden fear,
While the swift javelin hiss'd along in air.
Advancing Melanippus met the dart
With his bold breast, and felt it in his heart:
Thundering he falls ; his falling arms resound,
And his broad buckler rings against the ground.
The victor leaps upon his prostrate prize :
Thus on a roe the well-breath'd beagle flies,
And rends his side, fresh-bleeding with the dart
The distant hunter sent into his heart.
Observing Hector to the rescue fiew;
Bold as he was, Antilochus withdrew.
So when a savage, ranging o'er the plain,
Has torn the shepherd's dog, or shepherd's swain,
While conscious of the deed, he glares around
And hears the gathering multitude resound,
Timely he flies the yet-untasted food,
And gains the friendly shelter of the wood:
So fears the youth ; all Troy with shouts pursue,
While stones and darts in mingled tempest few;
But enter'd in the Grecian ranks, he turns
His manly breast, and with new fury burns.
Now on the fleet the tides of Trojans drove,
Fierce to fulfil the stern decrees of Jove :
The sire of gods, confirming Thetis' prayer,
The Grecian ardor quench'd in deep despair ;
But lifts to glory Troy's prevailing bands,
Swells all their hearts, and strengthens all their hands.
On Ida's top the waits with longing eyes,
To view the navy blazing to the skies ;
Then, nor till then, the scale of war shall turn,
The Trojans fly, and conquer'd Ilion burn.
These fates revolved in his almighty mind,
He raises Hector to the work design'd,
Bids him with more than mortal fury glow,
And drives him, like a lightning, on the foe.
So Mars, when human crimes for vengeance call,
Shakes his huge javelin, and whole armies fall.
Not with more rage a conflagration rolls,
Wraps the vast mountains, and involves the poles.
He foams with wrath ; beneath his gloomy brow
Like fiery meteors his red eye-balls glow :
The radiant helmet on his temple burns,
Waves when he nods, and lightens as he turns :
For Jove his splendor round the chief had thrown,
And cast the blaze of both the hosts on one.
Unhappy glories ! for his fate was near,
Due to stern Pallas, and Pelides' spear :
Yet Jove deferr'd the death he was to pay,
And gave what fate allow'd, the honors of a day!
Now all on fire for fame, his breast, his eyes
Burn at each foe, and single every prize ;
Still at the closest ranks, the thickest fight,
He points his ardor, and exerts his might.
The Grecian phalanx, moveless as a tower,
On all sides batter'd, yet resists his power :
So some tall rock o'erhangs the hoary main, *
By winds assail'd, by billows beat in vain,
Unmoved it hears, above, the tempest blow,
And sees the watery mountains break below.
Girt in surrounding flames, he seems to fall
Like fire from Jove, and bursts upon them all :
Bursts as a wave that from the cloud impends,
And, swell’d with tempests, on the ship descends;
White are the decks with foam ; the winds aloud
Howl o'er the masts, and sing through every shroud :
Pale, trembling, tired, the sailors freeze with fears;
And instant death on every wave appears.
So pale the Greeks the eyes of Hector meet,
The chief so thunders, and so shakes the fleet.
As when a lion, rushing from his den,
Amidst the plain of some wide-water'd fen
* So some tall rock.
“ But like a rock unmov'd, a rock that braves
The raging tempest, and the rising waves.
Propp'd on himself he stands : his solid sides
Wash off the sea-weeds, and the sounding tides.".
Dryden's Virgil, vii. 809.
(Where numerous oxen, as at ease they feed,
At large expatiate o'er the ranker mead);
Leaps on the herds before the herdsman's eyes;
The trembling herdsman far to distance fies;
Some lordly bull (the rest dispersed and fled)
He singles out; arrests, and lays him dead.
Thus from the rage of Jove-like Hector flew
All Greece in heaps ; but one he seized, and slew :
Mycenian Periphes, a mighty name,
In wisdom great, in arms well known to fame ;
The minister of stern Eurystheus' ire
Against Alcides, Copreus was his sire :
The son redeem'd the honors of the race,
A son as generous as the sire was base ;
O’er all his country's youth conspicuous far
In every virtue, or of peace or war :
But doom'd to Hector's stronger force to yield !
Against the margin of his ample shield
He struck his hasty foot : his heels up-sprung ;
Supine he fell; his brazen helmet rung.
On the fallen chief the invading Trojan press'd
And plunged the pointed javelin in his breast.
His circling friends, who strove to guard too late
The unhappy hero, fed, or shared his fate.
Chased from the foremost line, the Grecian train
Now man the next, receding toward the main :
Wedged in one body at the tents they stand,
Wall'd round with sterns, a gloomy, desperate band.
Now manly shame forbids the inglorious flight ;
Now fear itself confines them to the fight :
Man courage breathes in man ; but Nestor most
(The sage preserver of the Grecian host)
Exhorts, adjures, to guard these utmost shores;
And by their parents, by themselves implores.
“ Oh friends ! be men : your generous breasts inflame
With mutual honor, and with mutual shame!
Think of your hopes, your fortunes; all the care
Your wives, your infants, and your parents share :
Think of each living father's reverend head;
Think of each ancestor with glory dead ;
Absent, by me they speak, by me they sue,
They ask their safety, and their fame, from you :
The gods their fates on this one action lay,
And all are lost, if you desert the day.”
He spoke, and round him breathed heroic fires;
Minerva seconds what the sage inspires.
The mist of darkness Jove around them threw
She clear’d, restoring all the war to view;
A sudden ray shot beaming o'er the plain
And show'd the shores, the navy, and the main
Hector they saw, and all who Ay, or fight,
The scene wide-opening to the blaze of light,
First of the field great Ajax strikes their eyes,
His port majestic, and his ample size :
A ponderous mace with studs of iron crown'd,
Full twenty cubits long, he swings around ;
Nor fights, like others, fix'd to certain stands,
But looks a moving tower above the bands ;
High on the decks with vast gigantic stride,
The godlike hero stalks from side to side.
So when a horseman from the watery mead
(Skill'd in the manage of the bounding steed)
Drives four fair coursers, practised to obey,
To some great city through the public way ;
Safe in his art, as side by side they run,
He shifts his seat, and vaults from one to one ;
And now to this, and now to that he flies ;
Admiring numbers follow with their eyes.
From ship to ship thus Ajax swiftly flew,
No less the wonder of the warring crew.
As furious, Hector thunder'd threats aloud,
And rush'd enraged before the Trojan crowd ;
Then swift invades the ships, whose beaky prores
Lay rank'd contiguous on the bending shores ;
So the strong eagle from his airy height,
Who marks the swans' or cranes' embodied fight,
Stoops down impetuous, while they light for food,
And, stooping, darkens with his wings the flood.
Jove leads him on with his almighty liand,
And breathes fierce spirits in his following band.
The warring nations meet, the battle roars,
Thick beats the combat on the sounding prores:
Thou wouldst have thought, so furious was their fire,
No force could tame them, and no toil could tire ;
As if new vigor from new fights they won,
And the long battle was but then begun.
Greece, yet unconquer'd, kept alive the war,
Secure of death, confiding in despair :
Troy in proud hopes already view'd the main
Bright with the blaze, and red with heroes slain :
Like strength is felt from hope, and from despair,
And each contends, as his were all the war.
'Twas thou, bold Hector! whose resistless hand First seized a ship on that contested strand :