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The same which dead Protesilaus bore,*
The first that touch'd the unhappy Trojan shore :
For this in arms the warring nations stood,
And bathed their generous breasts with mutual blood.
No room to poise the lance or bend the bow ;
But hand to hand, and man to man, they grow :
Wounded, they wound ; and seek each other's hearts
With falchions, axes, swords, and shorten’d dart
The falchions ring, shields rattle, axes sound,
Swords Aash in air, or glitter on the ground ;
With streaming blood the slippery shores are dyed,
And slaughter'd heroes swell the dreadful ride.
Still raging, Hector with his ample hand
Grasps the high stern, and gives this loud command :
Haste, bring the flames ! that toil of teu long years
Is finished ; and the day desired appears !
This happy day with acclamations greet,
Bright with destruction of yon hostile fleet.
The coward-counsels of a timorous throng
Of reverend dotards check'd our glory long :
Too long Jove lull'd us with lethargic charms,
But now in peals of thunder calls to arms :
In this great day he crowns our full desires,
Wakes all our force, and seconds all our fires.”
He spoke—the warriors at his fierce command
Pour a new deluge on the Grecian band.
Even Ajax paused (so thick the javelins fly)
Stepp'd back, and doubted or to live or die.
Yet, where the oars are placed, he stands to wait
What chief approaching dares attempt his fate :
Even to the last his naval charge defends,
Now shakes his spear, now lifts, and now protends
Even yet, the Greeks with piercing shouts inspire
Amidst attack, and death, and darts, and fires.
"O friends! O heroes! names forever dear,
Once sons of Mars, and thunderbolts of war !
Ah! yet be mindful of your old renown,
Your great forefathers virtues and your own.
What aids expect you in this utmost strait ?
What bulwarks rising between you and fate ?
No aids, no bulwarks your retreat attend,
No friends to help, no city to defend.
This spot is all you have, to lose or keep;
There stand the Trojans, and here rolls the deep. 'Tis hostile ground you tread; your native lands Far, far from hence : your fates are in your hands.”
Raging he spoke ; nor further wastes his breath, But turns his javelin to the work of death. Whate'er bold Trojan arm'd his daring hands, Against the sable ships, with flaming brands, So well the chief his naval weapon sped, The luckless warrior at his stern lay dead : Full twelve, the boldest, in a moment fell, Sent by great Ajax to the shades of hell.
THE SIXTH BATTLE; THE ACTS AND DEATH OF PATROCLUS.
Patroclus (in pursuance of the request of Nestor in the eleventh book) entreats
Achilles to suffer him to go to the assistance of the Greeks with Achilles' troops and armor. He agrees to it, but at the same time charges him to content himself with rescuing the fleet, without further pursuit of the enemy. The armor, horses, soldiers, and officers are described. Achilles offers a libation for the success of his friend, after whichi Patroclus leads the Myrmidons to battle. The Trojans, at the sight of Patroclus in Achilles' armor, taking him for that hero, are cast into the uttermost consternation; he beats them off from the vessels, Hector himself flies, Sarpedon is killed, though Jupiter was averse to his faté. Several other particulars of the battle are described : in the heat of which, Patroclus, neglecting the orders of Achilles, pursues the foe to the walls of Troy: where Apollo repulses and disarms lim, Euphorbus wounds him, and Hector kills him: which concludes the book.
So warr'd both armies on the ensanguined shore,
While the black vessels smoked with human gore.
Meantime Patroclus to Achilles flies;
The streaming tears fall copious from his eyes
Not faster, trickling to the plains below,
From the tall rock the sable waters flow.
Divine Pelides, with compassion moved,
Thus spoke, indulgent, to his best beloved : *
* His best beloved. The following elegant remarks of Thirlwall (Greece, vol. i. 176, seq.) well illustrate the character of the friendship subsisting between the two heroes
"One of the noblest and most amiable sides of the Greek character, is the readiness with which it lent itself to construct intimate and durable friendships; and this is a feature no less prominent in the carliest, than in later times. It was indeed con. nected with the comparatively iow estimation in which female society was held: but the devotedness and constancy with which these attachments were maintained, was not the less admirable and engaging. The heroic companions whom we find cel. ebrated, partly by Homer and partly in traditions, which, if not of equal antiquity, were grounded on the same feeling, seem to have but one heart and soul, with scarcely a wish or object apart, and only to live, as they are always ready to die, for one another. It is true that the relation between them is not always one of perfect equality; but this is a circumstance which, while it often adds a peculiar charm to the poetical description, detracts little from the dignity of the idea which it presents. Such were the friendships of Hercules and Iolaus, of Theseus and Pirithous, of Orestes and Pylades: and though these may owe the greater part of their fame to the later epic, or even dramatic poetry, the moral groundwork undoubtedly subsisted in the period to which the traditions are referred. The argument of the Iliad mainly turns on the affection of Achilles for Patroclus, whose love for the greater hero is oily tempered by reverence for his higher birth and his unequalled powers. But the mutual regard which unitec Idomeneus and Meriones, Diomedes and Sthenelus, though, as the
“ Patroclus, say, what grief thy bosom bears,
That flows so fast in these unmanly tears?
No girl, no infant whom the mother keeps
From her loved breast, with fonder passion weeps;
Not more the mother's soul, that infant warms,
Clung to her knees, and reaching at her arms,
Than thou hast mine! Oh tell me, to what end
Thy melting sorrows thus pursue thy friend ?
• Griev'st thou for me, or for my
martial band ?
Or come sad tidings from our native land ?
Our fathers live (our first, most tender care),
Thy good Menætius breathes the vital air,
And hoary Peleus yet extends his days ;
Pleased in their age to hear their children's praise.
Or may some meaner cause thy pity claim ?
Perhaps some relics of the Grecian name,
Doom'd in their ships to sink by fire and sword,
And pay the forfeit of their haughty lord ?
Whate'er their cause, reveal thy secret care,
And speak those sorrows which a friend would share.”
A sigh that instant from his bosom broke,
Another follow'd, and Patroclus spoke :
“ Let Greece at length with pity touch thy breast, .
Thyself a Greek; and, once, of Greeks the best!
Lo! every chief that might her fate prevent,
Lies pierced with wounds, and bleeding in his tent:
Eurypylus, Tydides, Atreus' son,
And wise Ulysses, at the navy groan,
More for their country's wounds than for their own
Their pain soft arts of pharmacy can ease,
Thy breast alone no lenitives appease.
May never rage like thine my soul enslave,
O great in vain! unprofitably brave !
Thy country slighted in her last distress,
What friend, what man, from thee shall hope redress?
No-men unborn, and ages yet behind,
Shall curse that fierce, that unforgiving mind.
“O man unpitying! if of man thy race ;
But sure thou spring'st not from a soft embrace,
Nor ever amorous hero caused thy birth,
Nor ever tender goddess brought thee forth:
Some rugged rock's hard entrails gave thee form,
And raging seas produced thee in a storm,
A soul well suiting that tempestuous kind,
So rough thy manners, so untamed thy mind.
“If some dire oracle thy breast alarm,
If aught from Jove, or Thetis, stop thy arm,
Some beam of comfort yet on Greece may shine,
If I but lead the Myrmidonian line :
Clad in thy dreadful arms if I appear,
Proud Troy shall tremble, and desert the war;
Without thy person Greece shall win the day,
And thy mere image chase her foes away.
Press'd by fresh forces, her o’erlabor'd train
Shall quit the ships, and Greece respire again.”
Thus, blind to fate! with supplicating breath,
Thou begg'st his arms, and in his arms thy ceath
Unfortunately good! a boding sigh
Thy friend return’d; and with it, this reply ·
“ Patroclus ! thy Achilles knows no fears;
Nor words from Jove nor oracles he hears ;
Nor aught a mother's caution can suggest;
The tyrant's pride lies rooted in my breast.
My wrongs, my wrongs, my constant thought engage,
Those, my sole oracles, inspire my rage :
I made him tyrant: gave him power to wrong
I felt it; and shall feel it long.
The maid, my black-eyed maid, he forced away,
Due to the toils of many a well-fought day;
Due to my conquest of her father's reign;
Due to the votes of all the Grecian train.
From me he forced her; me, the bold and brave,
Disgraced, dishonor’d, like the meanest slave.
But bear we this—the wrongs I grieve are past;
'Tis time our fury should relent at last :
I fix'd its date; the day I wish'd appears :
How Hector to my ships his battle bears,
The flames my eyes, the shouts invade my ears.
Go then, Patroclus ! court fair honor's charms
In Troy's famed fields, and in Achilles' arms:
Lead forth my martial Myrmidons to fight,
Go save the feets, and conquer in my right.
See the thin relics of their baffled band
At the last edge of yon deserted land !
Behold all Ilion on their ships descends;
How the cloud blackens, how the storm impends
It was not thus, when, at my sight amazed,
Troy saw and trembled, as this
helmet blazed: Had not the injurious king our friendship lost, Yon ample trench had buried half her host.