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And echoing roars rebellow through the shades.
Stern Hector fastens on the warrior's head,
And by the foot Patroclus drags the dead :
While all around, confusion, rage, and fright,
Mix the contending hosts in mortal fight.
So pent by hills, the wild winds roar aloud
In the deep bosom of some gloomy wood;
Leaves, arms, and trees, aloft in air are blown,
The broad oaks crackle, and the Sylvans groan;
This way and that, the rattling thicket bends,
And the whole forest in one crash descends.
Not with less noise, with less tumultuous rage,
In dreadful shock the mingled hosts engage ;
Darts shower'd on darts, now round the carcase ring;
Now flights of arrows bounding from the string :
Stones follow stones; some clatter on the fields,
Some hard, and heavy, shake the sounding shields.
But where the rising whirlwind clouds the plains,
Sunk in soft dust the mighty chief remains,
And, stretch'd in death, forgets the guiding reins !
Now flaming from the zenith, Sol had driven
His fervid orb through half the vault of heaven ;
While on each host with equal tempests fell
The showering darts, and numbers sank to hell
But when his evening wheels o’erhung the main,
Glad conquest rested on the Grecian train.
Then from amidst the tumult and alarms,
They draw the conquer'd corse and radiant arms.
Then rash Patroclus with new fury glows,
And breathing slaughter, pours amid the foes.
Thrice on the press like Mars himself he flew,
And thrice three heroes at each onset slew.
There ends thy glory! there the Fates untwine
The last, black remnant of so bright a line :
Apollo dreadful stops thy middle way;
Death calls, and heaven allows no longer day!
For lo! the god in dusky clouds enshrined,
Approaching dealt a staggering blow behind.
The weighty shock his neck and shoulders feel;
His eyes flash sparkles, his stunn’d senses reel
In giddy darkness : far to distance fung,
His bounding helmet on the champaign rung.
Achilles' plume is stain'd with dust and gore;
That plume which never stoop'd to earth before;
Long used, untouch'd, in fighting fields to shine,
And shade the temples of the mad divine.
Jove dooms it now on Hector's helm to nod;
Not long-for fate pursues him, and the god.
His spear in shivers falls; his ample shield Drops from his arm: his baldric strows the field : The corslet his astonish'd breast forsakes : Loose is each joint; each nerve with horror shakes; Stupid he stares, and all-assistless stands : Such is the force of more than mortal hands!
A Dardan youth there was, well known to fame,
From Panthus sprung, Euphorbus was his name
Famed for the manage of the foaming horse,
Skill'd in the dart, and matchless in the course :
Full twenty knights he tumbled from the car,
While yet he learn'd his rudiments of war.
His venturous spear first drew the hero's gore;
He struck, he wounded, but he durst no more.
Nor, though disarm’d, Patroclus' fury stood :
But swift withdrew the long-protended wood,
And turn'd him short, and herded in the crowd.
Thus, by an arm divine, and mortal spear,
Wounded, at once, Patroclus yields to fear,
Retires for succor to his social train,
And flies the fate, which heaven decreed, in vain.
Stern Hector, as the bleeding chief he views,
Breaks through the ranks, and his retreat pursues;
The lance arrests him with a mortal wound;
He falls, earth thunders, and his arms resound.
With him all Greece was sunk; that moment all
Her yet-surviving heroes seem'd to fall.
So, scorch'd with heat, along the desert score,
The roaming lion meets a bristly boar,
Fast by the spring ; they both dispute the flood,
With faming eyes, and jaws besmear'd with blood;
At length the sovereign savage wins the strife ;
And the torn boar resigns his thirst and life.
Patroclus thus, so many chiefs o'erthrown,
So many lives effused, expires his own.
As dying now at Hector's feet he lies,
He sternly views him, and triumphant cries:
“ Lie there, Patroclus ! and with thee, the joy
Thy pride once promised, of subverting Troy;
The fancied scenes of Ilion wrapt in flames,
And thy soft pleasures served with captive dames.
Unthinking man! I fought those towers to free,
And guard that beauteous race from lords like thee:
But thou a prey to vultures shalt be made;
Thy own Achilles cannot lend thee aid;
Though much at parting that great chief might say,
And much enjoin thee, this important day.
Return not, my brave friend (perhaps he said),
Without the bloody arms of Hector dead.'
He spoke, Patroclus march’d, and thus he sped.”
Supine, and wildly gazing on the skies,
With faint, expiring breath, the chief replies :
“ Vain boaster ! cease, and know the powers divine !
Jove's and Apollo's is this deed, not thine ;
To heaven is owed whate'er your own you call,
And heaven itself disarm’d me ere my fall.
Had twenty mortals, each thy match in might,
Opposed me fairly, they had sunk in fight:
By fate and Phoebus was I first o’erthrown,
Euphorbus next : the third mean part thy own.
But thou, imperious ! hear my latest breath;
The gods inspire it, and it sounds thy death:
Insulting man, thou shalt be soon as I ;
Black fate o’erhangs thee, and thy hour draws nigh;
Even now on life's last verge I see thee stand,
I see thee fall, and by Achilles' hand."
He faints: the soul unwilling wings her way
(The beauteous body left a load of clay),
Flits to the lone, uncomfortable coast;
A naked, wandering, melancholy ghost !
Then Hector pausing, as his eyes he fed
On the pale carcase, thus address’d the dead:
“From whence this boding speech, the stern decree
Of death denounced, or why denounced to me?
Why not as well Achilles' fate be given
To Hector's lance? Who knows the will of heaven?”
Pens:ve he said ; then pressing as he lay
His breathless bosom, tore the lance away ;
And upwards cast the corse : the reeking spear
He shakes, and charges the bold charioteer.
But swift Automedon with loosen'd reins
Rapt in the chariot o'er the distant plains,
Far from his rage the immortal coursers drove;
The immortal coursers were the gift of Jove.
THE SEVENTH BATTLE, FOR THE BODY OF PATROCLUS.-THE ACTS OF MENELAUS.
Menelaus, upon the death of Patroclus, defends his body from the enemy: Euphor
bus, who attempts it, is slain. Hector advancing, Menelaus retires; but soon returns with Ajax and drives him off. This, Glaucus objects to Hector as a flight, who thereupon puts on the armor he had won from Patroclus, and renews the battle. The Greeks give way, till Ajax rallies them : Æneas sustains the Trojans. Æneas and Hector attempt the chariot Achilles, which is off by Autoinedon. The horses of Achilles deplore the loss of Patroclus : Jupiter covers his body with a thick darkness: the noble prayer of Ajax on that occasion. Menelaus sends Antilochus to Achilles, with the news of Patroclus' death : then returns to the fight, where, though attacked with the utmost fury, he and Meriones, assisted by the Ajaces, bear off the body to the ships.
The time is the evening of the eight-and-twentieth day. The scene kes in the fields before Troy.
On the cold earth divine Patroclus spread,
Lies pierced with wounds among the vulgar dead.
Great Menelaus, touch'd with generous woe,
Springs to the front, and guards him from the foe.
Thus round her new-fallen young the heifer moves,
Fruit of her throes, and first-born of her loves;
And anxious (helpless as he lies, and bare)
Turns, and re-turns her, with a mother's care,
Opposed to each that near the carcase came,
His broad shield glimmers, and his lances flame.
The son of Panthus, skill'd the dart to send,
Eyes the dead hero, and insults the friend.
“ This hand, Atrides, laid Patroclus low;
Warrior! desist, nor tempt an equal blow:
To me the spoils my prowess won, resign:
Depart with life, and leave the glory mine."
The Trojan thus: the Spartan monarch burn'd
With generous anguish, and in scorn return’dl:
“Laugh'st thou not, Jove! from thy superior throne
When inortals boast of prowess not their own?
Not thus the lion glories in his might,
Nor panther braves his spotted foe in fight,
Nor thus the boar (those terrors of the plain);
Man only vaunts his force, and vaunts in vain.
But far the vainest of the boastful kind,
These sons of Panthus vent their haughty mind.
Yet 'twas but late, beneath my conquering steel
This boaster's brother, Hyperenor, fell;
Against our arm which rashly he defied,
Vain was his vigor, and as vain his pride.
These eyes beheld him on the dust expire,
No more to cheer his spouse, or glad his sire.
Presumptuous youth ! like his shall be thy doom
Go, wait thy brother to the Stygian gloom;
Or, whilst thou may'st, avoid the threaten'd fate;
Fools stay to feel it, and are wise too late.”
Unmoved, Euphorbus thus: “ That action known,
Come, for my brother's blood repay thy own.
His weeping father claims thy destined head,
And spouse, a widow in her bridal bed.
On these thy conquer'd spoils I shall bestow,
To soothe a consort's and a parent's woe.
No longer then defer the glorious strife,
Let heaven decide our fortune, fame, and life.”
Swist as the word the missile lance he fings;
The well-aim'd weapon on the buckler rings,
But blunted by the brass, innoxious falls.
On Jove the father great Atrides calls,
Nor flies the javelin
from his arm in vain,
It pierced his throat, and bent him to the plain;
Wide through the neck appears the grisly wound,
Prone sinks the warrior, and his arms resound.
The shining circlets of his golden hair,
Which even the graces might be proud to wear,
Instarr'd with gems and gold, bestrow the shore,
With dust dishonor'd, and deform'd with gore.
As the young olive, in some sylvan scene,
Crown'd by fresh fountains with eternal green,
Lifts the gay head, in snowy flowerets fair,
And plays and dances to the gentle air ;
When lo! a whirlwind from high heaven invades
The tender plant, and withers all its shades;
It lies uprooted from its genial bed,
A lovely ruin now defaced and dead :
Thus young, thus beautiful, Euphorbus lay,
While the fierce Spartan tore his arms away.
Proud of his deed, and glorious in the prize,
Affrighted Troy the towering victor fies:
Flies, as before some mountain lion's ire
The village curs and trembling swains retire,
When o’er the slaughter'd bull they hear him roar,