Imagens da página
PDF
ePub

Flames from his chariot, and restores the day.
High o'er the host, all terrible he stands,
And thunders to his steeds these dread commands:

“Xanthus and Balius ! of Podarges' strain (Unless ye boast that heavenly race in vain), Be swift, be mindful of the load ye bear, And learn to make your master more your care : Through falling squadrons bear my slaughtering sword, Nor, as ye left Patroclus, leave your lord.”

The generous Xanthus, as the words he said,
Seem'd sensible of woe, and droop'd his head:
Trembling he stood before the golden wain,
And bow'd to dust the honors of his mane.
When, strange to tell ! (so Juno will'd) he broke
Eternal silence, and portentous spoke.
“Achilles ! yes ! this day at least we bear
Thy rage in safety through the files of war :
But come it will, the fatal time must come,
Not ours the fault, but God decrees thy doom.
Not through our crime, or slowness in the course,
Fell thy Patroclus, but by heavenly force;
The bright far-shooting god who gilds the day
(Confess'd we saw him) tore his arms away.
No—could our swiftness o’er the winds prevail,
Or beat the pinions of the western gale,
All were in vain—the Fates thy death demand,
Due to a mortal and immortal hand.”

Then ceased forever, by the Furies tied,
His fateful voice. The intrepid chief replied
With unabated rage—“So let it be !
Portents and prodigies are lost on me.
I know my fate : to die, to see no more
My much-loved parents, and my native shore-
Enough—when heaven ordains, I sink in night:
Now perish Troy!” He said, and rush'd to fight.

BOOK XX.

ARGUMENT.

THE BATTLE OF THE GODS, AND THE ACTS OF ACHILLES.

Jupiter, upon Achilles' return to the battle, calls a council of the gods, and permits

them to assist either party. The terrors of the combat described, when the deities are engaged. Apollo encourages Æneas to meet Achilles. After a long conversasation, these two heroes encounter ; but Æneas is preserved by the assistance of Neptune. Achilles falls upon the rest of the Trojans, and is upon the point of killing Hector, but Apollo conveys him away in a cloud. Achilles pursues the Trojans with a great slaughter.

The same day continues. The scene is the field before Troy:

Thus round Pelides breathing war and blood,
Greece, sheathed in arms, beside her vessels stood;
While near impending from a neighboring height,
Troy's black battalions wait the shock of fight.
Then Jove to Themis gives command, to call
The gods to council in the starry hall :
Swift o'er Olympus' hundred hills she flies,
And summons all the senate of the skies.
These shining on, in long procession come
To Jove's eternal adamantine dome.
Not one was absent, not a rural power
That haunts the verdant gloom, or rosy bower
Each fair-hair'd dryad of the shady wood,
Each azure sister of the silver flood;
All but old Ocean, hoary sire! who keeps
His ancient seat beneath the sacred deeps.
On marble thrones, with lucid columns crown'd
(The work of Vulcan), sat the powers around.
Even he whose trident sways the watery reign
Heard the loud summons, and forsook the main,
Assumed his throne amid the bright abodes,
And question’d thus the sire of men and gods :

“What moves the god who heaven and earth commands.
And grasps the thunder in his awful hands,
Thus to convene the whole ethereal state ?
Is Greece and Troy the subject in debate ?
Already met, the louring hosts appear,
And death stands ardent on the edge of war."

“'Tis true (the cloud-compelling power replies)
This day we call the council of the skies
In care of human race ; even Jove's own eye
Sees with regret unhappy mortals die.
Far on Olympus' top in secret state
Ourself will sit, and see the hand of fate
Work out our will. Celestial powers ! descend,
And as your minds direct, your succor lend
To either host. Troy soon must lie o’erthrown,
If uncontroll'd Achilles fights alone :
Their troops but lately durst not meet his eyes;
What can they now, if in his rage he rise ?
Assist them, gods ! or Ilion's sacred wall
May fall this day, though fate forbids the fall."

He said, and fired their heavenly breasts with rage.
On adverse parts the warring gods engage :
Heaven's awful queen; and he whose azure round
Girds the vast globe ; the maid in arms renown’d;
Hermes, of profitable arts the sire;
And Vulcan, the black sovereign of the fire :
These to the feet repair with instant 'flight;
The vessels tremble as the gods alight.
In aid of Troy, Latona, Phoebus came,
Mars fiery-helm'd, the laughter-loving dame,
Xanthus, whose streams in golden currents flow,
And the chaste huntress of the silver bow.
Ere yet the gods their various aid employ,
Each Argive bosom swell’d with manly joy,
While great Achilles (terror of the plain),
Long lost to battle, shone in arms again.
Dreadful he stood in front of all his host;
Pale Troy beheld, and seem'd already lost;
Her bravest heroes pant with inward fear,
And trembling see another god of war.

But when the powers descending swell’d the fight,
Then tumult rose: fierce rage and pale affright
Varied each face : then Discord sounds alarms,
Earth echoes, and the nations rush to arms.
Now through the trembling shores Minerva calls,
And now she thunders from the Grecian walls.
Mars hovering o’er his Troy, his terror shrouds
In gloomy tempests, and a night of clouds :
Now through each Trojan heart he fury pours
With voice divine, from Ilion's topmost towers:
Now shouts to Simoïs, from her beauteous hill ;
The mountain shook, the rapid stream stood still.
Above, the sire of gods his thunder rolls,

[ocr errors]

And peals on peals redoubled rend the poles
Beneath, stern Neptune shakes the solid ground;
The forests wave, the mountains nod around;
Through all their summits tremble Ida's woods,
And from their sources boil her hundred floods.
Troy's turrets totter on the rocking plain,
And the toss'd navies beat the heaving main.
Deep in the dismal regions of the dead,*
The infernal monarch rear'd his horrid head,
Leap'd from his throne, lest Neptune's arm should lay
His dark dominions open to the day,
And pour in light on Pluto's drear abodes,
Abhorr’d by men, and dreadful even to gods.f

Such war the immortals wage ; such horrors rend
The world's vast concave, when the gods contend.
First silver-shafted Phæbus took the plain
Against blue Neptune, monarch of the main.
The god of arms his giant bulk display'd,
Opposed to Pallas, war's triumphant maid.
Against Latona march'd the son of May.
The quiver'd Dian, sister of the day
(Her golden arrows sounding at her side),
Saturnia, majesty of heaven, defied.
With fiery Vulcan last in battle stands
The sacred flood that rolls on golden sands
Xanthus his name with those of heavenly birth,
But called Scamander by the sons of earth.

While thus the gods in various league engage,
Achilles glow'd with more than mortal rage :
Hector he sought ; in search of Hector turn'd
His eyes around, for Hector only burn'd ;
And burst like lightning through the ranks, and vow'd
To glut the god of battles with his blood.

Æneas was the first who dared to stay ;
Apollo wedged him in the warrior's way,
But swell'd his bosom with undaunted might,
Half-forced and half-persuaded to the fight.
Like young Lycaon, of the royal line,
In voice and aspect, seem’d the power divine ;

And bade the chief reflect, how late with scorn * “ Hell is naked before him, and destruction hath no covering: He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing. He bindeth up the waters in his thick clouds; and the cloud is not rent under them."- Job xxvi. 6–8. †

Swift from his throne the infernal monarch ran,
All pale and trembling, lest the race of man,
Slain by Jove's wrath, and led by Hermes' rod,
Should fill (a countless throng!) his dark abode."

Merrick's Trvphiodorus, vi. 769, sqq.

In distant threats he braved the goddess-born,

Then thus the hero of Anchises' strain :
“ To meet Pelides you persuade in vain :
Already have I met, nor void of fear
Observed the fury of his flying spear ;
From Ida's woods he chased us to the field,
Our force he scatter'd, and our herds he kill'd;
Lyrnessus, Pedasus in ashes lay;
But (Jove assisting) I survived the day :
Else had I sunk oppress’d in fatal fight
By fierce Achilles and Minerva's might.
Where'er he moved, the goddess shone before,
And bathed his brazen lance in hostile gore.
What mortal man Achilles can sustain ?
The immortals guard him through the dreadful plain,
And suffer not his dart to fall in vain.
Were God my aid, this arm should check his power,
Though strong in battle as a brazen tower."

To whom the son of Jove : “ That god implore,
And be what great Achilles was before.
From heavenly Venus thou deriv'st thy strain,
And he but from a sister of the main ;
An aged sea.god father of his line ;
But Jove himself the sacred source of thine.
Then lift thy weapon for a noble blow,
Nor fear the vaunting of a mortal foe.”

This said, and spirit breathed into his breast;
Through the thick troops the embolden'd hero press'd :
His venturous act the white-arm’d queen surveyd,
And thus, assembling all the powers, she said :

“ Behold an action, gods! that claims your care,
Lo great Æneas rushing to the war !
Against Pelides he directs his course,
Phoebus impels, and Phoebus gives him force.
Restrain his bold career; at least, to attend
Our favor'd hero, let some power descend.
To guard his life, and add to his renown,
We, the great armament of heaven, came down.
Hereafter Ict him fall, as Fates design,
That spun so short his life's illustrious line : *
But lest some adverse god now cross his way,
Give him to know what powers assist this day:
For how shall mortal stand the dire alarms,

When heaven's refulgent host appear in arms ?” † * These words seem to imply the old belief, that the Fates might be delayed, but | It was anciently believed that it was dangerous, if not fatal, to behold a deity, Exod. xxxiii. 20 ; Judg. xiii. 22.

never wholly set aside.

CAA

« AnteriorContinuar »