As when the winds, ascending by degrees


As when the winds, ascending by degrees,
First move the whitening surface of the seas,
The billows float in order to the shore,
The wave behind rolls on the wave before;
Till, with the growing storm, the deeps arise,
Foam o'er the rocks, and thunder to the skies.
So to the fight the thick Battalions throng,
Shields urg'd on shields, and men drove men along.
Sedate and silent move the num'rous bands;
No sound, no whisper, but the Chief's commands,
Those only heard; with awe the rest obey,
As if some God had snatch'd their voice away.
Not so the Trojans, from their host ascends
A gen'ral shout that all the region rends.
As when the fleecy flocks unnumber'd stand
In wealthy folds, and wait the milker's hand,
The hollow vales incessant bleating fills,
The lambs reply from all the neighb'ring hills:
Such clamours rose from various nations round,
Mix'd was the murmur, and confus'd the sound.
Each Host now joins, and each a God inspires,
These Mars incites, and those Minerva fires.
Pale Flight around, and dreadful Terror reign;
And Discord raging bathes the purple plain:
Discord! dire sister of the slaught'ring pow'r,
Small at her birth, but rising ev'ry hour,
While scarce the skies her horrid head can bound,
She stalks on earth, and shakes the world around;
The nations bleed, where-e'er her steps she turns,
The groan still deepens, and the combate burns.
      Now shield with shield, with helmet helmet clos'd,
To armour armour, lance to lance oppos'd,
Host against host with shadowy squadrons drew,
The sounding darts in iron tempests flew,
Victors and vanquish'd join promiscuous cries,
And shrilling shouts and dying groans arise;
With streaming blood the slipp'ry fields are dy'd,
And slaughter'd heroes swell the dreadful tide.
      As torrents roll, increas'd by num'rous rills,
With rage impetuous down their echoing hills;
Rush to the vales, and pour'd along the plain,
Roar thro' a thousand chanels to the main;
The distant shepherd trembling hears the sound:
So mix both hosts, and so their cries rebound.
      The bold Antilochus the slaughter led,
The first who strook a valiant Trojan dead:
At great Echepolus the lance arrives,
Raz'd his high crest, and thro' his helmet drives;
Warm'd in the brain the brazen weapon lies,
And shades eternal settle o'er his eyes.
So sinks a tow'r, that long assaults had stood
Of force and fire; its walls besmear'd with blood.
Him, the bold Leader of th' Abantian throng
Seiz'd to despoil, and dragged the corps along:
But while he strove to tug th' inserted dart,
Agenor's jav'lin reach'd the hero's heart.
His flank, unguarded by his ample shield,
Admits the lance: He falls, and spurns the field;
The nerves unbrac'd support his limbs no more;
The soul comes floating in a tide of gore.
Trojans and Greeks now gather round the slain;
The war renews, the warriours bleed again;
As o'er their prey rapacious wolves engage,
Man dies on man, and all is blood and rage.


                                     –The Iliad, IV, 478-542
                         Greek; trans. Alexander Pope


Homer, Greek,trans. Alexander Pope, The Iliad, Penguin Books, 1996.