Automedon and Alcimus prepare


      Automedon and Alcimus prepare
Th' immortal coursers, and the radiant car,
(The silver traces sweeping at their side)
Their fiery mouths resplendent bridles ty'd,
The iv'ry-studded reins, return'd behind,
Wav'd o'er their backs, and to the chariot join'd.
The charioteer then whirl'd the lash around,
And swift ascended at one active bound.
All bright in heav'nly arms, above his squire
Achilles mounts, and sets the field on fire;
Not brighter, Phoebus in th' ethereal way,
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 heav'nly race in vain)
Be swift, be mindful of the load ye bear,
And learn to make your master more your care:
Thro' falling squadrons bear my slaught'ring sword,
Nor, as ye left Patroclus, leave your Lord.
      The gen'rous 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 honours 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 thro' the files of war:
But come it will, the fatal time must come,
Nor ours the fault, but God decrees thy doom.
Not thro' our crime, or slowness in the course,
Fell thy Patroclus, but by heav'nly force;
The bright far-shooting God who gilds the day,
(Confest 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 ceas'd for ever, by the Furies ty'd,
His fate-ful voice. Th' intrepid chief reply'd
With unabated rage–So let it be!
Portents and prodigies are lost on me.
I know my fates: To die, to see no more
My much-lov'd parents, and my native shore–
Enough–When heav'n ordains, I sink in night;
Now perish Troy! he said, and rush'd to fight.


                                   –The Iliad, XIX, 426-471
                         Greek; trans. Alexander Pope


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