Health to Achilles! happy are thy guests!


      Health to Achilles! happy are thy guests!
Not those more honour'd whom Atrides feasts:
Tho' gen'rous plenty crown thy loaded boards,
That, Agamemnon's regal tent affords:
But greater cares sit heavy on our souls,
Not eas'd by banquets or by flowing bowls.
What scenes of slaughter in yon fields appear!
The dead we mourn, and for the living fear;
Greece on the brink of fate all doubtful stands,
And owns no help but from thy saving hands:
Troy and her aids for ready vengeance call;
Their threat'ning tents already shade our wall:
Hear how with shouts their conquest they proclaim,
And point at ev'ry ship their vengeful flame!
For them the Father of the Gods declares,
Theirs are his omens, and his thunder theirs.
See, full of Jove, avenging Hector rise!
See! Heav'n and earth the raging Chief defies;
What fury in his breast, what light'ning in his eyes!
He waits but for the morn, to sink in flame
The ships, the Greeks, and all the Grecian name.
Heav'ns! how my country's woes distract my mind,
Lest fate accomplish all his rage design'd.
And must we, Gods! our heads inglorious lay
In Trojan dust, and this the fatal day?
Return, Achilles! oh return, tho' late,
To save thy Greeks, and stop the course of fate;
If in that heart, or grief, or courage, lies,
Rise to redeem; ah yet, to conquer, rise!
The day may come, when all our warriours slain,
That heart shall melt, that courage rise in vain.
Regard in time, O prince divinely brave!
Those wholsome counsels which thy father gave.
When Peleus in his aged arms embrac'd
His parting son, these accents were his last.
My child! with strength, with glory and success,
Thy arms may Juno and Minerva bless!
Trust that to heav'n:–but thou, thy cares engage
To calm thy passions, and subdue thy rage:
From gentler manners let thy glory grow,
And shun contention, the sure source of woe;
That young and old may in thy praise combine,
The virtues of humanity be thine–
This, now despis'd advice, thy father gave;
Ah! check thy anger, and be truly brave.
If thou wilt yield to great Atrides' pray'rs,
Gifts worthy thee his royal hand prepares;
If not–but hear me, while I number o'er
The proffer'd presents, and exhaustless store.
Ten weighty talents of the purest gold,
And twice ten vases of refulgent mold;
Sev'n sacred tripods, whose unsully'd frame
Yet knows no office, nor has felt the flame:
Twelve steeds unmatch'd in fleetness and in force,
And still victorious in the dusty course:
(Rich were the man, whose ample stores exceed
The prizes purchas'd by their winged speed)
Sev'n lovely captives of the Lesbian line,
Skill'd in each art, unmatch'd in form divine,
The same he chose for more than vulgar charms,
When Lesbos sunk beneath thy conqu'ring arms.
All these, to buy thy friendship, shall be paid,
And join'd with these the long contested maid;
With all her charms, Briseis he'll resign,
And solemn swear those charms were only thine;
Untouch'd she stay'd, uninjur'd she removes,
Pure from his arms, and guiltless of his loves.
These instant shall be thine; and if the pow'rs
Give to our arms proud Ilion's hostile tow'rs,
Then shalt thou store (when Greece the spoil divides)
With gold and brass thy loaded navy's sides.
Besides full twenty nymphs of Trojan race,
With copious love shall crown thy warm embrace;
Such as thy self shall chuse; who yield to none,
Or yield to Helen's heav'nly charms alone.
Yet hear me farther: when our wars are o'er,
If safe we land on Argos' fruitful shore,
There shalt thou live his son, his honours share,
And with Orestes' self divide his care.
Yet more–three daughters in his court are bred,
And each well worthy of a royal bed;
Laodice and Iphigenia fair,
And bright Chrysothemis with golden hair;
Her shalt thou wed whom most thy eyes approve;
He asks no presents, no reward for love:
Himself will give the dow'r; so vast a store,
As never father gave a child before.
Sev'n ample cities shall confess thy sway,
Thee Enope, and Phaere thee obey,
Cardmyle with ample turrets crown'd,
And sacred Pedasus, for vines renown'd;
Aepa fair, the pasture Hyra yields,
And rich Antheia with her flow'ry fields:
The whole extent to Pylos' sandy plain
Along the verdant margin of the main.
There heifers graze, and lab'ring oxen toil;
Bold are the men, and gen'rous the soil.
There shalt thou reign with pow'r and justice crown'd,
And rule the tributary realms around.
Such are the proffers which this day we bring,
Such the repentance of a suppliant King.
But if all this relentless thou disdain,
If honour, and if int'rest plead in vain;
Yet some redress to suppliant Greece afford,
And be, amongst her guardian Gods, ador'd.
If no regard thy suff'ring country claim,
Hear thy own glory, and the voice of fame:
For now that chief, whose unresisted ire
Made nations tremble, and whole hosts retire,
Proud Hector, now, th' unequal fight demands,
And only triumphs to deserve thy hands.
      Then thus the Goddess-born. Ulysses, hear
A faithful speech, that knows nor art, nor fear;
What in my secret soul is understood,
My tongue shall utter, and my deeds make good.
Let Greece then know, my purpose I retain,
Nor with new treaties vex my peace in vain.
Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
My heart detests him as the gates of hell.


                                     –The Iliad, IX, 295-413
                         Greek; trans. Alexander Pope


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