There sate the seniors of the Trojan race


      There sate the seniors of the Trojan race,
(Old Priam's Chiefs, and most in Priam's grace)
The King the first; Thymaetes at his side;
Lampus and Clytius, long in council try'd
Panthus, and Hicetaon, once the strong,
And next the wisest of the rev'rend Throng,
Antenor grave, and sage Ucalegon,
Lean'd on the walls, and bask'd before the sun.
Chiefs, who no more in bloody fights engage,
But wise thro' time, and narrative with age,
In summer-days like grasshoppers rejoice,
A bloodless race, that send a feeble voice.
These, when the Spartan Queen approach'd the tow'r
In secret own'd resistless beauty's pow'r:
They cry'd, No wonder, such celestial charms
For nine long years have set the world at arms;
What winning graces! what majestick mien!
She moves a Goddess, and she looks a Queen!
Yet hence, oh heav'n convey that fatal face,
And from destruction save the Trojan race.
      The good old Priam welcom'd her, and cry'd,
Approach my child, and grace thy father's side.
See on the plain thy Grecian spouse appears,
The friends and kindred of thy former years.
No crime of thine our present suff'rings draws,
Not thou, but heav'ns disposing will, the cause;
The Gods these armies and this force employ,
The hostile Gods conspire the fate of Troy.
But lift thy eyes, and say, What Greek is he
(Far as from hence these aged orbs can see)
Around whose brow such martial graces shine,
So tall, so awful, and almost divine?
Tho' some of larger stature tread the green,
None match his grandeur and exalted mien:
He seems a Monarch, and his country's pride.
Thus ceas'd the King, and thus the fair reply'd.
      Before thy presence, Father, I appear
With conscious shame and reverential fear.
Ah! had I dy'd, e're to these walls I fled,
False to my country and my nuptial bed,
My brothers, friends, and daughter left behind,
False to them all, to Paris only kind!
For this I mourn, 'till greater grief or dire disease
Shall waste the form whose crime it was to please!
The King of Kings, Atrides, you survey,
Great in the war, and great in the arts of sway.
My brother once, before my days of shame;
And oh! that still he bore a brother's Name!
      With wonder Priam view'd the Godlike man,
Extoll'd the happy Prince, and thus began.
O blest Atrides! born to prosp'rous fate,
Successful Monarch of a mighty state!
How vast thy empire? Of yon' matchless train
What numbers lost, what numbers yet remain?
In Phrygia once were gallant armies known,
In ancient time, when Otreus' fill'd the throne,
When Godlike Mygdon led their troops of horse,
And I, to join them, rais'd the Trojan force:
Against the manlike Amazons we stood,
And Sangar's stream ran purple with their blood.
But far inferior those, in martial grace
And strength of numbers, to this Grecian race.
      This said, once more he view'd the warriour-train:
What's he, whose arms lie scatter'd on the plain?
Broad is his breast, his shoulders larger spread,
Tho' great Atrides overtops his head.
Nor yet appear his care and conduct small;
From rank to rank he moves, and orders all.
The stately ram thus measures o'er the ground,
And, master of the flocks, surveys them round.
      Then Helen thus. Whom your discerning eyes
Have singled out, is Ithacus the wise:
A barren island boasts his glorious birth;
His fame for wisdom fills the spacious earth.
      Antenor took the word, and thus began:
My self, O King! have seen that wondrous man;
When trusting Jove and hospitable laws,
To Troy he came, to plead the Grecian cause;
(Great Menelaus urg'd the same request)
My house was honour'd with each royal guest:
I knew their persons, and admir'd their parts,
Both brave in arms, and both approv'd in arts.
Erect, the Spartan most engag'd our view,
Ulysses seated, greater rev'rence drew.
When Atreus' son harangu'd the listening train,
Just was his sense, and his expression plain,
His words succinct, yet full, without a fault;
He spoke no more than just the thing he ought.
But when Ulysses rose, in thought profound,
His modest eyes he fix'd upon the ground,
As one unskill'd or dumb, he seem'd to stand,
Nor rais'd his head, nor stretch'd his sceptred hand;
But, when he speaks, what elocution flows!
Soft as the fleeces of descending snows
The copious accents fall, with easy art;
Melting they fall, and sink into the heart!
Wond'ring we hear, and fix'd in deep surprize
Our ears refute the censure of our eyes.


                                     –The Iliad, III, 191-288
                         Greek; trans. Alexander Pope


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