Why comes Aeneas thro' the ranks so far?


      Why comes Aeneas thro' the ranks so far?
Seeks he to meet Achilles' arm in war,
In hope the realms of Priam to enjoy,
And prove his merits to the throne of Troy?
Grant that beneath thy lance Achilles dies,
The partial monarch may refuse the prize;
Sons he has many; those thy pride may quell;
And 'tis his fault to love those sons too well.
Or, in reward of thy victorious hand,
Has Troy propos'd some spacious tract of land?
An ample forest, or a fair domain,
Of hills for vines, and arable for grain?
Ev'n this, perhaps, will hardly prove thy lot.
But can Achilles be so soon forgot?
Once (as I think) you saw this brandish'd spear,
And then the great Aeneas seem'd to fear.
With hearty haste from Ida's mount he fled,
Nor, till he reach'd Lyrnessus, turn'd his head.
Her lofty walls not long our progress stay'd;
Those, Pallas, Jove, and we, in ruins laid:
In Grecian chains her captive race were cast;
'Tis true, the great Aeneas fled too fast.
Defrauded of my conquest once before,
What then I lost, the Gods this day restore.
Go; while thou may'st, avoid the threaten'd fate;
Fools stay to feel it, and are wise too late.
      To this Anchises' son. Such words employ
To one that fears thee, some unwarlike boy:
Such we disdain; the best may be defy'd
With mean reproaches, and unmanly pride:
Unworthy the high race from which we came,
Proclaim'd so loudly by the voice of fame,
Each from illustrious fathers draws his Line;
Each Goddess-born; half human, half divine.
Thetis' this day, or Venus' offspring dies,
And tears shall trickle from celestial eyes:
For when two heroes, thus deriv'd, contend,
'Tis not in words the glorious strife can end.
If yet thou farther seek to learn my birth
(A tale resounded thro' the spacious earth)
Hear how the glorious origine we prove
From ancient Dardanus, the first from Jove:
Dardania's walls he rais'd; for Ilion, then,
(The city since of many-languag'd men)
Was not. The natives were content to till
The shady foot of Ida's fount-ful hill.
From Dardanus, great Erichthonius springs,
The richest, once, of Asia's wealthy kings;
Three thousand mares his spacious pastures bred,
Three thousand foals beside their mothers fed.
Boreas, enamour'd of the sprightly train,
Conceal'd his Godhead in a flowing mane,
With voice dissembled to his loves he neigh'd,
And cours'd the dappled beauties o'er the mead:
Hence sprung twelve others of unrival'd kind,
Swift as their mother mares, and father wind.
These lightly skimming, when they swept the plain,
Nor ply'd the grass, nor bent the tender grain;
And when along the level seas they flew,
Scarce on the surface curl'd the briny dew.
Such Erichthonius was: From him there came
The sacred Tros, of whom the Trojan name.
Three sons renown'd adorn'd his nuptial bed,
Ilus, Assaracus, and Ganymed:
The matchless Ganymed, divinely fair,
Whom heaven enamour'd snatch'd to upper air,
To bear the cup of Jove (aetherial guest)
The grace and glory of th' ambrosial feast.
The two remaining sons the line divide:
First rose Laomedon from Ilus' side;
From him Tithonus, now in cares grown old,
And Priam, (blest with Hector, brave and bold:)
Clytius and Lampus, ever-honour'd pair;
And Hicetaon, thunderbolt of war.
From great Assaracus sprung Capys, he
Begat Anchises, and Anchises me.
Such is our race: 'Tis fortune gives us birth,
But Jove alone endues the soul with worth:
He, source of pow'r and might! with boundless sway,
All human courage gives, or takes away.
Long in the field of words we may contend,
Reproach is infinite, and knows no end,
Arm'd or with truth or falsehood, right or wrong,
So voluble a weapon is the tongue;
Wounded, we wound; and neither side can fail,
For ev'ry man has equal strength to rail:
Women alone, when in the streets they jar,
Perhaps excel us in this wordy war;
Like us they stand, encompass'd with the crowd,
And vent their anger, impotent and loud.
Cease then–Our business in the field of fight
Is not to question, but to prove our might.
To all those insults thou hast offer'd here,
Receive this answer: 'Tis my flying spear.


                                     –The Iliad, XX, 214-307
                         Greek; trans. Alexander Pope


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