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BOOK XVIII.

ARGUMENT.

THE GRIEF OF ACHILLES, AND NEW ARMOUR MADE HIM BY VULCAN.

The news of the death of Patroclus is brought to Achilles by Antilochus. Thetis, hearing his lamentations, comes with all her sea- nymphs to comfort him. The speeches of the mother and son on this occasion. Iris appears to Achilles by the command of Juno, and orders him to show himself at the head of the intrenchments. The sight of him turns the fortunes of the day, and the body of Patroclus is carried off by the Greeks. The Trojans call a council, where Hector and Polydamas disagree in their opinions: but the advice of the former prevails, to remain encamped in the field. The grief of Achilles over the body of Patroclus.

Thetis goes to the palace of Vulcan to obtain new arms for her son. The description of the wonderful works of Vulcan: and, lastly, that noble one of the shield of Achilles.

The latter part of the nine-and-twentieth day, and the night ensuing, take up this book: the scene is at Achilles' tent on the sea-shore, from whence it changes to the palace of Vulcan.

And now it rises, now it sinks by turns.
Meanwhile, where Hellespont's broad waters flow,
Stood Nestor's son, the messenger of woe:
There sat Achilles, shaded by his sails,
On hoisted yards extended to the gales;
Pensive he sat; for all that fate design'd
Rose in sad prospect to his boding mind.
Thus to his soul he said: "Ah! what constrains
The Greeks, late victors, now to quit the plains?
Is this the day, which heaven so long ago
Ordain'd, to sink me with the weight of woe?
(So Thetis warn'd;) when by a Trojan hand
The bravest of the Myrmidonian band
Should lose the light! Fulfilled is that decree;
Fallen is the warrior, and Patroclus he!
In vain I charged him soon to quit the plain,
And warn'd to shun Hectorean force in vain!"
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Thus while he thinks, Antilochus appears,
And tells the melancholy tale with tears.
"Sad tidings, son of Peleus! thou must hear;
And wretched I, the unwilling messenger!
Dead is Patroclus! For his corse they fight;
His naked corse: his arms are Hector's right."
A sudden horror shot through all the chief,
And wrapp'd his senses in the cloud of grief;
Cast on the ground, with furious hands he spread
The scorching ashes o'er his graceful head;
His purple garments, and his golden hairs,
Those he deforms with dust, and these he tears;
On the hard soil his groaning breast he threw,
And roll'd and grovell'd, as to earth he grew.
The virgin captives, with disorder'd charms,
(Won by his own, or by Patroclus' arms,)
Rush'd from their tents with cries; and gathering round,
Beat their white breasts, and fainted on the ground:
While Nestor's son sustains a manlier part,
And mourns the warrior with a warrior's heart;
Hangs on his arms, amidst his frantic woe,
And oft prevents the meditated blow.
With hoary Nereus, and the watery train,
The mother-goddess from her crystal throne
Heard his loud cries, and answer'd groan for groan.
The circling Nereids with their mistress weep,
And all the sea-green sisters of the deep.
Thalia, Glauce (every watery name),
Nesaea mild, and silver Spio came:
Cymothoe and Cymodoce were nigh,
And the blue languish of soft Alia's eye.
Their locks Actaea and Limnoria rear,
Then Proto, Doris, Panope appear,
Thoa, Pherusa, Doto, Melita;
Agave gentle, and Amphithoe gay:
Next Callianira, Callianassa show
Their sister looks; Dexamene the slow,
And swift Dynamene, now cut the tides:
Iaera now the verdant wave divides:
Nemertes with Apseudes lifts the head,
Bright Galatea quits her pearly bed;
These Orythia, Clymene, attend,
Maera, Amphinome, the train extend;
And black Janira, and Janassa fair,
And Amatheia with her amber hair.
All these, and all that deep in ocean held
Their sacred seats, the glimmering grotto fill'd;
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Each beat her ivory breast with silent woe,
Till Thetis' sorrows thus began to flow:
"Hear me, and judge, ye sisters of the main!
How just a cause has Thetis to complain!
How wretched, were I mortal, were my fate!
How more than wretched in the immortal state!
Sprung from my bed a godlike hero came,
The bravest far that ever bore the name;
Like some fair olive, by my careful hand
He grew, he flourish'd and adorn'd the land
To Troy I sent him: but the fates ordain
He never, never must return again.
So short a space the light of heaven to view,
So short, alas! and fill'd with anguish too!
Hear how his sorrows echo through the shore!
I cannot ease them, but I must deplore;
I go at least to bear a tender part,
And mourn my loved-one with a mother's heart."
She said, and left the caverns of the main,
All bathed in tears; the melancholy train
Attend her way. Wide-opening part the tides,
While the long pomp the silver wave divides.
Approaching now, they touch'd the Trojan land;
Then, two by two, ascended up the strand.
The immortal mother, standing close beside
Her mournful offspring, to his sighs replied;
Along the coast their mingled clamours ran,
And thus the silver-footed dame began:
"Why mourns my son? thy late preferr'd request
The god has granted, and the Greeks distress'd:
Why mourns my son? thy anguish let me share,
Reveal the cause, and trust a parent's care."
A flood of tears, at this, the goddess shed:
"Ah then, I see thee dying, see thee dead!
When Hector falls, thou diest."—"Let Hector die,
And let me fall! (Achilles made reply)
Far lies Patroclus from his native plain!
He fell, and falling, wish'd my aid in vain.
Ah then, since from this miserable day
I cast all hope of my return away;
Since, unrevenged, a hundred ghosts demand
The fate of Hector from Achilles' hand;
Since here, for brutal courage far renown'd,
I live an idle burden to the ground,
(Others in council famed for nobler skill,
More useful to preserve, than I to kill,)
Let me—But oh! ye gracious powers above!
Wrath and revenge from men and gods remove:
Far, far too dear to every mortal breast,
Sweet to the soul, as honey to the taste:
Gathering like vapours of a noxious kind
From fiery blood, and darkening all the mind.
Me Agamemnon urged to deadly hate;
'Tis past—I quell it; I resign to fate.
Yes—I will meet the murderer of my friend;
Or (if the gods ordain it) meet my end.
The stroke of fate the strongest cannot shun:
The great Alcides, Jove's unequall'd son,
To Juno's hate, at length resign'd his breath,
And sunk the victim of all-conquering death.
So shall Achilles fall! stretch'd pale and dead,
No more the Grecian hope, or Trojan dread!
Let me, this instant, rush into the fields,
And reap what glory life's short harvest yields.
Shall I not force some widow'd dame to tear
With frantic hands her long dishevell'd hair?
Shall I not force her breast to heave with sighs,
And the soft tears to trickle from her eyes?
Yes, I shall give the fair those mournful charms—
In vain you hold me—Hence! my arms! my arms!—
Soon shall the sanguine torrent spread so wide,
That all shall know Achilles swells the tide."
Then turning to the daughters of the main,
The goddess thus dismiss'd her azure train:
"Ye sister Nereids! to your deeps descend;
Haste, and our father's sacred seat attend;
I go to find the architect divine,
Where vast Olympus' starry summits shine:
So tell our hoary sire"—This charge she gave:
The sea-green sisters plunge beneath the wave:
Thetis once more ascends the bless'd abodes,
And treads the brazen threshold of the gods.

Illustration: THETIS ORDERING THE NEREIDS TO DESCEND INTO THE SEA.
THETIS ORDERING THE NEREIDS TO DESCEND INTO THE SEA.
"Rise, son of Peleus! rise, divinely brave!
Assist the combat, and Patroclus save:
For him the slaughter to the fleet they spread,
And fall by mutual wounds around the dead.
To drag him back to Troy the foe contends:
Nor with his death the rage of Hector ends:
A prey to dogs he dooms the corse to lie,
And marks the place to fix his head on high.
Rise, and prevent (if yet you think of fame)
Thy friend's disgrace, thy own eternal shame!"
"Who sends thee, goddess, from the ethereal skies?"
Achilles thus. And Iris thus replies:
"I come, Pelides! from the queen of Jove,
The immortal empress of the realms above;
Unknown to him who sits remote on high,
Unknown to all the synod of the sky."
"Thou comest in vain (he cries, with fury warm'd);
Arms I have none, and can I fight unarm'd?
Unwilling as I am, of force I stay,
Till Thetis bring me at the dawn of day
Vulcanian arms: what other can I wield,
Except the mighty Telamonian shield?
That, in my friend's defence, has Ajax spread,
While his strong lance around him heaps the dead:
The gallant chief defends Menoetius' son,
And does what his Achilles should have done."
"Thy want of arms (said Iris) well we know;
But though unarm'd, yet clad in terrors, go!
Let but Achilles o'er yon trench appear,
Proud Troy shall tremble, and consent to fear;
Greece from one glance of that tremendous eye
Shall take new courage, and disdain to fly."
She spoke, and pass'd in air. The hero rose:
Her aegis Pallas o'er his shoulder throws;
Around his brows a golden cloud she spread;
A stream of glory flamed above his head.
As when from some beleaguer'd town arise
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The smokes, high curling to the shaded skies;
(Seen from some island, o'er the main afar,
When men distress'd hang out the sign of war;)
Soon as the sun in ocean hides his rays,
Thick on the hills the flaming beacons blaze;
With long-projected beams the seas are bright,
And heaven's high arch reflects the ruddy light:
So from Achilles' head the splendours rise,
Reflecting blaze on blaze against the skies.
Forth march'd the chief, and distant from the crowd,
High on the rampart raised his voice aloud;
With her own shout Minerva swells the sound;
Troy starts astonish'd, and the shores rebound.
As the loud trumpet's brazen mouth from far
With shrilling clangour sounds the alarm of war,
Struck from the walls, the echoes float on high,
And the round bulwarks and thick towers reply;
So high his brazen voice the hero rear'd:
Hosts dropp'd their arms, and trembled as they heard:
And back the chariots roll, and coursers bound,
And steeds and men lie mingled on the ground.
Aghast they see the living lightnings play,
And turn their eyeballs from the flashing ray.
Thrice from the trench his dreadful voice he raised,
And thrice they fled, confounded and amazed.
Twelve in the tumult wedged, untimely rush'd
On their own spears, by their own chariots crush'd:
While, shielded from the darts, the Greeks obtain
The long-contended carcase of the slain.
A lofty bier the breathless warrior bears:
Around, his sad companions melt in tears.
But chief Achilles, bending down his head,
Pours unavailing sorrows o'er the dead,
Whom late triumphant, with his steeds and car,
He sent refulgent to the field of war;
(Unhappy change!) now senseless, pale, he found,
Stretch'd forth, and gash'd with many a gaping wound.

Illustration: JUNO COMMANDING THE SUN TO SET.
JUNO COMMANDING THE SUN TO SET.
"In free debate, my friends, your sentence speak;
For me, I move, before the morning break,
To raise our camp: too dangerous here our post,
Far from Troy walls, and on a naked coast.
I deem'd not Greece so dreadful, while engaged
In mutual feuds her king and hero raged;
Then, while we hoped our armies might prevail
We boldly camp'd beside a thousand sail.
I dread Pelides now: his rage of mind
Not long continues to the shores confined,
Nor to the fields, where long in equal fray
Contending nations won and lost the day;
For Troy, for Troy, shall henceforth be the strife,
And the hard contest not for fame, but life.
Haste then to Ilion, while the favouring night
Detains these terrors, keeps that arm from fight.
If but the morrow's sun behold us here,
That arm, those terrors, we shall feel, not fear;
And hearts that now disdain, shall leap with joy,
If heaven permit them then to enter Troy.
Let not my fatal prophecy be true,
Nor what I tremble but to think, ensue.
Whatever be our fate, yet let us try
What force of thought and reason can supply;
Let us on counsel for our guard depend;
The town her gates and bulwarks shall defend.
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When morning dawns, our well-appointed powers,
Array'd in arms, shall line the lofty towers.
Let the fierce hero, then, when fury calls,
Vent his mad vengeance on our rocky walls,
Or fetch a thousand circles round the plain,
Till his spent coursers seek the fleet again:
So may his rage be tired, and labour'd down!
And dogs shall tear him ere he sack the town."
"Return! (said Hector, fired with stern disdain)
What! coop whole armies in our walls again?
Was't not enough, ye valiant warriors, say,
Nine years imprison'd in those towers ye lay?
Wide o'er the world was Ilion famed of old
For brass exhaustless, and for mines of gold:
But while inglorious in her walls we stay'd,
Sunk were her treasures, and her stores decay'd;
The Phrygians now her scatter'd spoils enjoy,
And proud Maeonia wastes the fruits of Troy.
Great Jove at length my arms to conquest calls,
And shuts the Grecians in their wooden walls,
Darest thou dispirit whom the gods incite?
Flies any Trojan? I shall stop his flight.
To better counsel then attention lend;
Take due refreshment, and the watch attend.
If there be one whose riches cost him care,
Forth let him bring them for the troops to share;
'Tis better generously bestow'd on those,
Than left the plunder of our country's foes.
Soon as the morn the purple orient warms,
Fierce on yon navy will we pour our arms.
If great Achilles rise in all his might,
His be the danger: I shall stand the fight.
Honour, ye gods! or let me gain or give;
And live he glorious, whosoe'er shall live!
Mars is our common lord, alike to all;
And oft the victor triumphs, but to fall."
The shouting host in loud applauses join'd;
So Pallas robb'd the many of their mind;
To their own sense condemn'd, and left to choose
The worst advice, the better to refuse.
"In what vain promise, gods! did I engage,
When to console Menoetius' feeble age,
I vowed his much-loved offspring to restore,
But mighty Jove cuts short, with just disdain,
The long, long views of poor designing man!
One fate the warrior and the friend shall strike,
And Troy's black sands must drink our blood alike:
Me too a wretched mother shall deplore,
An aged father never see me more!
Yet, my Patroclus! yet a space I stay,
Then swift pursue thee on the darksome way.
Ere thy dear relics in the grave are laid,
Shall Hector's head be offer'd to thy shade;
That, with his arms, shall hang before thy shrine;
And twelve, the noblest of the Trojan line,
Sacred to vengeance, by this hand expire;
Their lives effused around thy flaming pyre.
Thus let me lie till then! thus, closely press'd,
Bathe thy cold face, and sob upon thy breast!
While Trojan captives here thy mourners stay,
Weep all the night and murmur all the day:
Spoils of my arms, and thine; when, wasting wide,
Our swords kept time, and conquer'd side by side."
He spoke, and bade the sad attendants round
Cleanse the pale corse, and wash each honour'd wound.
A massy caldron of stupendous frame
They brought, and placed it o'er the rising flame:
Then heap'd the lighted wood; the flame divides
Beneath the vase, and climbs around the sides:
In its wide womb they pour the rushing stream;
The boiling water bubbles to the brim.
The body then they bathe with pious toil,
Embalm the wounds, anoint the limbs with oil,
High on a bed of state extended laid,
And decent cover'd with a linen shade;
Last o'er the dead the milk-white veil they threw;
That done, their sorrows and their sighs renew.
Meanwhile to Juno, in the realms above,
(His wife and sister,) spoke almighty Jove.
"At last thy will prevails: great Peleus' son
Rises in arms: such grace thy Greeks have won.
Say (for I know not), is their race divine,
And thou the mother of that martial line?"

Illustration: TRIPOD.
TRIPOD.
So they. Meanwhile the silver-footed dame
Reach'd the Vulcanian dome, eternal frame!
High-eminent amid the works divine,
Where heaven's far-beaming brazen mansions shine.
There the lame architect the goddess found,
Obscure in smoke, his forges flaming round,
While bathed in sweat from fire to fire he flew;
And puffing loud, the roaring billows blew.
That day no common task his labour claim'd:
Full twenty tripods for his hall he framed,
That placed on living wheels of massy gold,
(Wondrous to tell,) instinct with spirit roll'd
From place to place, around the bless'd abodes
Self-moved, obedient to the beck of gods:
For their fair handles now, o'erwrought with flowers,
In moulds prepared, the glowing ore he pours.
Just as responsive to his thought the frame
Stood prompt to move, the azure goddess came:
Charis, his spouse, a grace divinely fair,
(With purple fillets round her braided hair,)
Observed her entering; her soft hand she press'd,
And, smiling, thus the watery queen address'd:

Illustration: THETIS AND EURYNOME RECEIVING THE INFANT VULCAN.
THETIS AND EURYNOME RECEIVING THE INFANT VULCAN.
High on a throne, with stars of silver graced,
And various artifice, the queen she placed;
A footstool at her feet: then calling, said,
"Vulcan, draw near, 'tis Thetis asks your aid."
"Thetis (replied the god) our powers may claim,
An ever-dear, an ever-honour'd name!
When my proud mother hurl'd me from the sky,
(My awkward form, it seems, displeased her eye,)
She, and Eurynome, my griefs redress'd,
And soft received me on their silver breast.
Even then these arts employ'd my infant thought:
Chains, bracelets, pendants, all their toys, I wrought.
Nine years kept secret in the dark abode,
Secure I lay, conceal'd from man and god:
Deep in a cavern'd rock my days were led;
The rushing ocean murmur'd o'er my head.
Now, since her presence glads our mansion, say,
For such desert what service can I pay?
Vouchsafe, O Thetis! at our board to share
The genial rites, and hospitable fare;
While I the labours of the forge forego,
And bid the roaring bellows cease to blow."
"Thee, welcome, goddess! what occasion calls
(So long a stranger) to these honour'd walls?
'Tis thine, fair Thetis, the command to lay,
And Vulcan's joy and duty to obey."

Illustration: VULCAN AND CHARIS RECEIVING THETIS.
VULCAN AND CHARIS RECEIVING THETIS.
To her the artist-god: "Thy griefs resign,
Secure, what Vulcan can, is ever thine.
O could I hide him from the Fates, as well,
Or with these hands the cruel stroke repel,
As I shall forge most envied arms, the gaze
Of wondering ages, and the world's amaze!"
Thus having said, the father of the fires
To the black labours of his forge retires.
Soon as he bade them blow, the bellows turn'd
Their iron mouths; and where the furnace burn'd,
Resounding breathed: at once the blast expires,
And twenty forges catch at once the fires;
Just as the god directs, now loud, now low,
They raise a tempest, or they gently blow;
In hissing flames huge silver bars are roll'd,
And stubborn brass, and tin, and solid gold;
Before, deep fix'd, the eternal anvils stand;
The ponderous hammer loads his better hand,
His left with tongs turns the vex'd metal round,
And thick, strong strokes, the doubling vaults rebound.
Two cities radiant on the shield appear,
The image one of peace, and one of war.
Here sacred pomp and genial feast delight,
And solemn dance, and hymeneal rite;
Along the street the new-made brides are led,
With torches flaming, to the nuptial bed:
The youthful dancers in a circle bound
To the soft flute, and cithern's silver sound:
Through the fair streets the matrons in a row
Stand in their porches, and enjoy the show.
Another part (a prospect differing far)255
Glow'd with refulgent arms, and horrid war.
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Two mighty hosts a leaguer'd town embrace,
And one would pillage, one would burn the place.
Meantime the townsmen, arm'd with silent care,
A secret ambush on the foe prepare:
Their wives, their children, and the watchful band
Of trembling parents, on the turrets stand.
They march; by Pallas and by Mars made bold:
Gold were the gods, their radiant garments gold,
And gold their armour: these the squadron led,
August, divine, superior by the head!
A place for ambush fit they found, and stood,
Cover'd with shields, beside a silver flood.
Two spies at distance lurk, and watchful seem
If sheep or oxen seek the winding stream.
Soon the white flocks proceeded o'er the plains,
And steers slow-moving, and two shepherd swains;
Behind them piping on their reeds they go,
Nor fear an ambush, nor suspect a foe.
In arms the glittering squadron rising round
Rush sudden; hills of slaughter heap the ground;
Whole flocks and herds lie bleeding on the plains,
And, all amidst them, dead, the shepherd swains!
The bellowing oxen the besiegers hear;
They rise, take horse, approach, and meet the war,
They fight, they fall, beside the silver flood;
The waving silver seem'd to blush with blood.
There Tumult, there Contention stood confess'd;
One rear'd a dagger at a captive's breast;
One held a living foe, that freshly bled
With new-made wounds; another dragg'd a dead;
Now here, now there, the carcases they tore:
Fate stalk'd amidst them, grim with human gore.
And the whole war came out, and met the eye;
And each bold figure seem'd to live or die.
Another field rose high with waving grain;
With bended sickles stand the reaper train:
Here stretched in ranks the levell'd swarths are found,
Sheaves heap'd on sheaves here thicken up the ground.
With sweeping stroke the mowers strow the lands;
The gatherers follow, and collect in bands;
And last the children, in whose arms are borne
(Too short to gripe them) the brown sheaves of corn.
The rustic monarch of the field descries,
With silent glee, the heaps around him rise.
A ready banquet on the turf is laid,
Beneath an ample oak's expanded shade.
The victim ox the sturdy youth prepare;
The reaper's due repast, the woman's care.
Next, ripe in yellow gold, a vineyard shines,
Bent with the ponderous harvest of its vines;
A deeper dye the dangling clusters show,
And curl'd on silver props, in order glow:
A darker metal mix'd intrench'd the place;
And pales of glittering tin the inclosure grace.
To this, one pathway gently winding leads,
Where march a train with baskets on their heads,
(Fair maids and blooming youths,) that smiling bear
The purple product of the autumnal year.
To these a youth awakes the warbling strings,
Whose tender lay the fate of Linus sings;
In measured dance behind him move the train,
Tune soft the voice, and answer to the strain.
Next this, the eye the art of Vulcan leads
Deep through fair forests, and a length of meads,
And stalls, and folds, and scatter'd cots between;
And fleecy flocks, that whiten all the scene.
A figured dance succeeds; such once was seen
In lofty Gnossus for the Cretan queen,
Form'd by Daedalean art; a comely band
Of youths and maidens, bounding hand in hand.
The maids in soft simars of linen dress'd;
The youths all graceful in the glossy vest:
Of those the locks with flowery wreath inroll'd;
Of these the sides adorn'd with swords of gold,
That glittering gay, from silver belts depend.
Now all at once they rise, at once descend,
With well-taught feet: now shape in oblique ways,
Confusedly regular, the moving maze:
Now forth at once, too swift for sight, they spring,
And undistinguish'd blend the flying ring:
So whirls a wheel, in giddy circle toss'd,
And, rapid as it runs, the single spokes are lost.
The gazing multitudes admire around:
Two active tumblers in the centre bound;
Now high, now low, their pliant limbs they bend:
And general songs the sprightly revel end.
Thus the broad shield complete the artist crown'd
With his last hand, and pour'd the ocean round:
In living silver seem'd the waves to roll,
And beat the buckler's verge, and bound the whole.