by Homer (750 BC). Translated by Alexander Pope (1688-1744)
In the war of Troy, the Greeks having sacked some of the neighbouring towns, and taken from thence two beautiful captives, Chryseis and Briseis, allotted the first to Agamemnon, and the last to Achilles. Chryses, the father of Chryseis, and priest of Apollo, comes to the Grecian camp to ransom her; with which the action of the poem opens, in the tenth year of the siege. The priest being refused, and insolently dismissed by Agamemnon, entreats for vengeance from his god; who inflicts a pestilence on the Greeks. Achilles calls a council, and encourages Chalcas to declare the cause of it; who attributes it to the refusal of Chryseis. The king, being obliged to send back his captive, enters into a furious contest with Achilles, which Nestor pacifies; however, as he had the absolute command of the army, he seizes on Briseis in revenge. Achilles in discontent withdraws himself and his forces from the rest of the Greeks; and complaining to Thetis, she supplicates Jupiter to render them sensible of the wrong done to her son, by giving victory to the Trojans. Jupiter, granting her suit, incenses Juno: between whom the debate runs high, till they are reconciled by the address of Vulcan. The time of two-and-twenty days is taken up in this book: nine during the plague, one in the council and quarrel of the princes, and twelve for Jupiter’s stay with the Æthiopians, at whose return Thetis prefers her petition. The scene lies in the Grecian camp, then changes to Chrysa, and lastly to Olympus.
Jupiter, in pursuance of the request of Thetis, sends a deceitful vision to Agamemnon, persuading him to lead the army to battle, in order to make the Greeks sensible of their want of Achilles. The general, who is deluded with the hopes of taking Troy without his assistance, but fears the army was discouraged by his absence, and the late plague, as well as by the length of time, contrives to make trial of their disposition by a stratagem. He first communicates his design to the princes in council, that he would propose a return to the soldiers, and that they should put a stop to them if the proposal was embraced. Then he assembles the whole host, and upon moving for a return to Greece, they unanimously agree to it, and run to prepare the ships. They are detained by the management of Ulysses, who chastises the insolence of Thersites. The assembly is recalled, several speeches made on the occasion, and at length the advice of Nestor followed, which was to make a general muster of the troops, and to divide them into their several nations, before they proceeded to battle. This gives occasion to the poet to enumerate all the forces of the Greeks and Trojans, and in a large catalogue. The time employed in this book consists not entirely of one day. The scene lies in the Grecian camp, and upon the sea-shore; towards the end it removes to Troy.
The armies being ready to engage, a single combat is agreed upon between Menelaus and Paris (by the intervention of Hector) for the determination of the war. Iris is sent to call Helen to behold the fight. She leads her to the walls of Troy, where Priam sat with his counsellers observing the Grecian leaders on the plain below, to whom Helen gives an account of the chief of them. The kings on either part take the solemn oath for the conditions of the combat. The duel ensues; wherein Paris being overcome, he is snatched away in a cloud by Venus, and transported to his apartment. She then calls Helen from the walls, and brings the lovers together. Agamemnon, on the part of the Grecians, demands the restoration of Helen, and the performance of the articles. The three-and-twentieth day still continues throughout this book. The scene is sometimes in the fields before Troy, and sometimes in Troy itself.
The gods deliberate in council concerning the Trojan war: they agree upon the continuation of it, and Jupiter sends down Minerva to break the truce. She persuades Pandarus to aim an arrow at Menelaus, who is wounded, but cured by Machaon. In the meantime some of the Trojan troops attack the Greeks. Agamemnon is distinguished in all the parts of a good general; he reviews the troops, and exhorts the leaders, some by praises and others by reproof. Nestor is particularly celebrated for his military discipline. The battle joins, and great numbers are slain on both sides. The same day continues through this as through the last book (as it does also through the two following, and almost to the end of the seventh book). The scene is wholly in the field before Troy.
Diomed, assisted by Pallas, performs wonders in this day’s battle. Pandarus wounds him with an arrow, but the goddess cures him, enables him to discern gods from mortals, and prohibits him from contending with any of the former, excepting Venus. Æneas joins Pandarus to oppose him; Pandarus is killed, and Æneas in great danger but for the assistance of Venus; who, as she is removing her son from the fight, is wounded on the hand by Diomed. Apollo seconds her in his rescue, and at length carries off Æneas to Troy, where he is healed in the temple of Pergamus. Mars rallies the Trojans, and assists Hector to make a stand. In the meantime Æneas is restored to the field, and they overthrow several of the Greeks; among the rest Tlepolemus is slain by Sarpedon. Juno and Minerva descend to resist Mars; the latter incites Diomed to go against that god; he wounds him, and sends him groaning to heaven. The first battle continues through this book. The scene is the same as in the former.
The gods having left the field, the Grecians prevail. Helenus, the chief augur of Troy, commands Hector to return to the city, in order to appoint a solemn procession of the queen and the Trojan matrons to the temple of Minerva, to entreat her to remove Diomed from the fight. The battle relaxing during the absence of Hector, Glaucus and Diomed have an interview between the two armies; where, coming to the knowledge, of the friendship and hospitality passed between their ancestors, they make exchange of their arms. Hector, having performed the orders of Helenus, prevails upon Paris to return to the battle, and, taking a tender leave of his wife Andromache, hastens again to the field. The scene is first in the field of battle, between the rivers Simois and Scamander, and then changes to Troy.
The battle renewing with double ardour upon the return of Hector, Minerva is under apprehensions for the Greeks. Apollo, seeing her descend from Olympus, joins her near the Scaean gate. They agree to put off the general engagement for that day, and incite Hector to challenge the Greeks to a single combat. Nine of the princes accepting the challenge, the lot is cast and falls upon Ajax. These heroes, after several attacks, are parted by the night. The Trojans calling a council, Antenor purposes the delivery of Helen to the Greeks, to which Paris will not consent, but offers to restore them her riches. Priam sends a herald to make this offer, and to demand a truce for burning the dead, the last of which only is agreed to by Agamemnon. When the funerals are performed, the Greeks, pursuant to the advice of Nestor, erect a fortification to protect their fleet and camp, flanked with towers, and defended by a ditch and palisades. Neptune testifies his jealousy at this work, but is pacified by a promise from Jupiter. Both armies pass the night in feasting but Jupiter disheartens the Trojans with thunder, and other signs of his wrath. The three and twentieth day ends with the duel of Hector and Ajax, the next day the truce is agreed; another is taken up in the funeral rites of the slain and one more in building the fortification before the ships. So that somewhat about three days is employed in this book. The scene lies wholly in the field.
Jupiter assembles a council of the deities, and threatens them with the pains of Tartarus if they assist either side: Minerva only obtains of him that she may direct the Greeks by her counsels. The armies join battle: Jupiter on Mount Ida weighs in his balances the fates of both, and affrights the Greeks with his thunders and lightnings. Nestor alone continues in the field in great danger: Diomed relieves him; whose exploits, and those of Hector, are excellently described. Juno endeavours to animate Neptune to the assistance of the Greeks, but in vain. The acts of Teucer, who is at length wounded by Hector, and carried off. Juno and Minerva prepare to aid the Grecians, but are restrained by Iris, sent from Jupiter. The night puts an end to the battle. Hector continues in the field, (the Greeks being driven to their fortifications before the ships,) and gives orders to keep the watch all night in the camp, to prevent the enemy from re-embarking and escaping by flight. They kindle fires through all the fields, and pass the night under arms. The time of seven and twenty days is employed from the opening of the poem to the end of this book. The scene here (except of the celestial machines) lies in the field towards the seashore.
Agamemnon, after the last day’s defeat, proposes to the Greeks to quit the siege, and return to their country. Diomed opposes this, and Nestor seconds him, praising his wisdom and resolution. He orders the guard to be strengthened, and a council summoned to deliberate what measures are to be followed in this emergency. Agamemnon pursues this advice, and Nestor further prevails upon him to send ambassadors to Achilles, in order to move him to a reconciliation. Ulysses and Ajax are made choice of, who are accompanied by old Phoenix. They make, each of them, very moving and pressing speeches, but are rejected with roughness by Achilles, who notwithstanding retains Phoenix in his tent. The ambassadors return unsuccessfully to the camp, and the troops betake themselves to sleep. This book, and the next following, take up the space of one night, which is the twenty-seventh from the beginning of the poem. The scene lies on the sea-shore, the station of the Grecian ships.
Upon the refusal of Achilles to return to the army, the distress of Agamemnon is described in the most lively manner. He takes no rest that night, but passes through the camp, awaking the leaders, and contriving all possible methods for the public safety. Menelaus, Nestor, Ulysses, and Diomed are employed in raising the rest of the captains. They call a council of war, and determine to send scouts into the enemies’ camp, to learn their posture, and discover their intentions. Diomed undertakes this hazardous enterprise, and makes choice of Ulysses for his companion. In their passage they surprise Dolon, whom Hector had sent on a like design to the camp of the Grecians. From him they are informed of the situation of the Trojan and auxiliary forces, and particularly of Rhesus, and the Thracians who were lately arrived. They pass on with success; kill Rhesus, with several of his officers, and seize the famous horses of that prince, with which they return in triumph to the camp. The same night continues; the scene lies in the two camps.
Agamemnon, having armed himself, leads the Grecians to battle; Hector prepares the Trojans to receive them, while Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva give the signals of war. Agamemnon bears all before him and Hector is commanded by Jupiter (who sends Iris for that purpose) to decline the engagement, till the king shall be wounded and retire from the field. He then makes a great slaughter of the enemy. Ulysses and Diomed put a stop to him for a time but the latter, being wounded by Paris, is obliged to desert his companion, who is encompassed by the Trojans, wounded, and in the utmost danger, till Menelaus and Ajax rescue him. Hector comes against Ajax, but that hero alone opposes multitudes, and rallies the Greeks. In the meantime Machaon, in the other wing of the army, is pierced with an arrow by Paris, and carried from the fight in Nestor’s chariot. Achilles (who overlooked the action from his ship) sent Patroclus to inquire which of the Greeks was wounded in that manner; Nestor entertains him in his tent with an account of the accidents of the day, and a long recital of some former wars which he remembered, tending to put Patroclus upon persuading Achilles to fight for his countrymen, or at least to permit him to do it, clad in Achilles’ armour. Patroclus, on his return, meets Eurypylus also wounded, and assists him in that distress. This book opens with the eight-and-twentieth day of the poem, and the same day, with its various actions and adventures is extended through the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and part of the eighteenth books. The scene lies in the field near the monument of Ilus.
The Greeks having retired into their intrenchments, Hector attempts to force them; but it proving impossible to pass the ditch, Polydamas advises to quit their chariots, and manage the attack on foot. The Trojans follow his counsel; and having divided their army into five bodies of foot, begin the assault. But upon the signal of an eagle with a serpent in his talons, which appeared on the left hand of the Trojans, Polydamas endeavours to withdraw them again. This Hector opposes, and continues the attack; in which, after many actions, Sarpedon makes the first breach in the wall. Hector also, casting a stone of vast size, forces open one of the gates, and enters at the head of his troops, who victoriously pursue the Grecians even to their ships.
Neptune, concerned for the loss of the Grecians, upon seeing the fortification forced by Hector, (who had entered the gate near the station of the Ajaces,) assumes the shape of Calchas, and inspires those heroes to oppose him: then, in the form of one of the generals, encourages the other Greeks who had retired to their vessels. The Ajaces form their troops in a close phalanx, and put a stop to Hector and the Trojans. Several deeds of valour are performed; Meriones, losing his spear in the encounter, repairs to seek another at the tent of Idomeneus: this occasions a conversation between those two warriors, who return together to the battle. Idomeneus signalizes his courage above the rest; he kills Othryoneus, Asius, and Alcathous: Deiphobus and Æneas march against him, and at length Idomeneus retires. Menelaus wounds Helenus, and kills Pisander. The Trojans are repulsed on the left wing; Hector still keeps his ground against the Ajaces, till, being galled by the Locrian slingers and archers, Polydamas advises to call a council of war: Hector approves of his advice, but goes first to rally the Trojans; upbraids Paris, rejoins Polydamas, meets Ajax again, and renews the attack. The eight-and-twentieth day still continues. The scene is between the Grecian wall and the sea-shore.
Nestor, sitting at the table with Machaon, is alarmed with the increasing clamour of war, and hastens to Agamemnon; on his way he meets that prince with Diomed and Ulysses, whom he informs of the extremity of the danger. Agamemnon proposes to make their escape by night, which Ulysses withstands; to which Diomed adds his advice, that, wounded as they were, they should go forth and encourage the army with their presence, which advice is pursued. Juno, seeing the partiality of Jupiter to the Trojans, forms a design to over-reach him: she sets off her charms with the utmost care, and (the more surely to enchant him) obtains the magic girdle of Venus. She then applies herself to the god of sleep, and, with some difficulty, persuades him to seal the eyes of Jupiter: this done, she goes to mount Ida, where the god, at first sight, is ravished with her beauty, sinks in her embraces, and is laid asleep. Neptune takes advantage of his slumber, and succours the Greeks: Hector is struck to the ground with a prodigious stone by Ajax, and carried off from the battle: several actions succeed, till the Trojans, much distressed, are obliged to give way: the lesser Ajax signalizes himself in a particular manner.
Jupiter, awaking, sees the Trojans repulsed from the trenches, Hector in a swoon, and Neptune at the head of the Greeks: he is highly incensed at the artifice of Juno, who appeases him by her submissions; she is then sent to Iris and Apollo. Juno, repairing to the assembly of the gods, attempts, with extraordinary address, to incense them against Jupiter; in particular she touches Mars with a violent resentment; he is ready to take arms, but is prevented by Minerva. Iris and Apollo obey the orders of Jupiter; Iris commands Neptune to leave the battle, to which, after much reluctance and passion, he consents. Apollo reinspires Hector with vigour, brings him back to the battle, marches before him with his aegis, and turns the fortune of the fight. He breaks down great part of the Grecian wall: the Trojans rush in, and attempt to fire the first line of the fleet, but are, as yet, repelled by the greater Ajax with a prodigious slaughter.
Patroclus (in pursuance of the request of Nestor in the eleventh book) entreats Achilles to suffer him to go to the assistance of the Greeks with Achilles’ troops and armour. He agrees to it, but at the same time charges him to content himself with rescuing the fleet, without further pursuit of the enemy. The armour, horses, soldiers, and officers are described. Achilles offers a libation for the success of his friend, after which Patroclus leads the Myrmidons to battle. The Trojans, at the sight of Patroclus in Achilles’ armour, taking him for that hero, are cast into the uttermost consternation; he beats them off from the vessels, Hector himself flies, Sarpedon is killed, though Jupiter was averse to his fate. Several other particulars of the battle are described; in the heat of which, Patroclus, neglecting the orders of Achilles, pursues the foe to the walls of Troy, where Apollo repulses and disarms him, Euphorbus wounds him, and Hector kills him, which concludes the book.
Menelaus, upon the death of Patroclus, defends his body from the enemy: Euphorbus, who attempts it, is slain. Hector advancing, Menelaus retires; but soon returns with Ajax, and drives him off. This, Glaucus objects to Hector as a flight, who thereupon puts on the armour he had won from Patroclus, and renews the battle. The Greeks give way, till Ajax rallies them: Æneas sustains the Trojans. Æneas and Hector attempt the chariot of Achilles, which is borne off by Automedon. The horses of Achilles deplore the loss of Patroclus: Jupiter covers his body with a thick darkness: the noble prayer of Ajax on that occasion. Menelaus sends Antilochus to Achilles, with the news of Patroclus’ death: then returns to the fight, where, though attacked with the utmost fury, he and Meriones, assisted by the Ajaces, bear off the body to the ships. The time is the evening of the eight-and-twentieth day. The scene lies in the fields before Troy.
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.
Thetis brings to her son the armour made by Vulcan. She preserves the body of his friend from corruption, and commands him to assemble the army, to declare his resentment at an end. Agamemnon and Achilles are solemnly reconciled: the speeches, presents, and ceremonies on that occasion. Achilles is with great difficulty persuaded to refrain from the battle till the troops have refreshed themselves by the advice of Ulysses. The presents are conveyed to the tent of Achilles, where Briseis laments over the body of Patroclus. The hero obstinately refuses all repast, and gives himself up to lamentations for his friend. Minerva descends to strengthen him, by the order of Jupiter. He arms for the fight: his appearance described. He addresses himself to his horses, and reproaches them with the death of Patroclus. One of them is miraculously endued with voice, and inspired to prophesy his fate: but the hero, not astonished by that prodigy, rushes with fury to the combat. The thirtieth day. The scene is on the sea-shore.
Jupiter, upon Achilles’ return to the battle, calls a council of the gods, and permits them to assist either party. The terrors of the combat described, when the deities are engaged. Apollo encourages Æneas to meet Achilles. After a long conversation, these two heroes encounter; but Æneas is preserved by the assistance of Neptune. Achilles falls upon the rest of the Trojans, and is upon the point of killing Hector, but Apollo conveys him away in a cloud. Achilles pursues the Trojans with a great slaughter. The same day continues. The scene is in the field before Troy.
The Trojans fly before Achilles, some towards the town, others to the river Scamander: he falls upon the latter with great slaughter: takes twelve captives alive, to sacrifice to the shade of Patroclus; and kills Lycaon and Asteropeus. Scamander attacks him with all his waves: Neptune and Pallas assist the hero: Simois joins Scamander: at length Vulcan, by the instigation of Juno, almost dries up the river. This combat ended, the other gods engage each other. Meanwhile Achilles continues the slaughter, drives the rest into Troy: Agenor only makes a stand, and is conveyed away in a cloud by Apollo; who (to delude Achilles) takes upon him Agenor’s shape, and while he pursues him in that disguise, gives the Trojans an opportunity of retiring into their city. The same day continues. The scene is on the banks and in the stream of Scamander.
The Trojans being safe within the walls, Hector only stays to oppose Achilles. Priam is struck at his approach, and tries to persuade his son to re-enter the town. Hecuba joins her entreaties, but in vain. Hector consults within himself what measures to take; but at the advance of Achilles, his resolution fails him, and he flies. Achilles pursues him thrice round the walls of Troy. The gods debate concerning the fate of Hector; at length Minerva descends to the aid of Achilles. She deludes Hector in the shape of Deiphobus; he stands the combat, and is slain. Achilles drags the dead body at his chariot in the sight of Priam and Hecuba. Their lamentations, tears, and despair. Their cries reach the ears of Andromache, who, ignorant of this, was retired into the inner part of the palace: she mounts up to the walls, and beholds her dead husband. She swoons at the spectacle. Her excess of grief and lamentation. The thirtieth day still continues. The scene lies under the walls, and on the battlements of Troy.
Achilles and the Myrmidons do honours to the body of Patroclus. After the funeral feast he retires to the sea-shore, where, falling asleep, the ghost of his friend appears to him, and demands the rites of burial; the next morning the soldiers are sent with mules and waggons to fetch wood for the pyre. The funeral procession, and the offering their hair to the dead. Achilles sacrifices several animals, and lastly twelve Trojan captives, at the pile; then sets fire to it. He pays libations to the Winds, which (at the instance of Iris) rise, and raise the flames. When the pile has burned all night, they gather the bones, place them in an urn of gold, and raise the tomb. Achilles institutes the funeral games: the chariot-race, the fight of the caestus, the wrestling, the foot-race, the single combat, the discus, the shooting with arrows, the darting the javelin: the various descriptions of which, and the various success of the several antagonists, make the greatest part of the book. In this book ends the thirtieth day. The night following, the ghost of Patroclus appears to Achilles: the one-and-thirtieth day is employed in felling the timber for the pile: the two-and-thirtieth in burning it; and the three-and-thirtieth in the games. The scene is generally on the sea-shore.
The gods deliberate about the redemption of Hector’s body. Jupiter sends Thetis to Achilles, to dispose him for the restoring it, and Iris to Priam, to encourage him to go in person and treat for it. The old king, notwithstanding the remonstrances of his queen, makes ready for the journey, to which he is encouraged by an omen from Jupiter. He sets forth in his chariot, with a waggon loaded with presents, under the charge of Idaeus the herald. Mercury descends in the shape of a young man, and conducts him to the pavilion of Achilles. Their conversation on the way. Priam finds Achilles at his table, casts himself at his feet, and begs for the body of his son: Achilles, moved with compassion, grants his request, detains him one night in his tent, and the next morning sends him home with the body: the Trojans run out to meet him. The lamentations of Andromache, Hecuba, and Helen, with the solemnities of the funeral. The time of twelve days is employed in this book, while the body of Hector lies in the tent of Achilles; and as many more are spent in the truce allowed for his interment. The scene is partly in Achilles’ camp, and partly in Troy.