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Experienced Nestor gives his son the reins, Their heart, their eyes, their voice, they send before: Directs his judgment, and his heat restrains ; And up the champaign thunder from the shore : 440 Nor idly warms the hoary sire, nor hears
Thick, where they drive, the dusty clouds arise, The prudent son with unattending ears.
And the lost courser in the whirlwind flies; My son! though youthful ardour fire thy breast, Loose on their shoulders the long manes, reclined, The gods have loved thee, and with arts have bless'd. Float in their speed and dance upon the wind : Neptune and Jove on thee conferr'd the skill The smoking chariots, rapid as they bound, Swift round the goal to turn the flying wheel. Now seem to touch the sky, and now the ground. To guide thy conduct little precept needs ; While hot for fame, and conquest all their care But slow, and past their vigour, are my steeds. 380|(Each o'er his flying courser hung in air,) Fear not thy rivals, though for swiftness known; Erect with ardour, poised upon the rein, Compare those rivals' judgment and thy own : They pant, they stretch, they shout along the It is not strength, but art, obtains the prize,
plain. And to be swift is less than to be wise.
Now the last compass fetch'd around the goal, 450 "T'is more by art than force of numerous strokes, At the near prize each gathers all his soul, The dextrous woodman shakes the stubborn oaks; Each burns with double hope, with double pain, By art the pilot, through the boiling deep
Tears up the shore, and thunders toward the main. And howling tempest, steers the fearless ship; First few Eumelus on Pheretian steeds; And 'tis the artist wins the glorious course,
With those of Tros bold Diomed succeeds; Not those who trust in chariots and in horse. 390 Close on Eumelus' back they puff the wind, In vain ; unskilful to the goal they strive,
And seem just mounting on his car behind; And short or wide, the ungovern'd courser drive: Full on his neck he feels the sultry breeze, While with sure skill, though with inferior steeds, And hovering o'er, their stretching shadow sees. 460 The knowing racer to his end proceeds :
Then had he lost, or left a doubtful prize : Fix'd on the goal his eye foreruns the course, But angry Phæbus to Tydides flies, His hand unerring steers the steady horse, Strikes from his hand the scourge, and renders And now contracts and now extends the rein,
vain Observing still the foremost on the plain.
His matchless horses' labour on the plain. Mark then the goal; 'tis easy to be found; Rage fills his eye with anguish to survey, Yon aged trunk, a cubit from the ground; 400 Snatch'd from his hope, the glories of the day. Of some once stately oak the last remains,
The fraud celestial Pallas sees with pain, Or hardy fir unperish'd with the rains :
Springs to her knight, and gives the scourge again, Enclosed with stones, conspicuous from afar; And fills his steeds with vigour. At a stroke, And round a circle for the wheeling car
She breaks his rival's chariot from the yoke ; 470 (Some tomb, perhaps, of old, the dead to grace; No more their way the startled horses held; Or then, as now, the limit of a race :)
The car reversed came rauling on the field ; Bear close to this, and warily proceed
Shot headlong from his seat, beside the wheel, A little bending to the left hand steed
Prone on the dust the unhappy master fell; But urge the right, and give him all the reins; His batter'd face and elbows strike the ground; While thy strict hand his fellow's head restrains, 410 Nose, mouth, and front, one undistinguish'd wound: And turns him short; till, doubling as they roll, Grief stops his voice, a torrent drowns his eyes ; The wheel's round naves appear to brush the goal. Before him far the glad Tydides flies ; Yet (not to break the car, or lame the horse) Minerva's spirit drives his matchless pace, Clear of the stony heap direct the course :
And crowns him victor of the labour'd race.
480 Lest, through incaution failing, thou may'st be The next, though distant, Menelaus succeeds ; A joy to others, a reproach to me.
While thus young Nestor animates his steeds ; So shalt thou pass the goal, secure of mind, Now, now, my generous pair, exert your force; And leave unskilful swiftness far behind;
Not that we hope to match Tydides' horse,
Your swiftness, vanquish'd by a female foe?
490 Next bold Meriones was seen to rise,
No more shall Nestor's hand your food supply, The last, but not least ardent for the prize. The old man's fury rises, and ye die. They mount their seats; the lots their place dispose : Haste then; yon narrow road before your sight (Roll'd in his helmet, these Achilles throws.) Presents the occasion, could we use it right. Young Nestor leads the race: Eumelus then; Thus he. The coursers at their master's threat And next the brother of the king of men 430 With quicker steps the sounding champaign beat. Thy lot, Meriones, the fourth was cast ;
And now Antilochus with nice survey And far the bravest, Diomed, was last.
Observes the compass of the hollow way. They stand in order, an impatient train;
'Twas where by force of wintry torrents torn Pelides points the barrier on the plain,
Fast by the road a precipice was worn; And sends before old Phænix to the place, Here, where but one could pass, to shun the throng To mark the racers, and to judge the race. The Spartan hero's chariot smoked along. 501 At once the coursers from the barrier bound Close up the venturous youth resolves to keep, The lifted scourges all at once resound;
Still edging near, and bears him toward the steep
Contentious prince, of all the Greeks beside
Atrides, trembling, casts his eye below,
He said : and Ajax, by mad passion borne, And wonders at the rashness of his foe.
Stern had replied ; fierce scorn enhancing scorn Hold, stay your steeds ! What madness thus to To fell extremes; but Thetis' god-like son ride
Awful amidst them rose, and thus begun: This narrow way: take larger field (he cried) Forbear, ye chiefs! reproachful to contend; Or both must fall-Atrides cried in vain ;
Much would you blame, should others thus offend: He flies more fast, and throws up all the rein. 510 And lo! the approaching steeds your contest end. Far as an able arm the disk can send,
No sooner had he spoke, but, thundering near, When youthful rivals their full force extend, Drives through a stream of dust the charioteer. 580 So far, Antilochus ! thy chariot flew
High o'er his head the circling lash he wields ; Before the king : he, cautious, backward drew His bounding horses scarcely touch the fields : His horse compellid; foreboding in his fears His car amidst the dusty whirlwind rollid, The rattling ruin of the clashing cars,
Bright with the mingled blaze of tin and gold,
And the fierce coursers urged their rapid pace
Now victor at the goal 'Tydides stands,
Quits his bright car, and springs upon the sands ; 590 Then to his steeds with all his force he cries; From the hot steeds the sweaty torrents stream; Be swift, be vigorous, and regain the prize! The well-plied whip is hung athwart the beam: Your rivals, destitute of youthful force,
With joy brave Sthenelus receives the prize, With fainting knees shall labour in the course The tripod-vase, and dame with radiant eyes : And yield the glory yours—The steeds obey; These to the ships his train triumphant leads; Already at their heels they wing their way,
The chief himself unyokes the panting steeds. And seem already to retrieve the day.
Young Nestor follows (who by art, not force, Meantime the Grecians in a ring beheld 530) O'er past Atrides) second in the course. The coursers bounding o'er the dusty field. Behind, Atrides urged the race, more near The first who mark'd them was the Cretan king:
Than to the courser in his swist career
600 High on a rising ground, above the ring,
The following car, just touching with his heel The monarch sate ; from whence with sure survey
And brushing with his tail the whirling wheel; He well observed the chief who led the way,
Such and so narrow now the space between, And heard from far his animating cries :
The rivals, late so distant on the green : And saw the foremost steed with sharpen'd eyes ; So soon swift Æthe her lost gro regain'd, On whose broad front, a blaze of shining white, One length, one moment, had the race obtain'd. Like the full moon, stood obvious to the sight. Merion pursued, at greater distance still, He saw; and, rising, to the Greeks begun; 540 With tardier coursers, and inferior skill. Are yonder horse discern'd by me alone ?
Last came, Admetus ! thy unhappy son : Or can ye all another chief survey,
Slow dragg'd the steeds his batter'd chariot on: 610 And other steeds, than lately led the way ?
Achilles saw, and pitying thus begun : Those, though the swistest, by some god withheld,
Behold! the man whose matchless art surpass'd Lie sure disabled in the middle field :
The sons of Greece! the ablest, yet the last ! For since the goal they doubled, round the plain Fortune denies, but justice bids us pay I search to find them, but I search in vain. (Since great Tydides bears the first away) Perchance the reins forsook the driver's hand, To him the second honours of the day. And turn’d too short, he tumbled on the strand, The Greeks consent with loud applauding cries, Shot from the chariot ; while his coursers stray 550 And then Eumelus had received the prize ; With frantic fury from the destined way.
But youthful Nestor, jealous of his fame, Rise then some other, and inform my sight;
The award opposes, and asserts his claim. 620 For these dim eyes, perhaps, discern not right.
Think not (he cries) I tamely will resign, Yet sure he seerns (to judge by shape and air) O Peleus' son! the mare so justly mine. The great Ætolian chief, renown'd in war. What if the gods, the skilful to confound, Old man ! (Orleus rashly thus replies)
Have thrown the horse and horseman to the ground? Thy tongue too bastily confers the prize ; Perhaps he sought not Heaven by sacrifice, Of those who view the course, not sharpest eyed And vows omitted forfeited the prize. Nor youngest, yet the readiest to decide.
If yet (distinction to thy friend to show, Eumelus' steeds high-bounding in the chase, 560 And please a soul desirous to bestow) Sull as at first, unrivall’d Jead the race:
Some gift must grace Eumelus; view thy store I well discern him as be shakes the rein,
Of beauteous handmaids, steeds, and shining ore; 630 And hear his shouts victorious o'er the plain.
An ample present let him thence receive, Thus he. Idomeneus incensed rejoin'd:
And Greece shall praise thy generous thirst to Barbarous of words! and arrogant of mind !
But this my prize I never shall forego : The last in merit , as the first in pride!
This, who but touches, warriors! is my foe. To vile reproach what answer can we make ? Thus spake the youth ; nor did his words offend; A goblet or a tripod let us stake,
Pleased with the well-turn'd flattery of a friend, And be the king the judge. The most unwise 570 Achilles smiled: the gift proposed (he cried.) Will learn their rashness, when they pay the price.
Antilochus ! we shall ourself provide.
With plates of brass the corselet cover'd o'er Achilles this to reverend Nestor bears,
In dear memorial of Patroclus dead :
Dead, and for ever lost, Patroclus lies, The corselet brought and gave it to his hand. For ever snatch'd from our desiring eyes ! 710 Distinguish'd by his friend, his bosom glows Take thou this token of a grateful heart: With generous joy : then Menela is rose ;
Though 'tis not thine to hurl the distant dart, The herald placed the sceptre in his hands, The quoit to toss, the ponderous mace to wield, And still'd the clamour of the shouting bands, Or urge the race, or wrestle on the field : Not without cause incensed at Nestor's son, Thy pristine vigour age has overthrown, And inly grieving thus the king begun : 650 But left the glory of the past thy own.
The praise of wisdom, in thy youth obtain'd, He said, and placed the goblet at his side; An act so rash, Antilochus, has stain'd.
With joy the venerable king replied : Robb’d of my glory and my just reward,
Wisely and well, my son, thy words have proved To you, O Grecians! be my wrong declared : A senior honour'd and a friend beloved;
720 So not a leader shall our conduct blame,
Too true it is, deserted of my strength, Or judge me envious of a rival's fame.
These withered arms and limbs have failld at But shall not we, ourselves, the truth maintain ?
length. What needs appealing in a fact so plain ?
Oh! had I now that force I felt of yore, What Greek shall blame me, if I bid thee rise, Known through Buprasium and the Pylian shore! And vindicate by oath the ill-gotten prize ? 660 Victorious then in every solemn game, Rise if thou darest, before thy chariot stand,
Ordain'd to Amarynces' mighty name; The driving scourge high lifted in thy hand; The brave Epeians gave my glory way, And touch thy steeds, and swear, thy whole intent Ætolians, Pylians, all resign'd the day. Was but to conquer, not to circumvent.
I quell'a Clytomedes in fights of hand,
Phyleus and Polydorus with the spear,
For the famed twins, impatient to survey,
670 Prize after prize by Nestor borne away, Thou know'st the errors of unripen'd age,
Sprung to their car; and with united pains Weak are its counsels, headlong is its rage.
One lash'd the coursers, while one ruled the reins. The prize I quit, if thou thy wrath resign ;
Such once I was! Now to these tasks succeeds The mare, or aught thou ask'st, be freely thine; A younger race, that emulate our deeds: 740 Ere I become (from thy dear friendship torn) I yield, alas! (to age who must not yield ?) Hateful to thee, and to the gods foresworn. Though once the foremost hero of the field. So spoke Antilochus : and at the word
Go thou, my son! by generous friendship led, The mare contested to the king restored.
With martial honours decorate the dead; Joy swells his soul : as when the vernal grain While pleased I take the gift thy hands present Lifts the green ear above the springing plain, 680 (Pledge of benevolence and kind intent;) The fields their vegetable life renew,
Rejoiced, of all the numerous Greeks, to see And laugh and glitter with the morning dew; Not one but honours sacred age and me: Such joy the Spartan s shining face o'erspread Those due distinctions thou so well canst pay, And lifted his gay heart, while thus he said: May the just gods return another day!
750 Still may your souls, O generous youth! agree, Proud of the gift, thus spake the full of days. 'Tis now Atrides' turn to yield to thee.
Achilles heard him, prouder of the praise. Rash heat perhaps a moment might controul,
The prizes next are order’d to the field, Not break, the settled temper of thy soul.
For the bold champions who the custus wield. Not (but my friend) 'tis still the wiser way
A stately mule, as yet by toils unbroke,
Achilles rising thus : Lel Greece excite
Two heroes equal to this hardy fight;
760 Generous alike for me, the sire and son
Who dares the foe with lifted arms provoke,
And whom the Greeks supreme by conquest know,
High o'er the crowd, enormous bulk! be rose, The golden talents Merion next obtain'd;
And seized the beast, and thus began to say: The Gifth reward, the double bowl, remain'd; Stand forth some man, to bear the bowl away! TO
(Price of his ruin :) for who dares deny
While the long strife e'en tired the lookers-on, This mule my right, the undoubted victor I ? Thus to Ulysses spoke great Telamon: Others, 'tis own'd, in fields of battle shine, Or let me lifi thee, chief, or lift thou me: 840 But the first honours of this fight are mine; Prove we our force, and Jove the rest decree. For who excels in all? Then let my foe
He said: and, straining, heaved him off the ground Draw near, but first his certain fortune know: With matchless strength; that time Ulysses found Secure this hand shall his whole frame confound, The strength to evade, and where the nerves comMash all his bones, and all his body pound :
bine So let his friends be nigh, a needful train,
His ancle struck: the giant fell supine; To heave the batter'd carcass off the plain. 780 Ulysses following, on his bosom lies; The giant spoke: and in a stupid gaze
Shouts of applause run rattling through the skies. The host beheld him silent with amaze!
Ajax to lift, Ulysses next assays; 'Twas thou, Euryalus! who durst aspire
He barely stirr'd him, but he could not raise : To meet his might, and emulate thy sire,
His knee lock'd fast, the foe's attempt denied; 850 The great Mecistheus; who in days of yore And grappling close, they tumble side by side. In Theban games the noblest trophy bore
Defiled with honourable dust, they roll, (The games ordain'd dead Cdipus to grace,) Still breathing strife, and unsubdued of soul: And singly vanquish'd the Cadmæan race.
Again they rage, again to combat rise;
When great Achilles thus divides the prize :
prowess you have proved so well And poises high in air his iron hands :
The hero's words the willing chiefs obey,
860 With clashing gauntlets now they fiercely close, From their tired bodies wipe the dust away, Their crackling jaws re-echo to the blows,
And clothed anew, the following games survey. And painful sweat from all their members flows. And now succeed the gifts ordain'd to grace At length Epeus dealt a weighty blow
The youths contending in the rapid race. Full on the cheek of his unwary foe;
A silver urn that full six measures held, Beneath that ponderous arm's resistiess sway 800 By none in weight or workmanship excell’d; Down dropp'd he nerveless, and extended lay. Sidonian artists taught the frame to shine, As a large fish, when winds and waters roar, Elaborate, with artifice divine; By some huge billow dash'd against the shore, Whence Tyrian sailors did the prize transport, Lies panting ; not less batter'd with his wound, And gave to Thoas at the Lemnian port : 870 The bleeding hero pants upon the ground.
From him descended, good Eunæus heir'd To rear his fallen foe the victor lends,
The glorious gift ; and, for Lycaon spared,
It stands the prize of swiftness in the race
The third bold game Achilles next demands, Stand forth, and bear these prizes from the plain. 880
The hero said; and starting from his place, A massy tripod for the victor lies,
Oilean Ajax rises to the race; Of twice six oxen its reputed price;
Ulysses next; and he whose speed surpass'd And next, the loser's spirits to restore,
His youthful equals, Nestor's son the last. A female captive, valued but at four.
Ranged in a line the ready racers stand; Scarce did the chief the vigorous strife propose, 820 Pelides points the barrier with his hand. When tower-like Ajax and Clysses rose.
All start at once; Oileus led the race: Arnid the ring each nervous rival stands,
The next Ulysses, measuring pace with pace: Embracing rigid with implicit hands;
Behind him, diligently close, he sped, Close lock'd above, their heads and arms are mix’d; As closely following as the running thread 890 Below, their planted feet, at distance fix'd : The spindle follows, and displays the charms Like two strong rafters which the builder forms, Of the fair spinster's breast, and moving arms : Proof to the wintry winds and howling storms, Graceful in motion thus, his foe he plies, Their tops connected, but at wider space,
And treads each footstep ere the dust can rise: Fixt on the centre stands their solid base.
His glowing breath upon his shoulders plays; Now to the grasp each manly body bends : 830 The admiring Greeks loud acclamations raise. The humid sweat from every pore descends; To him they give their wishes, hearts, and eyes, Their bones resound with blows; sides, shoulders, And send their souls before him as he flies.
Now three times turu'd in prospect of the goal, Swell to each gripe, and bloody tumours rise. The panting chief to Pallas lifts his soul: 900 Nor could Ulysses, for his art renown'd,
Assist, 0 goddess ! (thus in thought he pray'd,) O'erturn the strength of Ajix on the ground:
And present at his thought descends the maid. Nor could the strength of Ajar overthrow
Buny'd by her heavenly force, he seems to swim, The watchful caution of luis a:tful foe.
Ind feels a pinion lifting every limh.
All fierce and ready now the prize to gain,
Then hurl'd the hero thundering on the ground Unhappy Ajax stumbles on the plain
A mass of iron (an enormous round, (O'erturn'd by Pallas,) where the slippery shore Whose weight and size the circling Greeks admire, Was clogg'd with slimy dung, and mingled gore, Rude from the furnace, and but shaped by fire. (The self-same place beside Patroclus' pyre, This mighty quoit Action wont to rear, Where late the slaughter'd victims fed the fire :) 910 And from his whirling arm dismiss in air : Besmear'd with filth, and blotted o'er with clay, The giant by Achilles slain, he stow'd Obscene to sight, the rueful racer lay;
Among his spoils this memorable load.
980 The well-fed bull (the second prize) he shared, For this, he bids those nervous artists vie, And left the urn Ulysses' rich reward.
That teach the disk to sound along the sky. Then, grasping by the horn the mighty beast, Let him whose might can hurt this bowl, arise ; The baffled hero thus the Greeks address'd: Who farthest hurls it, takes it as his prize. Accursed fate! the conquest I forego;
If he be one, enrich'd with large domain A mortal I, a goddess was my foe;
Of downs for flocks, and arable for grain, She urged her favourite on the rapid way,
Small stock of iron needs that man provide ; And Pallas, not Ulysses, won the day.
920 His binds and swains whole years shall be supplied Thus sourly wail'd he, sputtering dirt and gore, From hence: nor ask the neighbouring city's aid, A burst of laughter echo'd through the shore. For ploughshares, wheels, and all the rural trade. 990 Antilochus, more humorous than the rest,
Stern Polypales stepp'd before the throng, Takes the last prize, and takes it with a jest : And great Leonteus, more than mortal strong:
Why with our wiser elders should we strive ? Whose force with rival forces to oppose,
Each stood in order: first Epëus threw :
High o'er the wondering crowds the whirling circle (A green old age unconscious of decays,
And third, the strength of godlike Ajax cast:
O'er both their marks it flew, till fiercely flung For who can match Achilles? He who can, From Polypetus' arm, the discus sung: 1000 Must yet be more than hero, more than man. Far as a swain his whirling sheephook throws, The effect succeeds the speech, Pelides cries,
That distant falls among the grazing cows, Thy artful praise deserves a better prize;
So past them all the rapid circle Aies : Nor Greece in vain shall hear thy friend extollid: His friends (while loud applauses shake the skies) Receive a talent of the purest gold.
With force conjoin'd heave off the weighty prize The youth departs content. The host admire
Those who in skilful archery contend, The son of Nestor, worthy of his sire.
940 He next invites the ewanging bow to bend : Next these, a buckler, spear, and helm, he brings; And twice ten axes cast amidst the round Cast on the plain the brazen burden rings:
(Ten double-edged, and ten that singly wound.) Arms, which of late divine Sarpedon wore, The mast, which late a first-rate galley bore, 1010 And great Patroclus in short triumph bore,
The hero fixes in the sandy shore;
The trembling mark at which their arrows fly. Now grace the lists before our army's sight, Whose weapon strikes yon fluttering bird, shall And, sheath'd in steel, provoke his foe to fight.
He said ; experienced Merion took the word;
No firstling lambs, unheedful! didst thou vow
For this, thy well-aim'd arrow, lurn'd aside,
Err'd from the dove, yet cut the cord that tied: The dreadful chiefs amid the circle stand : 960 Adown the main-mast fell the parted string, Lowering they meet, tremendous to the sight; And the free bird to heaven displays her wing: Each Argive bosom beats with fierce delight. Seas, shores, and skies, with loud applause resound, Opposed in arms not long they idly stood,
And Merion eager meditates the wound: But thrice they closed, and thrice the charge renewid. He takes the bow, directs the shaft above, A furious pass the spear of Ajax made
And following with his eyes the soaring dove, Through the broad shield, but at the corselet stay'd : Implores the god to speed it through the skies, Not thus the foe: his javelin aim'd above
With vows of firstling lambs, and grateful sacrifice The buckler's margin, at the neck he drove. The dove, in airy circles as she wheels, But Greece now trembling for her hero's life, Amid the clouds the piercing arrow teels; Bade share the honours, and surcease the strife. 970 Quite through and through the point ils passage Yet still ihe victor's due Tydides gains,
found, With him the sword and studded belt remains. And at his feet fell bloody to the ground.