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He chiefs were fet; the soldiers crown'd the field:
Upstarted fierce : and kindled with disdain,
Eager to fpeak, unable to contain
His boiling rage, he roll'd his eyes around
'The shore, and Grecian gallies hallid a-ground.
Then stretching out his hands, O Jove, he cry'd,
Must then our cause before the fleet be try'd ?
And dares Ulyffes for the prize contend,
In fight of what he durft not once defend?
But basely fled that memorable day,
When I from Hector's hands redeem'd the flaming prey.
So much 'tis safer at the noisy bar
With words to flourish, than
By diff'rent methods we maintain'd our right,
Nor am I made to talk, nor he to fight.
In bloody fields I labour to be great ;
His arms are a smooth tongue, and foft deceit.
Nor need I fpeak my deeds, for those you fee;
The fun and day are withesses for me.
Let him who fights unseen relate his own,
And vouch the filent stars, and conscious moon.
Great is the prize demanded, I confess,
But such an abject rival makes it less.
That gift, those honours, he but hop'd to gain,
Can leave no room for Ajax to be vain:
Losing he wins, because his dame will be
Ennobled by defeat, who durft contend with me.
Were mine own valour question'd, yet my blood
Without that plea would make my title good :
My fire was Telamon, whose arms, employ'd
With Hercules, these Trojan walls destroy'd;
And who before, with Jason, sent from Greece,
In the first ship brought home the golden fleece:
Great Telamon from Æacus derives
His birth (th’inquisitor of guilty lives
In shades below; where Sisyphus, whose son
This thief is thought, rolls up the restless heavy stone,)
Just Æacus the king of Gods above
Begot: thus Ajax is the third from Jove.
Nor should I seek advantage from my line,
Unless (Achilles) it were mix'd with thine :
As next of kin Achilles' arms I claim;
This fellow would ingraft a foreign name
Upon our stock, and the Sisyphian feed
By fraud and theft asserts his father's breed.
Then muft I lose these arms, because I came
To fight uncallid, a voluntary name?
Nor shunn'd the cause, but offer'd you my aid,
While he long lurking was to war betray'd :
Forc'd to the field he came, but in the rear;
And feign'd distraction to conceal his fear :
Till one more cunning caught him in the snare,
(Ill for himself) and drag'd him into war.
Now let"a hero's arms a coward vert,
And he, who Thunn'd all honours, gain the best ;
And let me stand excluded from my right,
Rohb'd of my kinsman's arms, who first appear'd in fight.
Better for us, at home he had remain's,
Had it been true the madness which he feign'd,
Or so believ'd; the less had been our shame,
The less his counsellid crime, which brands the Grecian
Nor Philoctetes had been left inclos'd
In a bare ifle, to wants and pains expos'd,
Where to the rocks, with folitary groans,
His suff'rings and our baseness he bemoans :
And wishes (so may heav'n his with fulfil)
The due reward to him who caus'd his ill.
Now he, with us to Troy's destruction sworn,
Our brother of the war, by whom are borne
Alcides' arrows, pent in narrow bounds,
With cold and hunger pinch'd, and paind with wounds,
To find him food and clothing, muft employ
Againft the birds the shafts due to the fate of Troy.
Yet ftill he lives, and lives from treason free,
Because he left Ulysses' company :
Poor Palamede might with, so void of aid
Rather to have been left, than fo to death betray'd.
The coward bore the man immortal spite,
Who Tham'd him out of madness into fight :
Nor daring otherwise to vent his hate,
Accus'd him firft of treason to the state ;
And then for proof produc'd the golden ftore
Himself had hidden in his tent before :
Thus of two champions he depriv'd our hoft,
By exile one, and one by treason loft.
Thus fights Ulyffes, thus his fame extends,
A formidable man, but to his friends :
Great, for what greatness is in words and found:
Ev'n faithfui Neitor less in both is found :
But that he might without a rival reign,
He left his faithful Nestor on the plain ;
Forsook his friend ev'n at his utmost need,
Who tir'd and tardy, with his wounded steed,
Cry'd out for aid, and call’d him by his name ;,
But cowardise has neither ears nor shame:
Thụs fed the good old man, bereft of aid,
And, for as much as lay in him, betray'd.
That this is not a fable forg’d by me,
Like one of his, an Ulyssean lye,
I vouch ev'n Diomede, who, tho' his friend,
Cannot that act excuse, much less defend :
He call'd him back aloud, and tax'd his fear;
And sure enough he heard, but durft not hear.
The Gods with equal eyes on mortals look ;
He juftly was forsaken, who forsook :
Wanted that fuccour he refus'd to lend,
Found every fellow such another friend :
No wonder, if he roar'd that all might hear,
His elocution was increas'd by fear :
I heard, I ran, I found him out of breath,
Pale, trembling, and half dead with fear of death.
Though he had judg'd himself by his own laws,
And stood condemn'd, I help'd the common cause :
With my broad buckler hid him from the foe;
(Ev’n the shield trembled as he lay below;)
And from impending fate the coward freed :
Good heav'n forgive me for so bad a deed!
If still he will perfift, and urge the strife,
First let him give me back his forfeit life:
Let him return to that opprobrious field;
Again creep under my protecting Thield :
Let him lie wounded, let the foe be near,
And let his quiv'ring heart confets his fear;
There put him in the very jaws of fate ;
And let him plead his cause in that estate :
And yet when snatch'd from death, when from below
My lifted field I loos’d and let him go,
Good heav'ns, how light he rose, with what a bound
He sprung from earth, forgetful of his wound :
How fresh, how eager then his feet to ply ;
Who had not strength to stand, had speed to fly!
Hector came on, and brought the Gods along;
Fear seiz'd alike the feeble and the itrong:
Each Greek was an Ulysses ; such a dread
Th’approach, and ev’n the sound of Hector bred :
Him, flesh'd with slaughter, and with conquest crown'd,
I met, and over-turn'd him to the ground.
When after, matchless as he deem'd in might,
He challeng'd all our host to fingle fight,
All eyes were fix'd on me: the lots were thrown;
But for your champion I was with'd alone :
Your vows were heard, we fought and neither yield;
Yet I return’d unvanquish'd from the field.
With Jove to friend th' insulting 'Trojan came,
And menac'd us with force, our fleet with fame:
Was it the strength of this tongue-valiant lord,
In that black hour, that sav'd you from the sword;
Or was my breast expos'd alone, to brave
A thousand swords, a thousand ships to save ?
The hopes of your return ! and can you yield,
For a fav’d fleet, less than a single shield?
Think it no boast, o Grecians, if I deem
These arms want Ajax, more than Ajax them ;
Or, I with them an equal honour share ;
They honour'd to be worn, and I to wear.
Will he compare my courage with his flight?
As well he may compare the day with night.
Night is indeed the province of his reign :
Yet all his dark exploits no more contain
Than a spy taken, and a sleeper flain;