« FöregåendeFortsätt »
A priest made pris'ner, Pallas made a prey:
But none of all these actions done by day:
Nor ought of these was done, and Diomede away.
If on such petty merits you confer
So valt a prize, let each his portion share ;
Make a juft dividend; and if not all,
The greater part to Diomede will fall,
But why for Ithacus such arms as those,
Who naked and by night invades his foes ?
The glitt'ring helm by moonlight will proclaim
The latent robber, and prevent his game :
Nor could he hold his tott'ring head upright
Beneath that motion, or sustain the weight;
Nor that right arm could toss the beamy lance;
Much less the left that ampler shield advance ;
Pond'rous with precious weight, and rough'with cost
Of the round world in rising gold emboss'd.
That orb would ill become his hand to wield,
And look as for the gold he stole the shield ;
Which should your error on the wretch beftow,
It would not frighten, but allure the foe :
Why asks he, what avails him not in fight,
And would but cumber and retard his flight,
In which his only excellence is plac'd ?
You give him death, that intercept his hafte,
Add, that his own is yet a maiden-shield,
Nor the leaft dint has suffer'd in the field,
Guiltless of fight: mine batter'd, hew'd, and bor'd,
Worn out of service, must forsake his lord.
What farther need of words our right to scan?
My arguments are deeds, let action speak the man,
Since from a champion's arms the strife arose,
So cast the glorious prize amid the foes ;
Then send us to redeem both arms and shield,
And let him wear who wins 'em in the field..
He said: a murmur from the multitude,
Or somewhat like a stifled fhout, ensu'd :
Till from his seat arose Laertes' son,
Look'd down a while, and paus'd ere he begun;
Then to th’expecting audience rais'd his look,
And not without prepar'd attention spoke:
Soft was his tone, and fober was his face;
A&ion his words, and words his action grace.
If heav'n, my lords, had heard our common pray'r,
These arms had caus'd no quarrel for an heir ;
Still great Achilles had his own poffess’d,
And we with great Achilles had been bless'd.
But since hard fate, and heav'n's severe decree,
Have ravilh'd him from
(At this he figh'd, and wip'd his eyes, and drew,
Or seem'd co draw, some drops of kindly dew)
Who better can succeed Achilles loft,
Than he who
Achilles to your hok ?
This only I request, that neither he
May gain, by being what he seems to be,
A ftupid thing, nor I may lose the prize,
By having sense, which heav'n to him denies :
Since, great or small, the talent I enjoy'd
Was ever in the common cause employ'd :
Nor let my wit, and wonted eloquence,
Which often has been us'd in your defence
And in my own, this only time be brought
To bear against myself, and deem'd a fault.
Make not a crime, where nature made it none ;
For ev'ry man may freely use his own.
The deeds of long descended ancestors
Are but by grace of imputation ours,
Theirs in effect : but since he draws his line
From Jove, and seems to plead a right divine ;
From Jove, like him, I claim my pedigree,
And am descended in the same degree ;
My fire Laertes was Arcefius' heir,
Arcefius was the son of Jupiter :
No paracide, no banish'd man, is known
In all my line: let him excufe his own.
Hermes ennobles too my mother's fide,
By both my parents to the Gods ally'd;
But not because that on the female part
My blood is better, dare I claim defert,
Or that my fire from paricide is free;
But judge by merit betwixt him and me :
The prize be to the best ; provided yet,
That Ajax for a while his kin forget,
And his great fire, and greater uncle's name,
To fortify by them his feeble claim :
Be kindred and relation laid aside,
And honour's cause by laws of honour try'd:
For if he plead proximity of blood,
That empty title is with ease withstood.
Peleus, the hero's fire, more nigh than he,
And Pyrrhus his undoubted progeny,
Inherit first these trophies of the field;
To Scyros, or to Phthia, fend the shield :
And Teucer has an uncle's right; yet he
Waves his pretensions, nor contends with me.
Then, since the cause on pure desert is plac'd,
Whence shall I take my rise, what reckon laft?
I not presume on every act to dwell,
But take these few, in order as they fell.
Thecis, who knew the fates, apply'd her care
To keep Achilles in disguise from war ;
And till the threatning influence was past,
A woman's habit on the hero caft:
All eyes were cozen'd by the borrow'd vest,
And Ajax (never wiser than the rest)
Found no Pelides there : at length I came
With proffer'd wares to this pretended dame;
She, not discover'd by her mien or voice,
Betray'd her manhood by her manly choice;
And while on female toys her fellows look,
Grasp'd in her warlike hand, a javelin fhook;
Whom, by this act reveald, I thus bespoke ;
O Goddess-born ! resist not heav'n's decree,
The fall of Ilium is reserv'd for thee ;
Then seiz'd him, and, produc'd in open light,
Sent blushing to the field the fatal knight.
Mine then are all his actions of the war ;
Great Telephus was conquer’d by my spear,
And after curd : to me the Thebans owe,
Lesbos and Tenedos, their overthrow ;
Scyros and Cylla : not on all to dwell,
By me Lyrnesus and strong Chrysa fell:
And since I fent the man who Hector flew,
To me the noble Hector's death is due :
Those arms I put into his living hand,
Those arms, Pelides dead, I now demand.
When Greece was injur'd in the Spartan prince,
And met at Aulis to revenge th' offence,
'Twas a dead calm, or adverse blasts, that reign'd,
And in the port the wind-bound Meet detain's :
Bad signs were seen, and oracles severe
Were daily thunder'd in our general's ear :
That by his daughter's blood we must appease
Diana's kindled wrath, and free the seas.
Affection, int'reft, fame, his heart affail'd;
But soon the father o'er the king prevail'd :
Bold, on himself he took the pious crime,
angry with the Gods, as they with him,
No subject could sustain their sov'reign's look,
Till this hard enterprize I undertook :
I only durft th’imperial pow'r controul,
And undermind the parent in his soul ;
Forc'd him texert the king for common good,
And pay our ransom with his daughter's blood.
Never was cause more difficult to plead,
Than where the judge against himself decrced:
Yet this I won by dint of argument;
The wrongs his injur'd brother underwent,
And his own office, Tham'd him to consent.
Twas harder yet to move the mother's mind,
And to this heavy task was I defign'd:
Reasons against her love I knew were vain:
I circumvented whom I could not gain :
Had Ajax been employ'd, our flacken'd fails
Had Aill at Aulis waited happy gales.
Arriv'd at Troy, your choice was fix'd on me,
A fearless envoy, at for a bold embaffy:
Secure, I enter'd through the hotile court,
Glitt'ring with steel, and crouded with resort :
There in the midk of arms, I plead our cause,
Urge the foul rape, and violated laws ;
Accuse the foes, as authors of the Atrife,
Reproach the ravilher, demand the wife.
Priam, Antenor, and the wiser few,
I mov'd; but Paris and his lawless crew
Scarce held their hands, and lifted swords : but food
In act to quench their impious thirit of blood :
This Menelaus knows; expos'd to share
With me the rough preludium of the war.
Endless it were to tell what I have done,
In arms, or counsel, since the fiege begun :
The first encounters past, the foe repellid,
They skulk'd within the town, we kept the field.
War seem'd asleep for nine long years ; at length,
Both sides resolv'd to push, we try'd our strength.
Now what did Ajax while our arms took breath,
Vers'd only in the gross mechanic trade of death?
If you require my deeds, with ambush'd arms
I trapp'd the foe, or tir'd with false alarms;
Secur'd the ships, drew lines along the plain,
The fainting chear'd, chattis'd the rebel-train,