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From the Sixth Book of the ILIAD,
Hector, returning from the field of battle, to visit
Helen his sister-in-law, and his brother Paris, who had fought unsuccessfully hand to hand with Menelaus, from thence goes to his own palace to Jee bis wife Andromacbe, and bis infant Jon Astyanax. The description of that interview is the subject of this translation.
HUS having said, brave Hector went to see
His virtuous wife, the fair Andromache. He found her not at home; for she was gone, Attended by her maid and infant son, To climb the steepy tow'r of Ilion: From whence, with heavy heart, she might survey The bloody business of the dreadful day. Her mournful
The cast around the plain, And fought the lord of her desires in vain.
But he, who thought his peopled palace bare, When she, his only comfort, was not there, Stood in the gate, and ask'd of ev'ry one, Which way she took, and whither she was gone;
If to the court, or, with his mother's train,
In long procession to Minerva's fane?
The servants answer'd, Neither to the court,
Where Priam's sons and daughters did resort,
Nor to the temple was she gone, to move
prayers the blue-ey'd progeny of Jove;
But more solicitous for him alone,
Than all their safety, to the tow'r was gone,
There to survey the labours of the field,
Where the Greeks conquer, and the Trojans yield;
Swiftly she pass’d, with fear and fury wild ;
The nurse went lagging after with the child.
This heard, the noble Hector made no stay; Th'admiring throng divide, to give him way; He pass'd thro every street, by which he came, And at the
hc met the mournful dame. His wife beheld him, and with eager pace Flew to his arms, to meet a dear embrace: His wife, who brought in dow'r Cilicia's crown, And, in herself, a greater dow'r alone: Aetion's heir, who on the woody plain Of Hippoplacus did in Thebe reign. Breathless she flew, with joy and passion wild ; The nurse came lagging after with her child.
The royal babe upon her breast was laid; Who, like the morning star, his beams display'd.
Scamandrius was his name, which Hector
From that fair flood which Ilion's wall did lave:
But him Aftyanax the Trojans call,
From his great father, who defends the wall.
Hector beheld him with a silent smile;
His tender wife stood weeping by the while:
Press'd in her own, his warlike hand she took,
Then ligh’d, and thus prophetically spoke.
Thy dauntless heart (which I foresee too late) Too daring man,
urge thee to thy fate :
Nor dost thou pity, with a parent's mind,
This helpless orphan, whom thou leav'st behind;
Nor me, th' unhappy partner of thy bed;
Who must in triumph by the Greeks be led :
They seek thy life, and, in unequal fight
will oppress thy single might:
Better it were for miserable me
To die, before the fate which I foresee.
For ah! what comfort can the world bequeath
To Hector's widow, after Hector's death?
Eternal sorrow and perpetual tears
Began my youth, and will conclude my years:
I have no parents, friends, nor brothers left;
By stern Achilles all of life bereft.
Then when the walls of Thebes he overthrew,
His fatal hand my royal father dlew;
He New Aetion, but despoil'd him not;
Nor in his hate the funeral rites forgot;
Arm'd as he was he sent him whole below,
And reverenc'd thus the manes of his foe :
A tomb he rais'd; the mountain nymphs around
Inclos'd with planted elms the holy ground.
My seven brave brothers in one fatal day
To death's dark manfions took the mournful way;
Slain by the same Achilles, while they keep
The bellowing oxen and the bleating Theep.
My mother, who the royal sceptre sway'd,
Was captive to the cruel victor made,
And hither led; but, hence redeem'd with gold,
Her native country did again behold,
And but beheld : for foon Diana's dart
In an unhappy chace transfix'd her heart.
But thou, my Hector, art thyself alon)
My parents, brothers, and my lord in one:
O kill not all my kindred o'er again,
Nor tempt the dangers of the dusty plain ;
But in this tow'r, for our defence, remain.
Thy wife and son are in thy ruin loft:
This is a husband's and a father's post.
The Scæan gate commands the plains below;
Here marshal all thy soldiers as they go;
And hence with other hands repel the foe.
By yon wild fig-tree lies their chief ascent,
And thither all their pow’rs are daily bent :
The two Ajaces have I often seen,
And the wrong'd husband of the Spartan queen:
With him his greater brother; and with these
Fierce Diomede and bold Meriones :
Uncertain if by augury, or chance,
But by this easy rise they all advance;
Guard well that pass, secure of all beside.
To whom the noble Hector thus reply'd.
That and the rest are in my daily care;
But should I thun the dangers of the war,
With scorn the Trojans would reward my pains,
And their proud ladies with their sweeping trains.
The Grecian swords and lances I can bear:
But loss of honour is my only fear.
Shall Hector, born to war, his birth-right yield,
Belye his courage, and forsake the field ?
Early in rugged arms I took delight,
And still have been the foremost in the fight:
With dangers dearly have I bought renown,
And am the champion of my father's crown.
yet my mind forebodes, with sure presage, That Troy shall perish by the Grecian rage. The fatal day draws on, when I must fall; And universal ruin cover all.