The Iliad, Book VI

Original Text: 
The Iliad of Homer, trans. Alexander Pope, II (London: W. Bowyer for Bernard Lintot, 1716): 472-81 (Book VI). E-10 4020 Fisher Rare Book Library (Toronto).
462He said, and pass'd with sad presaging heart
463To seek his spouse, his soul's far dearer part;
464At home he sought her, but he sought in vain:
465She, with one maid of all her menial train,
466Had thence retir'd; and, with her second joy,
467The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy,
468Pensive she stood on Ilion's tow'ry height,
469Beheld the war, and sicken'd at the sight;
470There her sad eyes in vain her lord explore,
471Or weep the wounds her bleeding country bore.
472But he who found not whom his soul desir'd,
473Whose virtue charm'd him as her beauty fir'd,
474Stood in the gates, and ask'd what way she bent
475Her parting step? If to the fane she went,
476Where late the mourning matrons made resort;
477Or sought her sisters in the Trojan court?
478Not to the court (reply'd th' attendant train)
479Nor mix'd with matrons, to Minerva's fane:
480To Ilion's steepy tow'r she bent her way,
481To mark the fortunes of the doubtful day.
482Troy fled, she heard, before the Grecian sword;
483She heard, and trembled for her absent lord:
484Distracted with surprise, she seem'd to fly,
485Fear on her cheek and sorrow in her eye.
486The nurse attended with her infant boy,
487The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy.
488Hector, this heard, return'd without delay;
489Swift thro' the town he trod his former way,
490Thro' streets of palaces and walks of state;
491And met the mourner at the Scæan gate.
492With haste to meet him sprung the joyful fair,
493His blameless wife, Aëtion's wealthy heir:
494(Cilician Thebè great Aëtion sway'd,
495And Hippoplacus' wide-extended shade)
496The nurse stood near, in whose embraces prest
497His only hope hung smiling at her breast,
498Whom each soft charm and early grace adorn,
499Fair as the new-born star that gilds the morn.
500To this lov'd infant Hector gave the name
501Scamandrius, from Scamander's honour'd stream;
502Astyanax the Trojans call'd the boy,
503From his great father, the defence of Troy.
504Silent the warrior smil'd, and pleas'd resign'd
505To tender passions all his mighty mind:
506His beauteous princess cast a mournful look,
507Hung on his hand, and then dejected spoke;
508Her bosom labour'd with a boding sigh,
509And the big tear stood trembling in her eye.
510Too daring prince! ah whither dost thou run?
511Ah too forgetful of thy wife and son!
512And think'st thou not how wretched we shall be,
513A widow I, a helpless orphan he!
514For sure such courage length of life denies,
515And thou must fall, thy virtue's sacrifice.
516Greece in her single heroes strove in vain;
517Now hosts oppose thee, and thou must be slain!
518Oh, grant me gods! e'er Hector meets his doom,
519All I can ask of heav'n, an early tomb!
520So shall my days in one sad tenor run,
521And end with sorrows as they first begun.
522No parent now remains, my griefs to share,
523No father's aid, no mother's tender care.
524The fierce Achilles wrapt our walls in fire,
525Lay'd Thebè waste, and slew my warlike sire!
526His fate compassion in the victor bred;
527Stern as he was, he yet rever'd the dead,
528His radiant arms preserv'd from hostile spoil,
529And lay'd him decent on the fun'ral pyle;
530Then rais'd a mountain where his bones were burn'd,
531The mountain nymphs the rural tomb adorn'd,
532Jove's sylvan daughters bade their elms bestow
533A barren shade, and in his honour grow.
534By the same arm my sev'n brave brothers fell,
535In one sad day beheld the gates of hell;
536While the fat herds and snowy flocks they fed,
537Amid their fields the hapless heroes bled!
538My mother liv'd to bear the victor's bands,
539The queen of Hippoplacia's sylvan lands:
540Redeem'd too late, she scarce beheld again
541Her pleasing empire and her native plain,
542When ah! opprest by life-consuming woe,
543She fell a victim to Diana's bow.
544Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
545My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee.
546Alas! my parents, brothers, kindred, all,
547Once more will perish if my Hector fall.
548Thy wife, thy infant, in thy danger share:
549Oh prove a husband's and a father's care!
550That quarter most the skilful Greeks annoy,
551Where yon' wild fig-trees join the wall of Troy:
552Thou, from this tow'r defend th' important post;
553There Agamemnon points his dreadful host,
554That pass Tydides, Ajax, strive to gain,
555And there the vengeful Spartan fires his train.
556Thrice our bold foes the fierce attack have giv'n,
557Or led by hopes, or dictated from heav'n.
558Let others in the field their arms employ,
559But stay my Hector here, and guard his Troy.
560The chief reply'd: "That post shall be my care,
561Not that alone, but all the works of war.
562How would the sons of Troy, in arms renown'd,
563And Troy's proud dames whose garments sweep the ground,
564Attaint the lustre of my former name,
565Should Hector basely quit the field of fame?
566My early youth was bred to martial pains,
567My soul impels me to th' embattl'd plains;
568Let me be foremost to defend the throne,
569And guard my father's glories, and my own.
570Yet come it will, the day decreed by fates;
571(How my heart trembles while my tongue relates!)
572The day when thou, imperial Troy! must bend,
573And see thy warriors fall, thy glories end.
574And yet no dire presage so wounds my mind,
575My mother's death, the ruin of my kind,
576Not Priam's hoary hairs defil'd with gore,
577Not all my brothers gasping on the shore;
578As thine, Andromache! thy griefs I dread;
579I see thee trembling, weeping, captive led!
580In Argive looms our battles to design,
581And woes, of which so large a part was thine!
582To bear the victor's hard commands, or bring
583The weight of waters from Hyperia's spring.
584There, while you groan beneath the load of life,
585They cry, Behold the mighty Hector's wife!
586Some haughty Greek who lives thy tears to see,
587Embitters all thy woes, by naming me.
588The thoughts of glory past,and present shame,
589A thousand griefs shall waken at the name!
590May I lie cold before that dreadful day,
591Press'd with a load of monumental clay!
592Thy Hector, wrapp'd in everlasting sleep,
593Shall neither hear thee sigh, nor see thee weep.
594Thus having spoke, th' illustrious chief of Troy
595Stretch'd his fond arms to clasp the lovely boy.
596The babe clung crying to his nurse's breast,
597Scar'd at the dazzling helm, and nodding crest.
598With secret pleasure each fond parent smil'd,
599And Hector hasted to relieve his child;
600The glitt'ring terrors from his brows unbound,
601And plac'd the beaming helmet on the ground.
602Then kist the child, and lifting high in air,
603Thus to the gods preferr'd a father's pray'r:
604O thou! whose glory fills th' æthereal throne,
605And all ye deathless pow'rs! protect my son!
606Grant him, like me, to purchase just renown,
607To guard the Trojans, to defend the crown,
608Against his country's foes the war to wage,
609And rise the Hector of the future age!
610So when triumphant from successful toils,
611Of heroes slain he bears the reeking spoils,
612Whole hosts may hail him with deserv'd acclaim,
613And say, This chief transcends his father's fame:
614While pleas'd amidst the gen'ral shouts of Troy,
615His mother's conscious heart o'erflows with joy.
616He spoke, and fondly gazing on her charms
617Restor'd the pleasing burthen to her arms;
618Soft on her fragrant breast the babe she laid,
619Hush'd to repose, and with a smile survey'd.
620The troubled pleasure soon chastis'd by fear,
621She mingled with the smile a tender tear.
622The soften'd chief with kind compassion view'd,
623And dry'd the falling drops, and thus pursu'd.
624Andromache! my soul's far better part,
625Why with untimely sorrows heaves thy heart?
626No hostile hand can antedate my doom,
627Till fate condemns me to the silent tomb.
628Fix'd is the term to all the race of earth,
629And such the hard condition of our birth.
630No force can then resist, no flight can save,
631All sink alike, the fearful and the brave.
632No more--but hasten to thy tasks at home,
633There guide the spindle, and direct the loom;
634Me glory summons to the martial scene,
635The field of combat is the sphere for men.
636Where heroes war, the foremost place I claim,
637The first in danger as the first in fame.
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
N. J. Endicott; Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
2RP 1.596; 2006