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The empty forms of men inhabit there,
New as they were to that infernal shore,
“ Oh mighty chief !” Pelides thus began, 35 “ Honour'd by Jove above the lot of man! King of a hundred kings! to whom resign'd The strongest, bravest, greatest of mankind, Comest thou the first, to view this dreary state? And was the noblest, the first mark of fate, 40 Condemn'd to pay the great arrear so soon, The lot, which all lament, and none can shun! Oh! better hadst thou sunk in Trojan ground, With all thy full-blown honours cover'd round; Then grateful Greece with streaming eyes might raise
45 Historic marbles to record thy praise: Thy praise eternal on the faithful stone Had with transmissive glories graced thy son. But heavier fates were destined to attend : What man is happy, till he knows his end !" 50
“Oh son of Peleus! greater than mankind !" Thus Agamemnon's kingly shade rejoin'd; “Thrice happy thou, to press the martial plain Mid heaps of heroes in thy quarrel slain : In clouds of smoke raised by the noble fray, 55 Great and terrific ev'n in death you lay, And deluges of blood flow'd round you every way.
Nor ceased the strife till Jove himself opposed,
70 (From old experience Nestor's counsel springs, And long vicissitudes of human things.)
Forbear your flight: fair Thetis froin the main To mourn Achilles leads her azure train.' Around thee stand the daughters of the deep, 75 Robe thee in heavenly vests, and round thee weep; Round thee, the muses, with alternate strain, In ever-consecrating verse, complain. Each warlike Greek the moving music hears, And iron-hearted heroes melt in tears. Till seventeen nights and seventeen days return'd, All that was mortal or immortal mourn'd. To flames we gave thee, the succeeding day, And fatted sheep, and sable oxen slay ; With oils and honey blaze the augmented fires, 85 And, like a god adorn'd, thy earthly part expires. Unnumber'd warriors round the burning pile Urge the fleet courser's or the racer's toil; Thick clouds of dust o'er all the circle rise, And the mix'd clamour thunders in the skies. 90 Soon as absorb’d in all embracing flame Sunk what was mortal of thy mighty name, We then collect thy snowy bones, and place With wines and unguents in a golden vase: (The vase to Thetis Bacchus gave of old, 95 And Vulcan's art enrich'd the sculptured gold.)
There we thy relics, great Achilles ! blend
Thus they : while Hermes o'er the dreary plain
Did nightly thieves, or pirates' cruel bands,
“Oh king of men! I faithful shall relate," Replied Amphimedon, " our hapless fate. 145 Ulysses absent, our ambitious aim With rival loves pursued his royal dame ; Her coy reserve, and prudence mix'd with pride, Our common suit nor granted, nor denied ; But close with inward hate our deaths design'd ; 150 Versed in all arts of wily woman kind. Her hand, laborious, in delusion spread A spacious loom, and mix'd the various thread. • Ye peers,' she cried, 'who press to gain my heart, Where dead Ulysses claims no more a part, 155 Yet a short space your rival suit suspend, Till this funereal web my labours end : Cease, till to good Laertes I bequeath A task of grief, his ornaments of death : Lest, when the fates his royal ashes claim, 160 The Grecian matrons taint my spotless fame ; Should he, long honour'd with supreme command, Want the last duties of a daughter's hand.'
“ The fiction pleased, our generous train complies, Nor fraud mistrusts in virtue's fair disguise. 165 The work she plied, but studious of delay, Each following night reversed the toils of day. Unheard, unseen, three years her arts prevail; The fourth, her maid reveal'd the amazing tale, And show'd, as unperceived we took our stand, 170 The backward labours of her faithless hand. Forced, she completes it; and before us lay
The mingled web, whose gold and silver ray
“Just as she finish'd her illustrious toil, 175
190 But when, arising in his wrath to obey The will of Jove, he gave the vengeance way; The scatter'd arms that hung around the dome Careful he treasured in a private room : Then to her suitors bade his queen propose 195 The archer's strife, the source of future woes, And omen of our death! In vain we drew The twanging string, and tried the stubborn yew : To none it yields but great Ulysses' hands; In vain we threat ; Telemachus commands: 200 The bow he snatch'd, and in an instant bent; Through every ring the victor arrow went. Fierce on the threshold then in arms he stood; Pour'd forth the darts that thirsted for our blood, And frown'd before us, dreadful as a god! 205 First bleeds Antinous; thick the shafts resound; And heaps on heaps the wretches strew the ground ; This way, and that, we turn, we fly, we fall; Some god assisted, and unmann'd us all : Ignoble cries precede the dying groans;
210 ind batter'd brains and blood besmear the stones.