“Would heav’n (said he) my strength and youth recall, Such as I was beneath Praeneste’s wall— Then when I made the foremost foes retire, And set whole heaps of conquer’d shields on fire; When Herilus in single fight I slew, Whom with three lives Feronia did endue.”
—And swore. Literally, and called Orcus, the god of oaths, to witness. See Buttmann, Lexilog, p. 436.
Thus pray’d the king, and heaven’s great father heard His vows, in bitterness of soul preferr’d: The wrath appeased, by happy signs declares, And gives the people to their monarch’s prayers. His eagle, sacred bird of heaven! he sent, A fawn his talons truss’d, (divine portent!) High o’er the wondering hosts he soar’d above, Who paid their vows to Panomphaean Jove; Then let the prey before his altar fall; The Greeks beheld, and transport seized on all: Encouraged by the sign, the troops revive, And fierce on Troy with doubled fury drive. Tydides first, of all the Grecian force, O’er the broad ditch impell’d his foaming horse, Pierced the deep ranks, their strongest battle tore, And dyed his javelin red with Trojan gore. Young Agelaus (Phradmon was his sire) With flying coursers shunn’d his dreadful ire; Struck through the back, the Phrygian fell oppress’d; The dart drove on, and issued at his breast: Headlong he quits the car: his arms resound; His ponderous buckler thunders on the ground. Forth rush a tide of Greeks, the passage freed; The Atridae first, the Ajaces next succeed: Meriones, like Mars in arms renown’d, And godlike Idomen, now passed the mound; Evaemon’s son next issues to the foe, And last young Teucer with his bended bow. Secure behind the Telamonian shield The skilful archer wide survey’d the field, With every shaft some hostile victim slew, Then close beneath the sevenfold orb withdrew: The conscious infant so, when fear alarms, Retires for safety to the mother’s arms. Thus Ajax guards his brother in the field, Moves as he moves, and turns the shining shield. Who first by Teucer’s mortal arrows bled? Orsilochus; then fell Ormenus dead: The godlike Lycophon next press’d the plain, With Chromius, Daetor, Ophelestes slain: Bold Hamopaon breathless sunk to ground; The bloody pile great Melanippus crown’d. Heaps fell on heaps, sad trophies of his art, A Trojan ghost attending every dart. Great Agamemnon views with joyful eye The ranks grow thinner as his arrows fly: “O youth forever dear! (the monarch cried) Thus, always thus, thy early worth be tried; Thy brave example shall retrieve our host, Thy country’s saviour, and thy father’s boast! Sprung from an alien’s bed thy sire to grace, The vigorous offspring of a stolen embrace: Proud of his boy, he own’d the generous flame, And the brave son repays his cares with fame. Now hear a monarch’s vow: If heaven’s high powers Give me to raze Troy’s long-defended towers; Whatever treasures Greece for me design, The next rich honorary gift be thine: Some golden tripod, or distinguished car, With coursers dreadful in the ranks of war: Or some fair captive, whom thy eyes approve, Shall recompense the warrior’s toils with love.”