Il. 1.

Sing, O daughter of heaven, of Peleus' son, of Achilles,
Him whose terrible wrath brought thousand woes on Achaia.
Many a stalwart soul did it hurl untimely to Hades,
Souls of the heroes of old: and their bones lay strown on the sea-sands,
Prey to the vulture and dog. Yet was Zeus fulfilling a purpose;
Since that far-off day, when in hot strife parted asunder
Atreus' sceptred son, and the chos'n of heaven, Achilles.
Say then, which of the Gods bid arise up battle between them?
Zeus's and Leto's son. With the king was kindled his anger:
Then went sickness abroad, and the people died of the sickness:
For that of Atreus' son had his priest been lightly entreated,
Chryses, Apollo's priest. For he came to the ships of Achaia,
Bearing a daughter's ransom, a sum not easy to number:
And in his hand was the emblem of Him, far-darting Apollo,
High on a sceptre of gold: and he made his prayer to the Grecians;
Chiefly to Atreus' sons, twin chieftains, ordering armies
"Chiefs sprung of Atreus' loins; and ye, brazen-greaved Achaians!
So may the Gods this day, the Olympus-palaced, grant you
Priam's city to raze, and return unscathed to your homesteads:
Only my own dear daughter I ask; take ransom and yield her,
Rev'rencing His great name, son of Zeus, far-darting Apollo."
Then from the host of Achaians arose tumultuous answer:
"Due to the priest is his honour; accept rich ransom and yield her."
But there was war in the spirit of Atreus' son, Agamemnon;
Disdainful he dismissed him, a right stern fiat appending:-
"Woe be to thee, old man, if I find thee lingering longer,
Yea or returning again, by the hollow ships of Achaians!
Scarce much then will avail thee the great god's sceptre and emblem.
Her will I never release. Old age must first come upon her,
In my own home, yea in Argos, afar from the land of her fathers,
Following the loom and attending upon my bed. But avaunt thee!
Go, and provoke not me, that thy way may be haply securer."
These were the words of the king, and the old man feared and obeyed him:
Voiceless he went by the shore of the great dull-echoing ocean,
Thither he got him apart, that ancient man; and a long prayer
Prayed to Apollo his Lord, son of golden-ringleted Leto.
"Lord of the silver bow, whose arm girds Chryse and Cilla, -
Cilla, loved of the Gods, - and in might sways Tenedos, hearken!
Oh! if, in days gone by, I have built from floor unto cornice,
Smintheus, a fair shrine for thee; or burned in the flames of the altar
Fat flesh of bulls and of goats; then do this thing that I ask thee:
Hurl on the Greeks thy shafts, that thy servant's tears be avenged!"
So did he pray, and his prayer reached the ears of Phoebus Apollo.
Dark was the soul of the god as he moved from the heights of Olympus,
Shouldering a bow, and a quiver on this side fast and on that side.
Onward in anger he moved. And the arrows, stirred by the motion,
Rattled and rang on his shoulder: he came, as cometh the midnight.
Hard by the ships he stayed him, and loosed one shaft from the bow- string;
Harshly the stretched string twanged of the bow all silvery-shining;
First fell his wrath on the mules, and the swift-footed hound of the herdsman;
Afterward smote he the host. With a rankling arrow he smote them
Aye; and the morn and the even were red with the glare of the corpse- fires.
Nine days over the host sped the shafts of the god: and the tenth day
Dawned; and Achilles said, "Be a council called of the people."
(Such thought came to his mind from the goddess, Hera the white-armed,
Hera who loved those Greeks, and who saw them dying around her.)
So when all were collected and ranged in a solemn assembly,
Straightway rose up amidst them and spake swift-footed Achilles:-
"Atreus' son! it were better, I think this day, that we wandered
Back, re-seeking our homes, (if a warfare MAY be avoided);
Now when the sword and the plague, these two things, fight with Achaians.
Come, let us seek out now some priest, some seer amongst us,
Yea or a dreamer of dreams - for a dream too cometh of God's hand -
Whence we may learn what hath angered in this wise Phoebus Apollo.
Whether mayhap he reprove us of prayer or of oxen unoffered;
Whether, accepting the incense of lambs and of blemishless he-goats,
Yet it be his high will to remove this misery from us."
Down sat the prince: he had spoken. And uprose to them in answer
Kalchas Thestor's son, high chief of the host of the augurs.
Well he knew what is present, what will be, and what was aforetime;
He into Ilion's harbour had led those ships of Achaia,
All by the Power of the Art, which he gained from Phoebus Apollo.
Thus then, kindliest-hearted, arising spake he before them:
"Peleus' son! Thou demandest, a man heavenfavor'd, an answer
Touching the Great King's wrath, the afar-off-aiming Apollo:
Therefore I lift up my voice. Swear thou to me, duly digesting
All, - that with right good will, by word and by deed, thou wilt aid me.
Surely the ire will awaken of one who mightily ruleth
Over the Argives all: and upon him wait the Achaians.
Aye is the battle the king's, when a poor man kindleth his anger:
For, if but this one day he devour his indignation,
Still on the morrow abideth a rage, that its end be accomplished,
Deep in the soul of the king. So bethink thee, wilt thou deliver."
Then unto him making answer arose swift-footed Achilles:
"Fearing nought, up and open the god's will, all that is told thee:
For by Apollo's self, heaven's favourite, whom thou, Kalchas,
Serving aright, to the armies aloud God-oracles op'nest:
None - while as yet I breathe upon earth, yet walk in the daylight -
Shall, at the hollow ships, lift hand of oppression against thee,
None out of all yon host - not and if thou said'st Agamemnon,
Who now sits in his glory, the topmost flower of the armies."
Then did the blameless prophet at last wax valiant and answer:
"Lo! He doth not reprove us of prayer or of oxen unoffered;
But for his servant's sake, the disdained of king Agamemnon,
(In that he loosed not his daughter, inclined not his ear to a ransom,) -
Therefore the Far-darter sendeth, and yet shall send on us, evil.
Nor shall he stay from the slaughter the hand that is heavy upon you,
Till to her own dear father the bright-eyed maiden is yielded,
No price asked, no ransom; and ships bear hallowed oxen
Chryse-wards:- then, it may be, will he shew mercy and hear us."
These words said, sat he down. Then rose in his place and addressed them
Atreus' warrior son, Agamemnon king of the nations,
Sore grieved. Fury was working in each dark cell of his bosom,
And in his eye was a glare as a burning fiery furnace:
First to the priest he addressed him, his whole mien boding a mischief.
"Priest of ill luck! Never heard I of aught good from thee, but evil.
Still doth the evil thing unto thee seem sweeter of utt'rance;
Leaving the thing which is good all unspoke, all unaccomplished.
Lo! this day to the people thou say'st, God-oracles opening,
What, but that I am the cause why the god's hand worketh against them,
For that in sooth I rejected a ransom, aye and a rich one,
Brought for the girl Briseis. I did. For I chose to possess her,
Rather, at home: less favour hath Clytemnestra before me,
Clytemnestra my wife: unto her Briseis is equal,
Equal in form and in stature, in mind and in womanly wisdom.
Still, even thus, am I ready to yield her, so it be better:
Better is saving alive, I hold, than slaying a nation.
Meanwhile deck me a guerdon in her stead, lest of Achaians
I should alone lack honour; an unmeet thing and a shameful.
See all men, that my guerdon, I wot not whither it goeth."
Then unto him made answer the swift-foot chieftain Achilles:
"O most vaunting of men, most gain-loving, off-spring of Atreus!
How shall the lords of Achaia bestow fresh guerdon upon thee?
Surely we know not yet of a treasure piled in abundance:
That which the sacking of cities hath brought to us, all hath an owner,
Yea it were all unfit that the host make redistribution.
Yield thou the maid to the god. So threefold surely and fourfold
All we Greeks will requite thee, should that day dawn, when the great Gods
Grant that of yon proud walls not one stone rest on another."