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CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Translations
The Speeches of Ajax and Ulysses;
From Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Book XIII
 
THE CHIEFS 1 were set; the Soldiers crown’d the Field:
To these the Master of the sevenfold Shield
Upstarted fierce: And kindled with Disdain
Eager to speak, unable to contain
His boiling Rage, he rowl’d his Eyes around        5
The Shore, and Grecian Gallies hall’d a-ground.
Then stretching out his Hands, O Jove, he cry’d,
Must then our Cause before the Fleet be try’d?
And dares Ulysses for the Prize contend,
In sight of what he durst not once defend?        10
But basely fled that memorable Day,
When I from Hector’s Hands redeem’d the flaming Prey.
So much ’tis safer at the noisy Bar
With Words to flourish than ingage in War.
By different Methods we maintain our Right,        15
Nor am I made to Talk, nor he to Fight.
In bloody Fields I labour to be great;
His Arms are a smooth Tongue, and soft deceit:
Nor need I speak my Deeds, for those you see;
The Sun and Day are Witnesses for me,        20
Let him who fights unseen relate his own,
And vouch the silent Stars, and conscious Moon;
Great is the Prize demanded, I confess,
But such an abject Rival makes it less;
That Gift, those Honours, he but hop’d to gain        25
Can leave no room for Ajax to be vain:
Losing he wins, because his Name will be
Enobled by Defeat, who durst contend with me.
Were my known Valour question’d, yet my Blood
Without that Plea wou’d make my Title good:        30
My Sire was Telamon whose Arms, employ’d
With Hercules, these Trojan Walls destroy’d;
And who before, with Jason, sent from Greece,
In the first Ship brought home the Golden Fleece;
Great Telamon from Æacus derives        35
His birth (th’ Inquisitor of guilty Lives
In Shades below where Sysiphus whose Son
This Thief is thought rouls up the restless heavy Stone,)
Just Æacus the King of Gods above
Begot: Thus Ajax is the third from Jove.        40
Nor shou’d I seek advantage from my Line,
Unless (Achilles) it were mix’d with thine:
As next of Kin Achilles Arms I claim;
This Fellow wou’d ingraft a Foreign Name
Upon our Stock, and the Sysiphian Seed        45
By Fraud and Theft asserts his Father’s Breed:
Then must I lose these Arms, because I came
To fight uncall’d, a voluntary Name,
Nor shun’d the Cause, but offer’d you my Aid,
While he long lurking was to War betray’d?        50
Forc’d to the Field he came, but in the Reer;
And feign’d Distraction to conceal his Fear:
Till one more cunning caught him in the Snare;
(Ill for himself) and drag’d him into War.
Now let a Hero’s Arms a Coward vest,        55
And he who shun’d all Honours, gain the best:
And let me stand excluded from my Right
Rob’d of my Kinsman’s Arms, who first appear’d in Fight.
Better for us at home had he remain’d
Had it been true, the Madness which he feign’d,        60
Or so believ’d; the less had been our Shame,
The less his counsell’d Crime which brands the Grecian Name;
Nor Philoctetes had been left inclos’d
In a bare Isle to Wants and Pains expos’d,
Where to the Rocks, with solitary Groans        65
His Suff’rings and our Baseness he bemoans;
And wishes (so may Heav’n his Wish fulfill)
The due Reward to him who caus’d his Ill.
Now he, with us to Troy’s Destruction sworn
Our Brother of the War, by whom are borne        70
Alcides Arrows, pent in narrow Bounds
With Cold and Hunger pinch’d, and pain’d with Wounds,
To find him Food and Cloathing must employ
Against the Birds the Shafts due to the Fate of Troy.
Yet still he lives, and lives from Treason free,        75
Because he left Ulysses Company:
Poor Palamede might wish, so void of Aid,
Rather to have been left, than so to Death betray’d.
The Coward bore the Man immortal Spight,
Who sham’d him out of Madness into Fight:        80
Nor daring otherwise to vent his Hate
Accus’d him first of Treason to the State,
And then for Proof produc’d the golden Store,
Himself had hidden in his Tent before:
Thus of two Champions he depriv’d our Hoast,        85
By Exile one, and one by Treason lost.
Thus fights Ulysses, thus his Fame extends,
A formidable Man, but to his Friends
Great, for what Greatness is in Words and Sound:
Ev’n faithful Nestor less in both is found:        90
But that he might without a Rival reign,
He left this faithful Nestor on the Plain;
Forsook his Friend ev’n at his utmost Need,
Who tir’d, and tardy with his wounded Steed
Cry’d out for Aid, and call’d him by his Name;        95
But Cowardice has neither Ears nor Shame:
Thus fled the good old Man, bereft of Aid,
And for as much as lay in him, betray’d:
That this is not a Fable forg’d by me,
Like one of his, an Ulyssean Lie,        100
I vouch ev’n Diomede, who tho’ his Friend
Cannot that Act excuse, much less defend:
He call’d him back aloud, and tax’d his Fear;
And sure enough he heard, but durst not hear.
  The Gods with equal Eyes on Mortals look,        105
He justly was forsaken, who forsook:
Wanted that Succour he refus’d to lend,
Found ev’ry Fellow such another Friend:
No wonder, if he roar’d that all might hear;
His Elocution was increas’d by Fear:        110
I heard, I ran, I found him out of Breath,
Pale, trembling, and half dead, with Fear of Death.
Though he had judg’d himself by his own Laws,
And stood condemn’d, I help’d the common Cause:
With my broad Buckler hid him from the Foe;        115
(Ev’n the Shield trembled as he lay below;)
And from impending Fate the Coward freed:
Good Heav’n forgive me for so bad a Deed!
If still he will persist, and urge the Strife,
First let him give me back his forfeit Life:        120
Let him return to that opprobrious Field:
Again creep under my protecting Shield:
Let him lie wounded, let the Foe be near,
And let his quiv’ring Heart confess his Fear;
There put him in the very Jaws of Fate;        125
And let him plead his Cause in that Estate:
And yet, when snatch’d from Death, when from below
My lifted Shield I loos’d, and let him go:
Good Heav’ns, how light he rose, with what a bound
He sprung from Earth, forgetful of his Wound;        130
How fresh, how eager then his Feet to ply;
Who had not Strength to stand, had Speed to fly!
  Hector came on, and brought the Gods along;
Fear seiz’d alike the Feeble and the Strong:
Each Greek was an Ulysses; such a Dread        135
Th’ approach, and e’en the sound of Hector bred:
Him, flesh’d with Slaughter, and with Conquest crown’d,
I met, and over-turn’d him to the Ground.
When after, matchless as he deem’d, in Might,
He challeng’d all our Hoast to single Fight;        140
All Eyes were fix’d on me: The Lots were thrown;
But for your Champion I was wish’d alone:
Your Vows were heard, we Fought and neither yield;
Yet I return’d unvanquish’d from the Field.
With Jove to friend th’ insulting Trojan came,        145
And menac’d us with Force, our Fleet with Flame:
Was it the Strength of this Tongue-valiant Lord,
In that black Hour, that sav’d you from the Sword?
Or was my Breast expos’d alone, to brave
A thousand Swords, a thousand Ships to save?        150
The hopes of your return! And can you yield,
For a sav’d Fleet, less than a single Shield?
Think it no Boast, O Grecians, if I deem
These Arms want Ajax, more than Ajax them;
Or, I with them an equal Honour share;        155
They honour’d to be worn, and I to wear.
Will he compare my Courage with his Slight?
As well he may compare the Day with Night.
Night is indeed the Province of his Reign:
Yet all his dark Exploits no more contain        160
Than a Spy taken, and a Sleeper slain;
A Priest made Pris’ner, Pallas made a Prey
But none of all these Actions done by Day:
Nor ought of these was done, and Diomed away.
If on such petty Merits you confer        165
So vast a Prize, let each his Portion share;
Make a just Dividend: and if not all,
The greater part to Diomed will fall.
But why for Ithacus such Arms as those,
Who naked and by Night invades his Foes?        170
The glitt’ring Helm by Moonlight will proclaim
The latent Robber, and prevent his Game:
Nor could he hold his tott’ring Head upright
Beneath that Motion, or sustain the Weight;
Nor that right Arm cou’d toss the beamy Lance;        175
Much less the left that ampler Shield advance;
Pond’rous with precious Weight, and rough with Cost
Of the round World in rising Gold emboss’d.
That Orb would ill become his Hand to wield,
And look as for the Gold he stole the Shield;        180
Which shou’d your Error on the Wretch bestow,
It would not frighten, but allure the Foe:
Why asks he, what avails him not in Fight,
And wou’d but cumber and retard his Flight,
In which his only Excellence is plac’d?        185
You give him Death, that intercept his hast.
Add, that his own is yet a Maiden-Shield,
Nor the least Dint has suffer’d in the Field,
Guiltless of Fight: Mine batter’d, hew’d, and bor’d,
Worn out of Service, must forsake his Lord.        190
What farther need of Words our Right to scan?
My Arguments are Deeds, let Action speak the Man.
Since from a Champion’s Arms the Strife arose,
So cast the glorious Prize amid the Foes;
Then send us to redeem both Arms and Shield,        195
And let him wear who wins ’em in the Field.
  He said: A Murmur from the Multitude,
Or somewhat like a stiffled Shout, ensu’d:
Till from his Seat arose Laertes Son,
Look’d down awhile, and paus’d e’er he begun;        200
Then to th’ expecting Audience rais’d his Look,
And not without prepar’d Attention spoke:
Soft was his Tone, and sober was his Face;
Action his Words, and Words his Action grace.
  If Heav’n, my Lords, had heard our common Pray’r,        205
These Arms had caus’d no Quarrel for an Heir;
Still great Achilles had his own possess’d,
And we with great Achilles had been bless’d.
But since hard Fate, and Heav’ns severe Decree,
Have ravish’d him away from you and me,        210
(At this he sigh’d, and wip’d his Eyes, and drew,
Or seem’d to draw some Drops of kindly Dew)
Who better can succeed Achilles lost,
Than he who gave Achilles to your Hoast?
This only I request, that neither He        215
May gain, by being what he seems to be,
A stupid Thing, nor I may lose the Prize,
By having Sense, which Heav’n to him denies:
Since, great or small, the Talent I enjoy’d
Was ever in the common Cause employ’d:        220
Nor let my Wit, and wonted Eloquence
Which often has been us’d in your Defence
And in my own, this only time be brought
To bear against my self, and deem’d a Fault.
Make not a Crime, where Nature made it none;        225
For ev’ry Man may freely use his own.
The Deeds of long descended Ancestors
Are but by grace of Imputation ours,
Theirs in effect: but since he draws his Line
From Jove, and seems to plead a Right Divine,        230
From Jove, like him, I claim my Pedigree,
And am descended in the same degree:
My sire Laertes was Arcesius Heir,
Arcesius was the Son of Jupiter:
No Paricide, no banish’d Man, is known        235
In all my Line: Let him excuse his own.
Hermes ennobles too my Mother’s Side,
By both my Parents to the Gods ally’d;
But not because that on the Female Part
My Blood is better, dare I claim Desert,        240
Or that my Sire from Paricide is free,
But judge by Merit betwixt Him and Me:
The Prize be to the best; provided yet,
That Ajax for awhile his Kin forget,
And his great Sire, and greater Uncles Name,        245
To fortify by them his feeble Claim:
Be Kindred and Relation laid aside,
And Honours Cause by Laws of Honour try’d:
For if he plead Proximity of Blood;
That empty Title is with Ease withstood.        250
Peleus, the Hero’s Sire, more nigh than he,
And Pyrrhus, his undoubted Progeny,
Inherit first these Trophies of the Field;
To Scyros, or to Phthya, 2 send the Shield:
And Teucer has an Uncle’s Right; yet he        255
Waves his Pretensions, nor contends with me.
  Then since the Cause on pure Desert is plac’d,
Whence shall I take my Rise, what reckon last?
I not presume on ev’ry Act to dwell,
But take these few, in order as they fell.        260
  Thetis, who knew the Fates, apply’d her Care,
To keep Achilles in Disguise from War;
And till the threat’ning Influence were past,
A Woman’s Habit on the Hero cast:
All Eyes were couzen’d by the borrow’d Vest,        265
And Ajax (never wiser than the rest)
Found no Pelides there: At length I came
With proffer’d Wares to this pretended Dame;
She not discover’d by her Mien or Voice,
Betray’d her Manhood by her manly Choice;        270
And while on Female Toys her Fellows look,
Grasp’d in her Warlike Hand, a Javelin shook;
Whom, by this Act reveal’d, I thus bespoke:
O Goddess-born! resist not Heav’ns Decree,
The Fall of Ilium is reserv’d for thee;        275
Then seiz’d him, and, produc’d in open Light,
Sent blushing to the Field the fatal Knight.
Mine then are all his Actions of the War;
Great Telephus was conquer’d by my Spear,
And after cur’d: To me the Thebans owe,        280
Lesbos and Tenedos, their Overthrow;
Syros and Cylla! Not on all to dwell,
By me Lyrnesus, and strong Chrysa fell:
And since I sent the Man who Hector slew,
To me the noble Hector’s Death is due:        285
Those Arms I put into his living Hand,
Those Arms, Pelides dead, I now demand.
  When Greece was injur’d in the Spartan Prince,
And met at Aulis to revenge th’ Offence,
’Twas a dead Calm, or adverse Blasts that reign’d,        290
And in the Port the Wind-bound Fleet detain’d:
Bad Signs were seen, and Oracles severe
Were daily thunder’d in our General’s Ear:
That by his Daughter’s Blood we must appease
Diana’s kindled Wrath, and free the Seas.        295
Affection, Int’rest, Fame, his Heart assail’d;
But soon the Father o’er the King prevail’d:
Bold, on himself he took the pious Crime,
As angry with the Gods, as they with him.
No Subject cou’d sustain their Sov’raign’s Look,        300
Till this hard Enterprize I undertook:
I only durst th’ Imperial Pow’r controul,
And undermin’d the Parent in his Soul;
Forc’d him t’ exert the King for common Good,
And pay our Ransom with his Daughters Blood.        305
Never was Cause more difficult to plead,
Than where the Judge against himself decreed:
Yet this I won by Dint of Argument;
The Wrongs his injur’d Brother underwent,
And his own office sham’d him to consent.        310
  ’Twas harder yet to move the Mother’s Mind,
And to this heavy Task was I design’d:
Reasons against her Love I knew were vain:
I circumvented whom I could not gain:
Had Ajax been employ’d, our slacken’d Sails        315
Had still at Aulis waited happy Gales.
  Arriv’d at Troy, your Choice was fix’d on me,
A fearless Envoy, fit for a bold Embassy:
Secure, I enter’d through the hostile Court,
Glitt’ring with Steel, and crowded with Resort:        320
There, in the midst of Arms, I plead our Cause,
Urge the foul Rape, and violated Laws;
Accuse the Foes, as Authors of the Strife,
Reproach the Ravisher, demand the Wife
Priam, Antenor, and the wiser few,        325
I mov’d; but Paris and his lawless Crew
Scarce held their Hands, and lifted Swords: But stood
In Act to quench their Impious thirst of Blood:
This Menelaus knows; expos’d to share
With me the rough Preludium of the War.        330
  Endless it were to tell what I have done,
In Arms, or Council, since the Siege begun:
The first Encounters pass’d, the Foe repell’d,
They skulk’d within the Town we kept the Field.
War seem’d asleep for nine long Years, at length,        335
Both Sides resolv’d to push, we try’d our Strength.
Now what did Ajax while our Arms took Breath,
Vers’d only in the gross mechanick Trade of Death?
If you require my Deeds, with ambush’d Arms
I trap’d the Foe, or tir’d with false Alarms;        340
Secur’d the Ships, drew Lines along the Plain,
The Fainting chear’d, chastis’d the Rebel-train,
Provided Forage, our spent Arms renew’d;
Employ’d at home, or sent abroad, the common Cause pursu’d.
  The King, deluded in a Dream by Jove,        345
Despair’d to take the Town, and order’d to remove.
What Subject durst arraign the Pow’r supreme,
Producing Jove to justify his Dream?
Ajax might wish the Soldiers to retain
From shameful Flight, but Wishes were in vain:        350
As wanting of effect had been his Words,
Such as of course his thundring Tongue affords.
But did this Boaster threaten, did he pray,
Or by his own Example urge their stay?
None, none of these, but ran himself away.        355
I saw him run, and was asham’d to see;
Who ply’d his Feet so fast to get aboard as He?
Then speeding through the Place, I made a stand,
And loudly cry’d, O base degen’rate Band,
To leave a Town already in your Hand!        360
After so long expence of Blood, for Fame,
To bring home nothing but perpetual Shame!
These Words, or what I have forgotten since,
(For Grief inspir’d me then with Eloquence)
Reduc’d their Minds, they leave the crowded Port,        365
And to their late forsaken Camp resort;
Dismay’d the Council met: This Man was there,
But mute, and not recover’d of his Fear.
Thersites tax’d the King, and loudly rail’d,
But his wide opening Mouth with Blows I seal’d.        370
Then, rising, I excite their Souls to Fame,
And kindle sleeping Virtue into Flame,
From thence, whatever he perform’d in Fight
Is justly mine, who drew him back from Flight.
  Which of the Grecian Chiefs consorts with Thee?        375
But Diomede desires my Company,
And still communicates his Praise with me.
As guided by a God, secure he goes,
Arm’d with my Fellowship amid the Foes:
And sure no little Merit I may boast,        380
Whom such a Man selects from such an Hoast;
Unforc’d by Lots I went without Affright,
To dare with him the Dangers of the Night:
On the same Errand sent, we met the Spy
Of Hector, double tongu’d, and us’d to lie;        385
Him I dispatch’d, but not till undermin’d
I drew him first to tell what treacherous Troy design’d:
My Task perform’d, with Praise I had retir’d,
But not content with this, to greater Praise aspir’d;
Invaded Rhæsus, and his Thracian Crew,        390
And him, and his, in their own Strength, I slew;
Return’d a Victor, all my Vows compleat,
With the King’s Chariot, in his Royal Seat:
Refuse me now his Arms, whose fiery Steeds
Were promis’d to the Spy for his Nocturnal Deeds:        395
And let dull Ajax bear away my Right,
When all his Days out-ballance this one Night.
  Nor fought I darkling 3 still: The Sun beheld
With slaughter’d Lycians when I strew’d the Field:
You saw, and counted as I pass’d along,        400
Alastor, Cromyus, Ceranos the Strong,
Alcander, Prytanis, and Halius,
Noemon, Charopes, and Ennomus,
Choon, Chersidamas; and five beside
Men of obscure Descent, but Courage try’d:        405
All these this Hand laid breathless on the Ground;
Nor want I Proofs of many a manly Wound:
All honest, all before: Believe not me;
Words may deceive, but credit what you see.
  At this he bar’d his Breast, and show’d his Scars,        410
As of a furrow’d Field, well plough’d with Wars;
Nor is this Part unexercis’d, said he;
That Gyant-bulk of his from Wounds is free:
Safe in his Shield he fears no Foe to try,
And better manages his Blood than I:        415
But this avails me not; our Boaster strove
Not with our Foes alone, but partial Jove,
To save the Fleet: This I confess is true,
(Nor will I take from any Man his Due:)
But thus assuming all, he robs from you.        420
Some part of Honour to your share will fall,
He did the best indeed, but did not all.
Patroclus in Achilles Arms, and thought
The Chief he seem’d, with equal Ardour fought;
Preserv’d the Fleet, repell’d the raging Fire,        425
And forc’d the fearful Trojans to retire.
  But Ajax boasts, that he was only thought
A Match for Hector, who the Combat sought:
Sure he forgets the King, the Chiefs, and Me;
All were as eager for the Fight as He:        430
He but the ninth, and, not by publick Voice,
Or ours preferr’d, was only Fortunes Choice:
They fought, nor can our Hero boast the Event,
For Hector from the Field unwounded went.
  Why am I forc’d to name that fatal Day,        435
That snatch’d the Prop and Pride of Greece away?
I saw Pelides sink, with pious Grief,
And ran in vain, alas, to his Relief;
For the grave Soul was fled: Full of my Friend,
I rush’d amid the War, his Relicks to defend:        440
Nor ceas’d my Toil till I redeem’d the Prey,
And loaded with Achilles, march’d away:
Those Arms, which on these Shoulders then I bore,
’Tis just you to these Shoulders should restore.
You see I want not Nerves, who cou’d sustain        445
The pond’rous Ruins of so great a Man:
Or if in others equal Force you find,
None is endu’d with a more grateful Mind.
  Did Thetis then, ambitious in her Care,
These Arms thus labour’d for her Son prepare;        450
That Ajax after him the heav’nly gift should wear?
For that dull Soul to stare, with stupid Eyes,
On the learn’d unintelligible Prize!
What are to him the Sculptures of the Shield,
Heav’ns Planets, Earth, and Oceans watry Field?        455
The Pleiads, Hyads; less, and greater Bear,
Undipp’d in Seas; Orion’s angry Star;
Two diff’ring Cities, grav’d on either Hand?
Would he wear Arms he cannot understand?
  Beside, what wise Objections he prepares        460
Against my late Accession to the Wars?
Does not the Fool perceive his Argument
Is with more force against Achilles bent?
For, if Dissembling be so great a Crime,
The Fault is common, and the same in him:        465
And if he taxes both of long delay,
My Guilt is less, who sooner came away.
His pious Mother anxious for his Life,
Detain’d her Son, and me, my pious Wife.
To them the Blossoms of our Youth were due:        470
Our riper Manhood we reserv’d for you.
But grant me guilty, ’tis not much my care,
When with so great a Man my Guilt I share:
My Wit to War the matchless Hero brought,
But by this Fool I never had been caught.        475
  Nor need I wonder, that on me he threw
Such foul Aspersions, when he spares not you:
If Palamede unjustly fell by me,
Your Honour suffer’d in th’ unjust Decree:
I but accus’d, you doom’d: And yet he dy’d,        480
Convinc’d of Treason, and was fairly try’d:
You heard not he was false; your Eyes beheld
The Traytor manifest; the Bribe reveal’d.
  That Philoctetes is on Lemnos left,
Wounded, forlorn, of human Aid bereft,        485
Is not my Crime, or not my Crime alone;
Defend your Justice, for the Fact’s your own:
’Tis true, th’ Advice was mine: that staying there
He might his weary Limbs with rest repair,
From a long Voyage free, and from a longer War.        490
He took the Counsel, and he lives at least;
Th’ Event declares I counsell’d for the best:
Though Faith is all in Ministers of State;
For who can promise to be fortunate?
Now since his Arrows are the Fate of Troy,        495
Do not my Wit, or weak Address, employ;
Send Ajax there, with his persuasive Sense
To mollify the Man, and draw him thence:
But Xanthus shall run backward; Ida stand
A leafless Mountain; and the Grecian Band        500
Shall fight for Troy; if when my Counsels fail,
The Wit of heavy Ajax can prevail.
  Hard Philoctetes, exercise thy Spleen,
Against thy Fellows, and the King of Men;
Curse my devoted Head, above the rest,        505
And wish in Arms to meet me Breast to Breast:
Yet I the dang’rous Task will undertake
And either die my self, or bring thee back.
  Nor doubt the same Success, as when before
The Phrygian Prophet to these Tents I bore,        510
Surpriz’d by Night, and forc’d him to declare
In what was plac’d the fortune of the War;
Heav’ns dark Decrees, and Answers to display,
And how to take the Town, and where the Secret lay:
Yet this I compass’d, and from Troy convey’d        515
The fatal Image of their Guardian-Maid;
That Work was mine; for Pallas, though our Friend,
Yet while she was in Troy, did Troy defend.
Now what has Ajax done, or what design’d,
A noisy Nothing, and an empty Wind?        520
If he be what he promises in Show,
Why was I sent, and why fear’d he to go
Our boasting Champion thought the Task not light
To pass the Guards, commit himself to Night;
Not only through a hostile Town to pass,        525
But scale, with steep Ascent, the sacred Place;
With wand’ring Steps to search the Cittadel,
And from the Priests their Patroness to steal:
Then through surrounding Foes to force my way,
And bear in Triumph home the heav’nly Prey;        530
Which had I not, Ajax in vain had held,
Before that monst’rous Bulk, his sev’nfold Shield
That Night to conquer Troy I might be said
When Troy was liable to Conquest made.
  Why point’st thou to my Partner of the War?        535
Tydides had indeed a worthy share
In all my Toil, and Praise; but when thy Might
Our Ships protected, didst thou singly fight?
All join’d, and thou of many wert but one;
I ask’d no Friend, nor had, but him alone;        540
Who, had he not been well assur’d, that Art
And Conduct were of War the better part,
And more avail’d than Strength, my valiant Friend
Had urg’d a better Right, than Ajax can pretend:
As good at least Euripylus may claim,        545
And the more moderate Ajax of the Name:
The Cretan King, and his brave Charioteer,
And Menelaus bold with Sword and Spear;
All these had been my Rivals in the Shield,
And yet all these to my Pretensions yield        550
Thy boist’rous Hands are then of Use, when I
With this directing Head those Hands apply.
Brawn without Brain is thine: My prudent Care
Foresees, provides, administers the War:
Thy Province is to Fight; but when shall be        555
The time to Fight, the King consults with me:
No dram of Judgment with thy force is join’d;
Thy Body is of Profit, and my Mind.
By how much more the Ship her Safety owes
To him who steers, than him that only rows,        560
By how much more the Captain merits Praise
Than he who Fights, and Fighting but obeys;
By so much greater is my Worth than thine,
Who canst but execute what I design.
What gain’st thou brutal Man, if I confess        565
Thy Strength superiour, when thy Wit is less?
Mind is the Man: I claim my whole Desert
From the Mind’s Vigour, and th’ immortal part.
  But you, O Grecian Chiefs, reward my Care,
Be grateful to your Watchman of the War:        570
For all my Labours in so long a space,
Sure I may plead a Title to your Grace:
Enter the Town; I then unbarr’d the Gates,
When I remov’d their tutelary Fates.
By all our common hopes, if hopes they be        575
Which I have now reduc’d to Certainty;
By falling Troy, by yonder tott’ring Towers,
And by their taken Gods, which now are ours;
Or if there yet a farther Task remains,
To be perform’d by Prudence or by Pains;        580
If yet some desperate Action rests behind,
That asks high Conduct, and a dauntless Mind:
If ought be wanting to the Trojan Doom,
Which none but I can manage and o’ercome,
Award those Arms I ask, by your Decree:        585
Or give to this what you refuse to me.
  He ceas’d: And ceasing with Respect he bow’d,
And with his Hand at once the fatal Statue show’d.
Heav’n, Air and Ocean rung, with loud Applause,
And by the general Vote he gain’d his Cause.        590
Thus Conduct won the Prize, when Courage fail’d,
And Eloquence o’er brutal Force prevail’d.
 
The Death of Ajax
He 4 who cou’d often, and alone withstand
The Foe, the Fire, and Jove’s own partial Hand,
Now cannot his unmaster’d Grief sustain,        595
But yields to Rage, to Madness, and Disdain;
Then snatching out his Fauchion, Thou, said He,
Art mine; Ulysses lays no claim to Thee.
O often try’d, and ever trusty Sword,
Now do thy last kind Office to thy Lord:        600
’Tis Ajax, who requests thy Aid, to show
None but himself, himself cou’d overthrow:
He said, and with so good a Will to die
Did to his Breast the fatal Point apply,
It found his Heart, a way till then unknown,        605
Where never Weapon enter’d but his own.
No Hands cou’d force it thence, so fix’d it stood,
Till out it rush’d, expell’d by Streams of spouting Blood.
The fruitful Blood produc’d a Flow’r, which grew
On a green Stem; and of a Purple Hue:        610
Like his, whom unaware Apollo slew:
Inscrib’d in both, the Letters are the same,
But those express the Grief, and these the Name.
 
Note 1. Text from the original edition of 1700. In l. 157 Dryden’s spelling of ‘Slight’ for ‘Sleight’ has produced in Warton’s, Hooper’s, and other editions the absurd reading ‘Flight’. The original has several false stops. [back]
Note 2. Phthya] Pthya 1700. [back]
Note 3. darkling] Darkling 1700. [back]
Note 4. Text from the original edition of 1700. [back]
 
 
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