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PALLADIUM°

  °1Set where the upper streams of Simois° flow
Was the Palladium, high 'mid rock and wood;
  °3And Hector° was in Ilium° far below,
And fought, and saw it not—but there it stood!

   5It stood, and sun and moonshine rain'd their light
On the pure columns of its glen-built hall.
Backward and forward roll'd the waves of fight
Round Troy—but while this stood, Troy could not fall.

So, in its lovely moonlight, lives the soul.
  10Mountains surround it, and sweet virgin air;
Cold plashing, past it, crystal waters roll;
We visit it by moments, ah, too rare!

We shall renew the battle in the plain
 °14To-morrow;—red with blood will Xanthus° be;
 °15Hector and Ajax° will be there again,
 °16Helen° will come upon the wall to see.

Then we shall rust in shade, or shine in strife,
And fluctuate 'twixt blind hopes and blind despairs,
And fancy that we put forth all our life,
  20And never know how with the soul it fares.

[p.98] Still doth the soul, from its lone fastness high,
Upon our life a ruling effluence send.
And when it fails, fight as we will, we die;
And while it lasts, we cannot wholly end.

    

PALLADIUM°

At the time of the Trojan war there was in the citadel of Troy a celebrated statue of Pallas Athene, called the Palladium. It was reputed to have fallen from heaven as the gift of Zeus, and the belief was that the city could not be taken so long as this statue remained within it. Ulysses and Diomedes, two of the Greek champions, succeeded in entering the city in disguise, stole the Palladium and carried it off to the besiegers' camp at Argos. It was some time, however, before the city fell.

1. Simois. A small river of the Troad which takes its rise in the rocky, wooded eminence which, according to Greek tradition, formed the acropolis of Troy. The Palladium was set up on its banks near its source, in a temple especially erected for it (l. 6), and from this lofty position was supposed to watch over the safety of the city and her defenders on the plains below.

3. Hector. Hector, son of Priam, king of Troy (Ilium), and his wife, Hecuba, was the leader and champion of the Trojan armies. He distinguished himself in numerous single combats with the ablest of the Greek heroes; and to him was principally due the stubborn defence of the Trojan capital. He was finally slain by Achilles, aided by Athene, and his body dragged thrice around the walls of Troy behind the chariot of his conqueror.

14. Xanthus. The Scamander, the largest and most celebrated river of the Troad, near which Troy was situated, was presided over by a deity known to the gods as Xanthus. His contest with Achilles, whom he so nearly overwhelmed, forms a notable incident of the Iliad.

15. Ajax, or Aiax. One of the leading Greek heroes in the siege of Troy, famous for his size, physical strength, and beauty. In bravery and feats of valor he was second only to Achilles. Not being awarded the armor of Achilles after that hero's death, he [p.190] slew himself.

16. Helen, the wife of Menelaus, king of Sparta, was celebrated for her beauty, by reason of which frequent references are made to her by both classic and modern writers. Goethe introduces her in the second part of Faust, and Faustus, in Marlowe's play of that name, addresses her thus:—

"Oh! thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars."

Her abduction by Paris, son of Priam (see note, l. 3), was the cause of the Trojan war, the most notable incident of Greek mythology, which forms the theme of Homer's greatest poem, the Iliad.

What is the central thought of the poem? Of what is the Palladium typical? Explain the thought in stanza 3. What is the force of the references of stanza 4? Discuss the use of the words "rust" and "shine," l. 17. Just what is meant by "soul" as the word is used in the poem?


				

				

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