The Iliad of Homer (Alexander Pope)

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The Iliad of Homer was a poetic interpretation of the original Homeric poem undertaken by Alexander Pope, published serially from 1715 to 1720. It was followed by Pope's similar interpretation of The Odyssey of Homer in 1725.

The Iliad of Homer (poetic interpretation, 1715 to 1720)

Book I

  • The wrath of Peleus' son, the direful spring
    Of all the Grecian woes, O goddess sing!
    • Line 1. Alternately reported as: "wrath, to Greece the direful spring
      Of woes unnumber'd, heavenly goddess, sing!" in Bartlett's Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).
  • The distant Trojans never injur'd me.
    • Line 200.
  • Words sweet as honey from his lips distill'd.
    • Line 332.
  • Shakes his ambrosial curls, and gives the nod,—
    The stamp of fate, and sanction of the god.
    • Line 684.
  • And unextinguish'd laughter shakes the skies.
    • Line 771. The same line occurs in Pope's translation of the Odyssey, Book VIII, line 366.

Book II

  • Thick as autumnal leaves or driving sand.
    • Line 970.

Book III

  • She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen.
    • Line 1.
  • Chiefs who no more in bloody fights engage,
    But wise through time, and narrative with age,
    In summer-days like grasshoppers rejoice —
    A bloodless race, that send a feeble voice.
    • Line 199.
  • She moves a goddess, and she looks a queen.
    • Line 208.
  • Ajax the great…
    Himself a host.
    • Line 293.
  • Plough the watery deep.
    • Line 357.

Book IV

  • The day shall come, that great avenging day
    Which Troy's proud glories in the dust shall lay,
    When Priam's powers and Priam's self shall fall,
    And one prodigious ruin swallow all.
    • Line 196.
  • First in the fight and every graceful deed.
    • Line 295.
  • The first in banquets, but the last in fight.
    • Line 401.
  • Gods! How the son degenerates from the sire!
    • Line 451.
  • With all its beauteous honours on its head.
    • Line 557.

Book V

  • A wealthy priest, but rich without a fault.
    • Line 16.
  • Not two strong men the enormous weight could raise,—
    Such men as live in these degenerate days.
    • Line 371. A similar line occurs in Book XX, line 337: "A mass enormous! which in modern days / No two of earth's degenerate sons could raise".
  • Whose little body lodg'd a mighty mind.
    • Line 999.

Book VI

  • He held his seat,—a friend to human race.
    • Line 18.
  • Like leaves on trees the race of man is found, —
    Now green in youth, now withering on the ground;
    Another race the following spring supplies:
    They fall successive, and successive rise.
    • Line 181. Compare: "As of the green leaves on a thick tree, some fall, and some grow", Ecclesiasticus xiv, 18.
  • Inflaming wine, pernicious to mankind.
    • Line 330.
  • If yet not lost to all the sense of shame.
    • Line 350.
  • 'T is man's to fight, but Heaven's to give success.
    • Line 427.
  • The young Astyanax, the hope of Troy.
    • Line 467.
  • Yet while my Hector still survives, I see
    My father, mother, brethren, all, in thee.
    • Line 544.
  • Andromache! my soul's far better part.
    • Line 624.

Book VII

  • He from whose lips divine persuasion flows.
    • Line 143.
  • Not hate, but glory, made these chiefs contend;
    And each brave foe was in his soul a friend.
    • Line 364.
  • I war not with the dead.
    • Line 485.


  • Aurora now, fair daughter of the dawn,
    Sprinkled with rosy light the dewy lawn.
    • Line 1.
  • As full-blown poppies, overcharg'd with rain,
    Decline the head, and drooping kiss the plain, —
    So sinks the youth; his beauteous head, deprest
    Beneath his helmet, drops upon his breast.
    • Line 371.

Book IX

  • Who dares think one thing, and another tell,
    My heart detests him as the gates of hell.
    • Line 412. Note: The same line, with "soul" for "heart", occurs in Pope's translation of the Odyssey, Book XIV, line 181.
  • Life is not to be bought with heaps of gold:
    Not all Apollo's Pythian treasures hold,
    Or Troy once held, in peace and pride of sway,
    Can bribe the poor possession of a day.
    • Line 524.
  • Short is my date, but deathless my renown.
    • Line 535.
  • Injustice, swift, erect, and unconfin'd,
    Sweeps the wide earth, and tramples o'er mankind.
    • Line 628.
  • A generous friendship no cold medium knows,
    Burns with one love, with one resentment glows.
    • Line 725.

Book X

  • To labour is the lot of man below;
    And when Jove gave us life, he gave us woe.
    • Line 78.
  • Content to follow when we lead the way.
    • Line 141.
  • He serves me most who serves his country best.
    • Line 201. Compare: "He serves his party best who serves the country best", Rutherford B. Hayes, Inaugural Address, March 5, 1877.
  • Praise from a friend, or censure from a foe,
    Are lost on hearers that our merits know.
    • Line 293.

Book XI

  • The rest were vulgar deaths, unknown to fame.
    • Line 394.

Book XII

  • Without a sign his sword the brave man draws,
    And asks no omen but his country's cause.
    • Line 283.
  • The life which others pay let us bestow,
    And give to fame what we to nature owe.
    • Line 393.


  • And seem to walk on wings, and tread in air.
    • Line 106.
  • The best of things beyond their measure cloy.
    • Line 795.

Book XIV

  • To hide their ignominious heads in Troy.
    • Line 170.
  • Persuasive speech, and more persuasive sighs,
    Silence that spoke, and eloquence of eyes.
    • Line 251.

Book XV

  • Heroes as great have died, and yet shall fall.
    • Line 157.
  • And for our country 't is a bliss to die.
    • Line 583.
  • Like strength is felt from hope and from despair.
    • Line 852.

Book VXI


  • Dispel this cloud, the light of Heaven restore;
    Give me to see, and Ajax asks no more.
    • Line 730.
  • The mildest manners, and the gentlest heart.
    • Line 756.
  • In death a hero, as in life a friend!
    • Line 758.


  • Patroclus, lov'd of all my martial train,
    Beyond mankind, beyond myself, is slain!
    • Line 103.
  • I live an idle burden to the ground.
    • Line 134.

Book XIX

  • Ah, youth! forever dear, forever kind.
    • Line 303.
  • Accept these grateful tears! for thee they flow,—
    For thee, that ever felt another's woe!
    • Line 319.

Book XX

  • Where'er he mov'd, the goddess shone before.
    • Line 127.
  • The matchless Ganymed, divinely fair.
    • Line 278. Compare: "Divinely fair", Alfred Tennyson, A Dream of Fair Women, XXII.
  • 'T is fortune gives us birth,
    But Jove alone endues the soul with worth.
    • Line 290.
  • Our business in the field of fight
    Is not to question, but to prove our might.
    • Line 304.
  • A mass enormous! which in modern days
    No two of earth's degenerate sons could raise.
    • Line 337. A similar line occurs in Book V, line 371: "Not two strong men the enormous weight could raise,—
      Such men as live in these degenerate days".


  • The bitter dregs of fortune's cup to drain.
    • Line 85.
  • Who dies in youth and vigour, dies the best.
    • Line 100.
  • This, this is misery! the last, the worst
    That man can feel.
    • Line 106.
  • No season now for calm familiar talk.
    • Line 169.
  • Jove lifts the golden balances that show
    The fates of mortal men, and things below.
    • Line 271.
  • Achilles absent was Achilles still.
    • Line 418.
  • Forever honour'd, and forever mourn'd.
    • Line 422.
  • Unwept, unhonour'd, uninterr'd he lies!
    • Line 484. Compare: "Unwept, unhonoured, and unsung", Sir Walter Scott, Lay of the Last Minstrel; "Unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown", Lord Byron, Childe Harold, canto iv. stanza 179.
  • Grief tears his heart, and drives him to and fro
    In all the raging impotence of woe.
    • Line 526.
  • Sinks my sad soul with sorrow to the grave.
    • Line 543.


  • 'T is true, 'tis certain; man though dead retains
    Part of himself: the immortal mind remains.
    • ine 122.
  • Base wealth preferring to eternal praise.
    • Line 368.
  • It is not strength, but art, obtains the prize,
    And to be swift is less than to be wise.
    'T is more by art than force of num'rous strokes.
    • Line 383. Compare: "'Tis slight, not strength, that gives the greatest lift", Thomas Middleton, Michaelmas Term, Act iv, Scene 1.
  • A green old age, unconscious of decays,
    That proves the hero born in better days.
    • Line 929. Compare: "His hair just grizzled, As in a green old age", John Dryden, Œdipus, Act iii, Scene 1.


  • Two urns by Jove's high throne have ever stood,—
    The source of evil one, and one of good.
    • Line 663.
  • The mildest manners with the bravest mind.
    • Line 963.


  • It is a pretty poem, Mr. Pope, but you must not call it Homer.

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