Homer's Iliad
(first 50 lines)
The rage sing, goddess! of Achilles son of Peleus, the all-destroying rage; that countless griefs to the Achaeans brought, and many brave souls down to Hades hurled, —souls of heroes. It made them prey to dogs and all manner of birds; but the will of Zeus was being fulfilled. Sing from the time when those two stood at variance from their strife: I mean the son of Atreus, king of men, and godlike Achilles.

Which of the gods, then, sent them to fight each other in their strife? The son of Leto and Zeus. For that god, at the king enraged, a sickness raised among the army of a terrible kind, and destruction lay upon the people: because the king showed Chryses dishonour, though he was a priest! Yes, the king did this, the son of Atreus. For Chryses came to the swift ships of the Achaeans, intending to free his daughter, and taking with him countless gifts of ransom; and garlands he had in his hands of far-darting Apollo, wreathed around a golden sceptre. And he made his entreaties to all the Achaeans; but especially to the two sons of Atreus, the directors of the people.

Sons of Atreus, and you other well-greaved Greeks! I wish first, that the gods, whose halls are in Olympus, may grant you this: the destruction of Priam’s city, and a safe return to your homes. But as for me, please, release my daughter to me, for I dearly love her, and accept my ransoms: if you do this, you will honour with a holy fear the son of Zeus, far-darting Apollo.

At this, the other Greeks all shouted their applause; meaning to revere the priest, and accept his glorious ransoms. But as for the son of Atreus, Agamemnon, it was not pleasing to his heart; but abusively he dismissed the man, and a harsh command he gave.

I warn you, old man! Do not let me find you by the hollow ships; whether you overstay now, or come again at a later time. Otherwise, I fear that the sceptre and garland of the god will not protect you. I will not free her. No, not before old age has overtaken her; at my house in Argos, far from her native country, when she is going to her loom, and paying visits to my bed. But go, do not provoke me, and you will leave the more safely for it.

Thus he spoke; and the old man was filled with fear, and obeyed his command. He went silently by the shore of the harshly-sounding sea. But once he had gone far away, intensely did that old man pray to king Apollo, whom lovely-haired Leto bore.

Hear me, god of the silver bow! protector of Chryse and divine Cilla, and mighty ruler over Tenedos! Smintheus! If ever I have built for you the roof of a lovely temple; or if, indeed, I have ever burned for you the fat thighs of bulls and goats, fulfil for me this wish: let the Danaans pay for my tears with your arrows.

Thus he spoke in prayer; and Apollo heard him. He came down from the peaks of Olympus, enraged in his heart; and he had on his shoulders a bow, and a quiver that was covered round about. The arrows on his shoulders clanged in his rage as he moved; and he moved like the night. He then sat far apart from the ships—and let an arrow fly. A terrible clang came from the silver bow. At first he attacked the mules and swift hounds; but next at the men themselves with a bitter dart he shot; and constantly were the fires of the dead burning thick.