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The Fall of Troy by Quintus Smyrnaeus

Part 2 out of 6

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And death, the dally round that maketh up
The eternal circuit of the rolling years.
And now amongst the Blessed bitter feud
Had broken out; but by behest of Zeus
The twin Fates suddenly stood beside these twain,
One dark -- her shadow fell on Memnon's heart;
One bright -- her radiance haloed Peleus' son.
And with a great cry the Immortals saw,
And filled with sorrow they of the one part were,
They of the other with triumphant joy.

Still in the midst of blood-stained battle-rout
Those heroes fought, unknowing of the Fates
Now drawn so nigh, but each at other hurled
His whole heart's courage, all his bodily might.
Thou hadst said that in the strife of that dread day
Huge tireless Giants or strong Titans warred,
So fiercely blazed the wildfire of their strife,
Now, when they clashed with swords, now when they leapt
Hurling huge stones. Nor either would give back
Before the hail of blows, nor quailed. They stood
Like storm-tormented headlands steadfast, clothed
With might past words, unearthly; for the twain
Alike could boast their lineage of high Zeus.
Therefore 'twixt these Enyo lengthened out
The even-balanced strife, while ever they
In that grim wrestle strained their uttermost,
They and their dauntless comrades, round their kings
With ceaseless fury toiling, till their spears
Stood shivered all in shields of warriors slain,
And of the fighters woundless none remained;
But from all limbs streamed down into the dust
The blood and sweat of that unresting strain
Of fight, and earth was hidden with the dead,
As heaven is hidden with clouds when meets the sun
The Goat-star, and the shipman dreads the deep.
As charged the lines, the snorting chariot-steeds
Trampled the dead, as on the myriad leaves
Ye trample in the woods at entering-in
Of winter, when the autumn-tide is past.

Still mid the corpses and the blood fought on
Those glorious sons of Gods, nor ever ceased
From wrath of fight. But Eris now inclined
The fatal scales of battle, which no more
Were equal-poised. Beneath the breast-bone then
Of godlike Memnon plunged Achilles' sword;
Clear through his body all the dark-blue blade
Leapt: suddenly snapped the silver cord of life.
Down in a pool of blood he fell, and clashed
His massy armour, and earth rang again.
Then turned to flight his comrades panic-struck,
And of his arms the Myrmidons stripped the dead,
While fled the Trojans, and Achilles chased,
As whirlwind swift and mighty to destroy.

Then groaned the Dawn, and palled herself in clouds,
And earth was darkened. At their mother's hest
All the light Breathings of the Dawn took hands,
And slid down one 1ong stream of sighing wind
To Priam's plain, and floated round the dead,
And softly, swiftly caught they up, and bare
Through silver mists the Dawn-queen's son, with hearts
Sore aching for their brother's fall, while moaned
Around them all the air. As on they passed,
Fell many blood-gouts from those pierced limbs
Down to the earth, and these were made a sign
To generations yet to be. The Gods
Gathered them up from many lands, and made
Thereof a far-resounding river, named
Of all that dwell beneath long Ida's flanks
Paphlagoneion. As its waters flow
'Twixt fertile acres, once a year they turn
To blood, when comes the woeful day whereon
Died Memnon. Thence a sick and choking reek
Steams: thou wouldst say that from a wound unhealed
Corrupting humours breathed an evil stench.
Ay, so the Gods ordained: but now flew on
Bearing Dawn's mighty son the rushing winds
Skimming earth's face and palled about with night.

Nor were his Aethiopian comrades left
To wander of their King forlorn: a God
Suddenly winged those eager souls with speed
Such as should soon be theirs for ever, changed
To flying fowl, the children of the air.
Wailing their King in the winds' track they sped.
As when a hunter mid the forest-brakes
Is by a boar or grim-jawed lion slain,
And now his sorrowing friends take up the corse,
And bear it heavy-hearted; and the hounds
Follow low-whimpering, pining for their lord
In that disastrous hunting lost; so they
Left far behind that stricken field of blood,
And fast they followed after those swift winds

With multitudinous moaning, veiled in mist
Unearthly. Trojans over all the plain
And Danaans marvelled, seeing that great host
Vanishing with their King. All hearts stood still
In dumb amazement. But the tireless winds
Sighing set hero Memnon's giant corpse
Down by the deep flow of Aesopus' stream,
Where is a fair grove of the bright-haired Nymphs,
The which round his long barrow afterward
Aesopus' daughters planted, screening it
With many and manifold trees: and long and loud
Wailed those Immortals, chanting his renown,
The son of the Dawn-goddess splendour-throned.

Now sank the sun: the Lady of the Morn
Wailing her dear child from the heavens came down.
Twelve maidens shining-tressed attended her,
The warders of the high paths of the sun
For ever circling, warders of the night
And dawn, and each world-ordinance framed of Zeus,
Around whose mansion's everlasting doors
From east to west they dance, from west to east,
Whirling the wheels of harvest-laden years,
While rolls the endless round of winter's cold,
And flowery spring, and lovely summer-tide,
And heavy-clustered autumn. These came down
From heaven, for Memnon wailing wild and high;
And mourned with these the Pleiads. Echoed round
Far-stretching mountains, and Aesopus' stream.
Ceaseless uprose the keen, and in their midst,
Fallen on her son and clasping, wailed the Dawn;
"Dead art thou, dear, dear child, and thou hast clad
Thy mother with a pall of grief. Oh, I,
Now thou art slain, will not endure to light
The Immortal Heavenly Ones! No, I will plunge
Down to the dread depths of the underworld,
Where thy lone spirit flitteth to and fro,
And will to blind night leave earth, sky, and sea,
Till Chaos and formless darkness brood o'er all,
That Cronos' Son may also learn what means
Anguish of heart. For not less worship-worthy
Than Nereus' Child, by Zeus's ordinance,
Am I, who look on all things, I, who bring
All to their consummation. Recklessly
My light Zeus now despiseth! Therefore I
Will pass into the darkness. Let him bring
Up to Olympus Thetis from the sea
To hold for him light forth to Gods and men!
My sad soul loveth darkness more than day,
Lest I pour light upon thy slayer's head"

Thus as she cried, the tears ran down her face
Immortal, like a river brimming aye:
Drenched was the dark earth round the corse. The Night
Grieved in her daughter's anguish, and the heaven
Drew over all his stars a veil of mist
And cloud, of love unto the Lady of Light.

Meanwhile within their walls the Trojan folk
For Memnon sorrowed sore, with vain regret
Yearning for that lost king and all his host.
Nor greatly joyed the Argives, where they lay
Camped in the open plain amidst the dead.
There, mingled with Achilles' praise, uprose
Wails for Antilochus: joy clasped hands with grief.

All night in groans and sighs most pitiful
The Dawn-queen lay: a sea of darkness moaned
Around her. Of the dayspring nought she recked:
She loathed Olympus' spaces. At her side
Fretted and whinnied still her fleetfoot steeds,
Trampling the strange earth, gazing at their Queen
Grief-stricken, yearning for the fiery course.
Suddenly crashed the thunder of the wrath
Of Zeus; rocked round her all the shuddering earth,
And on immortal Eos trembling came.

Swiftly the dark-skinned Aethiops from her sight
Buried their lord lamenting. As they wailed
Unceasingly, the Dawn-queen lovely-eyed
Changed them to birds sweeping through air around
The barrow of the mighty dead. And these
Still do the tribes of men "The Memnons" call;
And still with wailing cries they dart and wheel
Above their king's tomb, and they scatter dust
Down on his grave, still shrill the battle-cry,
In memory of Memnon, each to each.
But he in Hades' mansions, or perchance
Amid the Blessed on the Elysian Plain,
Laugheth. Divine Dawn comforteth her heart
Beholding them: but theirs is toil of strife
Unending, till the weary victors strike
The vanquished dead, or one and all fill up
The measure of their doom around his grave.

So by command of Eos, Lady of Light,
The swift birds dree their weird. But Dawn divine
Now heavenward soared with the all-fostering Hours,
Who drew her to Zeus' threshold, sorely loth,
Yet conquered by their gentle pleadings, such
As salve the bitterest grief of broken hearts.
Nor the Dawn-queen forgat her daily course,
But quailed before the unbending threat of Zeus,
Of whom are all things, even all comprised
Within the encircling sweep of Ocean's stream,
Earth and the palace-dome of burning stars.
Before her went her Pleiad-harbingers,
Then she herself flung wide the ethereal gates,
And, scattering spray of splendour, flashed there-through.

BOOK III

How by the shaft of a God laid low was Hero Achilles.

When shone the light of Dawn the splendour-throned,
Then to the ships the Pylian spearmen bore
Antilochus' corpse, sore sighing for their prince,
And by the Hellespont they buried him
With aching hearts. Around him groaning stood
The battle-eager sons of Argives, all,
Of love for Nestor, shrouded o'er with grief.
But that grey hero's heart was nowise crushed
By sorrow; for the wise man's soul endures
Bravely, and cowers not under affliction's stroke.
But Peleus' son, wroth for Antilochus
His dear friend, armed for vengeance terrible
Upon the Trojans. Yea, and these withal,
Despite their dread of mighty Achilles' spear,
Poured battle-eager forth their gates, for now
The Fates with courage filled their breasts, of whom
Many were doomed to Hades to descend,
Whence there is no return, thrust down by hands
Of Aeacus' son, who also was foredoomed
To perish that same day by Priam's wall.
Swift met the fronts of conflict: all the tribes
Of Troy's host, and the battle-biding Greeks,
Afire with that new-kindled fury of war.

Then through the foe the son of Peleus made
Wide havoc: all around the earth was drenched
With gore, and choked with corpses were the streams
Of Simois and Xanthus. Still he chased,
Still slaughtered, even to the city's walls;
For panic fell on all the host. And now
All had he slain, had dashed the gates to earth,
Rending them from their hinges, or the bolts,
Hurling himself against them, had he snapped,
And for the Danaans into Priam's burg
Had made a way, had utterly destroyed
That goodly town -- but now was Phoebus wroth
Against him with grim fury, when he saw
Those countless troops of heroes slain of him.
Down from Olympus with a lion-leap
He came: his quiver on his shoulders lay,
And shafts that deal the wounds incurable.
Facing Achilles stood he; round him clashed
Quiver and arrows; blazed with quenchless flame
His eyes, and shook the earth beneath his feet.
Then with a terrible shout the great God cried,
So to turn back from war Achilles awed
By the voice divine, and save from death the Trojans:
"Back from the Trojans, Peleus' son! Beseems not
That longer thou deal death unto thy foes,
Lest an Olympian God abase thy pride."

But nothing quailed the hero at the voice
Immortal, for that round him even now
Hovered the unrelenting Fates. He recked
Naught of the God, and shouted his defiance.
"Phoebus, why dost thou in mine own despite
Stir me to fight with Gods, and wouldst protect
The arrogant Trojans? Heretofore hast thou
By thy beguiling turned me from the fray,
When from destruction thou at the first didst save
Hector, whereat the Trojans all through Troy
Exulted. Nay, thou get thee back: return
Unto the mansion of the Blessed, lest
I smite thee -- ay, immortal though thou be!"

Then on the God he turned his back, and sped
After the Trojans fleeing cityward,
And harried still their flight; but wroth at heart
Thus Phoebus spake to his indignant soul:
"Out on this man! he is sense-bereft! But now
Not Zeus himself nor any other Power
Shall save this madman who defies the Gods!"

From mortal sight he vanished into cloud,
And cloaked with mist a baleful shaft he shot
Which leapt to Achilles' ankle: sudden pangs
With mortal sickness made his whole heart faint.
He reeled, and like a tower he fell, that falls
Smit by a whirlwind when an earthquake cleaves
A chasm for rushing blasts from underground;
So fell the goodly form of Aeacus' son.
He glared, a murderous glance, to right, to left,
[Upon the Trojans, and a terrible threat]
Shouted, a threat that could not be fulfilled:
"Who shot at me a stealthy-smiting shaft?
Let him but dare to meet me face to face!
So shall his blood and all his bowels gush out
About my spear, and he be hellward sped!
I know that none can meet me man to man
And quell in fight -- of earth-born heroes none,
Though such an one should bear within his breast
A heart unquailing, and have thews of brass.
But dastards still in stealthy ambush lurk
For lives of heroes. Let him face me then! --
Ay! though he be a God whose anger burns
Against the Danaans! Yea, mine heart forebodes
That this my smiter was Apollo, cloaked
In deadly darkness. So in days gone by
My mother told me how that by his shafts
I was to die before the Scaean Gates
A piteous death. Her words were not vain words."

Then with unflinching hands from out the wound
Incurable he drew the deadly shaft
In agonized pain. Forth gushed the blood; his heart
Waxed faint beneath the shadow of coming doom.
Then in indignant wrath he hurled from him
The arrow: a sudden gust of wind swept by,
And caught it up, and, even as he trod
Zeus' threshold, to Apollo gave it back;
For it beseemed not that a shaft divine,
Sped forth by an Immortal, should be lost.
He unto high Olympus swiftly came,
To the great gathering of immortal Gods,
Where all assembled watched the war of men,
These longing for the Trojans' triumph, those
For Danaan victory; so with diverse wills
Watched they the strife, the slayers and the slain.

Him did the Bride of Zeus behold, and straight
Upbraided with exceeding bitter words:
"What deed of outrage, Phoebus, hast thou done
This day, forgetful of that day whereon
To godlike Peleus' spousals gathered all
The Immortals? Yea, amidst the feasters thou
Sangest how Thetis silver-footed left
The sea's abysses to be Peleus' bride;
And as thou harpedst all earth's children came
To hearken, beasts and birds, high craggy hills,
Rivers, and all deep-shadowed forests came.
All this hast thou forgotten, and hast wrought
A ruthless deed, hast slain a godlike man,
Albeit thou with other Gods didst pour
The nectar, praying that he might be the son
By Thetis given to Peleus. But that prayer
Hast thou forgotten, favouring the folk
Of tyrannous Laomedon, whose kine
Thou keptest. He, a mortal, did despite
To thee, the deathless! O, thou art wit-bereft!
Thou favourest Troy, thy sufferings all forgot.
Thou wretch, and doth thy false heart know not this,
What man is an offence, and meriteth
Suffering, and who is honoured of the Gods?
Ever Achilles showed us reverence -- yea,
Was of our race. Ha, but the punishment
Of Troy, I ween, shall not be lighter, though
Aeacus' son have fallen; for his son
Right soon shall come from Scyros to the war
To help the Argive men, no less in might
Than was his sire, a bane to many a foe.
But thou -- thou for the Trojans dost not care,
But for his valour enviedst Peleus' son,
Seeing he was the mightest of all men.
Thou fool! how wilt thou meet the Nereid's eyes,
When she shall stand in Zeus' hall midst the Gods,
Who praised thee once, and loved as her own son?"

So Hera spake, in bitterness of soul
Upbraiding, but he answered her not a word,
Of reverence for his mighty Father's bride;
Nor could he lift his eyes to meet her eyes,
But sat abashed, aloof from all the Gods
Eternal, while in unforgiving wrath
Scowled on him all the Immortals who maintained
The Danaans' cause; but such as fain would bring
Triumph to Troy, these with exultant hearts
Extolled him, hiding it from Hera's eyes,
Before whose wrath all Heaven-abiders shrank.

But Peleus' son the while forgat not yet
War's fury: still in his invincible limbs
The hot blood throbbed, and still he longed for fight.
Was none of all the Trojans dared draw nigh
The stricken hero, but at distance stood,
As round a wounded lion hunters stand
Mid forest-brakes afraid, and, though the shaft
Stands in his heart, yet faileth not in him
His royal courage, but with terrible glare
Roll his fierce eyes, and roar his grimly jaws;
So wrath and anguish of his deadly hurt
To fury stung Peleides' soul; but aye
His strength ebbed through the god-envenomed wound.
Yet leapt he up, and rushed upon the foe,
And flashed the lightning of his lance; it slew
The goodly Orythaon, comrade stout
Of Hector, through his temples crashing clear:
His helm stayed not the long lance fury-sped
Which leapt therethrough, and won within the bones
The heart of the brain, and spilt his lusty life.
Then stabbed he 'neath the brow Hipponous
Even to the eye-roots, that the eyeball fell
To earth: his soul to Hades flitted forth.
Then through the jaw he pierced Alcathous,
And shore away his tongue: in dust he fell
Gasping his life out, and the spear-head shot
Out through his ear. These, as they rushed on him,
That hero slew; but many a fleer's life
He spilt, for in his heart still leapt the blood.

But when his limbs grew chill, and ebbed away
His spirit, leaning on his spear he stood,
While still the Trojans fled in huddled rout
Of panic, and he shouted unto them:
"Trojan and Dardan cravens, ye shall not
Even in my death, escape my merciless spear,
But unto mine Avenging Spirits ye
Shall pay -- ay, one and all -- destruction's debt!"

He spake; they heard and quailed: as mid the hills
Fawns tremble at a lion's deep-mouthed roar,
And terror-stricken flee the monster, so
The ranks of Trojan chariot-lords, the lines
Of battle-helpers drawn from alien lands,
Quailed at the last shout of Achilles, deemed
That he was woundless yet. But 'neath the weight
Of doom his aweless heart, his mighty limbs,
At last were overborne. Down midst the dead
He fell, as fails a beetling mountain-cliff.
Earth rang beneath him: clanged with a thundercrash
His arms, as Peleus' son the princely fell.
And still his foes with most exceeding dread
Stared at him, even as, when some murderous beast
Lies slain by shepherds, tremble still the sheep
Eyeing him, as beside the fold he lies,
And shrinking, as they pass him, far aloof
And, even as he were living, fear him dead;
So feared they him, Achilles now no more.

Yet Paris strove to kindle those faint hearts;
For his own heart exulted, and he hoped,
Now Peleus' son, the Danaans' strength, had fallen,
Wholly to quench the Argive battle-fire:
"Friends, if ye help me truly and loyally,
Let us this day die, slain by Argive men,
Or live, and hale to Troy with Hector's steeds
In triumph Peleus' son thus fallen dead,
The steeds that, grieving, yearning for their lord
To fight have borne me since my brother died.
Might we with these but hale Achilles slain,
Glory were this for Hector's horses, yea,
For Hector -- if in Hades men have sense
Of righteous retribution. This man aye
Devised but mischief for the sons of Troy;
And now Troy's daughters with exultant hearts
From all the city streets shall gather round,
As pantheresses wroth for stolen cubs,
Or lionesses, might stand around a man
Whose craft in hunting vexed them while he lived.
So round Achilles -- a dead corpse at last! --
In hurrying throngs Troy's daughters then shall come
In unforgiving, unforgetting hate,
For parents wroth, for husbands slain, for sons,
For noble kinsmen. Most of all shall joy
My father, and the ancient men, whose feet
Unwillingly are chained within the walls
By eld, if we shall hale him through our gates,
And give our foe to fowls of the air for meat."

Then they, which feared him theretofore, in haste
Closed round the corpse of strong-heart Aeacus' son,
Glaucus, Aeneas, battle-fain Agenor,
And other cunning men in deadly fight,
Eager to hale him thence to Ilium
The god-built burg. But Aias failed him not.
Swiftly that godlike man bestrode the dead:
Back from the corpse his long lance thrust them all.
Yet ceased they not from onslaught; thronging round,
Still with swift rushes fought they for the prize,
One following other, like to long-lipped bees
Which hover round their hive in swarms on swarms
To drive a man thence; but he, recking naught
Of all their fury, carveth out the combs
Of nectarous honey: harassed sore are they
By smoke-reek and the robber; spite of all
Ever they dart against him; naught cares he;
So naught of all their onsets Aias recked;
But first he stabbed Agelaus in the breast,
And slew that son of Maion: Thestor next:
Ocythous he smote, Agestratus,
Aganippus, Zorus, Nessus, Erymas
The war-renowned, who came from Lycia-land
With mighty-hearted Glaucus, from his home
In Melanippion on the mountain-ridge,
Athena's fane, which Massikyton fronts
Anigh Chelidonia's headland, dreaded sore
Of scared seafarers, when its lowering crags
Must needs be doubled. For his death the blood
Of famed Hippolochus' son was horror-chilled;
For this was his dear friend. With one swift thrust
He pierced the sevenfold hides of Aias' shield,
Yet touched his flesh not; stayed the spear-head was
By those thick hides and by the corset-plate
Which lapped his battle-tireless limbs. But still
From that stern conflict Glaucus drew not back,
Burning to vanquish Aias, Aeacus' son,
And in his folly vaunting threatened him:
"Aias, men name thee mightiest man of all
The Argives, hold thee in passing-high esteem
Even as Achilles: therefore thou, I wot,
By that dead warrior dead this day shalt lie!"

So hurled he forth a vain word, knowing not
How far in might above him was the man
Whom his spear threatened. Battle-bider Aias
Darkly and scornfully glaring on him, said
"Thou craven wretch, and knowest thou not this,
How much was Hector mightier than thou
In war-craft? yet before my might, my spear,
He shrank. Ay, with his valour was there blent
Discretion. Thou thy thoughts are deathward set,
Who dar'st defy me to the battle, me,
A mightier far than thou! Thou canst not say
That friendship of our fathers thee shall screen;
Nor me thy gifts shall wile to let thee pass
Scatheless from war, as once did Tydeus' son.
Though thou didst 'scape his fury, will not I
Suffer thee to return alive from war.
Ha, in thy many helpers dost thou trust
Who with thee, like so many worthless flies,
Flit round the noble Achilles' corpse? To these
Death and black doom shall my swift onset deal."

Then on the Trojans this way and that he turned,
As mid long forest-glens a lion turns
On hounds, and Trojans many and Lycians slew
That came for honour hungry, till he stood
Mid a wide ring of flinchers; like a shoal
Of darting fish when sails into their midst
Dolphin or shark, a huge sea-fosterling;
So shrank they from the might of Telamon's son,
As aye he charged amidst the rout. But still
Swarmed fighters up, till round Achilles' corse
To right, to left, lay in the dust the slain
Countless, as boars around a lion at bay;
And evermore the strife waxed deadlier.
Then too Hippolochus' war-wise son was slain
By Aias of the heart of fire. He fell
Backward upon Achilles, even as falls
A sapling on a sturdy mountain-oak;
So quelled by the spear on Peleus' son he fell.
But for his rescue Anchises' stalwart son
Strove hard, with all his comrades battle-fain,
And haled the corse forth, and to sorrowing friends
Gave it, to bear to Ilium's hallowed burg.
Himself to spoil Achilles still fought on,
Till warrior Aias pierced him with the spear
Through the right forearm. Swiftly leapt he back
From murderous war, and hasted thence to Troy.
There for his healing cunning leeches wrought,
Who stanched the blood-rush, and laid on the gash
Balms, such as salve war-stricken warriors' pangs.

But Aias still fought on: here, there he slew
With thrusts like lightning-flashes. His great heart
Ached sorely for his mighty cousin slain.
And now the warrior-king Laertes' son
Fought at his side: before him blenched the foe,
As he smote down Peisander's fleetfoot son,
The warrior Maenalus, who left his home
In far-renowned Abydos: down on him
He hurled Atymnius, the goodly son
Whom Pegasis the bright-haired Nymph had borne
To strong Emathion by Granicus' stream.
Dead by his side he laid Orestius' son,
Proteus, who dwelt 'neath lofty Ida's folds.
Ah, never did his mother welcome home
That son from war, Panaceia beauty-famed!
He fell by Odysseus' hands, who spilt the lives
Of many more whom his death-hungering spear
Reached in that fight around the mighty dead.
Yet Alcon, son of Megacles battle-swift,
Hard by Odysseus' right knee drave the spear
Home, and about the glittering greave the blood
Dark-crimsom welled. He recked not of the wound,
But was unto his smiter sudden death;
For clear through his shield he stabbed him with his spear
Amidst his battle-fury: to the earth
Backward he dashed him by his giant might
And strength of hand: clashed round him in the dust
His armour, and his corslet was distained
With crimson life-blood. Forth from flesh and shield
The hero plucked the spear of death: the soul
Followed the lance-head from the body forth,
And life forsook its mortal mansion. Then
Rushed on his comrades, in his wound's despite,
Odysseus, nor from that stern battle-toil
Refrained him. And by this a mingled host
Of Danaans eager-hearted fought around
The mighty dead, and many and many a foe
Slew they with those smooth-shafted ashen spears.
Even as the winds strew down upon the ground
The flying leaves, when through the forest-glades
Sweep the wild gusts, as waneth autumn-tide,
And the old year is dying; so the spears
Of dauntless Danaans strewed the earth with slain,
For loyal to dead Achilles were they all,
And loyal to hero Aias to the death.
For like black Doom he blasted the ranks of Troy.
Then against Aias Paris strained his bow;
But he was ware thereof, and sped a stone
Swift to the archer's head: that bolt of death
Crashed through his crested helm, and darkness closed
Round him. In dust down fell he: naught availed
His shafts their eager lord, this way and that
Scattered in dust: empty his quiver lay,
Flew from his hand the bow. In haste his friends
Upcaught him from the earth, and Hector's steeds
Hurried him thence to Troy, scarce drawing breath,
And moaning in his pain. Nor left his men
The weapons of their lord, but gathered up
All from the plain, and bare them to the prince;
While Aias after him sent a wrathful shout:
"Dog, thou hast 'scaped the heavy hand of death
To-day! But swiftly thy last hour shall come
By some strong Argive's hands, or by mine own,
But now have I a nobler task in hand,
From murder's grip to rescue Achilles' corse."
Then turned he on the foe, hurling swift doom
On such as fought around Peleides yet.
'These saw how many yielded up the ghost
Neath his strong hands, and, with hearts failing them
For fear, against him could they stand no more.
As rascal vultures were they, which the swoop
Of an eagle, king of birds, scares far away
From carcasses of sheep that wolves have torn;
So this way, that way scattered they before
The hurtling stones, the sword, the might of Aias.
In utter panic from the war they fled,
In huddled rout, like starlings from the swoop
Of a death-dealing hawk, when, fleeing bane,
One drives against another, as they dart
All terror-huddled in tumultuous flight.
So from the war to Priam's burg they fled
Wretchedly clad with terror as a cloak,
Quailing from mighty Aias' battle-shout,
As with hands dripping blood-gouts he pursued.
Yea, all, one after other, had he slain,
Had they not streamed through city-gates flung wide
Hard-panting, pierced to the very heart with fear.
Pent therewithin he left them, as a shepherd
Leaves folded sheep, and strode back o'er the plain;
Yet never touched he with his feet the ground,
But aye he trod on dead men, arms, and blood;
For countless corpses lay o'er that wide stretch
Even from broad-wayed Troy to Hellespont,
Bodies of strong men slain, the spoil of Doom.
As when the dense stalks of sun-ripened corn
Fall 'neath the reapers' hands, and the long swaths,
Heavy with full ears, overspread the field,
And joys the heart of him who oversees
The toil, lord of the harvest; even so,
By baleful havoc overmastered, lay
All round face-downward men remembering not
The death-denouncing war-shout. But the sons
Of fair Achaea left their slaughtered foes
In dust and blood unstripped of arms awhile
Till they should lay upon the pyre the son
Of Peleus, who in battle-shock had been
Their banner of victory, charging in his might.
So the kings drew him from that stricken field
Straining beneath the weight of giant limbs,
And with all loving care they bore him on,
And laid him in his tent before the ships.
And round him gathered that great host, and wailed
Heart-anguished him who had been the Achaeans' strength,
And now, forgotten all the splendour of spears,
Lay mid the tents by moaning Hellespont,
In stature more than human, even as lay
Tityos, who sought to force Queen Leto, when
She fared to Pytho: swiftly in his wrath
Apollo shot, and laid him low, who seemed
Invincible: in a foul lake of gore
There lay he, covering many a rood of ground,
On the broad earth, his mother; and she moaned
Over her son, of blessed Gods abhorred;
But Lady Leto laughed. So grand of mould
There in the foemen's land lay Aeacus' son,
For joy to Trojans, but for endless grief
To Achaean men lamenting. Moaned the air
With sighing from the abysses of the sea;
And passing heavy grew the hearts of all,
Thinking: "Now shall we perish by the hands
Of Trojans!" Then by those dark ships they thought
Of white-haired fathers left in halls afar,
Of wives new-wedded, who by couches cold
Mourned, waiting, waiting, with their tender babes
For husbands unreturning; and they groaned
In bitterness of soul. A passion of grief
Came o'er their hearts; they fell upon their faces
On the deep sand flung down, and wept as men
All comfortless round Peleus' mighty son,
And clutched and plucked out by the roots their hair,
And east upon their heads defiling sand.
Their cry was like the cry that goeth up
From folk that after battle by their walls
Are slaughtered, when their maddened foes set fire
To a great city, and slay in heaps on heaps
Her people, and make spoil of all her wealth;
So wild and high they wailed beside the sea,
Because the Danaans' champion, Aeacus' son,
Lay, grand in death, by a God's arrow slain,
As Ares lay, when She of the Mighty Father
With that huge stone down dashed him on Troy's plain.

Ceaselessly wailed the Myrmidons Achilles,
A ring of mourners round the kingly dead,
That kind heart, friend alike to each and all,
To no man arrogant nor hard of mood,
But ever tempering strength with courtesy.

Then Aias first, deep-groaning, uttered forth
His yearning o'er his father's brother's son
God-stricken -- ay, no man had smitten him
Of all upon the wide-wayed earth that dwell!
Him glorious Aias heavy-hearted mourned,
Now wandering to the tent of Peleus' son,
Now cast down all his length, a giant form,
On the sea-sands; and thus lamented he:
"Achilles, shield and sword of Argive men,
Thou hast died in Troy, from Phthia's plains afar,
Smitten unwares by that accursed shaft,
Such thing as weakling dastards aim in fight!
For none who trusts in wielding the great shield,
None who for war can skill to set the helm
Upon his brows, and sway the spear in grip,
And cleave the brass about the breasts of foes,
Warreth with arrows, shrinking from the fray.
Not man to man he met thee, whoso smote;
Else woundless never had he 'scaped thy lance!
But haply Zeus purposed to ruin all,
And maketh all our toil and travail vain --
Ay, now will grant the Trojans victory
Who from Achaea now hath reft her shield!
Ah me! how shall old Peleus in his halls
Take up the burden of a mighty grief
Now in his joyless age! His heart shall break
At the mere rumour of it. Better so,
Thus in a moment to forget all pain.
But if these evil tidings slay him not,
Ah, laden with sore sorrow eld shall come
Upon him, eating out his heart with grief
By a lone hearth Peleus so passing dear
Once to the Blessed! But the Gods vouchsafe
No perfect happiness to hapless men."

So he in grief lamented Peleus' son.
Then ancient Phoenix made heart-stricken moan,
Clasping the noble form of Aeacus' seed,
And in wild anguish wailed the wise of heart:
"Thou art reft from me, dear child, and cureless pain
Hast left to me! Oh that upon my face
The veiling earth had fallen, ere I saw
Thy bitter doom! No pang more terrible
Hath ever stabbed mine heart no, not that hour
Of exile, when I fled from fatherland
And noble parents, fleeing Hellas through,
Till Peleus welcomed me with gifts, and lord
Of his Dolopians made me. In his arms
Thee through his halls one day he bare, and set
Upon my knees, and bade me foster thee,
His babe, with all love, as mine own dear child:
I hearkened to him: blithely didst thou cling
About mine heart, and, babbling wordless speech,
Didst call me `father' oft, and didst bedew
My breast and tunic with thy baby lips.
Ofttimes with soul that laughed for glee I held
Thee in mine arms; for mine heart whispered me
`This fosterling through life shall care for thee,
Staff of thine age shall be.' And that mine hope
Was for a little while fulfilled; but now
Thou hast vanished into darkness, and to me
Is left long heart-ache wild with all regret.
Ah, might my sorrow slay me, ere the tale
To noble Peleus come! When on his ears
Falleth the heavy tidings, he shall weep
And wail without surcease. Most piteous grief
We twain for thy sake shall inherit aye,
Thy sire and I, who, ere our day of doom,
Mourning shall go down to the grave for thee --
Ay, better this than life unholpen of thee!"

So moaned his ever-swelling tide of grief.
And Atreus' son beside him mourned and wept
With heart on fire with inly smouldering pain:
"Thou hast perished, chiefest of the Danaan men,
Hast perished, and hast left the Achaean host
Fenceless! Now thou art fallen, are they left
An easier prey to foes. Thou hast given joy
To Trojans by thy fall, who dreaded thee
As sheep a lion. These with eager hearts
Even to the ships will bring the battle now.
Zeus, Father, thou too with deceitful words
Beguilest mortals! Thou didst promise me
That Priam's burg should be destroyed; but now
That promise given dost thou not fulfil,
But thou didst cheat mine heart: I shall not win
The war's goal, now Achilles is no more."

So did he cry heart-anguished. Mourned all round
Wails multitudinous for Peleus' son:
The dark ships echoed back the voice of grief,
And sighed and sobbed the immeasurable air.
And as when long sea-rollers, onward driven
By a great wind, heave up far out at sea,
And strandward sweep with terrible rush, and aye
Headland and beach with shattered spray are scourged,
And roar unceasing; so a dread sound rose
Of moaning of the Danaans round the corse,
Ceaselessly wailing Peleus' aweless son.

And on their mourning soon black night had come,
But spake unto Atreides Neleus' son,
Nestor, whose own heart bare its load of grief
Remembering his own son Antilochus:
"O mighty Agamemnon, sceptre-lord
Of Argives, from wide-shrilling lamentation
Refrain we for this day. None shall withhold
Hereafter these from all their heart's desire
Of weeping and lamenting many days.
But now go to, from aweless Aeacus' son
Wash we the foul blood-gouts, and lay we him
Upon a couch: unseemly it is to shame
The dead by leaving them untended long."

So counselled Neleus' son, the passing-wise.
Then hasted he his men, and bade them set
Caldrons of cold spring-water o'er the flames,
And wash the corse, and clothe in vesture fair,
Sea-purple, which his mother gave her son
At his first sailing against Troy. With speed
They did their lord's command: with loving care,
All service meetly rendered, on a couch
Laid they the mighty fallen, Peleus' son.

The Trito-born, the passing-wise, beheld
And pitied him, and showered upon his head
Ambrosia, which hath virtue aye to keep
Taintless, men say, the flesh of warriors slain.
Like softly-breathing sleeper dewy-fresh
She made him: over that dead face she drew
A stern frown, even as when he lay, with wrath
Darkening his grim face, clasping his slain friend
Patroclus; and she made his frame to be
More massive, like a war-god to behold.
And wonder seized the Argives, as they thronged
And saw the image of a living man,
Where all the stately length of Peleus' son
Lay on the couch, and seemed as though he slept.

Around him all the woeful captive-maids,
Whom he had taken for a prey, what time
He had ravaged hallowed Lemnos, and had scaled
The towered crags of Thebes, Eetion's town,
Wailed, as they stood and rent their fair young flesh,
And smote their breasts, and from their hearts bemoaned
That lord of gentleness and courtesy,
Who honoured even the daughters of his foes.
And stricken most of all with heart-sick pain
Briseis, hero Achilles' couchmate, bowed
Over the dead, and tore her fair young flesh
With ruthless fingers, shrieking: her soft breast
Was ridged with gory weals, so cruelly
She smote it thou hadst said that crimson blood
Had dripped on milk. Yet, in her griefs despite,
Her winsome loveliness shone out, and grace
Hung like a veil about her, as she wailed:
"Woe for this grief passing all griefs beside!
Never on me came anguish like to this
Not when my brethren died, my fatherland
Was wasted -- like this anguish for thy death!
Thou wast my day, my sunlight, my sweet life,
Mine hope of good, my strong defence from harm,
Dearer than all my beauty -- yea, more dear
Than my lost parents! Thou wast all in all
To me, thou only, captive though I be.
Thou tookest from me every bondmaid's task
And like a wife didst hold me. Ah, but now
Me shall some new Achaean master bear
To fertile Sparta, or to thirsty Argos.
The bitter cup of thraldom shall I drain,
Severed, ah me, from thee! Oh that the earth
Had veiled my dead face ere I saw thy doom!"

So for slain Peleus' son did she lament
With woeful handmaids and heart-anguished Greeks,
Mourning a king, a husband. Never dried
Her tears were: ever to the earth they streamed
Like sunless water trickling from a rock
While rime and snow yet mantle o'er the earth
Above it; yet the frost melts down before
The east-wind and the flame-shafts of the sun.

Now came the sound of that upringing wail
To Nereus' Daughters, dwellers in the depths
Unfathomed. With sore anguish all their hearts
Were smitten: piteously they moaned: their cry
Shivered along the waves of Hellespont.
Then with dark mantles overpalled they sped
Swiftly to where the Argive men were thronged.
As rushed their troop up silver paths of sea,
The flood disported round them as they came.
With one wild cry they floated up; it rang,
A sound as when fleet-flying cranes forebode
A great storm. Moaned the monsters of the deep
Plaintively round that train of mourners. Fast
On sped they to their goal, with awesome cry
Wailing the while their sister's mighty son.
Swiftly from Helicon the Muses came
Heart-burdened with undying grief, for love
And honour to the Nereid starry-eyed.

Then Zeus with courage filled the Argive men,
That-eyes of flesh might undismayed behold
That glorious gathering of Goddesses.
Then those Divine Ones round Achilles' corse
Pealed forth with one voice from immortal lips
A lamentation. Rang again the shores
Of Hellespont. As rain upon the earth
Their tears fell round the dead man, Aeacus' son;
For out of depths of sorrow rose their moan.
And all the armour, yea, the tents, the ships
Of that great sorrowing multitude were wet
With tears from ever-welling springs of grief.
His mother cast her on him, clasping him,
And kissed her son's lips, crying through her tears:
"Now let the rosy-vestured Dawn in heaven
Exult! Now let broad-flowing Axius
Exult, and for Asteropaeus dead
Put by his wrath! Let Priam's seed be glad
But I unto Olympus will ascend,
And at the feet of everlasting Zeus
Will cast me, bitterly planning that he gave
Me, an unwilling bride, unto a man --
A man whom joyless eld soon overtook,
To whom the Fates are near, with death for gift.
Yet not so much for his lot do I grieve
As for Achilles; for Zeus promised me
To make him glorious in the Aeacid halls,
In recompense for the bridal I so loathed
That into wild wind now I changed me, now
To water, now in fashion as a bird
I was, now as the blast of flame; nor might
A mortal win me for his bride, who seemed
All shapes in turn that earth and heaven contain,
Until the Olympian pledged him to bestow
A godlike son on me, a lord of war.
Yea, in a manner this did he fulfil
Faithfully; for my son was mightiest
Of men. But Zeus made brief his span of life
Unto my sorrow. Therefore up to heaven
Will I: to Zeus's mansion will I go
And wail my son, and will put Zeus in mind
Of all my travail for him and his sons
In their sore stress, and sting his soul with shame."

So in her wild lament the Sea-queen cried.
But now to Thetis spake Calliope,
She in whose heart was steadfast wisdom throned:
"From lamentation, Thetis, now forbear,
And do not, in the frenzy of thy grief
For thy lost son, provoke to wrath the Lord
Of Gods and men. Lo, even sons of Zeus,
The Thunder-king, have perished, overborne
By evil fate. Immortal though I be,
Mine own son Orpheus died, whose magic song
Drew all the forest-trees to follow him,
And every craggy rock and river-stream,
And blasts of winds shrill-piping stormy-breathed,
And birds that dart through air on rushing wings.
Yet I endured mine heavy sorrow: Gods
Ought not with anguished grief to vex their souls.
Therefore make end of sorrow-stricken wail
For thy brave child; for to the sons of earth
Minstrels shall chant his glory and his might,
By mine and by my sisters' inspiration,
Unto the end of time. Let not thy soul
Be crushed by dark grief, nor do thou lament
Like those frail mortal women. Know'st thou not
That round all men which dwell upon the earth
Hovereth irresistible deadly Fate,
Who recks not even of the Gods? Such power
She only hath for heritage. Yea, she
Soon shall destroy gold-wealthy Priam's town,
And Trojans many and Argives doom to death,
Whomso she will. No God can stay her hand."

So in her wisdom spake Calliope.
Then plunged the sun down into Ocean's stream,
And sable-vestured Night came floating up
O'er the wide firmament, and brought her boon
Of sleep to sorrowing mortals. On the sands
There slept they, all the Achaean host, with heads
Bowed 'neath the burden of calamity.
But upon Thetis sleep laid not his hand:
Still with the deathless Nereids by the sea
She sate; on either side the Muses spake
One after other comfortable words
To make that sorrowing heart forget its pain.

But when with a triumphant laugh the Dawn
Soared up the sky, and her most radiant light
Shed over all the Trojans and their king,
Then, sorrowing sorely for Achilles still,
The Danaans woke to weep. Day after day,
For many days they wept. Around them moaned
Far-stretching beaches of the sea, and mourned
Great Nereus for his daughter Thetis' sake;
And mourned with him the other Sea-gods all
For dead Achilles. Then the Argives gave
The corpse of great Peleides to the flame.
A pyre of countless tree-trunks built they up
Which, all with one mind toiling, from the heights
Of Ida they brought down; for Atreus' sons
Sped on the work, and charged them to bring thence
Wood without measure, that consumed with speed
Might be Achilles' body. All around
Piled they about the pyre much battle-gear
Of strong men slain; and slew and cast thereon
Full many goodly sons of Trojan men,
And snorting steeds, and mighty bulls withal,
And sheep and fatling swine thereon they cast.
And wailing captive maids from coffers brought
Mantles untold; all cast they on the pyre:
Gold heaped they there and amber. All their hair
The Myrmidons shore, and shrouded with the same
The body of their king. Briseis laid
Her own shorn tresses on the corpse, her gift,
Her last, unto her lord. Great jars of oil
Full many poured they out thereon, with jars
Of honey and of wine, rich blood of the grape
That breathed an odour as of nectar, yea,
Cast incense-breathing perfumes manifold
Marvellous sweet, the precious things put forth
By earth, and treasures of the sea divine.

Then, when all things were set in readiness
About the pyre, all, footmen, charioteers,
Compassed that woeful bale, clashing their arms,
While, from the viewless heights Olympian, Zeus
Rained down ambrosia on dead Aeacus' son.
For honour to the Goddess, Nereus' child,
He sent to Aeolus Hermes, bidding him
Summon the sacred might of his swift winds,
For that the corpse of Aeacus' son must now
Be burned. With speed he went, and Aeolus
Refused not: the tempestuous North in haste
He summoned, and the wild blast of the West;
And to Troy sped they on their whirlwind wings.
Fast in mad onrush, fast across the deep
They darted; roared beneath them as they flew
The sea, the land; above crashed thunder-voiced
Clouds headlong hurtling through the firmament.
Then by decree of Zeus down on the pyre
Of slain Achilles, like a charging host
Swooped they; upleapt the Fire-god's madding breath:
Uprose a long wail from the Myrmidons.
Then, though with whirlwind rushes toiled the winds,
All day, all night, they needs must fan the flames
Ere that death-pyre burned out. Up to the heavens
Vast-volumed rolled the smoke. The huge tree-trunks
Groaned, writhing, bursting, in the heat, and dropped
The dark-grey ash all round. So when the winds
Had tirelessly fulfilled their mighty task,
Back to their cave they rode cloud-charioted.

Then, when the fire had last of all consumed
That hero-king, when all the steeds, the men
Slain round the pyre had first been ravined up,
With all the costly offerings laid around
The mighty dead by Achaia's weeping sons,
The glowing embers did the Myrmidons quench
With wine. Then clear to be discerned were seen
His bones; for nowise like the rest were they,
But like an ancient Giant's; none beside
With these were blent; for bulls and steeds, and sons
Of Troy, with all that mingled hecatomb,
Lay in a wide ring round his corse, and he
Amidst them, flame-devoured, lay there alone.
So his companions groaning gathered up
His bones, and in a silver casket laid
Massy and deep, and banded and bestarred
With flashing gold; and Nereus' daughters shed
Ambrosia over them, and precious nards
For honour to Achilles: fat of kine
And amber honey poured they over all.
A golden vase his mother gave, the gift
In old time of the Wine-god, glorious work
Of the craft-master Fire-god, in the which
They laid the casket that enclosed the bones
Of mighty-souled Achilles. All around
The Argives heaped a barrow, a giant sign,
Upon a foreland's uttermost end, beside
The Hellespont's deep waters, wailing loud
Farewells unto the Myrmidons' hero-king.

Nor stayed the immortal steeds of Aeacus' son
Tearless beside the ships; they also mourned
Their slain king: sorely loth were they to abide
Longer mid mortal men or Argive steeds
Bearing a burden of consuming grief;
But fain were they to soar through air, afar
From wretched men, over the Ocean's streams,
Over the Sea-queen's caverns, unto where
Divine Podarge bare that storm-foot twain
Begotten of the West-wind clarion-voiced
Yea, and they had accomplished their desire,
But the Gods' purpose held them back, until
From Scyros' isle Achilles' fleetfoot son
Should come. Him waited they to welcome, when
He came unto the war-host; for the Fates,
Daughters of holy Chaos, at their birth
Had spun the life-threads of those deathless foals,
Even to serve Poseidon first, and next
Peleus the dauntless king, Achilles then
The invincible, and, after these, the fourth,
The mighty-hearted Neoptolemus,
Whom after death to the Elysian Plain
They were to bear, unto the Blessed Land,
By Zeus' decree. For which cause, though their hearts
Were pierced with bitter anguish, they abode
Still by the ships, with spirits sorrowing
For their old lord, and yearning for the new.

Then from the surge of heavy-plunging seas
Rose the Earth-shaker. No man saw his feet
Pace up the strand, but suddenly he stood
Beside the Nereid Goddesses, and spake
To Thetis, yet for Achilles bowed with grief:
"Refrain from endless mourning for thy son.
Not with the dead shall he abide, but dwell
With Gods, as doth the might of Herakles,
And Dionysus ever fair. Not him
Dread doom shall prison in darkness evermore,
Nor Hades keep him. To the light of Zeus
Soon shall he rise; and I will give to him
A holy island for my gift: it lies
Within the Euxine Sea: there evermore
A God thy son shall be. The tribes that dwell
Around shall as mine own self honour him
With incense and with steam of sacrifice.
Hush thy laments, vex not thine heart with grief."

Then like a wind-breath had he passed away
Over the sea, when that consoling word
Was spoken; and a little in her breast
Revived the spirit of Thetis: and the God
Brought this to pass thereafter. All the host
Moved moaning thence, and came unto the ships
That brought them o'er from Hellas. Then returned
To Helicon the Muses: 'neath the sea,
Wailing the dear dead, Nereus' Daughters sank,

BOOK IV

How in the Funeral Games of Achilles heroes contended.

Nor did the hapless Trojans leave unwept
The warrior-king Hippolochus' hero-son,
But laid, in front of the Dardanian gate,
Upon the pyre that captain war-renowned.
But him Apollo's self caught swiftly up
Out of the blazing fire, and to the winds
Gave him, to bear away to Lycia-land;
And fast and far they bare him, 'neath the glens
Of high Telandrus, to a lovely glade;
And for a monument above his grave
Upheaved a granite rock. The Nymphs therefrom
Made gush the hallowed water of a stream
For ever flowing, which the tribes of men
Still call fair-fleeting Glaucus. This the gods
Wrought for an honour to the Lycian king.

But for Achilles still the Argives mourned
Beside the swift ships: heart-sick were they all
With dolorous pain and grief. Each yearned for him
As for a son; no eye in that wide host
Was tearless. But the Trojans with great joy
Exulted, seeing their sorrow from afar,
And the great fire that spake their foe consumed.
And thus a vaunting voice amidst them cried:
"Now hath Cronion from his heaven vouchsafed
A joy past hope unto our longing eyes,
To see Achilles fallen before Troy.
Now he is smitten down, the glorious hosts
Of Troy, I trow, shall win a breathing-space
From blood of death and from the murderous fray.
Ever his heart devised the Trojans' bane;
In his hands maddened aye the spear of doom
With gore besprent, and none of us that faced
Him in the fight beheld another dawn.
But now, I wot, Achaea's valorous sons
Shall flee unto their galleys shapely-prowed,
Since slain Achilles lies. Ah that the might
Of Hector still were here, that he might slay
The Argives one and all amidst their tents!"

So in unbridled joy a Trojan cried;
But one more wise and prudent answered him:
"Thou deemest that yon murderous Danaan host
Will straightway get them to the ships, to flee
Over the misty sea. Nay, still their lust
Is hot for fight: us will they nowise fear,
Still are there left strong battle-eager men,
As Aias, as Tydeides, Atreus' sons:
Though dead Achilles be, I still fear these.
Oh that Apollo Silverbow would end them!
Then in that day were given to our prayers
A breathing-space from war and ghastly death."

In heaven was dole among the Immortal Ones,
Even all that helped the stalwart Danaans' cause.
In clouds like mountains piled they veiled their heads
For grief of soul. But glad those others were
Who fain would speed Troy to a happy goal.
Then unto Cronos' Son great Hera spake:
"Zeus, Lightning-father, wherefore helpest thou
Troy, all forgetful of the fair-haired bride
Whom once to Peleus thou didst give to wife
Midst Pelion's glens? Thyself didst bring to pass
Those spousals of a Goddess: on that day
All we Immortals feasted there, and gave
Gifts passing-fair. All this dost thou forget,
And hast devised for Hellas heaviest woe."

So spake she; but Zeus answered not a word;
For pondering there he sat with burdened breast,
Thinking how soon the Argives should destroy
The city of Priam, thinking how himself
Would visit on the victors ruin dread
In war and on the great sea thunder-voiced.
Such thoughts were his, ere long to be fulfilled.

Now sank the sun to Ocean's fathomless flood:
O'er the dim land the infinite darkness stole,
Wherein men gain a little rest from toil.
Then by the ships, despite their sorrow, supped
The Argives, for ye cannot thrust aside
Hunger's importunate craving, when it comes
Upon the breast, but straightway heavy and faint
Lithe limbs become; nor is there remedy
Until one satisfy this clamorous guest
Therefore these ate the meat of eventide
In grief for Achilles' hard necessity
Constrained them all. And, when they had broken bread,
Sweet sleep came on them, loosening from their frames
Care's heavy chain, and quickening strength anew

But when the starry Bears had eastward turned
Their heads, expectant of the uprushing light
Of Helios, and when woke the Queen of Dawn,
Then rose from sleep the stalwart Argive men
Purposing for the Trojans death and doom.
Stirred were they like the roughly-ridging sea
Icarian, or as sudden-rippling corn
In harvest field, what time the rushing wings
Of the cloud-gathering West sweep over it;
So upon Hellespont's strand the folk were stirred.
And to those eager hearts cried Tydeus' son:
"If we be battle-biders, friends, indeed,
More fiercely fight we now the hated foe,
Lest they take heart because Achilles lives
No longer. Come, with armour, car, and steed
Let us beset them. Glory waits our toil?"

But battle-eager Aias answering spake
"Brave be thy words, and nowise idle talk,
Kindling the dauntless Argive men, whose hearts
Before were battle-eager, to the fight
Against the Trojan men, O Tydeus' son.
But we must needs abide amidst the ships
Till Goddess Thetis come forth of the sea;
For that her heart is purposed to set here
Fair athlete-prizes for the funeral-games.
This yesterday she told me, ere she plunged
Into sea-depths, yea, spake to me apart
From other Danaans; and, I trow, by this
Her haste hath brought her nigh. Yon Trojan men,
Though Peleus' son hath died, shall have small heart
For battle, while myself am yet alive,
And thou, and noble Atreus' son, the king."

So spake the mighty son of Telamon,
But knew not that a dark and bitter doom
For him should follow hard upon those games
By Fate's contrivance. Answered Tydeus' son
"O friend, if Thetis comes indeed this day
With goodly gifts for her son's funeral-games,
Then bide we by the ships, and keep we here
All others. Meet it is to do the will
Of the Immortals: yea, to Achilles too,
Though the Immortals willed it not, ourselves
Must render honour grateful to the dead."

So spake the battle-eager Tydeus' son.
And lo, the Bride of Peleus gliding came
Forth of the sea, like the still breath of dawn,
And suddenly was with the Argive throng
Where eager-faced they waited, some, that looked
Soon to contend in that great athlete-strife,
And some, to joy in seeing the mighty strive.
Amidst that gathering Thetis sable-stoled
Set down her prizes, and she summoned forth
Achaea's champions: at her best they came.

But first amidst them all rose Neleus' son,
Not as desiring in the strife of fists
To toil, nor strain of wrestling; for his arms
And all his sinews were with grievous eld
Outworn, but still his heart and brain were strong.
Of all the Achaeans none could match himself
Against him in the folkmote's war of words;
Yea, even Laertes' glorious son to him
Ever gave place when men for speech were met;
Nor he alone, but even the kingliest
Of Argives, Agamemnon, lord of spears.
Now in their midst he sang the gracious Queen
Of Nereids, sang how she in willsomeness
Of beauty was of all the Sea-maids chief.
Well-pleased she hearkened. Yet again he sang,
Singing of Peleus' Bridal of Delight,
Which all the blest Immortals brought to pass
By Pelion's crests; sang of the ambrosial feast
When the swift Hours brought in immortal hands
Meats not of earth, and heaped in golden maunds;
Sang how the silver tables were set forth
In haste by Themis blithely laughing; sang
How breathed Hephaestus purest flame of fire;
Sang how the Nymphs in golden chalices
Mingled ambrosia; sang the ravishing dance
Twined by the Graces' feet; sang of the chant
The Muses raised, and how its spell enthralled
All mountains, rivers, all the forest brood;
How raptured was the infinite firmament,
Cheiron's fair caverns, yea, the very Gods.

Such noble strain did Neleus' son pour out
Into the Argives' eager ears; and they
Hearkened with ravished souls. Then in their midst
He sang once more the imperishable deeds
Of princely Achilles. All the mighty throng
Acclaimed him with delight. From that beginning
With fitly chosen words did he extol
The glorious hero; how he voyaged and smote
Twelve cities; how he marched o'er leagues on leagues
Of land, and spoiled eleven; how he slew
Telephus and Eetion's might renowned
In Thebe; how his spear laid Cyenus low,
Poseidon's son, and godlike Polydorus,
Troilus the goodly, princely Asteropaeus;
And how he dyed with blood the river-streams
Of Xanthus, and with countless corpses choked
His murmuring flow, when from the limbs he tore
Lycaon's life beside the sounding river;
And how he smote down Hector; how he slew
Penthesileia, and the godlike son
Of splendour-throned Dawn; -- all this he sang
To Argives which already knew the tale;
Sang of his giant mould, how no man's strength
In fight could stand against him, nor in games
Where strong men strive for mastery, where the swift
Contend with flying feet or hurrying wheels
Of chariots, nor in combat panoplied;
And how in goodlihead he far outshone
All Danaans, and how his bodily might
Was measureless in the stormy clash of war.
Last, he prayed Heaven that he might see a son
Like that great sire from sea-washed Scyros come.

That noble song acclaiming Argives praised;
Yea, silver-looted Thetis smiled, and gave
The singer fleetfoot horses, given of old
Beside Caicus' mouth by Telephus
To Achilles, when he healed the torturing wound
With that same spear wherewith himself had pierced
Telephus' thigh, and thrust the point clear through.
These Nestor Neleus' son to his comrades gave,
And, glorying in their godlike lord, they led
The steeds unto his ships. Then Thetis set
Amidst the athlete-ring ten kine, to be
Her prizes for the footrace, and by each
Ran a fair suckling calf. These the bold might
Of Peleus' tireless son had driven down
From slopes of Ida, prizes of his spear.

To strive for these rose up two victory-fain,
Teucer the first, the son of Telamon,
And Aias, of the Locrian archers chief.
These twain with swift hands girded them about
With loin-cloths, reverencing the Goddess-bride
Of Peleus, and the Sea-maids, who with her
Came to behold the Argives' athlete-sport.
And Atreus' son, lord of all Argive men,
Showed them the turning-goal of that swift course.
Then these the Queen of Rivalry spurred on,
As from the starting-line like falcons swift
They sped away. Long doubtful was the race:
Now, as the Argives gazed, would Aias' friends
Shout, now rang out the answering cheer from friends
Of Teucer. But when in their eager speed
Close on the end they were, then Teucer's feet
Were trammelled by unearthly powers: some god
Or demon dashed his foot against the stock
Of a deep-rooted tamarisk. Sorely wrenched
Was his left ankle: round the joint upswelled
The veins high-ridged. A great shout rang from all
That watched the contest. Aias darted past
Exultant: ran his Locrian folk to hail
Their lord, with sudden joy in all their souls.
Then to his ships they drave the kine, and cast
Fodder before them. Eager-helpful friends
Led Teucer halting thence. The leeches drew
Blood from his foot: then over it they laid
Soft-shredded linen ointment-smeared, and swathed
With smooth bands round, and charmed away the pain.

Then swiftly rose two mighty-hearted ones
Eager to match their strength in wrestling strain,
The son of Tydeus and the giant Aias.
Into the midst they strode, and marvelling gazed
The Argives on men shapen like to gods.
Then grappled they, like lions famine-stung
Fighting amidst the mountains o'er a stag,
Whose strength is even-balanced; no whit less
Is one than other in their deadly rage;
So these long time in might were even-matched,
Till Aias locked his strong hands round the son
Of Tydeus, straining hard to break his back;
But he, with wrestling-craft and strength combined,
Shifted his hip 'neath Telamon's son, and heaved
The giant up; with a side-twist wrenched free
From Aias' ankle-lock his thigh, and so
With one huge shoulder-heave to earth he threw
That mighty champion, and himself came down
Astride him: then a mighty shout went up.
But battle-stormer Aias, chafed in mind,
Sprang up, hot-eager to essay again
That grim encounter. From his terrible hands
He dashed the dust, and challenged furiously
With a great voice Tydeides: not a whit
That other quailed, but rushed to close with him.
Rolled up the dust in clouds from 'neath their feet:
Hurtling they met like battling mountain-bulls
That clash to prove their dauntless strength, and spurn
The dust, while with their roaring all the hills
Re-echo: in their desperate fury these
Dash their strong heads together, straining long
Against each other with their massive strength,
Hard-panting in the fierce rage of their strife,
While from their mouths drip foam-flakes to the ground;
So strained they twain with grapple of brawny hands.
'Neath that hard grip their backs and sinewy necks
Cracked, even as when in mountain-glades the trees
Dash storm-tormented boughs together. Oft
Tydeides clutched at Aias' brawny thighs,
But could not stir his steadfast-rooted feet.
Oft Aias hurled his whole weight on him, bowed
His shoulders backward, strove to press him down;
And to new grips their hands were shifting aye.
All round the gazing people shouted, some
Cheering on glorious Tydeus' son, and some
The might of Aias. Then the giant swung
The shoulders of his foe to right, to left;
Then gripped him 'neath the waist; with one fierce heave
And giant effort hurled him like a stone
To earth. The floor of Troyland rang again
As fell Tydeides: shouted all the folk.
Yet leapt he up all eager to contend
With giant Aias for the third last fall:
But Nestor rose and spake unto the twain:
"From grapple of wrestling, noble sons, forbear;
For all we know that ye be mightiest
Of Argives since the great Achilles died."

Then these from toil refrained, and from their brows
Wiped with their hands the plenteous-streaming sweat:
They kissed each other, and forgat their strife.
Then Thetis, queen of Goddesses, gave to them
Four handmaids; and those strong and aweless ones
Marvelled beholding them, for these surpassed
All captive-maids in beauty and household-skill,
Save only lovely-tressed Briseis. These
Achilles captive brought from Lesbos' Isle,
And in their service joyed. The first was made
Stewardess of the feast and lady of meats;
The second to the feasters poured the wine;
The third shed water on their hands thereafter;
The fourth bare all away, the banquet done.
These Tydeus' son and giant Aias shared,
And, parted two and two, unto their ships
Sent they those fair and serviceable ones.

Next, for the play of fists Idomeneus rose,
For cunning was he in all athlete-lore;
But none came forth to meet him, yielding all
To him, the elder-born, with reverent awe.
So in their midst gave Thetis unto him
A chariot and fleet steeds, which theretofore
Mighty Patroclus from the ranks of Troy
Drave, when he slew Sarpedon, seed of Zeus,
These to his henchmen gave Idomeneus
To drive unto the ships: himself remained
Still sitting in the glorious athlete-ring.
Then Phoenix to the stalwart Argives cried:
"Now to Idomeneus the Gods have given
A fair prize uncontested, free of toil
Of mighty arms and shoulders, honouring
The elder-born with bloodless victory.
But lo, ye younger men, another prize
Awaiteth the swift play of cunning hands.
Step forth then: gladden great Peleides' soul."

He spake, they heard; but each on other looked,
And, loth to essay the contest, all sat still,
Till Neleus' son rebuked those laggard souls:
"Friends, it were shame that men should shun the play
Of clenched hands, who in that noble sport
Have skill, wherein young men delight, which links
Glory to toil. Ah that my thews were strong
As when we held King Pelias' funeral-feast,
I and Acastus, kinsmen joining hands,
When I with godlike Polydeuces stood
In gauntlet-strife, in even-balanced fray,
And when Ancaeus in the wrestlers' ring
Mightier than all beside, yet feared and shrank
From me, and dared not strive with me that day,
For that ere then amidst the Epeian men --
No battle-blenchers they! -- I had vanquished him,
For all his might, and dashed him to the dust
By dead Amaryncus' tomb, and thousands round
Sat marvelling at my prowess and my strength.
Therefore against me not a second time
Raised he his hands, strong wrestler though he were;
And so I won an uncontested prize.
But now old age is on me, and many griefs.
Therefore I bid you, whom it well beseems,
To win the prize; for glory crowns the youth
Who bears away the meed of athlete-strife."

Stirred by his gallant chiding, a brave man
Rose, son of haughty godlike Panopeus,
The man who framed the Horse, the bane of Troy,
Not long thereafter. None dared meet him now
In play of fists, albeit in deadly craft
Of war, when Ares rusheth through the field,
He was not cunning. But for strife of hands
The fair prize uncontested had been won
By stout Epeius -- yea, he was at point
To bear it thence unto the Achaean ships;
But one strode forth to meet him, Theseus' son,
The spearman Acamas, the mighty of heart,
Bearing already on his swift hands girt
The hard hide-gauntlets, which Evenor's son
Agelaus on his prince's hands had drawn
With courage-kindling words. The comrades then
Of Panopeus' princely son for Epeius raised
A heartening cheer. He like a lion stood
Forth in the midst, his strong hands gauntleted
With bull's hide hard as horn. Loud rang the cheers
From side to side of that great throng, to fire
The courage of the mighty ones to clash
Hands in the gory play. Sooth, little spur
Needed they for their eagerness for fight.
But, ere they closed, they flashed out proving blows
To wot if still, as theretofore, their arms
Were limber and lithe, unclogged by toil of war;
Then faced each other, and upraised their hands
With ever-watching eyes, and short quick steps
A-tiptoe, and with ever-shifting feet,
Each still eluding other's crushing might.
Then with a rush they closed like thunder-clouds
Hurled on each other by the tempest-blast,
Flashing forth lightnings, while the welkin thrills
As clash the clouds and hollow roar the winds;
So 'neath the hard hide-gauntlets clashed their jaws.
Down streamed the blood, and from their brows the sweat
Blood-streaked made on the flushed cheeks crimson bars.
Fierce without pause they fought, and never flagged
Epeius, but threw all his stormy strength
Into his onrush. Yet did Theseus' son
Never lose heart, but baffled the straight blows
Of those strong hands, and by his fighting-craft
Flinging them right and left, leapt in, brought home
A blow to his eyebrow, cutting to the bone.
Even then with counter-stroke Epeius reached
Acamas' temple, and hurled him to the ground.
Swift he sprang up, and on his stalwart foe
Rushed, smote his head: as he rushed in again,
The other, slightly swerving, sent his left
Clean to his brow; his right, with all his might
Behind it, to his nose. Yet Acamas still
Warded and struck with all the manifold shifts
Of fighting-craft. But now the Achaeans all
Bade stop the fight, though eager still were both
To strive for coveted victory. Then came
Their henchmen, and the gory gauntlets loosed
In haste from those strong hands. Now drew they breath
From that great labour, as they bathed their brows
With sponges myriad-pored. Comrades and friends
With pleading words then drew them face to face,
And prayed, "In friendship straight forget your wrath."
So to their comrades' suasion hearkened they;
For wise men ever bear a placable mind.
They kissed each other, and their hearts forgat
That bitter strife. Then Thetis sable-stoled
Gave to their glad hands two great silver bowls
The which Euneus, Jason's warrior son
In sea-washed Lemnos to Achilles gave
To ransom strong Lycaon from his hands.
These had Hephaestus fashioned for his gift
To glorious Dionysus, when he brought
His bride divine to Olympus, Minos' child
Far-famous, whom in sea-washed Dia's isle
Theseus unwitting left. The Wine-god brimmed
With nectar these, and gave them to his son;
And Thoas at his death to Hypsipyle
With great possessions left them. She bequeathed
The bowls to her godlike son, who gave them up
Unto Achilles for Lycaon's life.
The one the son of lordly Theseus took,
And goodly Epeius sent to his ship with joy
The other. Then their bruises and their scars
Did Podaleirius tend with loving care.
First pressed he out black humours, then his hands
Deftly knit up the gashes: salves he laid
Thereover, given him by his sire of old,
Such as had virtue in one day to heal
The deadliest hurts, yea, seeming-cureless wounds.
Straight was the smart assuaged, and healed the scars
Upon their brows and 'neath their clustering hair

Then for the archery-test Oileus' son
Stood forth with Teucer, they which in the race
Erewhile contended. Far away from these
Agamemnon, lord of spears, set up a helm
Crested with plumes, and spake: "The master-shot
Is that which shears the hair-crest clean away."
Then straightway Aias shot his arrow first,
And smote the helm-ridge: sharply rang the brass.
Then Teucer second with most earnest heed
Shot: the swift shaft hath shorn the plume away.
Loud shouted all the people as they gazed,
And praised him without stint, for still his foot
Halted in pain, yet nowise marred his aim
When with his hands he sped the flying shaft.
Then Peleus' bride gave unto him the arms
Of godlike Troilus, the goodliest
Of all fair sons whom Hecuba had borne
In hallowed Troy; yet of his goodlihead
No joy she had; the prowess and the spear
Of fell Achilles reft his life from him.
As when a gardener with new-whetted scythe
Mows down, ere it may seed, a blade of corn
Or poppy, in a garden dewy-fresh
And blossom-flushed, which by a water-course
Crowdeth its blooms -- mows it ere it may reach
Its goal of bringing offspring to the birth,
And with his scythe-sweep makes its life-work vain
And barren of all issue, nevermore
Now to be fostered by the dews of spring;
So did Peleides cut down Priam's son
The god-like beautiful, the beardless yet
And virgin of a bride, almost a child!
Yet the Destroyer Fate had lured him on
To war, upon the threshold of glad youth,
When youth is bold, and the heart feels no void.

Forthwith a bar of iron massy and long
From the swift-speeding hand did many essay
To hurl; but not an Argive could prevail
To cast that ponderous mass. Aias alone
Sped it from his strong hand, as in the time
Of harvest might a reaper fling from him
A dry oak-bough, when all the fields are parched.
And all men marvelled to behold how far
Flew from his hand the bronze which scarce two men
Hard-straining had uplifted from the ground.
Even this Antaeus' might was wont to hurl
Erstwhile, ere the strong hands of Hercules
O'ermastered him. This, with much spoil beside,
Hercules took, and kept it to make sport
For his invincible hand; but afterward
Gave it to valiant Peleus, who with him
Had smitten fair-towered Ilium's burg renowned;
And he to Achilles gave it, whose swift ships
Bare it to Troy, to put him aye in mind
Of his own father, as with eager will
He fought with stalwart Trojans, and to be
A worthy test wherewith to prove his strength.
Even this did Aias from his brawny hand
Fling far. So then the Nereid gave to him
The glorious arms from godlike Memnon stripped.
Marvelling the Argives gazed on them: they were
A giant's war-gear. Laughing a glad laugh
That man renowned received them: he alone
Could wear them on his brawny limbs; they seemed
As they had even been moulded to his frame.
The great bar thence he bore withal, to be
His joy when he was fain of athlete-toil.

Still sped the contests on; and many rose
Now for the leaping. Far beyond the marks
Of all the rest brave Agapenor sprang:
Loud shouted all for that victorious leap;
And Thetis gave him the fair battle-gear
Of mighty Cycnus, who had smitten first
Protesilaus, then had reft the life
From many more, till Peleus' son slew him
First of the chiefs of grief-enshrouded Troy.

Next, in the javelin-cast Euryalus
Hurled far beyond all rivals, while the folk
Shouted aloud: no archer, so they deemed,
Could speed a winged shaft farther than his cast;
Therefore the Aeacid hero's mother gave
To him a deep wide silver oil-flask, ta'en
By Achilles in possession, when his spear
Slew Mynes, and he spoiled Lyrnessus' wealth.

Then fiery-hearted Aias eagerly
Rose, challenging to strife of hands and feet
The mightiest hero there; but marvelling
They marked his mighty thews, and no man dared
Confront him. Chilling dread had palsied all
Their courage: from their hearts they feared him, lest
His hands invincible should all to-break
His adversary's face, and naught but pain
Be that man's meed. But at the last all men
Made signs to battle-bider Euryalus,
For well they knew him skilled in fighting-craft;
But he too feared that giant, and he cried:
"Friends, any other Achaean, whom ye will,
Blithe will I face; but mighty Alas -- no!
Far doth he overmatch me. He will rend
Mine heart, if in the onset anger rise
Within him: from his hands invincible,
I trow, I should not win to the ships alive."

Loud laughed they all: but glowed with triumph-joy
The heart of Aias. Gleaming talents twain
Of silver he from Thetis' hands received,
His uncontested prize. His stately height
Called to her mind her dear son, and she sighed.

They which had skill in chariot-driving then
Rose at the contest's summons eagerly:
Menelaus first, Eurypylus bold in fight,
Eumelus, Thoas, godlike Polypoetes
Harnessed their steeds, and led them to the cars
All panting for the joy of victory.
Then rode they in a glittering chariot rank
Out to one place, to a stretch of sand, and stood
Ranged at the starting-line. The reins they grasped
In strong hands quickly, while the chariot-steeds
Shoulder to shoulder fretted, all afire
To take the lead at starting, pawed the sand,
Pricked ears, and o'er their frontlets flung the foam.
With sudden-stiffened sinews those ear-lords
Lashed with their whips the tempest-looted steeds;
Then swift as Harpies sprang they forth; they strained
Furiously at the harness, onward whirling
The chariots bounding ever from the earth.
Thou couldst not see a wheel-track, no, nor print
Of hoof upon the sand -- they verily flew.
Up from the plain the dust-clouds to the sky
Soared, like the smoke of burning, or a mist
Rolled round the mountain-forelands by the might
Of the dark South-wind or the West, when wakes
A tempest, when the hill-sides stream with rain.
Burst to the front Eumelus' steeds: behind
Close pressed the team of godlike Thoas: shouts
Still answered shouts that cheered each chariot, while
Onward they swept across the wide-wayed plain.

((LACUNA))

"From hallowed Elis, when he had achieved
A mighty triumph, in that he outstripped
The swift ear of Oenomaus evil-souled,
The ruthless slayer of youths who sought to wed
His daughter Hippodameia passing-wise.
Yet even he, for all his chariot-lore,
Had no such fleetfoot steeds as Atreus' son --
Far slower! -- the wind is in the feet of these."

So spake he, giving glory to the might
Of those good steeds, and to Atreides' self;
And filled with joy was Menelaus' soul.
Straightway his henchmen from the yoke-band loosed
The panting team, and all those chariot-lords,
Who in the race had striven, now unyoked
Their tempest-footed steeds. Podaleirius then
Hasted to spread salves over all the wounds
Of Thoas and Eurypylus, gashes scored
Upon their frames when from the cars they fell
But Menelaus with exceeding joy
Of victory glowed, when Thetis 1ovely-tressed
Gave him a golden cup, the chief possession
Once of Eetion the godlike; ere
Achilles spoiled the far-famed burg of Thebes.

Then horsemen riding upon horses came
Down to the course: they grasped in hand the whip
And bounding from the earth bestrode their steeds,
The while with foaming mouths the coursers champed
The bits, and pawed the ground, and fretted aye
To dash into the course. Forth from the line
Swiftly they darted, eager for the strife,
Wild as the blasts of roaring Boreas
Or shouting Notus, when with hurricane-swoop
He heaves the wide sea high, when in the east
Uprises the disastrous Altar-star
Bringing calamity to seafarers;
So swift they rushed, spurning with flying feet
The deep dust on the plain. The riders cried
Each to his steed, and ever plied the lash
And shook the reins about the clashing bits.
On strained the horses: from the people rose
A shouting like the roaring of a sea.
On, on across the level plain they flew;
And now the flashing-footed Argive steed
By Sthenelus bestridden, had won the race,
But from the course he swerved, and o'er the plain
Once and again rushed wide; nor Capaneus' son,
Good horseman though he were, could turn him back
By rein or whip, because that steed was strange
Still to the race-course; yet of lineage
Noble was he, for in his veins the blood
Of swift Arion ran, the foal begotten
By the loud-piping West-wind on a Harpy,
The fleetest of all earth-born steeds, whose feet
Could race against his father's swiftest blasts.
Him did the Blessed to Adrastus give:
And from him sprang the steed of Sthenelus,
Which Tydeus' son had given unto his friend
In hallowed Troyland. Filled with confidence
In those swift feet his rider led him forth
Unto the contest of the steeds that day,
Looking his horsemanship should surely win
Renown: yet victory gladdened not his heart
In that great struggle for Achilles' prizes;
Nay, swift albeit he was, the King of Men
By skill outraced him. Shouted all the folk,
"Glory to Agamemnon!" Yet they acclaimed
The steed of valiant Sthenelus and his lord,
For that the fiery flying of his feet
Still won him second place, albeit oft
Wide of the course he swerved. Then Thetis gave
To Atreus' son, while laughed his lips for joy,
God-sprung Polydorus' breastplate silver-wrought.
To Sthenelus Asteropaeus' massy helm,
Two lances, and a taslet strong, she gave.
Yea, and to all the riders who that day
Came at Achilles' funeral-feast to strive
She gave gifts. But the son of the old war-lord,
Laertes, inly grieved to be withheld
From contests of the strong, how fain soe'er,
By that sore wound which Alcon dealt to him
In the grim fight around dead Aeacas' son.

BOOK V

How the Arms of Achilles were cause of madness and death unto
Aias.

So when all other contests had an end,
Thetis the Goddess laid down in the midst
Great-souled Achilles' arms divinely wrought;
And all around flashed out the cunning work
Wherewith the Fire-god overchased the shield
Fashioned for Aeacus' son, the dauntless-souled.

Inwrought upon that labour of a God
Were first high heaven and cloudland, and beneath
Lay earth and sea: the winds, the clouds were there,
The moon and sun, each in its several place;
There too were all the stars that, fixed in heaven,
Are borne in its eternal circlings round.
Above and through all was the infinite air
Where to and fro flit birds of slender beak:
Thou hadst said they lived, and floated on the breeze.
Here Tethys' all-embracing arms were wrought,
And Ocean's fathomless flow. The outrushing flood
Of rivers crying to the echoing hills
All round, to right, to left, rolled o'er the land.

Round it rose league-long mountain-ridges, haunts
Of terrible lions and foul jackals: there
Fierce bears and panthers prowled; with these were seen
Wild boars that whetted deadly-clashing tusks
In grimly-frothing jaws. There hunters sped
After the hounds: beaters with stone and dart,
To the life portrayed, toiled in the woodland sport.

And there were man-devouring wars, and all
Horrors of fight: slain men were falling down
Mid horse-hoofs; and the likeness of a plain
Blood-drenched was on that shield invincible.
Panic was there, and Dread, and ghastly Enyo
With limbs all gore-bespattered hideously,
And deadly Strife, and the Avenging Spirits
Fierce-hearted -- she, still goading warriors on
To the onset they, outbreathing breath of fire.
Around them hovered the relentless Fates;
Beside them Battle incarnate onward pressed
Yelling, and from their limbs streamed blood and sweat.
There were the ruthless Gorgons: through their hair
Horribly serpents coiled with flickering tongues.
A measureless marvel was that cunning work
Of things that made men shudder to behold
Seeming as though they verily lived and moved.

And while here all war's marvels were portrayed,
Yonder were all the works of lovely peace.
The myriad tribes of much-enduring men
Dwelt in fair cities. Justice watched o'er all.
To diverse toils they set their hands; the fields
Were harvest-laden; earth her increase bore.

Most steeply rose on that god-laboured work
The rugged flanks of holy Honour's mount,
And there upon a palm-tree throned she sat
Exalted, and her hands reached up to heaven.
All round her, paths broken by many rocks
Thwarted the climbers' feet; by those steep tracks
Daunted ye saw returning many folk:
Few won by sweat of toil the sacred height.

And there were reapers moving down long swaths
Swinging the whetted sickles: 'neath their hands
The hot work sped to its close. Hard after these
Many sheaf-binders followed, and the work
Grew passing great. With yoke-bands on their necks
Oxen were there, whereof some drew the wains
Heaped high with full-eared sheaves, and further on
Were others ploughing, and the glebe showed black
Behind them. Youths with ever-busy goads
Followed: a world of toil was there portrayed.

And there a banquet was, with pipe and harp,
Dances of maids, and flashing feet of boys,
All in swift movement, like to living souls.

Hard by the dance and its sweet winsomeness
Out of the sea was rising lovely-crowned
Cypris, foam-blossoms still upon her hair;
And round her hovered smiling witchingly
Desire, and danced the Graces lovely-tressed.

And there were lordly Nereus' Daughters shown
Leading their sister up from the wide sea
To her espousals with the warrior-king.
And round her all the Immortals banqueted
On Pelion's ridge far-stretching. All about
Lush dewy watermeads there were, bestarred
With flowers innumerable, grassy groves,
And springs with clear transparent water bright.

There ships with sighing sheets swept o'er the sea,
Some beating up to windward, some that sped
Before a following wind, and round them heaved
The melancholy surge. Seared shipmen rushed
This way and that, adread for tempest-gusts,
Hauling the white sails in, to 'scape the death --
It all seemed real -- some tugging at the oars,
While the dark sea on either side the ship
Grew hoary 'neath the swiftly-plashing blades.

And there triumphant the Earth-shaker rode
Amid sea-monsters' stormy-footed steeds
Drew him, and seemed alive, as o'er the deep
They raced, oft smitten by the golden whip.
Around their path of flight the waves fell smooth,
And all before them was unrippled calm.
Dolphins on either hand about their king
Swarmed, in wild rapture of homage bowing backs,
And seemed like live things o'er the hazy sea
Swimming, albeit all of silver wrought.

Marvels of untold craft were imaged there
By cunning-souled Hephaestus' deathless hands
Upon the shield. And Ocean's fathomless flood

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