Part 3 out of 6
Clasped like a garland all the outer rim,
And compassed all the strong shield's curious work.
And therebeside the massy helmet lay.
Zeus in his wrath was set upon the crest
Throned on heaven's dome; the Immortals all around
Fierce-battling with the Titans fought for Zeus.
Already were their foes enwrapped with flame,
For thick and fast as snowflakes poured from heaven
The thunderbolts: the might of Zeus was roused,
And burning giants seemed to breathe out flames.
And therebeside the fair strong corslet lay,
Unpierceable, which clasped Peleides once:
There were the greaves close-lapping, light alone
To Achilles; massy of mould and huge they were.
And hard by flashed the sword whose edge and point
No mail could turn, with golden belt, and sheath
Of silver, and with haft of ivory:
Brightest amid those wondrous arms it shone.
Stretched on the earth thereby was that dread spear,
Long as the tall-tressed pines of Pelion,
Still breathing out the reek of Hector's blood.
Then mid the Argives Thetis sable-stoled
In her deep sorrow for Achilles spake;
"Now all the athlete-prizes have been won
Which I set forth in sorrow for my child.
Now let that mightiest of the Argives come
Who rescued from the foe my dead: to him
These glorious and immortal arms I give
Which even the blessed Deathless joyed to see."
Then rose in rivalry, each claiming them,
Laertes' seed and godlike Telamon's son,
Aias, the mightiest far of Danaan men:
He seemed the star that in the glittering sky
Outshines the host of heaven, Hesperus,
So splendid by Peleides' arms he stood;
"And let these judge," he cried, "Idomeneus,
Nestor, and kingly-counselled Agamemnon,"
For these, he weened, would sureliest know the truth
Of deeds wrought in that glorious battle-toil.
"To these I also trust most utterly,"
Odysseus said, "for prudent of their wit
Be these, and princeliest of all Danaan men."
But to Idomeneus and Atreus' son
Spake Nestor apart, and willingly they heard:
"Friends, a great woe and unendurable
This day the careless Gods have laid on us,
In that into this lamentable strife
Aias the mighty hath been thrust by them
Against Odysseus passing-wise. For he,
To whichsoe'er God gives the victor's glory --
O yea, he shall rejoice! But he that 1oseth --
All for the grief in all the Danaans' hearts
For him! And ours shall be the deepest grief
Of all; for that man will not in the war
Stand by us as of old. A sorrowful day
It shall be for us, whichsoe'er of these
Shall break into fierce anger, seeing they
Are of our heroes chiefest, this in war,
And that in counsel. Hearken then to me,
Seeing that I am older far than ye,
Not by a few years only: with mine age
Is prudence joined, for I have suffered and wrought
Much; and in counsel ever the old man,
Who knoweth much, excelleth younger men.
Therefore let us ordain to judge this cause
'Twixt godlike Aias and war-fain Odysseus,
Our Trojan captives. They shall say whom most
Our foes dread, and who saved Peleides' corse
From that most deadly fight. Lo, in our midst
Be many spear-won Trojans, thralls of Fate;
And these will pass true judgment on these twain,
To neither showing favour, since they hate
Alike all authors of their misery."
He spake: replied Agamemnon lord of spears:
"Ancient, there is none other in our midst
Wiser than thou, of Danaans young or old,
In that thou say'st that unforgiving wrath
Will burn in him to whom the Gods herein
Deny the victory; for these which strive
Are both our chiefest. Therefore mine heart too
Is set on this, that to the thralls of war
This judgment we commit: the loser then
Shall against Troy devise his deadly work
Of vengeance, and shall not be wroth with us."
He spake, and these three, being of one mind,
In hearing of all men refused to judge
Judgment so thankless: they would none of it.
Therefore they set the high-born sons of Troy
There in the midst, spear-thralls although they were,
To give just judgment in the warriors' strife.
Then in hot anger Aias rose, and spake:
"Odysseus, frantic soul, why hath a God
Deluded thee, to make thee hold thyself
My peer in might invincible? Dar'st thou say
That thou, when slain Achilles lay in dust,
When round him swarmed the Trojans, didst bear back
That furious throng, when I amidst them hurled
Death, and thou coweredst away? Thy dam
Bare thee a craven and a weakling wretch
Frail in comparison of me, as is
A cur beside a lion thunder-voiced!
No battle-biding heart is in thy breast,
But wiles and treachery be all thy care.
Hast thou forgotten how thou didst shrink back
From faring with Achaea's gathered host
To Ilium's holy burg, till Atreus' sons
Forced thee, the cowering craven, how loth soe'er,
To follow them -- would God thou hadst never come!
For by thy counsel left we in Lemnos' isle
Groaning in agony Poeas' son renowned.
And not for him alone was ruin devised
Of thee; for godlike Palamedes too
Didst thou contrive destruction -- ha, he was
Alike in battle and council better than thou!
And now thou dar'st to rise up against me,
Neither remembering my kindness, nor
Having respect unto the mightier man
Who rescued thee erewhile, when thou didst quaff
In fight before the onset of thy foes,
When thou, forsaken of all Greeks beside,
Midst tumult of the fray, wast fleeing too!
Oh that in that great fight Zeus' self had stayed
My dauntless might with thunder from his heaven!
Then with their two-edged swords the Trojan men
Had hewn thee limb from limb, and to their dogs
Had cast thy carrion! Then thou hadst not presumed
To meet me, trusting in thy trickeries!
Wretch, wherefore, if thou vauntest thee in might
Beyond all others, hast thou set thy ships
In the line's centre, screened from foes, nor dared
As I, on the far wing to draw them up?
Because thou wast afraid! Not thou it was
Who savedst from devouring fire the ships;
But I with heart unquailing there stood fast
Facing the fire and Hector ay, even he
Gave back before me everywhere in fight.
Thou -- thou didst fear him aye with deadly fear!
Oh, had this our contention been but set
Amidst that very battle, when the roar
Of conflict rose around Achilles slain!
Then had thine own eyes seen me bearing forth
Out from the battle's heart and fury of foes
That goodly armour and its hero lord
Unto the tents. But here thou canst but trust
In cunning speech, and covetest a place
Amongst the mighty! Thou -- thou hast not strength
To wear Achilles' arms invincible,
Nor sway his massy spear in thy weak hands!
But I they are verily moulded to my frame:
Yea, seemly it is I wear those glorious arms,
Who shall not shame a God's gifts passing fair.
But wherefore for Achilles' glorious arms
With words discourteous wrangling stand we here?
Come, let us try in strife with brazen spears
Who of us twain is best in murderous right!
For silver-footed Thetis set in the midst
This prize for prowess, not for pestilent words.
In folkmote may men have some use for words:
In pride of prowess I know me above thee far,
And great Achilles' lineage is mine own."
He spake: with scornful glance and bitter speech
Odysseus the resourceful chode with him:
"Aias, unbridled tongue, why these vain words
To me? Thou hast called me pestilent, niddering,
And weakling: yet I boast me better far
Than thou in wit and speech, which things increase
The strength of men. Lo, how the craggy rock,
Adamantine though it seem, the hewers of stone
Amid the hills by wisdom undermine
Full lightly, and by wisdom shipmen cross
The thunderous-plunging sea, when mountain-high
It surgeth, and by craft do hunters quell
Strong lions, panthers, boars, yea, all the brood
Of wild things. Furious-hearted bulls are tamed
To bear the yoke-bands by device of men.
Yea, all things are by wit accomplished. Still
It is the man who knoweth that excels
The witless man alike in toils and counsels.
For my keen wit did Oeneus' valiant son
Choose me of all men with him to draw nigh
To Hector's watchmen: yea, and mighty deeds
We twain accomplished. I it was who brought
To Atreus' sons Peleides far-renowned,
Their battle-helper. Whensoe'er the host
Needeth some other champion, not for the sake
Of thine hands will he come, nor by the rede
Of other Argives: of Achaeans I
Alone will draw him with soft suasive words
To where strong men are warring. Mighty power
The tongue hath over men, when courtesy
Inspires it. Valour is a deedless thing;
And bulk and big assemblage of a man
Cometh to naught, by wisdom unattended.
But unto me the Immortals gave both strength
And wisdom, and unto the Argive host
Made me a blessing. Nor, as thou hast said,
Hast thou in time past saved me when in flight
From foes. I never fled, but steadfastly
Withstood the charge of all the Trojan host.
Furious the enemy came on like a flood
But I by might of hands cut short the thread
Of many lives. Herein thou sayest not true
Me in the fray thou didst not shield nor save,
But for thine own life roughtest, lest a spear
Should pierce thy back if thou shouldst turn to flee
From war. My ships? I drew them up mid-line,
Not dreading the battle-fury of any foe,
But to bring healing unto Atreus' sons
Of war's calamities: and thou didst set
Far from their help thy ships. Nay more, I seamed
With cruel stripes my body, and entered so
The Trojans' burg, that I might learn of them
All their devisings for this troublous war.
Nor ever I dreaded Hector's spear; myself
Rose mid the foremost, eager for the fight,
When, prowess-confident, he defied us all.
Yea, in the fight around Achilles, I
Slew foes far more than thou; 'twas I who saved
The dead king with this armour. Not a whit
I dread thy spear now, but my grievous hurt
With pain still vexeth me, the wound I gat
In fighting for these arms and their slain lord.
In me as in Achilles is Zeus' blood."
He spake; strong Aias answered him again.
"Most cunning and most pestilent of men,
Nor I, nor any other Argive, saw
Thee toiling in that fray, when Trojans strove
Fiercely to hale away Achilles slain.
My might it was that with the spear unstrung
The knees of some in fight, and others thrilled
With panic as they pressed on ceaselessly.
Then fled they in dire straits, as geese or cranes
Flee from an eagle swooping as they feed
Along a grassy meadow; so, in dread
The Trojans shrinking backward from my spear
And lightening sword, fled into Ilium
To 'scape destruction. If thy might came there
Ever at all, not anywhere nigh me
With foes thou foughtest: somewhere far aloot
Mid other ranks thou toiledst, nowhere nigh
Achilles, where the one great battle raged."
He spake; replied Odysseus the shrewd heart:
"Aias, I hold myself no worse than thou
In wit or might, how goodly in outward show
Thou be soever. Nay, I am keener far
Of wit than thou in all the Argives' eyes.
In battle-prowess do I equal thee
Haply surpass; and this the Trojans know,
Who tremble when they see me from afar.
Aye, thou too know'st, and others know my strength
By that hard struggle in the wrestling-match,
When Peleus' son set glorious prizes forth
Beside the barrow of Patroclus slain."
So spake Laertes' son the world-renowned.
Then on that strife disastrous of the strong
The sons of Troy gave judgment. Victory
And those immortal arms awarded they
With one consent to Odysseus mighty in war.
Greatly his soul rejoiced; but one deep groan
Brake from the Greeks. Then Aias' noble might
Stood frozen stiff; and suddenly fell on him
Dark wilderment; all blood within his frame
Boiled, and his gall swelled, bursting forth in flood.
Against his liver heaved his bowels; his heart
With anguished pangs was thrilled; fierce stabbing throes
Shot through the filmy veil 'twixt bone and brain;
And darkness and confusion wrapped his mind.
With fixed eyes staring on the ground he stood
Still as a statue. Then his sorrowing friends
Closed round him, led him to the shapely ships,
Aye murmuring consolations. But his feet
Trod for the last time, with reluctant steps,
That path; and hard behind him followed Doom.
When to the ships beside the boundless sea
The Argives, faint for supper and for sleep,
Had passed, into the great deep Thetis plunged,
And all the Nereids with her. Round them swam
Sea-monsters many, children of the brine.
Against the wise Prometheus bitter-wroth
The Sea-maids were, remembering how that Zeus,
Moved by his prophecies, unto Peleus gave
Thetis to wife, a most unwilling bride.
Then cried in wrath to these Cymothoe:
"O that the pestilent prophet had endured
All pangs he merited, when, deep-burrowing,
The eagle tare his liver aye renewed!"
So to the dark-haired Sea-maids cried the Nymph.
Then sank the sun: the onrush of the night
Shadowed the fields, the heavens were star-bestrewn;
And by the long-prowed ships the Argives slept
By ambrosial sleep o'ermastered, and by wine
The which from proud Idomeneus' realm of Crete:
The shipmen bare o'er foaming leagues of sea.
But Aias, wroth against the Argive men,
Would none of meat or drink, nor clasped him round
The arms of sleep. In fury he donned his mail,
He clutched his sword, thinking unspeakable thoughts;
For now he thought to set the ships aflame,
And slaughter all the Argives, now, to hew
With sudden onslaught of his terrible sword
Guileful Odysseus limb from limb. Such things
He purposed -- nay, had soon accomplished all,
Had Pallas not with madness smitten him;
For over Odysseus, strong to endure, her heart
Yearned, as she called to mind the sacrifices
Offered to her of him continually.
Therefore she turned aside from Argive men
The might of Aias. As a terrible storm,
Whose wings are laden with dread hurricane-blasts,
Cometh with portents of heart-numbing fear
To shipmen, when the Pleiads, fleeing adread
From glorious Orion, plunge beneath
The stream of tireless Ocean, when the air
Is turmoil, and the sea is mad with storm;
So rushed he, whithersoe'er his feet might bear.
This way and that he ran, like some fierce beast
Which darteth down a rock-walled glen's ravines
With foaming jaws, and murderous intent
Against the hounds and huntsmen, who have torn
Out of the cave her cubs, and slain: she runs
This way and that, and roars, if mid the brakes
Haply she yet may see the dear ones lost;
Whom if a man meet in that maddened mood,
Straightway his darkest of all days hath dawned;
So ruthless-raving rushed he; blackly boiled
His heart, as caldron on the Fire-god's hearth
Maddens with ceaseless hissing o'er the flames
From blazing billets coiling round its sides,
At bidding of the toiler eager-souled
To singe the bristles of a huge-fed boar;
So was his great heart boiling in his breast.
Like a wild sea he raved, like tempest-blast,
Like the winged might of tireless flame amidst
The mountains maddened by a mighty wind,
When the wide-blazing forest crumbles down
In fervent heat. So Aias, his fierce heart
With agony stabbed, in maddened misery raved.
Foam frothed about his lips; a beast-like roar
Howled from his throat. About his shoulders clashed
His armour. They which saw him trembled, all
Cowed by the fearful shout of that one man.
From Ocean then uprose Dawn golden-reined:
Like a soft wind upfloated Sleep to heaven,
And there met Hera, even then returned
To Olympus back from Tethys, unto whom
But yester-morn she went. She clasped him round,
And kissed him, who had been her marriage-kin
Since at her prayer on Ida's erest he had lulled
To sleep Cronion, when his anger burned
Against the Argives. Straightway Hera passed
To Zeus's mansion, and Sleep swiftly flew
To Pasithea's couch. From slumber woke
All nations of the earth. But Aias, like
Orion the invincible, prowled on,
Still bearing murderous madness in his heart.
He rushed upon the sheep, like lion fierce
Whose savage heart is stung with hunger-pangs.
Here, there, he smote them, laid them dead in dust
Thick as the leaves which the strong North-wind's might
Strews, when the waning year to winter turns;
So on the sheep in fury Aias fell,
Deeming he dealt to Danaans evil doom.
Then to his brother Menelaus came,
And spake, but not in hearing of the rest:
"This day shall surely be a ruinous day
For all, since Aias thus is sense-distraught.
It may be he will set the ships aflame,
And slay us all amidst our tents, in wrath
For those lost arms. Would God that Thetis ne'er
Had set them for the prize of rivalry!
Would God Laertes' son had not presumed
In folly of soul to strive with a better man!
Fools were we all; and some malignant God
Beguiled us; for the one great war-defence
Left us, since Aeacus' son in battle fell,
Was Aias' mighty strength. And now the Gods
Will to our loss destroy him, bringing bane
On thee and me, that all we may fill up
The cup of doom, and pass to nothingness."
He spake; replied Agamemnon, lord of spears:
"Now nay, Menelaus, though thine heart he wrung,
Be thou not wroth with the resourceful king
Of Cephallenian folk, but with the Gods
Who plot our ruin. Blame not him, who oft
Hath been our blessing and our enemies' curse."
So heavy-hearted spake the Danaan kings.
But by the streams of Xanthus far away
'Neath tamarisks shepherds cowered to hide from death,
As when from a swift eagle cower hares
'Neath tangled copses, when with sharp fierce scream
This way and that with wings wide-shadowing
He wheeleth very nigh; so they here, there,
Quailed from the presence of that furious man.
At last above a slaughtered ram he stood,
And with a deadly laugh he cried to it:
"Lie there in dust; be meat for dogs and kites!
Achilles' glorious arms have saved not thee,
For which thy folly strove with a better man!
Lie there, thou cur! No wife shall fall on thee,
And clasp, and wail thee and her fatherless childs,
Nor shalt thou greet thy parents' longing eyes,
The staff of their old age! Far from thy land
Thy carrion dogs and vultures shall devour!"
So cried he, thinking that amidst the slain
Odysseus lay blood-boltered at his feet.
But in that moment from his mind and eyes
Athena tore away the nightmare-fiend
Of Madness havoc-breathing, and it passed
Thence swiftly to the rock-walled river Styx
Where dwell the winged Erinnyes, they which still
Visit with torments overweening men.
Then Aias saw those sheep upon the earth
Gasping in death; and sore amazed he stood,
For he divined that by the Blessed Ones
His senses had been cheated. All his limbs
Failed under him; his soul was anguished-thrilled:
He could not in his horror take one step
Forward nor backward. Like some towering rock
Fast-rooted mid the mountains, there he stood.
But when the wild rout of his thoughts had rallied,
He groaned in misery, and in anguish wailed:
"Ah me! why do the Gods abhor me so?
They have wrecked my mind, have with fell madness filled,
Making me slaughter all these innocent sheep!
Would God that on Odysseus' pestilent heart
Mine hands had so avenged me! Miscreant, he
Brought on me a fell curse! O may his soul
Suffer all torments that the Avenging Fiends
Devise for villains! On all other Greeks
May they bring murderous battle, woeful griefs,
And chiefly on Agamemnon, Atreus' son!
Not scatheless to the home may he return
So long desired! But why should I consort,
I, a brave man, with the abominable?
Perish the Argive host, perish my life,
Now unendurable! The brave no more
Hath his due guerdon, but the baser sort
Are honoured most and loved, as this Odysseus
Hath worship mid the Greeks: but utterly
Have they forgotten me and all my deeds,
All that I wrought and suffered in their cause."
So spake the brave son of strong Telamon,
Then thrust the sword of Hector through his throat.
Forth rushed the blood in torrent: in the dust
Outstretched he lay, like Typhon, when the bolts
Of Zeus had blasted him. Around him groaned
The dark earth as he fell upon her breast.
Then thronging came the Danaans, when they saw
Low laid in dust the hero; but ere then
None dared draw nigh him, but in deadly fear
They watched him from afar. Now hasted they
And flung themselves upon the dead, outstretched
Upon their faces: on their heads they cast
Dust, and their wailing went up to the sky.
As when men drive away the tender lambs
Out of the fleecy flock, to feast thereon,
And round the desolate pens the mothers leap
Ceaselessly bleating, so o'er Aias rang
That day a very great and bitter cry.
Wild echoes pealed from Ida forest-palled,
And from the plain, the ships, the boundless sea.
Then Teucer clasping him was minded too
To rush on bitter doom: howbeit the rest
Held from the sword his hand. Anguished he fell
Upon the dead, outpouring many a tear
More comfortlessly than the orphan babe
That wails beside the hearth, with ashes strewn
On head and shoulders, wails bereavement's day
That brings death to the mother who hath nursed
The fatherless child; so wailed he, ever wailed
His great death-stricken brother, creeping slow
Around the corpse, and uttering his lament:
"O Aias, mighty-souled, why was thine heart
Distraught, that thou shouldst deal unto thyself
Murder and bale? All, was it that the sons
Of Troy might win a breathing-space from woes,
Might come and slay the Greeks, now thou art not?
From these shall all the olden courage fail
When fast they fall in fight. Their shield from harm
s broken now! For me, I have no will
To see mine home again, now thou art dead.
Nay, but I long here also now to die,
That so the earth may shroud me -- me and thee
Not for my parents so much do I care,
If haply yet they live, if haply yet
Spared from the grave, in Salamis they dwell,
As for thee, O my glory and my crown!"
So cried he groaning sore; with answering moan
Queenly Tecmessa wailed, the princess-bride
Of noble Aias, captive of his spear,
Yet ta'en by him to wife, and household-queen
O'er all his substance, even all that wives
Won with a bride-price rule for wedded lords.
Clasped in his mighty arms, she bare to him
A son Eurysaces, in all things like
Unto his father, far as babe might be
Yet cradled in his tent. With bitter moan
Fell she on that dear corpse, all her fair form
Close-shrouded in her veil, and dust-defiled,
And from her anguished heart cried piteously:
"Alas for me, for me now thou art dead,
Not by the hands of foes in fight struck down,
But by thine own! On me is come a grief
Ever-abiding! Never had I looked
To see thy woeful death-day here by Troy.
Ah, visions shattered by rude hands of Fate!
Oh that the earth had yawned wide for my grave
Ere I beheld thy bitter doom! On me
No sharper, more heart-piercing pang hath come --
No, not when first from fatherland afar
And parents thou didst bear me, wailing sore
Mid other captives, when the day of bondage
Had come on me, a princess theretofore.
Not for that dear lost home so much I grieve,
Nor for my parents dead, as now for thee:
For all thine heart was kindness unto me
The hapless, and thou madest me thy wife,
One soul with thee; yea, and thou promisedst
To throne me queen of fair-towered Salamis,
When home we won from Troy. The Gods denied
Accomplishment thereof. And thou hast passed
Unto the Unseen Land: thou hast forgot
Me and thy child, who never shall make glad
His father's heart, shall never mount thy throne.
But him shall strangers make a wretched thrall:
For when the father is no more, the babe
Is ward of meaner men. A weary life
The orphan knows, and suffering cometh in
From every side upon him like a flood.
To me too thraldom's day shall doubtless come,
Now thou hast died, who wast my god on earth."
Then in all kindness Agamemnon spake:
"Princess, no man on earth shall make thee thrall,
While Teucer liveth yet, while yet I live.
Thou shalt have worship of us evermore
And honour as a Goddess, with thy son,
As though yet living were that godlike man,
Aias, who was the Achaeans' chiefest strength.
Ah that he had not laid this load of grief
On all, in dying by his own right hand!
For all the countless armies of his foes
Never availed to slay him in fair fight."
So spake he, grieved to the inmost heart. The folk
Woefully wafted all round. O'er Hellespont
Echoes of mourning rolled: the sighing air
Darkened around, a wide-spread sorrow-pall.
Yea, grief laid hold on wise Odysseus' self
For the great dead, and with remorseful soul
To anguish-stricken Argives thus he spake:
"O friends, there is no greater curse to men
Than wrath, which groweth till its bitter fruit
Is strife. Now wrath hath goaded Aias on
To this dire issue of the rage that filled
His soul against me. Would to God that ne'er
Yon Trojans in the strife for Achilles' arms
Had crowned me with that victory, for which
Strong Telamon's brave son, in agony
Of soul, thus perished by his own right hand!
Yet blame not me, I pray you, for his wrath:
Blame the dark dolorous Fate that struck him down.
For, had mine heart foreboded aught of this,
This desperation of a soul distraught,
Never for victory had I striven with him,
Nor had I suffered any Danaan else,
Though ne'er so eager, to contend with him.
Nay, I had taken up those arms divine
With mine own hands, and gladly given them
To him, ay, though himself desired it not.
But for such mighty grief and wrath in him
I had not looked, since not for a woman's sake
Nor for a city, nor possessions wide,
I then contended, but for Honour's meed,
Which alway is for all right-hearted men
The happy goal of all their rivalry.
But that great-hearted man was led astray
By Fate, the hateful fiend; for surely it is
Unworthy a man to be made passion's fool.
The wise man's part is, steadfast-souled to endure
All ills, and not to rage against his lot."
So spake Laertes' son, the far-renowned.
But when they all were weary of grief and groan,
Then to those sorrowing ones spake Neleus' son:
"O friends, the pitiless-hearted Fates have laid
Stroke after stroke of sorrow upon us,
Sorrow for Aias dead, for mighty Achilles,
For many an Argive, and for mine own son
Antilochus. Yet all unmeet it is
Day after day with passion of grief to wail
Men slain in battle: nay, we must forget
Laments, and turn us to the better task
Of rendering dues beseeming to the dead,
The dues of pyre, of tomb, of bones inurned.
No lamentations will awake the dead;
No note thereof he taketh, when the Fates,
The ruthless ones, have swallowed him in night."
So spake he words of cheer: the godlike kings
Gathered with heavy hearts around the dead,
And many hands upheaved the giant corpse,
And swiftly bare him to the ships, and there
Washed they away the blood that clotted lay
Dust-flecked on mighty limbs and armour: then
In linen swathed him round. From Ida's heights
Wood without measure did the young men bring,
And piled it round the corpse. Billets and logs
Yet more in a wide circle heaped they round;
And sheep they laid thereon, fair-woven vests,
And goodly kine, and speed-triumphant steeds,
And gleaming gold, and armour without stint,
From slain foes by that glorious hero stripped.
And lucent amber-drops they laid thereon,
Years, say they, which the Daughters of the Sun,
The Lord of Omens, shed for Phaethon slain,
When by Eridanus' flood they mourned for him.
These, for undying honour to his son,
The God made amber, precious in men's eyes.
Even this the Argives on that broad-based pyre
Cast freely, honouring the mighty dead.
And round him, groaning heavily, they laid
Silver most fair and precious ivory,
And jars of oil, and whatsoe'er beside
They have who heap up goodly and glorious wealth.
Then thrust they in the strength of ravening flame,
And from the sea there breathed a wind, sent forth
By Thetis, to consume the giant frame
Of Aias. All the night and all the morn
Burned 'neath the urgent stress of that great wind
Beside the ships that giant form, as when
Enceladus by Zeus' levin was consumed
Beneath Thrinacia, when from all the isle
Smoke of his burning rose -- or like as when
Hercules, trapped by Nessus' deadly guile,
Gave to devouring fire his living limbs,
What time he dared that awful deed, when groaned
All Oeta as he burned alive, and passed
His soul into the air, leaving the man
Far-famous, to be numbered with the Gods,
When earth closed o'er his toil-tried mortal part.
So huge amid the flames, all-armour clad,
Lay Aias, all the joy of fight forgot,
While a great multitude watching thronged the sands.
Glad were the Trojans, but the Achaeans grieved.
But when that goodly frame by ravening fire
Was all consumed, they quenched the pyre with wine;
They gathered up the bones, and reverently
Laid in a golden casket. Hard beside
Rhoeteium's headland heaped they up a mound
Measureless-high. Then scattered they amidst
The long ships, heavy-hearted for the man
Whom they had honoured even as Achilles.
Then black night, bearing unto all men sleep,
Upfloated: so they brake bread, and lay down
Waiting the Child of the Mist. Short was sleep,
Broken by fitful staring through the dark,
Haunted by dread lest in the night the foe
Should fall on them, now Telamon's son was dead.
How came for the helping of Troy Eurypylus, Hercules' grandson.
Rose Dawn from Ocean and Tithonus' bed,
And climbed the steeps of heaven, scattering round
Flushed flakes of splendour; laughed all earth and air.
Then turned unto their labours, each to each,
Mortals, frail creatures daily dying. Then
Streamed to a folkmote all the Achaean men
At Menelaus' summons. When the host
Were gathered all, then in their midst he spake:
"Hearken my words, ye god-descended kings:
Mine heart within my breast is burdened sore
For men which perish, men that for my sake
Came to the bitter war, whose home-return
Parents and home shall welcome nevermore;
For Fate hath cut off thousands in their prime.
Oh that the heavy hand of death had fallen
On me, ere hitherward I gathered these!
But now hath God laid on me cureless pain
In seeing all these ills. Who could rejoice
Beholding strivings, struggles of despair?
Come, let us, which be yet alive, in haste
Flee in the ships, each to his several land,
Since Aias and Achilles both are dead.
I look not, now they are slain, that we the rest
Shall 'scape destruction; nay, but we shall fall
Before yon terrible Trojans for my sake
And shameless Helen's! Think not that I care
For her: for you I care, when I behold
Good men in battle slain. Away with her --
Her and her paltry paramour! The Gods
Stole all discretion out of her false heart
When she forsook mine home and marriage-bed.
Let Priam and the Trojans cherish her!
But let us straight return: 'twere better far
To flee from dolorous war than perish all."
So spake he but to try the Argive men.
Far other thoughts than these made his heart burn
With passionate desire to slay his foes,
To break the long walls of their city down
From their foundations, and to glut with blood
Ares, when Paris mid the slain should fall.
Fiercer is naught than passionate desire!
Thus as he pondered, sitting in his place,
Uprose Tydeides, shaker of the shield,
And chode in fiery speech with Menelaus:
"O coward Atreus' son, what craven fear
Hath gripped thee, that thou speakest so to us
As might a weakling child or woman speak?
Not unto thee Achaea's noblest sons
Will hearken, ere Troy's coronal of towers
Be wholly dashed to the dust: for unto men
Valour is high renown, and flight is shame!
If any man shall hearken to the words
Of this thy counsel, I will smite from him
His head with sharp blue steel, and hurl it down
For soaring kites to feast on. Up! all ye
Who care to enkindle men to battle: rouse
Our warriors all throughout the fleet to whet
The spear, to burnish corslet, helm and shield;
And cause both man and horse, all which be keen
In fight, to break their fast. Then in yon plain
Who is the stronger Ares shall decide."
So speaking, in his place he sat him down;
Then rose up Thestor's son, and in the midst,
Where meet it is to speak, stood forth and cried:
"Hear me, ye sons of battle-biding Greeks:
Ye know I have the spirit of prophecy.
Erewhile I said that ye in the tenth year
Should lay waste towered Ilium: this the Gods
Are even now fulfilling; victory lies
At the Argives' very feet. Come, let us send
Tydeides and Odysseus battle-staunch
With speed to Scyros overseas, by prayers
Hither to bring Achilles' hero son:
A light of victory shall he be to us."
So spake wise Thestius' son, and all the folk
Shouted for joy; for all their hearts and hopes
Yearned to see Calchas' prophecy fulfilled.
Then to the Argives spake Laertes' son:
"Friends, it befits not to say many words
This day to you, in sorrow's weariness.
I know that wearied men can find no joy
In speech or song, though the Pierides,
The immortal Muses, love it. At such time
Few words do men desire. But now, this thing
That pleaseth all the Achaean host, will I
Accomplish, so Tydeides fare with me;
For, if we twain go, we shall surely bring,
Won by our words, war-fain Achilles' son,
Yea, though his mother, weeping sore, should strive
Within her halls to keep him; for mine heart
Trusts that he is a hero's valorous son."
Then out spake Menelaus earnestly:
"Odysseus, the strong Argives' help at need,
If mighty-souled Achilles' valiant son
From Scyros by thy suasion come to aid
Us who yearn for him, and some Heavenly One
Grant victory to our prayers, and I win home
To Hellas, I will give to him to wife
My noble child Hermione, with gifts
Many and goodly for her marriage-dower
With a glad heart. I trow he shall not scorn
Either his bride or high-born sire-in-law."
With a great shout the Danaans hailed his words.
Then was the throng dispersed, and to the ships
They scattered hungering for the morning meat
Which strengtheneth man's heart. So when they ceased
From eating, and desire was satisfied,
Then with the wise Odysseus Tydeus' son
Drew down a swift ship to the boundless sea,
And victual and all tackling cast therein.
Then stepped they aboard, and with them twenty men,
Men skilled to row when winds were contrary,
Or when the unrippled sea slept 'neath a calm.
They smote the brine, and flashed the boiling foam:
On leapt the ship; a watery way was cleft
About the oars that sweating rowers tugged.
As when hard-toiling oxen, 'neath the yoke
Straining, drag on a massy-timbered wain,
While creaks the circling axle 'neath its load,
And from their weary necks and shoulders streams
Down to the ground the sweat abundantly;
So at the stiff oars toiled those stalwart men,
And fast they laid behind them leagues of sea.
Gazed after them the Achaeans as they went,
Then turned to whet their deadly darts and spears,
The weapons of their warfare. In their town
The aweless Trojans armed themselves the while
War-eager, praying to the Gods to grant
Respite from slaughter, breathing-space from toil.
To these, while sorely thus they yearned, the Gods
Brought present help in trouble, even the seed
Of mighty Hercules, Eurypylus.
A great host followed him, in battle skilled,
All that by long Caicus' outflow dwelt,
Full of triumphant trust in their strong spears.
Round them rejoicing thronged the sons of Troy:
As when tame geese within a pen gaze up
On him who casts them corn, and round his feet
Throng hissing uncouth love, and his heart warms
As he looks down on them; so thronged the sons
Of Troy, as on fierce-heart Eurypylus
They gazed; and gladdened was his aweless soul
To see those throngs: from porchways women looked
Wide-eyed with wonder on the godlike man.
Above all men he towered as on he strode,
As looks a lion when amid the hills
He comes on jackals. Paris welcomed him,
As Hector honouring him, his cousin he,
Being of one blood with him, who was born Of
Astyoche, King Priam's sister fair
Whom Telephus embraced in his strong arms,
Telephus, whom to aweless Hercules
Auge the bright-haired bare in secret love.
That babe, a suckling craving for the breast,
A swift hind fostered, giving him the teat
As to her own fawn in all love; for Zeus
So willed it, in whose eyes it was not meet
That Hercules' child should perish wretchedly.
His glorious son with glad heart Paris led
Unto his palace through the wide-wayed burg
Beside Assaracus' tomb and stately halls
Of Hector, and Tritonis' holy fane.
Hard by his mansion stood, and therebeside
The stainless altar of Home-warder Zeus
Rose. As they went, he lovingly questioned him
Of brethren, parents, and of marriage-kin;
And all he craved to know Eurypylus told.
So communed they, on-pacing side by side.
Then came they to a palace great and rich:
There goddess-like sat Helen, clothed upon
With beauty of the Graces. Maidens four
About her plied their tasks: others apart
Within that goodly bower wrought the works
Beseeming handmaids. Helen marvelling gazed
Upon Eurypylus, on Helen he.
Then these in converse each with other spake
In that all-odorous bower. The handmaids brought
And set beside their lady high-seats twain;
And Paris sat him down, and at his side
Eurypylus. That hero's host encamped
Without the city, where the Trojan guards
Kept watch. Their armour laid they on the earth;
Their steeds, yet breathing battle, stood thereby,
And cribs were heaped with horses' provender.
Upfloated night, and darkened earth and air;
Then feasted they before that cliff-like wall,
Ceteian men and Trojans: babel of talk
Rose from the feasters: all around the glow
Of blazing campfires lighted up the tents:
Pealed out the pipe's sweet voice, and hautboys rang
With their clear-shrilling reeds; the witching strain
Of lyres was rippling round. From far away
The Argives gazed and marvelled, seeing the plain
Aglare with many fires, and hearing notes
Of flutes and lyres, neighing of chariot-steeds
And pipes, the shepherd's and the banquet's joy.
Therefore they bade their fellows each in turn
Keep watch and ward about the tents till dawn,
Lest those proud Trojans feasting by their walls
Should fall on them, and set the ships aflame.
Within the halls of Paris all this while
With kings and princes Telephus' hero son
Feasted; and Priam and the sons of Troy
Each after each prayed him to play the man
Against the Argives, and in bitter doom
To lay them low; and blithe he promised all.
So when they had supped, each hied him to his home;
But there Eurypylus laid him down to rest
Full nigh the feast-hall, in the stately bower
Where Paris theretofore himself had slept
With Helen world-renowned. A bower it was
Most wondrous fair, the goodliest of them all.
There lay he down; but otherwhere their rest
Took they, till rose the bright-throned Queen of Morn.
Up sprang with dawn the son of Telephus,
And passed to the host with all those other kings
In Troy abiding. Straightway did the folk
All battle-eager don their warrior-gear,
Burning to strike in forefront of the fight.
And now Eurypylus clad his mighty limbs
In armour that like levin-flashes gleamed;
Upon his shield by cunning hands were wrought
All the great labours of strong Hercules.
Thereon were seen two serpents flickering
Black tongues from grimly jaws: they seemed in act
To dart; but Hercules' hands to right and left --
Albeit a babe's hands -- now were throttling them;
For aweless was his spirit. As Zeus' strength
From the beginning was his strength. The seed
Of Heaven-abiders never deedless is
Nor helpless, but hath boundless prowess, yea,
Even when in the womb unborn it lies.
Nemea's mighty lion there was seen
Strangled in the strong arms of Hercules,
His grim jaws dashed about with bloody foam:
He seemed in verity gasping out his life.
Thereby was wrought the Hydra many-necked
Flickering its dread tongues. Of its fearful heads
Some severed lay on earth, but many more
Were budding from its necks, while Hercules
And Iolaus, dauntless-hearted twain,
Toiled hard; the one with lightning sickle-sweeps
Lopped the fierce heads, his fellow seared each neck
With glowing iron; the monster so was slain.
Thereby was wrought the mighty tameless Boar
With foaming jaws; real seemed the pictured thing,
As by Aleides' giant strength the brute
Was to Eurystheus living borne on high.
There fashioned was the fleetfoot stag which laid
The vineyards waste of hapless husbandmen.
The Hero's hands held fast its golden horns,
The while it snorted breath of ravening fire.
Thereon were seen the fierce Stymphalian Birds,
Some arrow-smitten dying in the dust,
Some through the grey air darting in swift flight.
At this, at that one -- hot in haste he seemed --
Hercules sped the arrows of his wrath.
Augeias' monstrous stable there was wrought
With cunning craft on that invincible targe;
And Hercules was turning through the same
The deep flow of Alpheius' stream divine,
While wondering Nymphs looked down on every hand
Upon that mighty work. Elsewhere portrayed
Was the Fire-breathing Bull: the Hero's grip
On his strong horns wrenched round the massive neck:
The straining muscles on his arm stood out:
The huge beast seemed to bellow. Next thereto
Wrought on the shield was one in beauty arrayed
As of a Goddess, even Hippolyta.
The hero by the hair was dragging her
From her swift steed, with fierce resolve to wrest
With his strong hands the Girdle Marvellous
From the Amazon Queen, while quailing shrank away
The Maids of War. There in the Thracian land
Were Diomedes' grim man-eating steeds:
These at their gruesome mangers had he slain,
And dead they lay with their fiend-hearted lord.
There lay the bulk of giant Geryon
Dead mid his kine. His gory heads were cast
In dust, dashed down by that resistless club.
Before him slain lay that most murderous hound
Orthros, in furious might like Cerberus
His brother-hound: a herdman lay thereby,
Eurytion, all bedabbled with his blood.
There were the Golden Apples wrought, that gleamed
In the Hesperides' garden undefiled:
All round the fearful Serpent's dead coils lay,
And shrank the Maids aghast from Zeus' bold son.
And there, a dread sight even for Gods to see,
Was Cerberus, whom the Loathly Worm had borne
To Typho in a craggy cavern's gloom
Close on the borders of Eternal Night,
A hideous monster, warder of the Gate
Of Hades, Home of Wailing, jailer-hound
Of dead folk in the shadowy Gulf of Doom.
But lightly Zeus' son with his crashing blows
Tamed him, and haled him from the cataract flood
Of Styx, with heavy-drooping head, and dragged
The Dog sore loth to the strange upper air
All dauntlessly. And there, at the world's end,
Were Caucasus' long glens, where Hercules,
Rending Prometheus' chains, and hurling them
This way and that with fragments of the rock
Whereinto they were riveted, set free
The mighty Titan. Arrow-smitten lay
The Eagle of the Torment therebeside.
There stormed the wild rout of the Centaurs round
The hall of Pholus: goaded on by Strife
And wine, with Hercules the monsters fought.
Amidst the pine-trunks stricken to death they lay
Still grasping those strange weapons in dead hands,
While some with stems long-shafted still fought on
In fury, and refrained not from the strife;
And all their heads, gashed in the pitiless fight,
Were drenched with gore -- the whole scene seemed to live --
With blood the wine was mingled: meats and bowls
And tables in one ruin shattered lay.
There by Evenus' torrent, in fierce wrath
For his sweet bride, he laid with the arrow low
Nessus in mid-flight. There withal was wrought
Antaeus' brawny strength, who challenged him
To wrestling-strife; he in those sinewy arms
Raised high above the earth, was crushed to death.
There where swift Hellespont meets the outer sea,
Lay the sea-monster slain by his ruthless shafts,
While from Hesione he rent her chains.
Of bold Alcides many a deed beside
Shone on the broad shield of Eurypylus.
He seemed the War-god, as from rank to rank
He sped; rejoiced the Trojans following him,
Seeing his arms, and him clothed with the might
Of Gods; and Paris hailed him to the fray:
"Glad am I for thy coming, for mine heart
Trusts that the Argives all shall wretchedly
Be with their ships destroyed; for such a man
Mid Greeks or Trojans never have I seen.
Now, by the strength and fury of Hercules --
To whom in stature, might, and goodlihead
Most like thou art I pray thee, have in mind
Him, and resolve to match his deeds with thine.
Be the strong shield of Trojans hard-bestead:
Win us a breathing-space. Thou only, I trow,
From perishing Troy canst thrust the dark doom back."
With kindling words he spake. That hero cried:
"Great-hearted Paris, like the Blessed Ones
In goodlihead, this lieth foreordained
On the Gods' knees, who in the fight shall fall,
And who outlive it. I, as honour bids,
And as my strength sufficeth, will not flinch
From Troy's defence. I swear to turn from fight
Never, except in victory or death."
Gallantly spake he: with exceeding joy
Rejoiced the Trojans. Champions then he chose,
Alexander and Aeneas fiery-souled,
Polydamas, Pammon, and Deiphobus,
And Aethicus, of Paphlagonian men
The staunchest man to stem the tide of war;
These chose he, cunning all in battle-toil,
To meet the foe in forefront of the fight.
Swiftly they strode before that warrior-throng
Then from the city cheering charged. The host
Followed them in their thousands, as when bees
Follow by bands their leaders from the hives,
With loud hum on a spring day pouring forth.
So to the fight the warriors followed these;
And, as they charged, the thunder-tramp of men
And steeds, and clang of armour, rang to heaven.
As when a rushing mighty wind stirs up
The barren sea-plain from its nethermost floor,
And darkling to the strand roll roaring waves
Belching sea-tangle from the bursting surf,
And wild sounds rise from beaches harvestless;
So, as they charged, the wide earth rang again.
Now from their rampart forth the Argives poured
Round godlike Agamemnon. Rang their shouts
Cheering each other on to face the fight,
And not to cower beside the ships in dread
Of onset-shouts of battle-eager foes.
They met those charging hosts with hearts as light
As calves bear, when they leap to meet the kine
Down faring from hill-pastures in the spring
Unto the steading, when the fields are green
With corn-blades, when the earth is glad with flowers,
And bowls are brimmed with milk of kine and ewes,
And multitudinous lowing far and near
Uprises as the mothers meet their young,
And in their midst the herdman joys; so great
Was the uproar that rose when met the fronts
Of battle: dread it rang on either hand.
Hard-strained was then the fight: incarnate
Strife Stalked through the midst, with Slaughter ghastly-faced.
Crashed bull-hide shields, and spears, and helmet-crests
Meeting: the brass flashed out like leaping flames.
Bristled the battle with the lances; earth
Ran red with blood, as slaughtered heroes fell
And horses, mid a tangle of shattered ears,
Some yet with spear-wounds gasping, while on them
Others were falling. Through the air upshrieked
An awful indistinguishable roar;
For on both hosts fell iron-hearted Strife.
Here were men hurling cruel jagged stones,
There speeding arrows and new-whetted darts,
There with the axe or twibill hewing hard,
Slashing with swords, and thrusting out with spears:
Their mad hands clutched all manner of tools of death.
At first the Argives bore the ranks of Troy
Backward a little; but they rallied, charged,
Leapt on the foe, and drenched the field with blood.
Like a black hurricane rushed Eurypylus
Cheering his men on, hewing Argives down
Awelessly: measureless might was lent to him
By Zeus, for a grace to glorious Hercules.
Nireus, a man in beauty like the Gods,
His spear long-shafted stabbed beneath the ribs,
Down on the plain he fell, forth streamed the blood
Drenching his splendid arms, drenching the form
Glorious of mould, and his thick-clustering hair.
There mid the slain in dust and blood he lay,
Like a young lusty olive-sapling, which
A river rushing down in roaring flood,
Tearing its banks away, and cleaving wide
A chasm-channel, hath disrooted; low
It lieth heavy-blossomed; so lay then
The goodly form, the grace of loveliness
Of Nireus on earth's breast. But o'er the slain
Loud rang the taunting of Eurypylus:
"Lie there in dust! Thy beauty marvellous
Naught hath availed thee! I have plucked thee away
From life, to which thou wast so fain to cling.
Rash fool, who didst defy a mightier man
Unknowing! Beauty is no match for strength!"
He spake, and leapt upon the slain to strip
His goodly arms: but now against him came
Machaon wroth for Nireus, by his side
Doom-overtaken. With his spear he drave
At his right shoulder: strong albeit he was,
He touched him, and blood spurted from the gash.
Yet, ere he might leap back from grapple of death,
Even as a lion or fierce mountain-boar
Maddens mid thronging huntsmen, furious-fain
To rend the man whose hand first wounded him;
So fierce Eurypylus on Machaon rushed.
The long lance shot out swiftly, and pierced him through
On the right haunch; yet would he not give back,
Nor flinch from the onset, fast though flowed the blood.
In haste he snatched a huge stone from the ground,
And dashed it on the head of Telephus' son;
But his helm warded him from death or harm
Then waxed Eurypylus more hotly wroth
With that strong warrior, and in fury of soul
Clear through Machaon's breast he drave his spear,
And through the midriff passed the gory point.
He fell, as falls beneath a lion's jaws
A bull, and round him clashed his glancing arms.
Swiftly Eurypylus plucked the lance of death
Out of the wound, and vaunting cried aloud:
"Wretch, wisdom was not bound up in thine heart,
That thou, a weakling, didst come forth to fight
A mightier. Therefore art thou in the toils
Of Doom. Much profit shall be thine, when kites
Devour the flesh of thee in battle slain!
Ha, dost thou hope still to return, to 'scape
Mine hands? A leech art thou, and soothing salves
Thou knowest, and by these didst haply hope
To flee the evil day! Not thine own sire,
On the wind's wings descending from Olympus,
Should save thy life, not though between thy lips
He should pour nectar and ambrosia!"
Faint-breathing answered him the dying man:
"Eurypylus, thine own weird is to live
Not long: Fate is at point to meet thee here
On Troy's plain, and to still thine impious tongue."
So passed his spirit into Hades' halls.
Then to the dead man spake his conqueror:
"Now on the earth lie thou. What shall betide
Hereafter, care I not -- yea, though this day
Death's doom stand by my feet: no man may live
For ever: each man's fate is foreordained."
Stabbing the corpse he spake. Then shouted loud
Teucer, at seeing Machaon in the dust.
Far thence he stood hard-toiling in the fight,
For on the centre sore the battle lay:
Foe after foe pressed on; yet not for this
Was Teucer heedless of the fallen brave,
Neither of Nireus lying hard thereby
Behind Machaon in the dust. He saw,
And with a great voice raised the rescue-cry:
"Charge, Argives! Flinch not from the charging foe!
For shame unspeakable shall cover us
If Trojan men hale back to Ilium
Noble Machaon and Nireus godlike-fair.
Come, with a good heart let us face the foe
To rescue these slain friends, or fall ourselves
Beside them. Duty bids that men defend
Friends, and to aliens leave them not a prey,
Not without sweat of toil is glory won!"
Then were the Danaans anguish-stung: the earth
All round them dyed they red with blood of slain,
As foe fought foe in even-balanced fight.
By this to Podaleirius tidings came
How that in dust his brother lay, struck down
By woeful death. Beside the ships he sat
Ministering to the hurts of men with spears
Stricken. In wrath for his brother's sake he rose,
He clad him in his armour; in his breast
Dread battle-prowess swelled. For conflict grim
He panted: boiled the mad blood round his heart
He leapt amidst the foemen; his swift hands
Swung the snake-headed javelin up, and hurled,
And slew with its winged speed Agamestor's son
Cleitus, a bright-haired Nymph had given him birth
Beside Parthenius, whose quiet stream
Fleets smooth as oil through green lands, till it pours
Its shining ripples to the Euxine sea.
Then by his warrior-brother laid he low
Lassus, whom Pronoe, fair as a goddess, bare
Beside Nymphaeus' stream, hard by a cave,
A wide and wondrous cave: sacred it is
Men say, unto the Nymphs, even all that haunt
The long-ridged Paphlagonian hills, and all
That by full-clustered Heracleia dwell.
That cave is like the work of gods, of stone
In manner marvellous moulded: through it flows
Cold water crystal-clear: in niches round
Stand bowls of stone upon the rugged rock,
Seeming as they were wrought by carvers' hands.
Statues of Wood-gods stand around, fair Nymphs,
Looms, distaffs, all such things as mortal craft
Fashioneth. Wondrous seem they unto men
Which pass into that hallowed cave. It hath,
Up-leading and down-leading, doorways twain,
Facing, the one, the wild North's shrilling blasts,
And one the dank rain-burdened South. By this
Do mortals pass beneath the Nymphs' wide cave;
But that is the Immortals' path: no man
May tread it, for a chasm deep and wide
Down-reaching unto Hades, yawns between.
This track the Blest Gods may alone behold.
So died a host on either side that warred
Over Machaon and Aglaia's son.
But at the last through desperate wrestle of fight
The Danaans rescued them: yet few were they
Which bare them to the ships: by bitter stress
Of conflict were the more part compassed round,
And needs must still abide the battle's brunt.
But when full many had filled the measure up
Of fate, mid tumult, blood and agony,
Then to their ships did many Argives flee
Pressed by Eurypylus hard, an avalanche
Of havoc. Yet a few abode the strife
Round Aias and the Atreidae rallying;
And haply these had perished all, beset
By throngs on throngs of foes on every hand,
Had not Oileus' son stabbed with his spear
'Twixt shoulder and breast war-wise Polydamas;
Forth gushed the blood, and he recoiled a space.
Then Menelaus pierced Deiphobus
By the right breast, that with swift feet he fled.
And many of that slaughter-breathing throng
Were slain by Agamemnon: furiously
He rushed on godlike Aethicus with the spear;
But he shrank from the forefront back mid friends.
Now when Eurypylus the battle-stay
Marked how the ranks of Troy gave back from fight,
He turned him from the host that he had chased
Even to the ships, and rushed with eagle-swoop
On Atreus' strong sons and Oileus' seed
Stout-hearted, who was passing fleet of foot
And in fight peerless. Swiftly he charged on these
Grasping his spear long-shafted: at Iris side
Charged Paris, charged Aeneas stout of heart,
Who hurled a stone exceeding huge, that crashed
On Aias' helmet: dashed to the dust he was,
Yet gave not up the ghost, whose day of doom
Was fate-ordained amidst Caphaerus' rocks
On the home-voyage. Now his valiant men
Out of the foes' hands snatched him, bare him thence,
Scarce drawing breath, to the Achaean ships.
And now the Atreid kings, the war-renowned,
Were left alone, and murder-breathing foes
Encompassed them, and hurled from every side
Whate'er their hands might find the deadly shaft
Some showered, some the stone, the javelin some.
They in the midst aye turned this way and that,
As boars or lions compassed round with pales
On that day when kings gather to the sport
The people, and have penned the mighty beasts
Within the toils of death; but these, although
With walls ringed round, yet tear with tusk and fang
What luckless thrall soever draweth near.
So these death-compassed heroes slew their foes
Ever as they pressed on. Yet had their might
Availed not for defence, for all their will,
Had Teucer and Idomeneus strong of heart
Come not to help, with Thoas, Meriones,
And godlike Thrasymedes, they which shrank
Erewhile before Eurypylus yea, had fled
Unto the ships to 'scape the crushing doom,
But that, in fear for Atreus' sons, they rallied
Against Eurypylus: deadly waxed the fight.
Then Teucer with a mighty spear-thrust smote
Aeneas' shield, yet wounded not his flesh,
For the great fourfold buckler warded him;
Yet feared he, and recoiled a little space.
Leapt Meriones upon Laophoon
The son of Paeon, born by Axius' flood
Of bright-haired Cleomede. Unto Troy
With noble Asteropaeus had he come
To aid her folk: him Meriones' keen spear
Stabbed 'neath the navel, and the lance-head tore
His bowels forth; swift sped his soul away
Into the Shadow-land. Alcimedes,
The warrior-friend of Aias, Oileus' son,
Shot mid the press of Trojans; for he sped
With taunting shout a sharp stone from a sling
Into their battle's heart. They quailed in fear
Before the hum and onrush of the bolt.
Fate winged its flight to the bold charioteer
Of Pammon, Hippasus' son: his brow it smote
While yet he grasped the reins, and flung him stunned
Down from the chariot-seat before the wheels.
The rushing war-wain whirled his wretched form
'Twixt tyres and heels of onward-leaping steeds,
And awful death in that hour swallowed him
When whip and reins had flown from his nerveless hands.
Then grief thrilled Pammon: hard necessity
Made him both chariot-lord and charioteer.
Now to his doom and death-day had he bowed,
Had not a Trojan through that gory strife
Leapt, grasped the reins, and saved the prince, when now
His strength failed 'neath the murderous hands of foes.
As godlike Acamas charged, the stalwart son
Of Nestor thrust the spear above his knee,
And with that wound sore anguish came on him:
Back from the fight he drew; the deadly strife
He left unto his comrades: quenched was now
His battle-lust. Eurypylus' henchman smote
Echemmon, Thoas' friend, amidst the fray
Beneath the shoulder: nigh his heart the spear
Passed bitter-biting: o'er his limbs brake out
Mingled with blood cold sweat of agony.
He turned to flee; Eurypylus' giant might
Chased, caught him, shearing his heel-tendons through:
There, where the blow fell, his reluctant feet
Stayed, and the spirit left his mortal frame.
Thoas pricked Paris with quick-thrusting spear
On the right thigh: backward a space he ran
For his death-speeding bow, which had been left
To rearward of the fight. Idomeneus
Upheaved a stone, huge as his hands could swing,
And dashed it on Eurypylus' arm: to earth
Fell his death-dealing spear. Backward he stepped
To grasp another, since from out his hand
The first was smitten. So had Atreus' sons
A moment's breathing-space from stress of war.
But swiftly drew Eurypylus' henchmen near
Bearing a stubborn-shafted lance, wherewith
He brake the strength of many. In stormy might
Then charged he on the foe: whomso he met
He slew, and spread wide havoc through their ranks.
Now neither Atreus' sons might steadfast stand,
Nor any valiant Danaan beside,
For ruinous panic suddenly gripped the hearts
Of all; for on them all Eurypylus rushed
Flashing death in their faces, chased them, slew,
Cried to the Trojans and to his chariot-lords:
"Friends, be of good heart! To these Danaans
Let us deal slaughter and doom's darkness now!
Lo, how like scared sheep back to the ships they flee!
Forget not your death-dealing battle-lore,
O ye that from your youth are men of war!"
Then charged they on the Argives as one man;
And these in utter panic turned and fled
The bitter battle, those hard after them
Followed, as white-fanged hounds hold deer in chase
Up the long forest-glens. Full many in dust
They dashed down, howsoe'er they longed to escape.
The slaughter grim and great of that wild fray.
Eurypylus hath slain Bucolion,
Nesus, and Chromion and Antiphus;
Twain in Mycenae dwelt, a goodly land;
In Lacedaemon twain. Men of renown
Albeit they were, he slew them. Then he smote
A host unnumbered of the common throng.
My strength should not suffice to sing their fate,
How fain soever, though within my breast
Were iron lungs. Aeneas slew withal
Antimachus and Pheres, twain which left
Crete with Idomeneus. Agenor smote
Molus the princely, -- with king Sthenelus
He came from Argos, -- hurled from far behind
A dart new-whetted, as he fled from fight,
Piercing his right leg, and the eager shaft
Cut sheer through the broad sinew, shattering
The bones with anguished pain: and so his doom
Met him, to die a death of agony.
Then Paris' arrows laid proud Phorcys low,
And Mosynus, brethren both, from Salamis
Who came in Aias' ships, and nevermore
Saw the home-land. Cleolaus smote he next,
Meges' stout henchman; for the arrow struck
His left breast: deadly night enwrapped him round,
And his soul fleeted forth: his fainting heart
Still in his breast fluttering convulsively
Made the winged arrow shiver. Yet again
Did Paris shoot at bold Eetion.
Through his jaw leapt the sudden-flashing brass:
He groaned, and with his blood were mingled tears.
So ever man slew man, till all the space
Was heaped with Argives each on other cast.
Now had the Trojans burnt with fire the ships,
Had not night, trailing heavy-folded mist,
Uprisen. So Eurypylus drew back,
And Troy's sons with him, from the ships aloof
A little space, by Simois' outfall; there
Camped they exultant. But amidst the ships
Flung down upon the sands the Argives wailed
Heart-anguished for the slain, so many of whom
Dark fate had overtaken and laid in dust.
How the Son of Achilles was brought to the War from the Isle of
When heaven hid his stars, and Dawn awoke
Outspraying splendour, and night's darkness fled,
Then undismayed the Argives' warrior-sons
Marched forth without the ships to meet in fight
Eurypylus, save those that tarried still
To render to Machaon midst the ships
Death-dues, with Nireus -- Nireus, who in grace
And goodlihead was like the Deathless Ones,
Yet was not strong in bodily might: the Gods
Grant not perfection in all things to men;
But evil still is blended with the good
By some strange fate: to Nireus' winsome grace
Was linked a weakling's prowess. Yet the Greeks
Slighted him not, but gave him all death-dues,
And mourned above his grave with no less grief
Than for Machaon, whom they honoured aye,
For his deep wisdom, as the immortal Gods.
One mound they swiftly heaped above these twain.
Then in the plain once more did murderous war
Madden: the multitudinous clash and cry
Rose, as the shields were shattered with huge stones,
Were pierced with lances. So they toiled in fight;
But all this while lay Podaleirius
Fasting in dust and groaning, leaving not
His brother's tomb; and oft his heart was moved
With his own hands to slay himself. And now
He clutched his sword, and now amidst his herbs
Sought for a deadly drug; and still his friends
Essayed to stay his hand and comfort him
With many pleadings. But he would not cease
From grieving: yea, his hands had spilt his life
There on his noble brother's new-made tomb,
But Nestor heard thereof, and sorrowed sore
In his affliction, and he came on him
As now he flung him on that woeful grave,
And now was casting dust upon his head,
Beating his breast, and on his brother's name
Crying, while thralls and comrades round their lord
Groaned, and affliction held them one and all.
Then gently spake he to that stricken one:
"Refrain from bitter moan and deadly grief,
My son. It is not for a wise man's honour
To wail, as doth a woman, o'er the fallen.
Thou shalt not bring him up to light again
Whose soul hath fleeted vanishing into air,
Whose body fire hath ravined up, whose bones
Earth has received. His end was worthy his life.
Endure thy sore grief, even as I endured,
Who lost a son, slain by the hands of foes,
A son not worse than thy Machaon, good
With spears in battle, good in counsel. None
Of all the youths so loved his sire as he
Loved me. He died for me yea, died to save
His father. Yet, when he was slain, did I
Endure to taste food, and to see the light,
Well knowing that all men must tread one path
Hades-ward, and before all lies one goal,
Death's mournful goal. A mortal man must bear
All joys, all griefs, that God vouchsafes to send."
Made answer that heart-stricken one, while still
Wet were his cheeks with ever-flowing tears:
"Father, mine heart is bowed 'neath crushing grief
For a brother passing wise, who fostered me
Even as a son. When to the heavens had passed
Our father, in his arms he cradled me:
Gladly he taught me all his healing lore;
We shared one table; in one bed we lay:
We had all things in common these, and love.
My grief cannot forget, nor I desire,
Now he is dead, to see the light of life."
Then spake the old man to that stricken one:
"To all men Fate assigns one same sad lot,
Bereavement: earth shall cover all alike,
Albeit we tread not the same path of life,
And none the path he chooseth; for on high
Good things and bad lie on the knees of
Gods Unnumbered, indistinguishably blent.
These no Immortal seeth; they are veiled
In mystic cloud-folds. Only Fate puts forth
Her hands thereto, nor looks at what she takes,
But casts them from Olympus down to earth.
This way and that they are wafted, as it were
By gusts of wind. The good man oft is whelmed
In suffering: wealth undeserved is heaped
On the vile person. Blind is each man's life;
Therefore he never walketh surely; oft
He stumbleth: ever devious is his path,
Now sloping down to sorrow, mounting now
To bliss. All-happy is no living man
From the beginning to the end, but still
The good and evil clash. Our life is short;
Beseems not then in grief to live. Hope on,
Still hope for better days: chain not to woe
Thine heart. There is a saying among men
That to the heavens unperishing mount the souls
Of good men, and to nether darkness sink
Souls of the wicked. Both to God and man
Dear was thy brother, good to brother-men,
And son of an Immortal. Sure am I
That to the company of Gods shall he
Ascend, by intercession of thy sire."
Then raised he that reluctant mourner up
With comfortable words. From that dark grave
He drew him, backward gazing oft with groans.
To the ships they came, where Greeks and Trojan men
Had bitter travail of rekindled war.
Eurypylus there, in dauntless spirit like
The War-god, with mad-raging spear and hands
Resistless, smote down hosts of foes: the earth
Was clogged with dead men slain on either side.
On strode he midst the corpses, awelessly
He fought, with blood-bespattered hands and feet;
Never a moment from grim strife he ceased.
Peneleos the mighty-hearted came
Against him in the pitiless fray: he fell
Before Eurypylus' spear: yea, many more
Fell round him. Ceased not those destroying hands,
But wrathful on the Argives still he pressed,
As when of old on Pholoe's long-ridged heights
Upon the Centaurs terrible Hercules rushed
Storming in might, and slew them, passing-swift
And strong and battle-cunning though they were;
So rushed he on, so smote he down the array,
One after other, of the Danaan spears.
Heaps upon heaps, here, there, in throngs they fell
Strewn in the dust. As when a river in flood
Comes thundering down, banks crumble on either side
To drifting sand: on seaward rolls the surge
Tossing wild crests, while cliffs on every hand
Ring crashing echoes, as their brows break down
Beneath long-leaping roaring waterfalls,
And dikes are swept away; so fell in dust
The war-famed Argives by Eurypylus slain,
Such as he overtook in that red rout.
Some few escaped, whom strength of fleeing feet
Delivered. Yet in that sore strait they drew
Peneleos from the shrieking tumult forth,
And bare to the ships, though with swift feet themselves
Were fleeing from ghastly death, from pitiless doom.
Behind the rampart of the ships they fled
In huddled rout: they had no heart to stand
Before Eurypylus, for Hercules,
To crown with glory his son's stalwart son,
Thrilled them with panic. There behind their wall
They cowered, as goats to leeward of a hill
Shrink from the wild cold rushing of the wind
That bringeth snow and heavy sleet and haft.
No longing for the pasture tempteth them
Over the brow to step, and face the blast,
But huddling screened by rock-wall and ravine
They abide the storm, and crop the scanty grass
Under dim copses thronging, till the gusts
Of that ill wind shall lull: so, by their towers
Screened, did the trembling Danaans abide
Telephus' mighty son. Yea, he had burnt
The ships, and all that host had he destroyed,
Had not Athena at the last inspired
The Argive men with courage. Ceaselessly
From the high rampart hurled they at the foe
With bitter-biting darts, and slew them fast;
And all the walls were splashed with reeking gore,
And aye went up a moan of smitten men.
So fought they: nightlong, daylong fought they on,
Ceteians, Trojans, battle-biding Greeks,
Fought, now before the ships, and now again
Round the steep wall, with fury unutterable.
Yet even so for two days did they cease
From murderous fight; for to Eurypylus came
A Danaan embassage, saying, "From the war
Forbear we, while we give unto the flames
The battle-slain." So hearkened he to them:
From ruin-wreaking strife forebore the hosts;
And so their dead they buried, who in dust
Had fallen. Chiefly the Achaeans mourned
Peneleos; o'er the mighty dead they heaped
A barrow broad and high, a sign for men
Of days to be. But in a several place
The multitude of heroes slain they laid,
Mourning with stricken hearts. On one great pyre
They burnt them all, and buried in one grave.
So likewise far from thence the sons of Troy
Buried their slain. Yet murderous Strife slept not,
But roused again Eurypylus' dauntless might
To meet the foe. He turned not from the ships,
But there abode, and fanned the fury of war.
Meanwhile the black ship on to Scyros ran;
And those twain found before his palace-gate
Achilles' son, now hurling dart and lance,
Now in his chariot driving fleetfoot steeds.
Glad were they to behold him practising
The deeds of war, albeit his heart was sad
For his slain sire, of whom had tidings come
Ere this. With reverent eyes of awe they went
To meet him, for that goodly form and face
Seemed even as very Achilles unto them.
But he, or ever they had spoken, cried:
"All hail, ye strangers, unto this mine home
Say whence ye are, and who, and what the need
That hither brings you over barren seas."
So spake he, and Odysseus answered him:
"Friends are we of Achilles lord of war,
To whom of Deidameia thou wast born --
Yea, when we look on thee we seem to see
That Hero's self; and like the Immortal Ones
Was he. Of Ithaca am I: this man
Of Argos, nurse of horses -- if perchance
Thou hast heard the name of Tydeus' warrior son
Or of the wise Odysseus. Lo, I stand
Before thee, sent by voice of prophecy.
I pray thee, pity us: come thou to Troy
And help us. Only so unto the war
An end shall be. Gifts beyond words to thee
The Achaean kings shall give: yea, I myself
Will give to thee thy godlike father's arms,
And great shall be thy joy in bearing them;
For these be like no mortal's battle-gear,
But splendid as the very War-god's arms.
Over their marvellous blazonry hath gold
Been lavished; yea, in heaven Hephaestus' self
Rejoiced in fashioning that work divine,
The which thine eyes shall marvel to behold;
For earth and heaven and sea upon the shield
Are wrought, and in its wondrous compass are
Creatures that seem to live and move -- a wonder
Even to the Immortals. Never man
Hath seen their like, nor any man hath worn,
Save thy sire only, whom the Achaeans all
Honoured as Zeus himself. I chiefliest
From mine heart loved him, and when he was slain,
To many a foe I dealt a ruthless doom,
And through them all bare back to the ships his corse.
Therefore his glorious arms did Thetis give
To me. These, though I prize them well, to thee
Will I give gladly when thou com'st to Troy.
Yea also, when we have smitten Priam's towns
And unto Hellas in our ships return,
Shall Menelaus give thee, an thou wilt,
His princess-child to wife, of love for thee,
And with his bright-haired daughter shall bestow
Rich dower of gold and treasure, even all
That meet is to attend a wealthy king."
So spake he, and replied Achilles' son:
"If bidden of oracles the Achaean men
Summon me, let us with to-morrow's dawn
Fare forth upon the broad depths of the sea,
If so to longing Danaans I may prove
A light of help. Now pass we to mine halls,
And to such guest-fare as befits to set
Before the stranger. For my marriage-day --
To this the Gods in time to come shall see."
Then hall-ward led he them, and with glad hearts
They followed. To the forecourt when they came
Of that great mansion, found they there the Queen
Deidameia in her sorrow of soul
Grief-wasted, as when snow from mountain-sides
Before the sun and east-wind wastes away;
So pined she for that princely hero slain.
Then came to her amidst her grief the kings,
And greeted her in courteous wise. Her son
Drew near and told their lineage and their names;
But that for which they came he left untold
Until the morrow, lest unto her woe
There should be added grief and floods of tears,
And lest her prayers should hold him from the path
Whereon his heart was set. Straight feasted these,
And comforted their hearts with sleep, even all
Which dwelt in sea-ringed Scyros, nightlong lulled
By long low thunder of the girdling deep,
Of waves Aegean breaking on her shores.
But not on Deidameia fell the hands
Of kindly sleep. She bore in mind the names
Of crafty Odysseus and of Diomede
The godlike, how these twain had widowed her
Of battle-fain Achilles, how their words
Had won his aweless heart to fare with them
To meet the war-cry where stern Fate met him,
Shattered his hope of home-return, and laid
Measureless grief on Peleus and on her.
Therefore an awful dread oppressed her soul
Lest her son too to tumult of the war
Should speed, and grief be added to her grief.
Dawn climbed the wide-arched heaven, straightway they
Rose from their beds. Then Deidameia knew;
And on her son's broad breast she cast herself,
And bitterly wailed: her cry thrilled through the air,
As when a cow loud-lowing mid the hills
Seeks through the glens her calf, and all around
Echo long ridges of the mountain-steep;
So on all sides from dim recesses rang
The hall; and in her misery she cried:
"Child, wherefore is thy soul now on the wing
To follow strangers unto Ilium
The fount of tears, where perish many in fight,
Yea, cunning men in war and battle grim?
And thou art but a youth, and hast not learnt
The ways of war, which save men in the day
Of peril. Hearken thou to me, abide
Here in thine home, lest evil tidings come
From Troy unto my ears, that thou in fight
Hast perished; for mine heart saith, never thou
Hitherward shalt from battle-toil return.
Not even thy sire escaped the doom of death --
He, mightier than thou, mightier than all
Heroes on earth, yea, and a Goddess' son --
But was in battle slain, all through the wiles
And crafty counsels of these very men
Who now to woeful war be kindling thee.
Therefore mine heart is full of shuddering fear
Lest, son, my lot should be to live bereaved
Of thee, and to endure dishonour and pain,
For never heavier blow on woman falls
Than when her lord hath perished, and her sons
Die also, and her house is left to her
Desolate. Straightway evil men remove
Her landmarks, yea, and rob her of her all,
Setting the right at naught. There is no lot
More woeful and more helpless than is hers
Who is left a widow in a desolate home."
Loud-wailing spake she; but her son replied:
"Be of good cheer, my mother; put from thee
Evil foreboding. No man is in war
Beyond his destiny slain. If my weird be
To die in my country's cause, then let me die
When I have done deeds worthy of my sire."
Then to his side old Lycomedes came,
And to his battle-eager grandson spake:
"O valiant-hearted son, so like thy sire,
I know thee strong and valorous; yet, O yet
For thee I fear the bitter war; I fear
The terrible sea-surge. Shipmen evermore
Hang on destruction's brink. Beware, my child,
Perils of waters when thou sailest back
From Troy or other shores, such as beset
Full oftentimes the voyagers that ride
The long sea-ridges, when the sun hath left
The Archer-star, and meets the misty Goat,
When the wild blasts drive on the lowering storm,
Or when Orion to the darkling west
Slopes, into Ocean's river sinking slow.
Beware the time of equal days and nights,
When blasts that o'er the sea's abysses rush,
None knoweth whence in fury of battle clash.
Beware the Pleiads' setting, when the sea
Maddens beneath their power nor these alone,
But other stars, terrors of hapless men,
As o'er the wide sea-gulf they set or rise."
Then kissed he him, nor sought to stay the feet
Of him who panted for the clamour of war,
Who smiled for pleasure and for eagerness
To haste to the ship. Yet were his hurrying feet
Stayed by his mother's pleading and her tears
Still in those halls awhile. As some swift horse
Is reined in by his rider, when he strains
Unto the race-course, and he neighs, and champs
The curbing bit, dashing his chest with foam,
And his feet eager for the course are still
Never, his restless hooves are clattering aye;
His mane is a stormy cloud, he tosses high
His head with snortings, and his lord is glad;
So reined his mother back the glorious son
Of battle-stay Achilles, so his feet
Were restless, so the mother's loving pride
Joyed in her son, despite her heart-sick pain.
A thousand times he kissed her, then at last
Left her alone with her own grief and moan
There in her father's halls. As o'er her nest
A swallow in her anguish cries aloud
For her lost nestlings which, mid piteous shrieks,
A fearful serpent hath devoured, and wrung
The loving mother's heart; and now above
That empty cradle spreads her wings, and now
Flies round its porchway fashioned cunningly
Lamenting piteously her little ones:
So for her child Deidameia mourned.
Now on her son's bed did she cast herself,
Crying aloud, against his door-post now
She leaned, and wept: now laid she in her lap
Those childhood's toys yet treasured in her bower,
Wherein his babe-heart joyed long years agone.
She saw a dart there left behind of him,
And kissed it o'er and o'er yea, whatso else
Her weeping eyes beheld that was her son's.
Naught heard he of her moans unutterable,
But was afar, fast striding to the ship.
He seemed, as his feet swiftly bare him on,
Like some all-radiant star; and at his side
With Tydeus' son war-wise Odysseus went,
And with them twenty gallant-hearted men,
Whom Deidameia chose as trustiest
Of all her household, and unto her son
Gave them for henchmen swift to do his will.
And these attended Achilles' valiant son,
As through the city to the ship he sped.
On, with glad laughter, in their midst he strode;
And Thetis and the Nereids joyed thereat.
Yea, glad was even the Raven-haired, the Lord
Of all the sea, beholding that brave son
Of princely Achilles, marking how he longed
For battle. Beardless boy albeit he was,
His prowess and his might were inward spurs
To him. He hasted forth his fatherland
Like to the War-god, when to gory strife
He speedeth, wroth with foes, when maddeneth
His heart, and grim his frown is, and his eyes
Flash levin-flame around him, and his face
Is clothed with glory of beauty terror-blent,
As on he rusheth: quail the very Gods.
So seemed Achilles' goodly son; and prayers
Went up through all the city unto Heaven
To bring their noble prince safe back from war;
And the Gods hearkened to them. High he towered
Above all stateliest men which followed him.
So came they to the heavy-plunging sea,
And found the rowers in the smooth-wrought ship
Handling the tackle, fixing mast and sail.
Straightway they went aboard: the shipmen cast
The hawsers loose, and heaved the anchor-stones,
The strength and stay of ships in time of need.
Then did the Sea-queen's lord grant voyage fair
To these with gracious mind; for his heart yearned
O'er the Achaeans, by the Trojan men
And mighty-souled Eurypylus hard-bestead.
On either side of Neoptolemus sat
Those heroes, gladdening his soul with tales
Of his sire's mighty deeds -- of all he wrought
In sea-raids, and in valiant Telephus' land,
And how he smote round Priam's burg the men
Of Troy, for glory unto Atreus' sons.
His heart glowed, fain to grasp his heritage,
His aweless father's honour and renown.
In her bower, sorrowing for her son the while,
Deidameia poured forth sighs and tears.
With agony of soul her very heart
Melted in her, as over coals doth lead
Or wax, and never did her moaning cease,
As o'er the wide sea her gaze followed him.
Ay, for her son a mother fretteth still,
Though it be to a feast that he hath gone,
By a friend bidden forth. But soon the sail
Of that good ship far-fleeting o'er the blue
Grew faint and fainter -- melted in sea-haze.
But still she sighed, still daylong made her moan.
On ran the ship before a following wind,
Seeming to skim the myriad-surging sea,
And crashed the dark wave either side the prow:
Swiftly across the abyss unplumbed she sped.
Night's darkness fell about her, but the breeze
Held, and the steersman's hand was sure. O'er gulfs
Of brine she flew, till Dawn divine rose up
To climb the sky. Then sighted they the peaks
Of Ida, Chrysa next, and Smintheus' fane,
Then the Sigean strand, and then the tomb
Of Aeacus' son. Yet would Laertes' seed,
The man discreet of soul, not point it out
To Neoptolemus, lest the tide of grief
Too high should swell within his breast. They passed
Calydnae's isles, left Tenedos behind;
And now was seen the fane of Eleus,
Where stands Protesilaus' tomb, beneath
The shade of towcry elms; when, soaring high
Above the plain, their topmost boughs discern
Troy, straightway wither all their highest sprays.
Nigh Ilium now the ship by wind and oar
Was brought: they saw the long strand fringed with keels
Of Argives, who endured sore travail of war
Even then about the wall, the which themselves
Had reared to screen the ships and men in stress
Of battle. Even now Eurypylus' hands
To earth were like to dash it and destroy;
But the quick eyes of Tydeus' strong son marked
How rained the darts and stones on that long wall.
Forth of the ship he sprang, and shouted loud
With all the strength of his undaunted breast:
"Friends, on the Argive men is heaped this day
Sore travail! Let us don our flashing arms
With speed, and to yon battle-turmoil haste.
For now upon our towers the warrior sons
Of Troy press hard -- yea, haply will they tear
The long walls down, and burn the ships with fire,
And so the souls that long for home-return
Shall win it never; nay, ourselves shall fall
Before our due time, and shall lie in graves
In Troyland, far from children and from wives."
All as one man down from the ship they leapt;
For trembling seized on all for that grim sight --
On all save aweless Neoptolemus
Whose might was like his father's: lust of war
Swept o'er him. To Odysseus' tent in haste
They sped, for close it lay to where the ship
Touched land. About its walls was hung great store
Of change of armour, of wise Odysseus some,
And rescued some from gallant comrades slain.
Then did the brave man put on goodly arms;
But they in whose breasts faintlier beat their hearts
Must don the worser. Odysseus stood arrayed
In those which came with him from Ithaca:
To Diomede he gave fair battle-gear
Stripped in time past from mighty Socus slain.
But in his father's arms Achilles' son
Clad him and lo, he seemed Achilles' self!
Light on his limbs and lapping close they lay --
So cunning was Hephaestus' workmanship --
Which for another had been a giant's arms.
The massive helmet cumbered not his brows;
Yea, the great Pelian spear-shaft burdened not
His hand, but lightly swung he up on high
The heavy and tall lance thirsting still for blood.
Of many Argives which beheld him then
Might none draw nigh to him, how fain soe'er,
So fast were they in that grim grapple locked
Of the wild war that raged all down the wall.
But as when shipmen, under a desolate isle
Mid the wide sea by stress of weather bound,
Chafe, while afar from men the adverse blasts
Prison them many a day; they pace the deck
With sinking hearts, while scantier grows their store
Of food; they weary till a fair wind sings;
So joyed the Achaean host, which theretofore
Were heavy of heart, when Neoptolemus came,
Joyed in the hope of breathing-space from toil.