The Fall of Troy
How the sons of Troy for the last time
fought from her walls and her towers.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b
Troy's daughters mourned within her walls; might none Go forth to Paris' tomb, for far away From high-built Troy it lay. But the young men Without the city toiled unceasingly In fight wherein from slaughter rest was none, Though dead was Paris; for the Achaeans pressed Hard on the Trojans even unto Troy. Yet these charged forth -- they could not choose but so, For Strife and deadly Enyo in their midst 10 Stalked, like the fell Erinyes to behold, Breathing destruction from their lips like flame. Beside them raged the ruthless-hearted Fates Fiercely: here Panic-fear and Ares there Stirred up the hosts: hard after followed Dread With slaughter's gore besprent, that in one host Might men see, and be strong, in the other fear; And all around were javelins, spears, and darts Murder-athirst from this side, that side, showered. Aye, as they hurled together, armour clashed, 20 As foe with foe grappled in murderous fight. There Neoptolemus slew Laodamas, Whom Lycia nurtured by fair Xanthus' stream, The stream revealed to men by Leto, bride Of Thunderer Zeus, when Lycia's stony plain Was by her hands uptorn mid agonies Of travail-throes wherein she brought to light Mid bitter pangs those babes of birth divine. Nirus upon him laid he dead; the spear Crashed through his jaw, and clear through mouth and tongue 30 Passed: on the lance's irresistible point Shrieking was he impaled: flooded with gore His mouth was as he cried. The cruel shaft, Sped on by that strong hand, dashed him to earth In throes of death. Evenor next he smote Above the flank, and onward drave the spear Into his liver: swiftly anguished death Came upon him. Iphition next he slew: He quelled Hippomedon, Hippasus' bold son, Whom Ocyone the Nymph had borne beside 40 Sangarius' river-flow. Ne'er welcomed she Her son's returning face, but ruthless Fate With anguish thrilled her of her child bereaved. Bremon Aeneas slew, and Andromachus, Of Cnossus this, of hallowed Lyctus that: On one spot both from their swift chariots fell; This gasped for breath, his throat by the long spear Transfixed; that other, by a massy stone, Sped from a strong hand, on the temple struck, Breathed out his life, and black doom shrouded him. 50 The startled steeds, bereft of charioteers, Fleeing, mid all those corpses were confused, And princely Aeneas' henchmen seized on them With hearts exulting in the goodly spoil. There Philoctetes with his deadly shaft Smote Peirasus in act to flee the war: The tendons twain behind the knee it snapped, And palsied all his speed. A Danaan marked, And leapt on that maimed man with sweep of sword Shearing his neck through. On the breast of earth 60 The headless body fell: the head far flung Went rolling with lips parted as to shriek; And swiftly fleeted thence the homeless soul. Polydamas struck down Eurymachus And Cleon with his spear. From Syme came With Nireus' following these: cunning were both In craft of fisher-folk to east the hook Baited with guile, to drop into the sea The net, from the boat's prow with deftest hands Swiftly and straight to plunge the three-forked spear. 70 But not from bane their sea-craft saved them now. Eurypylus battle-staunch laid Hellus low, Whom Cleito bare beside Gygaea's mere, Cleito the fair-cheeked. Face-down in the dust Outstretched he lay: shorn by the cruel sword From his strong shoulder fell the arm that held His long spear. Still its muscles twitched, as though Fain to uplift the lance for fight in vain; For the man's will no longer stirred therein, But aimlessly it quivered, even as leaps 80 The severed tail of a snake malignant-eyed, Which cannot chase the man who dealt the wound; So the right hand of that strong-hearted man With impotent grip still clutched the spear for fight. Aenus and Polydorus Odysseus slew, Ceteians both; this perished by his spear, That by his sword death-dealing. Sthenelus Smote godlike Abas with a javelin-cast: On through his throat and shuddering nape it rushed: Stopped were his heart-beats, all his limbs collapsed. 90 Tydeides slew Laodocus; Melius fell By Agamemnon's hand; Deiphobus Smote Alcimus and Dryas: Hippasus, How war-renowned soe'er, Agenor slew Far from Peneius' river. Crushed by fate, Love's nursing-debt to parents ne'er he paid. Lamus and stalwart Lyncus Thoas smote, And Meriones slew Lycon; Menelaus Laid low Archelochus. Upon his home Looked down Corycia's ridge, and that great rock 100 Of the wise Fire-god, marvellous in men's eyes; For thereon, nightlong, daylong, unto him Fire blazes, tireless and unquenchable. Laden with fruit around it palm-trees grow, While mid the stones fire plays about their roots. Gods' work is this, a wonder to all time. By Teucer princely Hippomedon's son was slain, Menoetes: as the archer drew on him, Rushed he to smite him; but already hand And eye, and bow-craft keen were aiming straight 110 On the arching horn the shaft. Swiftly released It leapt on the hapless man, while sang the string. Stricken full front he heaved one choking gasp, Because the fates on the arrow riding flew Right to his heart, the throne of thought and strength For men, whence short the path is unto death. Far from his brawny hand Euryalus hurled A massy stone, and shook the ranks of Troy. As when in anger against long-screaming cranes A watcher of the field leaps from the ground, 120 In swift hand whirling round his head the sling, And speeds the stone against them, scattering Before its hum their ranks far down the wind Outspread, and they in huddled panic dart With wild cries this way and that, who theretofore Swept on in ordered lines; so shrank the foe To right and left from that dread bolt of doom Hurled of Euryalus. Not in vain it flew Fate-winged; it shattered Meles' helm and head Down to the eyes: so met him ghastly death. 130 Still man slew man, while earth groaned all around, As when a mighty wind scourges the land, And this way, that way, under its shrieking blasts Through the wide woodland bow from the roots and fall Great trees, while all the earth is thundering round; So fell they in the dust, so clanged their arms, So crashed the earth around. Still hot were they For fell fight, still dealt bane unto their foes. Nigh to Aeneas then Apollo came, And to Eurymachus, brave Antenor's son; 140 For these against the mighty Achaeans fought Shoulder to shoulder, as two strong oxen, matched In age, yoked to a wain; nor ever ceased From battling. Suddenly spake the God to these In Polymestor's shape, the seer his mother By Xanthus bare to the Far-darter's priest: "Eurymachus, Aeneas, seed of Gods, 'Twere shame if ye should flinch from Argives! Nay, Not Ares' self should joy to encounter you, An ye would face him in the fray; for Fate 150 Hath spun long destiny-threads for thee and thee." He spake, and vanished, mingling with the winds. But their hearts felt the God's power: suddenly Flooded with boundless courage were their frames, Maddened their spirits: on the foe they leapt Like furious wasps that in a storm of rage Swoop upon bees, beholding them draw nigh In latter-summer to the mellowing grapes, Or from their hives forth-streaming thitherward; So fiercely leapt these sons of Troy to meet 160 War-hardened Greeks. The black Fates joyed to see Their conflict, Ares laughed, Enyo yelled Horribly. Loud their glancing armour clanged: They stabbed, they hewed down hosts of foes untold With irresistible hands. The reeling ranks Fell, as the swath falls in the harvest heat, When the swift-handed reapers, ranged adown The field's long furrows, ply the sickle fast; So fell before their hands ranks numberless: With corpses earth was heaped, with torrent blood 170 Was streaming: Strife incarnate o'er the slain Gloated. They paused not from the awful toil, But aye pressed on, like lions chasing sheep. Then turned the Greeks to craven flight; all feet Unmaimed as yet fled from the murderous war. Aye followed on Anchises' warrior son, Smiting foes' backs with his avenging spear: On pressed Eurymachus, while glowed the heart Of Healer Apollo watching from on high. As when a man descries a herd of swine 180 Draw nigh his ripening corn, before the sheaves Fall neath the reapers' hands, and harketh on Against them his strong dogs; as down they rush, The spoilers see and quake; no more think they Of feasting, but they turn in panic flight Huddling: fast follow at their heels the hounds Biting remorselessly, while long and loud Squealing they flee, and joys the harvest's lord; So rejoiced Phoebus, seeing from the war Fleeing the mighty Argive host. No more 190 Cared they for deeds of men, but cried to the Gods For swift feet, in whose feet alone was hope To escape Eurymachus' and Aeneas' spears Which lightened ever all along their rear. But one Greek, over-trusting in his strength, Or by Fate's malice to destruction drawn, Curbed in mid flight from war's turmoil his steed, And strove to wheel him round into the fight To face the foe. But fierce Agenor thrust Ere he was ware; his two-edged partizan 200 Shore though his shoulder; yea, the very bone Of that gashed arm was cloven by the steel; The tendons parted, the veins spirted blood: Down by his horse's neck he slid, and straight Fell mid the dead. But still the strong arm hung With rigid fingers locked about the reins Like a live man's. Weird marvel was that sight, The bloody hand down hanging from the rein, Scaring the foes yet more, by Ares' will. Thou hadst said, "It craveth still for horsemanship!" 210 So bare the steed that sign of his slain lord. Aeneas hurled his spear; it found the waist Of Anthalus' son, it pierced the navel through, Dragging the inwards with it. Stretched in dust, Clutching with agonized hands at steel and bowels, Horribly shrieked he, tore with his teeth the earth Groaning, till life and pain forsook the man. Scared were the Argives, like a startled team Of oxen 'neath the yoke-band straining hard, What time the sharp-fanged gadfly stings their flanks 220 Athirst for blood, and they in frenzy of pain Start from the furrow, and sore disquieted The hind is for marred work, and for their sake, Lest haply the recoiling ploughshare light On their leg-sinews, and hamstring his team; So were the Danaans scared, so feared for them Achilles' son, and shouted thunder-voiced: "Cravens, why flee, like starlings nothing-worth Scared by a hawk that swoopeth down on them? Come, play the men! Better it is by far 230 To die in war than choose unmanly flight!" Then to his cry they hearkened, and straightway Were of good heart. Mighty of mood he leapt Upon the Trojans, swinging in his hand The lightening spear: swept after him his host Of Myrmidons with hearts swelled with the strength Resistless of a tempest; so the Greeks Won breathing-space. With fury like his sire's One after other slew he of the foe. Recoiling back they fell, as waves on-rolled 240 By Boreas foaming from the deep to the strand, Are caught by another blast that whirlwind-like Leaps, in a short lull of the north-wind, forth, Smites them full-face, and hurls them back from the shore; So them that erewhile on the Danaans pressed Godlike Achilles' son now backward hurled A short space only brave Aeneas' spirit Let him not flee, but made him bide the fight Fearlessly; and Enyo level held The battle's scales. Yet not against Aeneas 250 Achilles' son upraised his father's spear, But elsewhither turned his fury: in reverence For Aphrodite, Thetis splendour-veiled Turned from that man her mighty son's son's rage And giant strength on other hosts of foes. There slew he many a Trojan, while the ranks Of Greeks were ravaged by Aeneas' hand. Over the battle-slain the vultures joyed, Hungry to rend the hearts and flesh of men. But all the Nymphs were wailing, daughters born 260 Of Xanthus and fair-flowing Simois. So toiled they in the fight: the wind's breath rolled Huge dust-clouds up; the illimitable air Was one thick haze, as with a sudden mist: Earth disappeared, faces were blotted out; Yet still they fought on; each man, whomso he met, Ruthlessly slew him, though his very friend It might be -- in that turmoil none could tell Who met him, friend or foe: blind wilderment Enmeshed the hosts. And now had all been blent 270 Confusedly, had perished miserably, All falling by their fellows' murderous swords, Had not Cronion from Olympus helped Their sore strait, and he swept aside the dust Of conflict, and he calmed those deadly winds. Yet still the hosts fought on; but lighter far Their battle-travail was, who now discerned Whom in the fray to smite, and whom to spare. The Danaans now forced back the Trojan host, The Trojans now the Danaan ranks, as swayed 280 The dread fight to and fro. From either side Darts leapt and fell like snowflakes. Far away Shepherds from Ida trembling watched the strife, And to the Heaven-abiders lifted hands Of supplication, praying that all their foes Might perish, and that from the woeful war Troy might win breathing-space, and see at last The day of freedom: the Gods hearkened not. Far other issues Fate devised, nor recked Of Zeus the Almighty, nor of none beside 290 Of the Immortals. Her unpitying soul Cares naught what doom she spinneth with her thread Inevitable, be it for men new-born Or cities: all things wax and wane through her. So by her hest the battle-travail swelled 'Twixt Trojan chariot-lords and Greeks that closed In grapple of fight -- they dealt each other death Ruthlessly: no man quailed, but stout of heart Fought on; for courage thrusts men into war. But now when many had perished in the dust, 300 Then did the Argive might prevail at last By stern decree of Pallas; for she came Into the heart of battle, hot to help The Greeks to lay waste Priam's glorious town. Then Aphrodite, who lamented sore For Paris slain, snatched suddenly away Renowned Aeneas from the deadly strife, And poured thick mist about him. Fate forbade That hero any longer to contend With Argive foes without the high-built wall. 310 Yea, and his mother sorely feared the wrath Of Pallas passing-wise, whose heart was keen To help the Danaans now -- yea, feared lest she Might slay him even beyond his doom, who spared Not Ares' self, a mightier far than he. No more the Trojans now abode the edge Of fight, but all disheartened backward drew. For like fierce ravening beasts the Argive men Leapt on them, mad with murderous rage of war. Choked with their slain the river-channels were, 320 Heaped was the field; in red dust thousands fell, Horses and men; and chariots overturned Were strewn there: blood was streaming all around Like rain, for deadly Doom raged through the fray. Men stabbed with swords, and men impaled on spears Lay all confusedly, like scattered beams, When on the strand of the low-thundering sea Men from great girders of a tall ship's hull Strike out the bolts and clamps, and scatter wide Long planks and timbers, till the whole broad beach 330 Is paved with beams o'erplashed by darkling surge; So lay in dust and blood those slaughtered men, Rapture and pain of fight forgotten now. A remnant from the pitiless strife escaped Entered their stronghold, scarce eluding doom. Children and wives from their limbs blood-besprent Received their arms bedabbled with foul gore; And baths for all were heated. Leeches ran Through all the town in hot haste to the homes Of wounded men to minister to their hurts. 340 Here wives and daughters moaned round men come back From war, there cried on many who came not Here, men stung to the soul by bitter pangs Groaned upon beds of pain; there, toil-spent men Turned them to supper. Whinnied the swift steeds And neighed o'er mangers heaped. By tent and ship Far off the Greeks did even as they of Troy. When o'er the streams of Ocean Dawn drove up Her splendour-flashing steeds, and earth's tribes waked, Then the strong Argives' battle-eager sons 350 Marched against Priam's city lofty-towered, Save some that mid the tents by wounded men Tarried, lest haply raiders on the ships Might fall, to help the Trojans, while these fought The foe from towers, while rose the flame of war. Before the Scaean gate fought Capaneus' son And godlike Diomedes. High above Deiphobus battle-staunch and strong Polites With many comrades, stoutly held them back With arrows and huge stones. Clanged evermore 360 The smitten helms and shields that fenced strong men From bitter doom and unrelenting fate, Before the Gate Idaean Achilles' son Set in array the fight: around him toiled His host of battle-cunning Myrmidons. Helenus and Agenor gallant-souled, Down-hailing darts, against them held the wall, Aye cheering on their men. No spurring these Needed to fight hard for their country's walls. Odysseus and Eurypylus made assault 370 Unresting on the gates that fated the plain And looked to the swift ships. From wall and tower With huge stones brave Aeneas made defence. In battle-stress by Simons Teucer toiled. Each endured hardness at his several post. Then round war-wise Odysseus men renowned, By that great captain's battle cunning ruled, Locked shields together, raised them o'er their heads Ranged side by side, that many were made one. Thou hadst said it was a great hall's solid roof, 380 Which no tempestuous wind-blast misty wet Can pierce, nor rain from heaven in torrents poured. So fenced about with shields firm stood the ranks Of Argives, one in heart for fight, and one In that array close-welded. From above The Trojans hailed great stones; as from a rock Rolled these to earth. Full many a spear and dart And galling javelin in the pierced shields stood; Some in the earth stood; many glanced away With bent points falling baffled from the shields 390 Battered on all sides. But that clangorous din None feared; none flinched; as pattering drops of rain They heard it. Up to the rampart's foot they marched: None hung back; shoulder to shoulder on they came Like a long lurid cloud that o'er the sky Cronion trails in wild midwinter-tide. On that battalion moved, with thunderous tread Of tramping feet: a little above the earth Rose up the dust; the breeze swept it aside Drifting away behind the men. There went 400 A sound confused of voices with them, like The hum of bees that murmur round the hives, And multitudinous panting, and the gasp Of men hard-breathing. Exceeding glad the sons Of Atreus, glorying in them, saw that wall Unwavering of doom-denouncing war. In one dense mass against the city-gate They hurled themselves, with twibills strove to breach The long walls, from their hinges to upheave The gates, and dash to earth. The pulse of hope 410 Beat strong in those proud hearts. But naught availed Targes nor levers, when Aeneas' might Swung in his hands a stone like a thunderbolt, Hurled it with uttermost strength, and dashed to death All whom it caught beneath the shields, as when A mountain's precipice-edge breaks off and falls On pasturing goats, and all that graze thereby Tremble; so were those Danaans dazed with dread. Stone after stone he hurled on the reeling ranks, As when amid the hills Olympian Zeus 420 With thunderbolts and blazing lightnings rends From their foundations crags that rim a peak, And this way, that way, sends them hurtling down; Then the flocks tremble, scattering in wild flight; So quailed the Achaeans, when Aeneas dashed To sudden fragments all that battle-wall Moulded of adamant shields, because a God Gave more than human strength. No man of them Could lift his eyes unto him in that fight, Because the arms that lapped his sinewy limbs 430 Flashed like the heaven-born lightnings. At his side Stood, all his form divine in darkness cloaked, Ares the terrible, and winged the flight Of what bare down to the Argives doom or dread. He fought as when Olympian Zeus himself From heaven in wrath smote down the insolent bands Of giants grim, and shook the boundless earth, And sea, and ocean, and the heavens, when reeled The knees of Atlas neath the rush of Zeus. So crumbled down beneath Aeneas' bolts 440 The Argive squadrons. All along the wall Wroth with the foeman rushed he: from his hands Whatso he lighted on in onslaught-haste Hurled he; for many a battle-staying bolt Lay on the walls of those staunch Dardan men. With such Aeneas stormed in giant might, With such drave back the thronging foes. All round The Trojans played the men. Sore travail and pain Had all folk round the city: many fell, Argives and Trojans. Rang the battle-cries: 450 Aeneas cheered the war-fain Trojans on To fight for home, for wives, and their own souls With a good heart: war-staunch Achilles' son Shouted: "Flinch not, ye Argives, from the walls, Till Troy be taken, and sink down in flames!" And round these twain an awful measureless roar Rang, daylong as they fought: no breathing-space Came from the war to them whose spirits burned, These, to smite Ilium, those, to guard her safe. But from Aeneas valiant-souled afar 460 Fought Aias, speeding midst the men of Troy Winged death; for now his arrow straight through air Flew, now his deadly dart, and smote them down One after one: yet others cowered away Before his peerless prowess, and abode The fight no more, but fenceless left the wall Then one, of all the Locrians mightiest, Fierce-souled Alcimedon, trusting in his prince And his own might and valour of his youth, All battle-eager on a ladder set 470 Swift feet, to pave for friends a death-strewn path Into the town. Above his head he raised The screening shield; up that dread path he went Hardening his heart from trembling, in his hand Now shook the threatening spear, now upward climbed ú Fast high in air he trod the perilous way. Now on the Trojans had disaster come, But, even as above the parapet His head rose, and for the first time and the last From her high rampart he looked down on Troy, 480 Aeneas, who had marked, albeit afar, That bold assault, rushed on him, dashed on his head So huge a stone that the hero's mighty strength Shattered the ladder. Down from on high he rushed As arrow from the string: death followed him As whirling round he fell; with air was blent His lost life, ere he crashed to the stony ground. Strong spear, broad shield, in mid fall flew from his hands, And from his head the helm: his corslet came Alone with him to earth. The Locrian men 490 Groaned, seeing their champion quelled by evil doom; For all his hair and all the stones around Were brain-bespattered: all his bones were crushed, And his once active limbs besprent with gore. Then godlike Poeas' war-triumphant son Marked where Aeneas stormed along the wall In lion-like strength, and straightway shot a shaft Aimed at that glorious hero, neither missed The man: yet not through his unyielding targe To the fair flesh it won, being turned aside 500 By Cytherea and the shield, but grazed The buckler lightly: yet not all in vain Fell earthward, but between the targe and helm Smote Medon: from the tower he fell, as falls A wild goat from a crag, the hunter's shaft Deep in its heart: so nerveless-flung he fell, And fled away from him the precious life. Wroth for his friend, a stone Aeneas hurled, And Philoctetes' stalwart comrade slew, Toxaechmes; for he shattered his head and crushed 510 Helmet and skull-bones; and his noble heart Was stilled. Loud shouted princely Poeas' son: "Aeneas, thou, forsooth, dost deem thyself A mighty champion, fighting from a tower Whence craven women war with foes! Now if Thou be a man, come forth without the wall In battle-harness, and so learn to know In spear-craft and in bow-craft Poeas' son!" So cried he; but Anchises' valiant seed, How fain soe'er, naught answered, for the stress 520 Of desperate conflict round that wall and burg Ceaselessly raging: pause from fight was none: Yea, for long time no respite had there been For the war-weary from that endless toil.
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