The Fall of Troy
How by the shaft of a God laid low was Hero Achilles.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b
When shone the light of Dawn the splendour-throned, Then to the ships the Pylian spearmen bore Antilochus' corpse, sore sighing for their prince, And by the Hellespont they buried him With aching hearts. Around him groaning stood The battle-eager sons of Argives, all, Of love for Nestor, shrouded o'er with grief. But that grey hero's heart was nowise crushed By sorrow; for the wise man's soul endures 10 Bravely, and cowers not under affliction's stroke. But Peleus' son, wroth for Antilochus His dear friend, armed for vengeance terrible Upon the Trojans. Yea, and these withal, Despite their dread of mighty Achilles' spear, Poured battle-eager forth their gates, for now The Fates with courage filled their breasts, of whom Many were doomed to Hades to descend, Whence there is no return, thrust down by hands Of Aeacus' son, who also was foredoomed 20 To perish that same day by Priam's wall. Swift met the fronts of conflict: all the tribes Of Troy's host, and the battle-biding Greeks, Afire with that new-kindled fury of war. Then through the foe the son of Peleus made Wide havoc: all around the earth was drenched With gore, and choked with corpses were the streams Of Simois and Xanthus. Still he chased, Still slaughtered, even to the city's walls; For panic fell on all the host. And now 30 All had he slain, had dashed the gates to earth, Rending them from their hinges, or the bolts, Hurling himself against them, had he snapped, And for the Danaans into Priam's burg Had made a way, had utterly destroyed That goodly town -- but now was Phoebus wroth Against him with grim fury, when he saw Those countless troops of heroes slain of him. Down from Olympus with a lion-leap He came: his quiver on his shoulders lay, 40 And shafts that deal the wounds incurable. Facing Achilles stood he; round him clashed Quiver and arrows; blazed with quenchless flame His eyes, and shook the earth beneath his feet. Then with a terrible shout the great God cried, So to turn back from war Achilles awed By the voice divine, and save from death the Trojans: "Back from the Trojans, Peleus' son! Beseems not That longer thou deal death unto thy foes, Lest an Olympian God abase thy pride." 50 But nothing quailed the hero at the voice Immortal, for that round him even now Hovered the unrelenting Fates. He recked Naught of the God, and shouted his defiance. "Phoebus, why dost thou in mine own despite Stir me to fight with Gods, and wouldst protect The arrogant Trojans? Heretofore hast thou By thy beguiling turned me from the fray, When from destruction thou at the first didst save Hector, whereat the Trojans all through Troy 60 Exulted. Nay, thou get thee back: return Unto the mansion of the Blessed, lest I smite thee -- ay, immortal though thou be!" Then on the God he turned his back, and sped After the Trojans fleeing cityward, And harried still their flight; but wroth at heart Thus Phoebus spake to his indignant soul: "Out on this man! he is sense-bereft! But now Not Zeus himself nor any other Power Shall save this madman who defies the Gods!" 70 From mortal sight he vanished into cloud, And cloaked with mist a baleful shaft he shot Which leapt to Achilles' ankle: sudden pangs With mortal sickness made his whole heart faint. He reeled, and like a tower he fell, that falls Smit by a whirlwind when an earthquake cleaves A chasm for rushing blasts from underground; So fell the goodly form of Aeacus' son. He glared, a murderous glance, to right, to left, [Upon the Trojans, and a terrible threat] 80 Shouted, a threat that could not be fulfilled: "Who shot at me a stealthy-smiting shaft? Let him but dare to meet me face to face! So shall his blood and all his bowels gush out About my spear, and he be hellward sped! I know that none can meet me man to man And quell in fight -- of earth-born heroes none, Though such an one should bear within his breast A heart unquailing, and have thews of brass. But dastards still in stealthy ambush lurk 90 For lives of heroes. Let him face me then! -- Ay! though he be a God whose anger burns Against the Danaans! Yea, mine heart forebodes That this my smiter was Apollo, cloaked In deadly darkness. So in days gone by My mother told me how that by his shafts I was to die before the Scaean Gates A piteous death. Her words were not vain words." Then with unflinching hands from out the wound Incurable he drew the deadly shaft 100 In agonized pain. Forth gushed the blood; his heart Waxed faint beneath the shadow of coming doom. Then in indignant wrath he hurled from him The arrow: a sudden gust of wind swept by, And caught it up, and, even as he trod Zeus' threshold, to Apollo gave it back; For it beseemed not that a shaft divine, Sped forth by an Immortal, should be lost. He unto high Olympus swiftly came, To the great gathering of immortal Gods, 110 Where all assembled watched the war of men, These longing for the Trojans' triumph, those For Danaan victory; so with diverse wills Watched they the strife, the slayers and the slain. Him did the Bride of Zeus behold, and straight Upbraided with exceeding bitter words: "What deed of outrage, Phoebus, hast thou done This day, forgetful of that day whereon To godlike Peleus' spousals gathered all The Immortals? Yea, amidst the feasters thou 120 Sangest how Thetis silver-footed left The sea's abysses to be Peleus' bride; And as thou harpedst all earth's children came To hearken, beasts and birds, high craggy hills, Rivers, and all deep-shadowed forests came. All this hast thou forgotten, and hast wrought A ruthless deed, hast slain a godlike man, Albeit thou with other Gods didst pour The nectar, praying that he might be the son By Thetis given to Peleus. But that prayer 130 Hast thou forgotten, favouring the folk Of tyrannous Laomedon, whose kine Thou keptest. He, a mortal, did despite To thee, the deathless! O, thou art wit-bereft! Thou favourest Troy, thy sufferings all forgot. Thou wretch, and doth thy false heart know not this, What man is an offence, and meriteth Suffering, and who is honoured of the Gods? Ever Achilles showed us reverence -- yea, Was of our race. Ha, but the punishment 140 Of Troy, I ween, shall not be lighter, though Aeacus' son have fallen; for his son Right soon shall come from Scyros to the war To help the Argive men, no less in might Than was his sire, a bane to many a foe. But thou -- thou for the Trojans dost not care, But for his valour enviedst Peleus' son, Seeing he was the mightest of all men. Thou fool! how wilt thou meet the Nereid's eyes, When she shall stand in Zeus' hall midst the Gods, 150 Who praised thee once, and loved as her own son?" So Hera spake, in bitterness of soul Upbraiding, but he answered her not a word, Of reverence for his mighty Father's bride; Nor could he lift his eyes to meet her eyes, But sat abashed, aloof from all the Gods Eternal, while in unforgiving wrath Scowled on him all the Immortals who maintained The Danaans' cause; but such as fain would bring Triumph to Troy, these with exultant hearts 160 Extolled him, hiding it from Hera's eyes, Before whose wrath all Heaven-abiders shrank. But Peleus' son the while forgat not yet War's fury: still in his invincible limbs The hot blood throbbed, and still he longed for fight. Was none of all the Trojans dared draw nigh The stricken hero, but at distance stood, As round a wounded lion hunters stand Mid forest-brakes afraid, and, though the shaft Stands in his heart, yet faileth not in him 170 His royal courage, but with terrible glare Roll his fierce eyes, and roar his grimly jaws; So wrath and anguish of his deadly hurt To fury stung Peleides' soul; but aye His strength ebbed through the god-envenomed wound. Yet leapt he up, and rushed upon the foe, And flashed the lightning of his lance; it slew The goodly Orythaon, comrade stout Of Hector, through his temples crashing clear: His helm stayed not the long lance fury-sped 180 Which leapt therethrough, and won within the bones The heart of the brain, and spilt his lusty life. Then stabbed he 'neath the brow Hipponous Even to the eye-roots, that the eyeball fell To earth: his soul to Hades flitted forth. Then through the jaw he pierced Alcathous, And shore away his tongue: in dust he fell Gasping his life out, and the spear-head shot Out through his ear. These, as they rushed on him, That hero slew; but many a fleer's life 190 He spilt, for in his heart still leapt the blood. But when his limbs grew chill, and ebbed away His spirit, leaning on his spear he stood, While still the Trojans fled in huddled rout Of panic, and he shouted unto them: "Trojan and Dardan cravens, ye shall not Even in my death, escape my merciless spear, But unto mine Avenging Spirits ye Shall pay -- ay, one and all -- destruction's debt!" He spake; they heard and quailed: as mid the hills 200 Fawns tremble at a lion's deep-mouthed roar, And terror-stricken flee the monster, so The ranks of Trojan chariot-lords, the lines Of battle-helpers drawn from alien lands, Quailed at the last shout of Achilles, deemed That he was woundless yet. But 'neath the weight Of doom his aweless heart, his mighty limbs, At last were overborne. Down midst the dead He fell, as fails a beetling mountain-cliff. Earth rang beneath him: clanged with a thundercrash 210 His arms, as Peleus' son the princely fell. And still his foes with most exceeding dread Stared at him, even as, when some murderous beast Lies slain by shepherds, tremble still the sheep Eyeing him, as beside the fold he lies, And shrinking, as they pass him, far aloof And, even as he were living, fear him dead; So feared they him, Achilles now no more. Yet Paris strove to kindle those faint hearts; For his own heart exulted, and he hoped, 220 Now Peleus' son, the Danaans' strength, had fallen, Wholly to quench the Argive battle-fire: "Friends, if ye help me truly and loyally, Let us this day die, slain by Argive men, Or live, and hale to Troy with Hector's steeds In triumph Peleus' son thus fallen dead, The steeds that, grieving, yearning for their lord To fight have borne me since my brother died. Might we with these but hale Achilles slain, Glory were this for Hector's horses, yea, 230 For Hector -- if in Hades men have sense Of righteous retribution. This man aye Devised but mischief for the sons of Troy; And now Troy's daughters with exultant hearts From all the city streets shall gather round, As pantheresses wroth for stolen cubs, Or lionesses, might stand around a man Whose craft in hunting vexed them while he lived. So round Achilles -- a dead corpse at last! -- In hurrying throngs Troy's daughters then shall come 240 In unforgiving, unforgetting hate, For parents wroth, for husbands slain, for sons, For noble kinsmen. Most of all shall joy My father, and the ancient men, whose feet Unwillingly are chained within the walls By eld, if we shall hale him through our gates, And give our foe to fowls of the air for meat." Then they, which feared him theretofore, in haste Closed round the corpse of strong-heart Aeacus' son, Glaucus, Aeneas, battle-fain Agenor, 250 And other cunning men in deadly fight, Eager to hale him thence to Ilium The god-built burg. But Aias failed him not. Swiftly that godlike man bestrode the dead: Back from the corpse his long lance thrust them all. Yet ceased they not from onslaught; thronging round, Still with swift rushes fought they for the prize, One following other, like to long-lipped bees Which hover round their hive in swarms on swarms To drive a man thence; but he, recking naught 260 Of all their fury, carveth out the combs Of nectarous honey: harassed sore are they By smoke-reek and the robber; spite of all Ever they dart against him; naught cares he; So naught of all their onsets Aias recked; But first he stabbed Agelaus in the breast, And slew that son of Maion: Thestor next: Ocythous he smote, Agestratus, Aganippus, Zorus, Nessus, Erymas The war-renowned, who came from Lycia-land 270 With mighty-hearted Glaucus, from his home In Melanippion on the mountain-ridge, Athena's fane, which Massikyton fronts Anigh Chelidonia's headland, dreaded sore Of scared seafarers, when its lowering crags Must needs be doubled. For his death the blood Of famed Hippolochus' son was horror-chilled; For this was his dear friend. With one swift thrust He pierced the sevenfold hides of Aias' shield, Yet touched his flesh not; stayed the spear-head was 280 By those thick hides and by the corset-plate Which lapped his battle-tireless limbs. But still From that stern conflict Glaucus drew not back, Burning to vanquish Aias, Aeacus' son, And in his folly vaunting threatened him: "Aias, men name thee mightiest man of all The Argives, hold thee in passing-high esteem Even as Achilles: therefore thou, I wot, By that dead warrior dead this day shalt lie!" So hurled he forth a vain word, knowing not 290 How far in might above him was the man Whom his spear threatened. Battle-bider Aias Darkly and scornfully glaring on him, said "Thou craven wretch, and knowest thou not this, How much was Hector mightier than thou In war-craft? yet before my might, my spear, He shrank. Ay, with his valour was there blent Discretion. Thou thy thoughts are deathward set, Who dar'st defy me to the battle, me, A mightier far than thou! Thou canst not say 300 That friendship of our fathers thee shall screen; Nor me thy gifts shall wile to let thee pass Scatheless from war, as once did Tydeus' son. Though thou didst 'scape his fury, will not I Suffer thee to return alive from war. Ha, in thy many helpers dost thou trust Who with thee, like so many worthless flies, Flit round the noble Achilles' corpse? To these Death and black doom shall my swift onset deal." Then on the Trojans this way and that he turned, 310 As mid long forest-glens a lion turns On hounds, and Trojans many and Lycians slew That came for honour hungry, till he stood Mid a wide ring of flinchers; like a shoal Of darting fish when sails into their midst Dolphin or shark, a huge sea-fosterling; So shrank they from the might of Telamon's son, As aye he charged amidst the rout. But still Swarmed fighters up, till round Achilles' corse To right, to left, lay in the dust the slain 320 Countless, as boars around a lion at bay; And evermore the strife waxed deadlier. Then too Hippolochus' war-wise son was slain By Aias of the heart of fire. He fell Backward upon Achilles, even as falls A sapling on a sturdy mountain-oak; So quelled by the spear on Peleus' son he fell. But for his rescue Anchises' stalwart son Strove hard, with all his comrades battle-fain, And haled the corse forth, and to sorrowing friends 330 Gave it, to bear to Ilium's hallowed burg. Himself to spoil Achilles still fought on, Till warrior Aias pierced him with the spear Through the right forearm. Swiftly leapt he back From murderous war, and hasted thence to Troy. There for his healing cunning leeches wrought, Who stanched the blood-rush, and laid on the gash Balms, such as salve war-stricken warriors' pangs. But Aias still fought on: here, there he slew With thrusts like lightning-flashes. His great heart 340 Ached sorely for his mighty cousin slain. And now the warrior-king Laertes' son Fought at his side: before him blenched the foe, As he smote down Peisander's fleetfoot son, The warrior Maenalus, who left his home In far-renowned Abydos: down on him He hurled Atymnius, the goodly son Whom Pegasis the bright-haired Nymph had borne To strong Emathion by Granicus' stream. Dead by his side he laid Orestius' son, 350 Proteus, who dwelt 'neath lofty Ida's folds. Ah, never did his mother welcome home That son from war, Panaceia beauty-famed! He fell by Odysseus' hands, who spilt the lives Of many more whom his death-hungering spear Reached in that fight around the mighty dead. Yet Alcon, son of Megacles battle-swift, Hard by Odysseus' right knee drave the spear Home, and about the glittering greave the blood Dark-crimsom welled. He recked not of the wound, 360 But was unto his smiter sudden death; For clear through his shield he stabbed him with his spear Amidst his battle-fury: to the earth Backward he dashed him by his giant might And strength of hand: clashed round him in the dust His armour, and his corslet was distained With crimson life-blood. Forth from flesh and shield The hero plucked the spear of death: the soul Followed the lance-head from the body forth, And life forsook its mortal mansion. Then 370 Rushed on his comrades, in his wound's despite, Odysseus, nor from that stern battle-toil Refrained him. And by this a mingled host Of Danaans eager-hearted fought around The mighty dead, and many and many a foe Slew they with those smooth-shafted ashen spears. Even as the winds strew down upon the ground The flying leaves, when through the forest-glades Sweep the wild gusts, as waneth autumn-tide, And the old year is dying; so the spears 380 Of dauntless Danaans strewed the earth with slain, For loyal to dead Achilles were they all, And loyal to hero Aias to the death. For like black Doom he blasted the ranks of Troy. Then against Aias Paris strained his bow; But he was ware thereof, and sped a stone Swift to the archer's head: that bolt of death Crashed through his crested helm, and darkness closed Round him. In dust down fell he: naught availed His shafts their eager lord, this way and that 390 Scattered in dust: empty his quiver lay, Flew from his hand the bow. In haste his friends Upcaught him from the earth, and Hector's steeds Hurried him thence to Troy, scarce drawing breath, And moaning in his pain. Nor left his men The weapons of their lord, but gathered up All from the plain, and bare them to the prince; While Aias after him sent a wrathful shout: "Dog, thou hast 'scaped the heavy hand of death To-day! But swiftly thy last hour shall come 400 By some strong Argive's hands, or by mine own, But now have I a nobler task in hand, From murder's grip to rescue Achilles' corse." Then turned he on the foe, hurling swift doom On such as fought around Peleides yet. 'These saw how many yielded up the ghost Neath his strong hands, and, with hearts failing them For fear, against him could they stand no more. As rascal vultures were they, which the swoop Of an eagle, king of birds, scares far away 410 From carcasses of sheep that wolves have torn; So this way, that way scattered they before The hurtling stones, the sword, the might of Aias. In utter panic from the war they fled, In huddled rout, like starlings from the swoop Of a death-dealing hawk, when, fleeing bane, One drives against another, as they dart All terror-huddled in tumultuous flight. So from the war to Priam's burg they fled Wretchedly clad with terror as a cloak, 420 Quailing from mighty Aias' battle-shout, As with hands dripping blood-gouts he pursued. Yea, all, one after other, had he slain, Had they not streamed through city-gates flung wide Hard-panting, pierced to the very heart with fear. Pent therewithin he left them, as a shepherd Leaves folded sheep, and strode back o'er the plain; Yet never touched he with his feet the ground, But aye he trod on dead men, arms, and blood; For countless corpses lay o'er that wide stretch 430 Even from broad-wayed Troy to Hellespont, Bodies of strong men slain, the spoil of Doom. As when the dense stalks of sun-ripened corn Fall 'neath the reapers' hands, and the long swaths, Heavy with full ears, overspread the field, And joys the heart of him who oversees The toil, lord of the harvest; even so, By baleful havoc overmastered, lay All round face-downward men remembering not The death-denouncing war-shout. But the sons 440 Of fair Achaea left their slaughtered foes In dust and blood unstripped of arms awhile Till they should lay upon the pyre the son Of Peleus, who in battle-shock had been Their banner of victory, charging in his might. So the kings drew him from that stricken field Straining beneath the weight of giant limbs, And with all loving care they bore him on, And laid him in his tent before the ships. And round him gathered that great host, and wailed 450 Heart-anguished him who had been the Achaeans' strength, And now, forgotten all the splendour of spears, Lay mid the tents by moaning Hellespont, In stature more than human, even as lay Tityos, who sought to force Queen Leto, when She fared to Pytho: swiftly in his wrath Apollo shot, and laid him low, who seemed Invincible: in a foul lake of gore There lay he, covering many a rood of ground, On the broad earth, his mother; and she moaned 460 Over her son, of blessed Gods abhorred; But Lady Leto laughed. So grand of mould There in the foemen's land lay Aeacus' son, For joy to Trojans, but for endless grief To Achaean men lamenting. Moaned the air With sighing from the abysses of the sea; And passing heavy grew the hearts of all, Thinking: "Now shall we perish by the hands Of Trojans!" Then by those dark ships they thought Of white-haired fathers left in halls afar, 470 Of wives new-wedded, who by couches cold Mourned, waiting, waiting, with their tender babes For husbands unreturning; and they groaned In bitterness of soul. A passion of grief Came o'er their hearts; they fell upon their faces On the deep sand flung down, and wept as men All comfortless round Peleus' mighty son, And clutched and plucked out by the roots their hair, And east upon their heads defiling sand. Their cry was like the cry that goeth up 480 From folk that after battle by their walls Are slaughtered, when their maddened foes set fire To a great city, and slay in heaps on heaps Her people, and make spoil of all her wealth; So wild and high they wailed beside the sea, Because the Danaans' champion, Aeacus' son, Lay, grand in death, by a God's arrow slain, As Ares lay, when She of the Mighty Father With that huge stone down dashed him on Troy's plain. Ceaselessly wailed the Myrmidons Achilles, 490 A ring of mourners round the kingly dead, That kind heart, friend alike to each and all, To no man arrogant nor hard of mood, But ever tempering strength with courtesy. Then Aias first, deep-groaning, uttered forth His yearning o'er his father's brother's son God-stricken -- ay, no man had smitten him Of all upon the wide-wayed earth that dwell! Him glorious Aias heavy-hearted mourned, Now wandering to the tent of Peleus' son, 500 Now cast down all his length, a giant form, On the sea-sands; and thus lamented he: "Achilles, shield and sword of Argive men, Thou hast died in Troy, from Phthia's plains afar, Smitten unwares by that accursed shaft, Such thing as weakling dastards aim in fight! For none who trusts in wielding the great shield, None who for war can skill to set the helm Upon his brows, and sway the spear in grip, And cleave the brass about the breasts of foes, 510 Warreth with arrows, shrinking from the fray. Not man to man he met thee, whoso smote; Else woundless never had he 'scaped thy lance! But haply Zeus purposed to ruin all, And maketh all our toil and travail vain -- Ay, now will grant the Trojans victory Who from Achaea now hath reft her shield! Ah me! how shall old Peleus in his halls Take up the burden of a mighty grief Now in his joyless age! His heart shall break 520 At the mere rumour of it. Better so, Thus in a moment to forget all pain. But if these evil tidings slay him not, Ah, laden with sore sorrow eld shall come Upon him, eating out his heart with grief By a lone hearth Peleus so passing dear Once to the Blessed! But the Gods vouchsafe No perfect happiness to hapless men." So he in grief lamented Peleus' son. Then ancient Phoenix made heart-stricken moan, 530 Clasping the noble form of Aeacus' seed, And in wild anguish wailed the wise of heart: "Thou art reft from me, dear child, and cureless pain Hast left to me! Oh that upon my face The veiling earth had fallen, ere I saw Thy bitter doom! No pang more terrible Hath ever stabbed mine heart no, not that hour Of exile, when I fled from fatherland And noble parents, fleeing Hellas through, Till Peleus welcomed me with gifts, and lord 540 Of his Dolopians made me. In his arms Thee through his halls one day he bare, and set Upon my knees, and bade me foster thee, His babe, with all love, as mine own dear child: I hearkened to him: blithely didst thou cling About mine heart, and, babbling wordless speech, Didst call me `father' oft, and didst bedew My breast and tunic with thy baby lips. Ofttimes with soul that laughed for glee I held Thee in mine arms; for mine heart whispered me 550 `This fosterling through life shall care for thee, Staff of thine age shall be.' And that mine hope Was for a little while fulfilled; but now Thou hast vanished into darkness, and to me Is left long heart-ache wild with all regret. Ah, might my sorrow slay me, ere the tale To noble Peleus come! When on his ears Falleth the heavy tidings, he shall weep And wail without surcease. Most piteous grief We twain for thy sake shall inherit aye, 560 Thy sire and I, who, ere our day of doom, Mourning shall go down to the grave for thee -- Ay, better this than life unholpen of thee!" So moaned his ever-swelling tide of grief. And Atreus' son beside him mourned and wept With heart on fire with inly smouldering pain: "Thou hast perished, chiefest of the Danaan men, Hast perished, and hast left the Achaean host Fenceless! Now thou art fallen, are they left An easier prey to foes. Thou hast given joy 570 To Trojans by thy fall, who dreaded thee As sheep a lion. These with eager hearts Even to the ships will bring the battle now. Zeus, Father, thou too with deceitful words Beguilest mortals! Thou didst promise me That Priam's burg should be destroyed; but now That promise given dost thou not fulfil, But thou didst cheat mine heart: I shall not win The war's goal, now Achilles is no more." So did he cry heart-anguished. Mourned all round 580 Wails multitudinous for Peleus' son: The dark ships echoed back the voice of grief, And sighed and sobbed the immeasurable air. And as when long sea-rollers, onward driven By a great wind, heave up far out at sea, And strandward sweep with terrible rush, and aye Headland and beach with shattered spray are scourged, And roar unceasing; so a dread sound rose Of moaning of the Danaans round the corse, Ceaselessly wailing Peleus' aweless son. 590 And on their mourning soon black night had come, But spake unto Atreides Neleus' son, Nestor, whose own heart bare its load of grief Remembering his own son Antilochus: "O mighty Agamemnon, sceptre-lord Of Argives, from wide-shrilling lamentation Refrain we for this day. None shall withhold Hereafter these from all their heart's desire Of weeping and lamenting many days. But now go to, from aweless Aeacus' son 600 Wash we the foul blood-gouts, and lay we him Upon a couch: unseemly it is to shame The dead by leaving them untended long." So counselled Neleus' son, the passing-wise. Then hasted he his men, and bade them set Caldrons of cold spring-water o'er the flames, And wash the corse, and clothe in vesture fair, Sea-purple, which his mother gave her son At his first sailing against Troy. With speed They did their lord's command: with loving care, 610 All service meetly rendered, on a couch Laid they the mighty fallen, Peleus' son. The Trito-born, the passing-wise, beheld And pitied him, and showered upon his head Ambrosia, which hath virtue aye to keep Taintless, men say, the flesh of warriors slain. Like softly-breathing sleeper dewy-fresh She made him: over that dead face she drew A stern frown, even as when he lay, with wrath Darkening his grim face, clasping his slain friend 620 Patroclus; and she made his frame to be More massive, like a war-god to behold. And wonder seized the Argives, as they thronged And saw the image of a living man, Where all the stately length of Peleus' son Lay on the couch, and seemed as though he slept. Around him all the woeful captive-maids, Whom he had taken for a prey, what time He had ravaged hallowed Lemnos, and had scaled The towered crags of Thebes, Eetion's town, 630 Wailed, as they stood and rent their fair young flesh, And smote their breasts, and from their hearts bemoaned That lord of gentleness and courtesy, Who honoured even the daughters of his foes. And stricken most of all with heart-sick pain Briseis, hero Achilles' couchmate, bowed Over the dead, and tore her fair young flesh With ruthless fingers, shrieking: her soft breast Was ridged with gory weals, so cruelly She smote it thou hadst said that crimson blood 640 Had dripped on milk. Yet, in her griefs despite, Her winsome loveliness shone out, and grace Hung like a veil about her, as she wailed: "Woe for this grief passing all griefs beside! Never on me came anguish like to this Not when my brethren died, my fatherland Was wasted -- like this anguish for thy death! Thou wast my day, my sunlight, my sweet life, Mine hope of good, my strong defence from harm, Dearer than all my beauty -- yea, more dear 650 Than my lost parents! Thou wast all in all To me, thou only, captive though I be. Thou tookest from me every bondmaid's task And like a wife didst hold me. Ah, but now Me shall some new Achaean master bear To fertile Sparta, or to thirsty Argos. The bitter cup of thraldom shall I drain, Severed, ah me, from thee! Oh that the earth Had veiled my dead face ere I saw thy doom!" So for slain Peleus' son did she lament 660 With woeful handmaids and heart-anguished Greeks, Mourning a king, a husband. Never dried Her tears were: ever to the earth they streamed Like sunless water trickling from a rock While rime and snow yet mantle o'er the earth Above it; yet the frost melts down before The east-wind and the flame-shafts of the sun. Now came the sound of that upringing wail To Nereus' Daughters, dwellers in the depths Unfathomed. With sore anguish all their hearts 670 Were smitten: piteously they moaned: their cry Shivered along the waves of Hellespont. Then with dark mantles overpalled they sped Swiftly to where the Argive men were thronged. As rushed their troop up silver paths of sea, The flood disported round them as they came. With one wild cry they floated up; it rang, A sound as when fleet-flying cranes forebode A great storm. Moaned the monsters of the deep Plaintively round that train of mourners. Fast 680 On sped they to their goal, with awesome cry Wailing the while their sister's mighty son. Swiftly from Helicon the Muses came Heart-burdened with undying grief, for love And honour to the Nereid starry-eyed. Then Zeus with courage filled the Argive men, That-eyes of flesh might undismayed behold That glorious gathering of Goddesses. Then those Divine Ones round Achilles' corse Pealed forth with one voice from immortal lips 690 A lamentation. Rang again the shores Of Hellespont. As rain upon the earth Their tears fell round the dead man, Aeacus' son; For out of depths of sorrow rose their moan. And all the armour, yea, the tents, the ships Of that great sorrowing multitude were wet With tears from ever-welling springs of grief. His mother cast her on him, clasping him, And kissed her son's lips, crying through her tears: "Now let the rosy-vestured Dawn in heaven 700 Exult! Now let broad-flowing Axius Exult, and for Asteropaeus dead Put by his wrath! Let Priam's seed be glad But I unto Olympus will ascend, And at the feet of everlasting Zeus Will cast me, bitterly planning that he gave Me, an unwilling bride, unto a man -- A man whom joyless eld soon overtook, To whom the Fates are near, with death for gift. Yet not so much for his lot do I grieve 710 As for Achilles; for Zeus promised me To make him glorious in the Aeacid halls, In recompense for the bridal I so loathed That into wild wind now I changed me, now To water, now in fashion as a bird I was, now as the blast of flame; nor might A mortal win me for his bride, who seemed All shapes in turn that earth and heaven contain, Until the Olympian pledged him to bestow A godlike son on me, a lord of war. 720 Yea, in a manner this did he fulfil Faithfully; for my son was mightiest Of men. But Zeus made brief his span of life Unto my sorrow. Therefore up to heaven Will I: to Zeus's mansion will I go And wail my son, and will put Zeus in mind Of all my travail for him and his sons In their sore stress, and sting his soul with shame." So in her wild lament the Sea-queen cried. But now to Thetis spake Calliope, 730 She in whose heart was steadfast wisdom throned: "From lamentation, Thetis, now forbear, And do not, in the frenzy of thy grief For thy lost son, provoke to wrath the Lord Of Gods and men. Lo, even sons of Zeus, The Thunder-king, have perished, overborne By evil fate. Immortal though I be, Mine own son Orpheus died, whose magic song Drew all the forest-trees to follow him, And every craggy rock and river-stream, 740 And blasts of winds shrill-piping stormy-breathed, And birds that dart through air on rushing wings. Yet I endured mine heavy sorrow: Gods Ought not with anguished grief to vex their souls. Therefore make end of sorrow-stricken wail For thy brave child; for to the sons of earth Minstrels shall chant his glory and his might, By mine and by my sisters' inspiration, Unto the end of time. Let not thy soul Be crushed by dark grief, nor do thou lament 750 Like those frail mortal women. Know'st thou not That round all men which dwell upon the earth Hovereth irresistible deadly Fate, Who recks not even of the Gods? Such power She only hath for heritage. Yea, she Soon shall destroy gold-wealthy Priam's town, And Trojans many and Argives doom to death, Whomso she will. No God can stay her hand." So in her wisdom spake Calliope. Then plunged the sun down into Ocean's stream, 760 And sable-vestured Night came floating up O'er the wide firmament, and brought her boon Of sleep to sorrowing mortals. On the sands There slept they, all the Achaean host, with heads Bowed 'neath the burden of calamity. But upon Thetis sleep laid not his hand: Still with the deathless Nereids by the sea She sate; on either side the Muses spake One after other comfortable words To make that sorrowing heart forget its pain. 770 But when with a triumphant laugh the Dawn Soared up the sky, and her most radiant light Shed over all the Trojans and their king, Then, sorrowing sorely for Achilles still, The Danaans woke to weep. Day after day, For many days they wept. Around them moaned Far-stretching beaches of the sea, and mourned Great Nereus for his daughter Thetis' sake; And mourned with him the other Sea-gods all For dead Achilles. Then the Argives gave 780 The corpse of great Peleides to the flame. A pyre of countless tree-trunks built they up Which, all with one mind toiling, from the heights Of Ida they brought down; for Atreus' sons Sped on the work, and charged them to bring thence Wood without measure, that consumed with speed Might be Achilles' body. All around Piled they about the pyre much battle-gear Of strong men slain; and slew and cast thereon Full many goodly sons of Trojan men, 790 And snorting steeds, and mighty bulls withal, And sheep and fatling swine thereon they cast. And wailing captive maids from coffers brought Mantles untold; all cast they on the pyre: Gold heaped they there and amber. All their hair The Myrmidons shore, and shrouded with the same The body of their king. Briseis laid Her own shorn tresses on the corpse, her gift, Her last, unto her lord. Great jars of oil Full many poured they out thereon, with jars 800 Of honey and of wine, rich blood of the grape That breathed an odour as of nectar, yea, Cast incense-breathing perfumes manifold Marvellous sweet, the precious things put forth By earth, and treasures of the sea divine. Then, when all things were set in readiness About the pyre, all, footmen, charioteers, Compassed that woeful bale, clashing their arms, While, from the viewless heights Olympian, Zeus Rained down ambrosia on dead Aeacus' son. 810 For honour to the Goddess, Nereus' child, He sent to Aeolus Hermes, bidding him Summon the sacred might of his swift winds, For that the corpse of Aeacus' son must now Be burned. With speed he went, and Aeolus Refused not: the tempestuous North in haste He summoned, and the wild blast of the West; And to Troy sped they on their whirlwind wings. Fast in mad onrush, fast across the deep They darted; roared beneath them as they flew 820 The sea, the land; above crashed thunder-voiced Clouds headlong hurtling through the firmament. Then by decree of Zeus down on the pyre Of slain Achilles, like a charging host Swooped they; upleapt the Fire-god's madding breath: Uprose a long wail from the Myrmidons. Then, though with whirlwind rushes toiled the winds, All day, all night, they needs must fan the flames Ere that death-pyre burned out. Up to the heavens Vast-volumed rolled the smoke. The huge tree-trunks 830 Groaned, writhing, bursting, in the heat, and dropped The dark-grey ash all round. So when the winds Had tirelessly fulfilled their mighty task, Back to their cave they rode cloud-charioted. Then, when the fire had last of all consumed That hero-king, when all the steeds, the men Slain round the pyre had first been ravined up, With all the costly offerings laid around The mighty dead by Achaia's weeping sons, The glowing embers did the Myrmidons quench 840 With wine. Then clear to be discerned were seen His bones; for nowise like the rest were they, But like an ancient Giant's; none beside With these were blent; for bulls and steeds, and sons Of Troy, with all that mingled hecatomb, Lay in a wide ring round his corse, and he Amidst them, flame-devoured, lay there alone. So his companions groaning gathered up His bones, and in a silver casket laid Massy and deep, and banded and bestarred 850 With flashing gold; and Nereus' daughters shed Ambrosia over them, and precious nards For honour to Achilles: fat of kine And amber honey poured they over all. A golden vase his mother gave, the gift In old time of the Wine-god, glorious work Of the craft-master Fire-god, in the which They laid the casket that enclosed the bones Of mighty-souled Achilles. All around The Argives heaped a barrow, a giant sign, 860 Upon a foreland's uttermost end, beside The Hellespont's deep waters, wailing loud Farewells unto the Myrmidons' hero-king. Nor stayed the immortal steeds of Aeacus' son Tearless beside the ships; they also mourned Their slain king: sorely loth were they to abide Longer mid mortal men or Argive steeds Bearing a burden of consuming grief; But fain were they to soar through air, afar From wretched men, over the Ocean's streams, 870 Over the Sea-queen's caverns, unto where Divine Podarge bare that storm-foot twain Begotten of the West-wind clarion-voiced Yea, and they had accomplished their desire, But the Gods' purpose held them back, until From Scyros' isle Achilles' fleetfoot son Should come. Him waited they to welcome, when He came unto the war-host; for the Fates, Daughters of holy Chaos, at their birth Had spun the life-threads of those deathless foals, 880 Even to serve Poseidon first, and next Peleus the dauntless king, Achilles then The invincible, and, after these, the fourth, The mighty-hearted Neoptolemus, Whom after death to the Elysian Plain They were to bear, unto the Blessed Land, By Zeus' decree. For which cause, though their hearts Were pierced with bitter anguish, they abode Still by the ships, with spirits sorrowing For their old lord, and yearning for the new. 890 Then from the surge of heavy-plunging seas Rose the Earth-shaker. No man saw his feet Pace up the strand, but suddenly he stood Beside the Nereid Goddesses, and spake To Thetis, yet for Achilles bowed with grief: "Refrain from endless mourning for thy son. Not with the dead shall he abide, but dwell With Gods, as doth the might of Herakles, And Dionysus ever fair. Not him Dread doom shall prison in darkness evermore, 900 Nor Hades keep him. To the light of Zeus Soon shall he rise; and I will give to him A holy island for my gift: it lies Within the Euxine Sea: there evermore A God thy son shall be. The tribes that dwell Around shall as mine own self honour him With incense and with steam of sacrifice. Hush thy laments, vex not thine heart with grief." Then like a wind-breath had he passed away Over the sea, when that consoling word 910 Was spoken; and a little in her breast Revived the spirit of Thetis: and the God Brought this to pass thereafter. All the host Moved moaning thence, and came unto the ships That brought them o'er from Hellas. Then returned To Helicon the Muses: 'neath the sea, Wailing the dear dead, Nereus' Daughters sank,
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