The Fall of Troy
How in the Funeral Games of Achilles heroes contended.
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #18b
Nor did the hapless Trojans leave unwept The warrior-king Hippolochus' hero-son, But laid, in front of the Dardanian gate, Upon the pyre that captain war-renowned. But him Apollo's self caught swiftly up Out of the blazing fire, and to the winds Gave him, to bear away to Lycia-land; And fast and far they bare him, 'neath the glens Of high Telandrus, to a lovely glade; 10 And for a monument above his grave Upheaved a granite rock. The Nymphs therefrom Made gush the hallowed water of a stream For ever flowing, which the tribes of men Still call fair-fleeting Glaucus. This the gods Wrought for an honour to the Lycian king. But for Achilles still the Argives mourned Beside the swift ships: heart-sick were they all With dolorous pain and grief. Each yearned for him As for a son; no eye in that wide host 20 Was tearless. But the Trojans with great joy Exulted, seeing their sorrow from afar, And the great fire that spake their foe consumed. And thus a vaunting voice amidst them cried: "Now hath Cronion from his heaven vouchsafed A joy past hope unto our longing eyes, To see Achilles fallen before Troy. Now he is smitten down, the glorious hosts Of Troy, I trow, shall win a breathing-space From blood of death and from the murderous fray. 30 Ever his heart devised the Trojans' bane; In his hands maddened aye the spear of doom With gore besprent, and none of us that faced Him in the fight beheld another dawn. But now, I wot, Achaea's valorous sons Shall flee unto their galleys shapely-prowed, Since slain Achilles lies. Ah that the might Of Hector still were here, that he might slay The Argives one and all amidst their tents!" So in unbridled joy a Trojan cried; 40 But one more wise and prudent answered him: "Thou deemest that yon murderous Danaan host Will straightway get them to the ships, to flee Over the misty sea. Nay, still their lust Is hot for fight: us will they nowise fear, Still are there left strong battle-eager men, As Aias, as Tydeides, Atreus' sons: Though dead Achilles be, I still fear these. Oh that Apollo Silverbow would end them! Then in that day were given to our prayers 50 A breathing-space from war and ghastly death." In heaven was dole among the Immortal Ones, Even all that helped the stalwart Danaans' cause. In clouds like mountains piled they veiled their heads For grief of soul. But glad those others were Who fain would speed Troy to a happy goal. Then unto Cronos' Son great Hera spake: "Zeus, Lightning-father, wherefore helpest thou Troy, all forgetful of the fair-haired bride Whom once to Peleus thou didst give to wife 60 Midst Pelion's glens? Thyself didst bring to pass Those spousals of a Goddess: on that day All we Immortals feasted there, and gave Gifts passing-fair. All this dost thou forget, And hast devised for Hellas heaviest woe." So spake she; but Zeus answered not a word; For pondering there he sat with burdened breast, Thinking how soon the Argives should destroy The city of Priam, thinking how himself Would visit on the victors ruin dread 70 In war and on the great sea thunder-voiced. Such thoughts were his, ere long to be fulfilled. Now sank the sun to Ocean's fathomless flood: O'er the dim land the infinite darkness stole, Wherein men gain a little rest from toil. Then by the ships, despite their sorrow, supped The Argives, for ye cannot thrust aside Hunger's importunate craving, when it comes Upon the breast, but straightway heavy and faint Lithe limbs become; nor is there remedy 80 Until one satisfy this clamorous guest Therefore these ate the meat of eventide In grief for Achilles' hard necessity Constrained them all. And, when they had broken bread, Sweet sleep came on them, loosening from their frames Care's heavy chain, and quickening strength anew But when the starry Bears had eastward turned Their heads, expectant of the uprushing light Of Helios, and when woke the Queen of Dawn, Then rose from sleep the stalwart Argive men 90 Purposing for the Trojans death and doom. Stirred were they like the roughly-ridging sea Icarian, or as sudden-rippling corn In harvest field, what time the rushing wings Of the cloud-gathering West sweep over it; So upon Hellespont's strand the folk were stirred. And to those eager hearts cried Tydeus' son: "If we be battle-biders, friends, indeed, More fiercely fight we now the hated foe, Lest they take heart because Achilles lives 100 No longer. Come, with armour, car, and steed Let us beset them. Glory waits our toil?" But battle-eager Aias answering spake "Brave be thy words, and nowise idle talk, Kindling the dauntless Argive men, whose hearts Before were battle-eager, to the fight Against the Trojan men, O Tydeus' son. But we must needs abide amidst the ships Till Goddess Thetis come forth of the sea; For that her heart is purposed to set here 110 Fair athlete-prizes for the funeral-games. This yesterday she told me, ere she plunged Into sea-depths, yea, spake to me apart From other Danaans; and, I trow, by this Her haste hath brought her nigh. Yon Trojan men, Though Peleus' son hath died, shall have small heart For battle, while myself am yet alive, And thou, and noble Atreus' son, the king." So spake the mighty son of Telamon, But knew not that a dark and bitter doom 120 For him should follow hard upon those games By Fate's contrivance. Answered Tydeus' son "O friend, if Thetis comes indeed this day With goodly gifts for her son's funeral-games, Then bide we by the ships, and keep we here All others. Meet it is to do the will Of the Immortals: yea, to Achilles too, Though the Immortals willed it not, ourselves Must render honour grateful to the dead." So spake the battle-eager Tydeus' son. 130 And lo, the Bride of Peleus gliding came Forth of the sea, like the still breath of dawn, And suddenly was with the Argive throng Where eager-faced they waited, some, that looked Soon to contend in that great athlete-strife, And some, to joy in seeing the mighty strive. Amidst that gathering Thetis sable-stoled Set down her prizes, and she summoned forth Achaea's champions: at her best they came. But first amidst them all rose Neleus' son, 140 Not as desiring in the strife of fists To toil, nor strain of wrestling; for his arms And all his sinews were with grievous eld Outworn, but still his heart and brain were strong. Of all the Achaeans none could match himself Against him in the folkmote's war of words; Yea, even Laertes' glorious son to him Ever gave place when men for speech were met; Nor he alone, but even the kingliest Of Argives, Agamemnon, lord of spears. 150 Now in their midst he sang the gracious Queen Of Nereids, sang how she in willsomeness Of beauty was of all the Sea-maids chief. Well-pleased she hearkened. Yet again he sang, Singing of Peleus' Bridal of Delight, Which all the blest Immortals brought to pass By Pelion's crests; sang of the ambrosial feast When the swift Hours brought in immortal hands Meats not of earth, and heaped in golden maunds; Sang how the silver tables were set forth 160 In haste by Themis blithely laughing; sang How breathed Hephaestus purest flame of fire; Sang how the Nymphs in golden chalices Mingled ambrosia; sang the ravishing dance Twined by the Graces' feet; sang of the chant The Muses raised, and how its spell enthralled All mountains, rivers, all the forest brood; How raptured was the infinite firmament, Cheiron's fair caverns, yea, the very Gods. Such noble strain did Neleus' son pour out 170 Into the Argives' eager ears; and they Hearkened with ravished souls. Then in their midst He sang once more the imperishable deeds Of princely Achilles. All the mighty throng Acclaimed him with delight. From that beginning With fitly chosen words did he extol The glorious hero; how he voyaged and smote Twelve cities; how he marched o'er leagues on leagues Of land, and spoiled eleven; how he slew Telephus and Eetion's might renowned 180 In Thebe; how his spear laid Cyenus low, Poseidon's son, and godlike Polydorus, Troilus the goodly, princely Asteropaeus; And how he dyed with blood the river-streams Of Xanthus, and with countless corpses choked His murmuring flow, when from the limbs he tore Lycaon's life beside the sounding river; And how he smote down Hector; how he slew Penthesileia, and the godlike son Of splendour-throned Dawn; -- all this he sang 190 To Argives which already knew the tale; Sang of his giant mould, how no man's strength In fight could stand against him, nor in games Where strong men strive for mastery, where the swift Contend with flying feet or hurrying wheels Of chariots, nor in combat panoplied; And how in goodlihead he far outshone All Danaans, and how his bodily might Was measureless in the stormy clash of war. Last, he prayed Heaven that he might see a son 200 Like that great sire from sea-washed Scyros come. That noble song acclaiming Argives praised; Yea, silver-looted Thetis smiled, and gave The singer fleetfoot horses, given of old Beside Caicus' mouth by Telephus To Achilles, when he healed the torturing wound With that same spear wherewith himself had pierced Telephus' thigh, and thrust the point clear through. These Nestor Neleus' son to his comrades gave, And, glorying in their godlike lord, they led 210 The steeds unto his ships. Then Thetis set Amidst the athlete-ring ten kine, to be Her prizes for the footrace, and by each Ran a fair suckling calf. These the bold might Of Peleus' tireless son had driven down From slopes of Ida, prizes of his spear. To strive for these rose up two victory-fain, Teucer the first, the son of Telamon, And Aias, of the Locrian archers chief. These twain with swift hands girded them about 220 With loin-cloths, reverencing the Goddess-bride Of Peleus, and the Sea-maids, who with her Came to behold the Argives' athlete-sport. And Atreus' son, lord of all Argive men, Showed them the turning-goal of that swift course. Then these the Queen of Rivalry spurred on, As from the starting-line like falcons swift They sped away. Long doubtful was the race: Now, as the Argives gazed, would Aias' friends Shout, now rang out the answering cheer from friends 230 Of Teucer. But when in their eager speed Close on the end they were, then Teucer's feet Were trammelled by unearthly powers: some god Or demon dashed his foot against the stock Of a deep-rooted tamarisk. Sorely wrenched Was his left ankle: round the joint upswelled The veins high-ridged. A great shout rang from all That watched the contest. Aias darted past Exultant: ran his Locrian folk to hail Their lord, with sudden joy in all their souls. 240 Then to his ships they drave the kine, and cast Fodder before them. Eager-helpful friends Led Teucer halting thence. The leeches drew Blood from his foot: then over it they laid Soft-shredded linen ointment-smeared, and swathed With smooth bands round, and charmed away the pain. Then swiftly rose two mighty-hearted ones Eager to match their strength in wrestling strain, The son of Tydeus and the giant Aias. Into the midst they strode, and marvelling gazed 250 The Argives on men shapen like to gods. Then grappled they, like lions famine-stung Fighting amidst the mountains o'er a stag, Whose strength is even-balanced; no whit less Is one than other in their deadly rage; So these long time in might were even-matched, Till Aias locked his strong hands round the son Of Tydeus, straining hard to break his back; But he, with wrestling-craft and strength combined, Shifted his hip 'neath Telamon's son, and heaved 260 The giant up; with a side-twist wrenched free From Aias' ankle-lock his thigh, and so With one huge shoulder-heave to earth he threw That mighty champion, and himself came down Astride him: then a mighty shout went up. But battle-stormer Aias, chafed in mind, Sprang up, hot-eager to essay again That grim encounter. From his terrible hands He dashed the dust, and challenged furiously With a great voice Tydeides: not a whit 270 That other quailed, but rushed to close with him. Rolled up the dust in clouds from 'neath their feet: Hurtling they met like battling mountain-bulls That clash to prove their dauntless strength, and spurn The dust, while with their roaring all the hills Re-echo: in their desperate fury these Dash their strong heads together, straining long Against each other with their massive strength, Hard-panting in the fierce rage of their strife, While from their mouths drip foam-flakes to the ground; 280 So strained they twain with grapple of brawny hands. 'Neath that hard grip their backs and sinewy necks Cracked, even as when in mountain-glades the trees Dash storm-tormented boughs together. Oft Tydeides clutched at Aias' brawny thighs, But could not stir his steadfast-rooted feet. Oft Aias hurled his whole weight on him, bowed His shoulders backward, strove to press him down; And to new grips their hands were shifting aye. All round the gazing people shouted, some 290 Cheering on glorious Tydeus' son, and some The might of Aias. Then the giant swung The shoulders of his foe to right, to left; Then gripped him 'neath the waist; with one fierce heave And giant effort hurled him like a stone To earth. The floor of Troyland rang again As fell Tydeides: shouted all the folk. Yet leapt he up all eager to contend With giant Aias for the third last fall: But Nestor rose and spake unto the twain: 300 "From grapple of wrestling, noble sons, forbear; For all we know that ye be mightiest Of Argives since the great Achilles died." Then these from toil refrained, and from their brows Wiped with their hands the plenteous-streaming sweat: They kissed each other, and forgat their strife. Then Thetis, queen of Goddesses, gave to them Four handmaids; and those strong and aweless ones Marvelled beholding them, for these surpassed All captive-maids in beauty and household-skill, 310 Save only lovely-tressed Briseis. These Achilles captive brought from Lesbos' Isle, And in their service joyed. The first was made Stewardess of the feast and lady of meats; The second to the feasters poured the wine; The third shed water on their hands thereafter; The fourth bare all away, the banquet done. These Tydeus' son and giant Aias shared, And, parted two and two, unto their ships Sent they those fair and serviceable ones. 320 Next, for the play of fists Idomeneus rose, For cunning was he in all athlete-lore; But none came forth to meet him, yielding all To him, the elder-born, with reverent awe. So in their midst gave Thetis unto him A chariot and fleet steeds, which theretofore Mighty Patroclus from the ranks of Troy Drave, when he slew Sarpedon, seed of Zeus, These to his henchmen gave Idomeneus To drive unto the ships: himself remained 330 Still sitting in the glorious athlete-ring. Then Phoenix to the stalwart Argives cried: "Now to Idomeneus the Gods have given A fair prize uncontested, free of toil Of mighty arms and shoulders, honouring The elder-born with bloodless victory. But lo, ye younger men, another prize Awaiteth the swift play of cunning hands. Step forth then: gladden great Peleides' soul." He spake, they heard; but each on other looked, 340 And, loth to essay the contest, all sat still, Till Neleus' son rebuked those laggard souls: "Friends, it were shame that men should shun the play Of clenched hands, who in that noble sport Have skill, wherein young men delight, which links Glory to toil. Ah that my thews were strong As when we held King Pelias' funeral-feast, I and Acastus, kinsmen joining hands, When I with godlike Polydeuces stood In gauntlet-strife, in even-balanced fray, 350 And when Ancaeus in the wrestlers' ring Mightier than all beside, yet feared and shrank From me, and dared not strive with me that day, For that ere then amidst the Epeian men -- No battle-blenchers they! -- I had vanquished him, For all his might, and dashed him to the dust By dead Amaryncus' tomb, and thousands round Sat marvelling at my prowess and my strength. Therefore against me not a second time Raised he his hands, strong wrestler though he were; 360 And so I won an uncontested prize. But now old age is on me, and many griefs. Therefore I bid you, whom it well beseems, To win the prize; for glory crowns the youth Who bears away the meed of athlete-strife." Stirred by his gallant chiding, a brave man Rose, son of haughty godlike Panopeus, The man who framed the Horse, the bane of Troy, Not long thereafter. None dared meet him now In play of fists, albeit in deadly craft 370 Of war, when Ares rusheth through the field, He was not cunning. But for strife of hands The fair prize uncontested had been won By stout Epeius -- yea, he was at point To bear it thence unto the Achaean ships; But one strode forth to meet him, Theseus' son, The spearman Acamas, the mighty of heart, Bearing already on his swift hands girt The hard hide-gauntlets, which Evenor's son Agelaus on his prince's hands had drawn 380 With courage-kindling words. The comrades then Of Panopeus' princely son for Epeius raised A heartening cheer. He like a lion stood Forth in the midst, his strong hands gauntleted With bull's hide hard as horn. Loud rang the cheers From side to side of that great throng, to fire The courage of the mighty ones to clash Hands in the gory play. Sooth, little spur Needed they for their eagerness for fight. But, ere they closed, they flashed out proving blows 390 To wot if still, as theretofore, their arms Were limber and lithe, unclogged by toil of war; Then faced each other, and upraised their hands With ever-watching eyes, and short quick steps A-tiptoe, and with ever-shifting feet, Each still eluding other's crushing might. Then with a rush they closed like thunder-clouds Hurled on each other by the tempest-blast, Flashing forth lightnings, while the welkin thrills As clash the clouds and hollow roar the winds; 400 So 'neath the hard hide-gauntlets clashed their jaws. Down streamed the blood, and from their brows the sweat Blood-streaked made on the flushed cheeks crimson bars. Fierce without pause they fought, and never flagged Epeius, but threw all his stormy strength Into his onrush. Yet did Theseus' son Never lose heart, but baffled the straight blows Of those strong hands, and by his fighting-craft Flinging them right and left, leapt in, brought home A blow to his eyebrow, cutting to the bone. 410 Even then with counter-stroke Epeius reached Acamas' temple, and hurled him to the ground. Swift he sprang up, and on his stalwart foe Rushed, smote his head: as he rushed in again, The other, slightly swerving, sent his left Clean to his brow; his right, with all his might Behind it, to his nose. Yet Acamas still Warded and struck with all the manifold shifts Of fighting-craft. But now the Achaeans all Bade stop the fight, though eager still were both 420 To strive for coveted victory. Then came Their henchmen, and the gory gauntlets loosed In haste from those strong hands. Now drew they breath From that great labour, as they bathed their brows With sponges myriad-pored. Comrades and friends With pleading words then drew them face to face, And prayed, "In friendship straight forget your wrath." So to their comrades' suasion hearkened they; For wise men ever bear a placable mind. They kissed each other, and their hearts forgat 430 That bitter strife. Then Thetis sable-stoled Gave to their glad hands two great silver bowls The which Euneus, Jason's warrior son In sea-washed Lemnos to Achilles gave To ransom strong Lycaon from his hands. These had Hephaestus fashioned for his gift To glorious Dionysus, when he brought His bride divine to Olympus, Minos' child Far-famous, whom in sea-washed Dia's isle Theseus unwitting left. The Wine-god brimmed 440 With nectar these, and gave them to his son; And Thoas at his death to Hypsipyle With great possessions left them. She bequeathed The bowls to her godlike son, who gave them up Unto Achilles for Lycaon's life. The one the son of lordly Theseus took, And goodly Epeius sent to his ship with joy The other. Then their bruises and their scars Did Podaleirius tend with loving care. First pressed he out black humours, then his hands 450 Deftly knit up the gashes: salves he laid Thereover, given him by his sire of old, Such as had virtue in one day to heal The deadliest hurts, yea, seeming-cureless wounds. Straight was the smart assuaged, and healed the scars Upon their brows and 'neath their clustering hair Then for the archery-test Oileus' son Stood forth with Teucer, they which in the race Erewhile contended. Far away from these Agamemnon, lord of spears, set up a helm 460 Crested with plumes, and spake: "The master-shot Is that which shears the hair-crest clean away." Then straightway Aias shot his arrow first, And smote the helm-ridge: sharply rang the brass. Then Teucer second with most earnest heed Shot: the swift shaft hath shorn the plume away. Loud shouted all the people as they gazed, And praised him without stint, for still his foot Halted in pain, yet nowise marred his aim When with his hands he sped the flying shaft. 470 Then Peleus' bride gave unto him the arms Of godlike Troilus, the goodliest Of all fair sons whom Hecuba had borne In hallowed Troy; yet of his goodlihead No joy she had; the prowess and the spear Of fell Achilles reft his life from him. As when a gardener with new-whetted scythe Mows down, ere it may seed, a blade of corn Or poppy, in a garden dewy-fresh And blossom-flushed, which by a water-course 480 Crowdeth its blooms -- mows it ere it may reach Its goal of bringing offspring to the birth, And with his scythe-sweep makes its life-work vain And barren of all issue, nevermore Now to be fostered by the dews of spring; So did Peleides cut down Priam's son The god-like beautiful, the beardless yet And virgin of a bride, almost a child! Yet the Destroyer Fate had lured him on To war, upon the threshold of glad youth, 490 When youth is bold, and the heart feels no void. Forthwith a bar of iron massy and long From the swift-speeding hand did many essay To hurl; but not an Argive could prevail To cast that ponderous mass. Aias alone Sped it from his strong hand, as in the time Of harvest might a reaper fling from him A dry oak-bough, when all the fields are parched. And all men marvelled to behold how far Flew from his hand the bronze which scarce two men 500 Hard-straining had uplifted from the ground. Even this Antaeus' might was wont to hurl Erstwhile, ere the strong hands of Hercules O'ermastered him. This, with much spoil beside, Hercules took, and kept it to make sport For his invincible hand; but afterward Gave it to valiant Peleus, who with him Had smitten fair-towered Ilium's burg renowned; And he to Achilles gave it, whose swift ships Bare it to Troy, to put him aye in mind 510 Of his own father, as with eager will He fought with stalwart Trojans, and to be A worthy test wherewith to prove his strength. Even this did Aias from his brawny hand Fling far. So then the Nereid gave to him The glorious arms from godlike Memnon stripped. Marvelling the Argives gazed on them: they were A giant's war-gear. Laughing a glad laugh That man renowned received them: he alone Could wear them on his brawny limbs; they seemed 520 As they had even been moulded to his frame. The great bar thence he bore withal, to be His joy when he was fain of athlete-toil. Still sped the contests on; and many rose Now for the leaping. Far beyond the marks Of all the rest brave Agapenor sprang: Loud shouted all for that victorious leap; And Thetis gave him the fair battle-gear Of mighty Cycnus, who had smitten first Protesilaus, then had reft the life 530 From many more, till Peleus' son slew him First of the chiefs of grief-enshrouded Troy. Next, in the javelin-cast Euryalus Hurled far beyond all rivals, while the folk Shouted aloud: no archer, so they deemed, Could speed a winged shaft farther than his cast; Therefore the Aeacid hero's mother gave To him a deep wide silver oil-flask, ta'en By Achilles in possession, when his spear Slew Mynes, and he spoiled Lyrnessus' wealth. 540 Then fiery-hearted Aias eagerly Rose, challenging to strife of hands and feet The mightiest hero there; but marvelling They marked his mighty thews, and no man dared Confront him. Chilling dread had palsied all Their courage: from their hearts they feared him, lest His hands invincible should all to-break His adversary's face, and naught but pain Be that man's meed. But at the last all men Made signs to battle-bider Euryalus, 550 For well they knew him skilled in fighting-craft; But he too feared that giant, and he cried: "Friends, any other Achaean, whom ye will, Blithe will I face; but mighty Alas -- no! Far doth he overmatch me. He will rend Mine heart, if in the onset anger rise Within him: from his hands invincible, I trow, I should not win to the ships alive." Loud laughed they all: but glowed with triumph-joy The heart of Aias. Gleaming talents twain 560 Of silver he from Thetis' hands received, His uncontested prize. His stately height Called to her mind her dear son, and she sighed. They which had skill in chariot-driving then Rose at the contest's summons eagerly: Menelaus first, Eurypylus bold in fight, Eumelus, Thoas, godlike Polypoetes Harnessed their steeds, and led them to the cars All panting for the joy of victory. Then rode they in a glittering chariot rank 570 Out to one place, to a stretch of sand, and stood Ranged at the starting-line. The reins they grasped In strong hands quickly, while the chariot-steeds Shoulder to shoulder fretted, all afire To take the lead at starting, pawed the sand, Pricked ears, and o'er their frontlets flung the foam. With sudden-stiffened sinews those ear-lords Lashed with their whips the tempest-looted steeds; Then swift as Harpies sprang they forth; they strained 580 Furiously at the harness, onward whirling The chariots bounding ever from the earth. Thou couldst not see a wheel-track, no, nor print Of hoof upon the sand -- they verily flew. Up from the plain the dust-clouds to the sky Soared, like the smoke of burning, or a mist Rolled round the mountain-forelands by the might Of the dark South-wind or the West, when wakes A tempest, when the hill-sides stream with rain. Burst to the front Eumelus' steeds: behind 590 Close pressed the team of godlike Thoas: shouts Still answered shouts that cheered each chariot, while Onward they swept across the wide-wayed plain. ((LACUNA)) "From hallowed Elis, when he had achieved A mighty triumph, in that he outstripped The swift ear of Oenomaus evil-souled, The ruthless slayer of youths who sought to wed His daughter Hippodameia passing-wise. Yet even he, for all his chariot-lore, Had no such fleetfoot steeds as Atreus' son -- 600 Far slower! -- the wind is in the feet of these." So spake he, giving glory to the might Of those good steeds, and to Atreides' self; And filled with joy was Menelaus' soul. Straightway his henchmen from the yoke-band loosed The panting team, and all those chariot-lords, Who in the race had striven, now unyoked Their tempest-footed steeds. Podaleirius then Hasted to spread salves over all the wounds Of Thoas and Eurypylus, gashes scored 610 Upon their frames when from the cars they fell But Menelaus with exceeding joy Of victory glowed, when Thetis 1ovely-tressed Gave him a golden cup, the chief possession Once of Eetion the godlike; ere Achilles spoiled the far-famed burg of Thebes. Then horsemen riding upon horses came Down to the course: they grasped in hand the whip And bounding from the earth bestrode their steeds, The while with foaming mouths the coursers champed 620 The bits, and pawed the ground, and fretted aye To dash into the course. Forth from the line Swiftly they darted, eager for the strife, Wild as the blasts of roaring Boreas Or shouting Notus, when with hurricane-swoop He heaves the wide sea high, when in the east Uprises the disastrous Altar-star Bringing calamity to seafarers; So swift they rushed, spurning with flying feet The deep dust on the plain. The riders cried 630 Each to his steed, and ever plied the lash And shook the reins about the clashing bits. On strained the horses: from the people rose A shouting like the roaring of a sea. On, on across the level plain they flew; And now the flashing-footed Argive steed By Sthenelus bestridden, had won the race, But from the course he swerved, and o'er the plain Once and again rushed wide; nor Capaneus' son, Good horseman though he were, could turn him back 640 By rein or whip, because that steed was strange Still to the race-course; yet of lineage Noble was he, for in his veins the blood Of swift Arion ran, the foal begotten By the loud-piping West-wind on a Harpy, The fleetest of all earth-born steeds, whose feet Could race against his father's swiftest blasts. Him did the Blessed to Adrastus give: And from him sprang the steed of Sthenelus, Which Tydeus' son had given unto his friend 650 In hallowed Troyland. Filled with confidence In those swift feet his rider led him forth Unto the contest of the steeds that day, Looking his horsemanship should surely win Renown: yet victory gladdened not his heart In that great struggle for Achilles' prizes; Nay, swift albeit he was, the King of Men By skill outraced him. Shouted all the folk, "Glory to Agamemnon!" Yet they acclaimed The steed of valiant Sthenelus and his lord, 660 For that the fiery flying of his feet Still won him second place, albeit oft Wide of the course he swerved. Then Thetis gave To Atreus' son, while laughed his lips for joy, God-sprung Polydorus' breastplate silver-wrought. To Sthenelus Asteropaeus' massy helm, Two lances, and a taslet strong, she gave. Yea, and to all the riders who that day Came at Achilles' funeral-feast to strive She gave gifts. But the son of the old war-lord, 670 Laertes, inly grieved to be withheld From contests of the strong, how fain soe'er, By that sore wound which Alcon dealt to him In the grim fight around dead Aeacas' son.
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