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Hesiod, The Homeric Hymns, and Homerica

Page: 71

(ll. 327-337) Then the goddess grey-eyed Athene came near them and spoke winged words, encouraging them: 'Hail, offspring of far-famed Lynceus! Even now Zeus who reigns over the blessed gods gives you power to slay Cycnus and to strip off his splendid armour. Yet I will tell you something besides, mightiest of the people. When you have robbed Cycnus of sweet life, then leave him there and his armour also, and you yourself watch man-slaying Ares narrowly as he attacks, and wherever you shall see him uncovered below his cunningly-wrought shield, there wound him with your sharp spear. Then draw back; for it is not ordained that you should take his horses or his splendid armour.'

(ll. 338-349) So said the bright-eyed goddess and swiftly got up into the car with victory and renown in her hands. Then heaven-nurtured Iolaus called terribly to the horses, and at his cry they swiftly whirled the fleet chariot along, raising dust from the plain; for the goddess bright-eyed Athene put mettle into them by shaking her aegis. And the earth groaned all round them.

And they, horse-taming Cycnus and Ares, insatiable in war, came on together like fire or whirlwind. Then their horses neighed shrilly, face to face; and the echo was shivered all round them. And mighty Heracles spoke first and said to that other:

(ll. 350-367) 'Cycnus, good sir! Why, pray, do you set your swift horses at us, men who are tried in labour and pain? Nay, guide your fleet car aside and yield and go out of the path. It is to Trachis I am driving on, to Ceyx the king, who is the first in Trachis for power and for honour, and that you yourself know well, for you have his daughter dark-eyed Themistinoe to wife. Fool! For Ares shall not deliver you from the end of death, if we two meet together in battle. Another time ere this I declare he has made trial of my spear, when he defended sandy Pylos and stood against me, fiercely longing for fight. Thrice was he stricken by my spear and dashed to earth, and his shield was pierced; but the fourth time I struck his thigh, laying on with all my strength, and tare deep into his flesh. And he fell headlong in the dust upon the ground through the force of my spear-thrust; then truly he would have been disgraced among the deathless gods, if by my hands he had left behind his bloody spoils.'

(ll. 368-385) So said he. But Cycnus the stout spearman cared not to obey him and to pull up the horses that drew his chariot. Then it was that from their well-woven cars they both leaped straight to the ground, the son of Zeus and the son of the Lord of War. The charioteers drove near by their horses with beautiful manes, and the wide earth rang with the beat of their hoofs as they rushed along. As when rocks leap forth from the high peak of a great mountain, and fall on one another, and many towering oaks and pines and long-rooted poplars are broken by them as they whirl swiftly down until they reach the plain; so did they fall on one another with a great shout: and all the town of the Myrmidons, and famous Iolcus, and Arne, and Helice, and grassy Anthea echoed loudly at the voice of the two. With an awful cry they closed: and wise Zeus thundered loudly and rained down drops of blood, giving the signal for battle to his dauntless son.


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