The Fall of Troy
Page: 10But when the very ships were now at point
To be by hands of Trojans set aflame,
Then battle-bider Aias heard afar
The panic-cries, and spake to Aeacus' son:
"Achilles, all the air about mine ears
Is full of multitudinous eries, is full
Of thunder of battle rolling nearer aye.
Let us go forth then, ere the Trojans win
Unto the ships, and make great slaughter there
Of Argive men, and set the ships aflame.
Foulest reproach such thing on thee and me
Should bring; for it beseems not that the seed
Of mighty Zeus should shame the sacred blood
Of hero-fathers, who themselves of old
With Hercules the battle-eager sailed
To Troy, and smote her even at her height
Of glory, when Laomedon was king.
Ay, and I ween that our hands even now
Shall do the like: we too are mighty men."
He spake: the aweless strength of Aeacus' son
Hearkened thereto, for also to his ears
By this the roar of bitter battle came.
Then hasted both, and donned their warrior-gear
All splendour-gleaming: now, in these arrayed
Facing that stormy-tossing rout they stand.
Loud clashed their glorious armour: in their souls
A battle-fury like the War-god's wrath
Maddened; such might was breathed into these twain
By Atrytone, Shaker of the Shield,
As on they pressed. With joy the Argives saw
The coming of that mighty twain: they seemed
In semblance like Aloeus' giant sons
Who in the old time made that haughty vaunt
Of piling on Olympus' brow the height
Of Ossa steeply-towering, and the crest
Of sky-encountering Pelion, so to rear
A mountain-stair for their rebellious rage
To scale the highest heaven. Huge as these
The sons of Aeacus seemed, as forth they strode
To stem the tide of war. A gladsome sight
To friends who have fainted for their coming, now
Onward they press to crush triumphant foes.
Many they slew with their resistless spears;
As when two herd-destroying lions come
On sheep amid the copses feeding, far
From help of shepherds, and in heaps on heaps
Slay them, till they have drunken to the full
Of blood, and filled their maws insatiate
With flesh, so those destroyers twain slew on,
Spreading wide havoc through the hosts of Troy.
There Deiochus and gallant Hyllus fell
By Alas slain, and fell Eurynomus
Lover of war, and goodly Enyeus died.
But Peleus' son burst on the Amazons
Smiting Antandre, Polemusa then,
Antibrote, fierce-souled Hippothoe,
Hurling Harmothoe down on sisters slain.
Then hard on all their-reeling ranks he pressed
With Telamon's mighty-hearted son; and now
Before their hands battalions dense and strong
Crumbled as weakly and as suddenly
As when in mountain-folds the forest-brakes
Shrivel before a tempest-driven fire.
When battle-eager Penthesileia saw
These twain, as through the scourging storm of war
Like ravening beasts they rushed, to meet them there
She sped, as when a leopard grim, whose mood
Is deadly, leaps from forest-coverts forth,
Lashing her tail, on hunters closing round,
While these, in armour clad, and putting trust
In their long spears, await her lightning leap;
So did those warriors twain with spears upswung
Wait Penthesileia. Clanged the brazen plates
About their shoulders as they moved. And first
Leapt the long-shafted lance sped from the hand
Of goodly Penthesileia. Straight it flew
To the shield of Aeacus' son, but glancing thence
This way and that the shivered fragments sprang
As from a rock-face: of such temper were
The cunning-hearted Fire-god's gifts divine.
Then in her hand the warrior-maid swung up
A second javelin fury-winged, against
Aias, and with fierce words defied the twain:
"Ha, from mine hand in vain one lance hath leapt!
But with this second look I suddenly
To quell the strength and courage of two foes,—
Ay, though ye vaunt you mighty men of war
Amid your Danaans! Die ye shall, and so
Lighter shall be the load of war's affliction
That lies upon the Trojan chariot-lords.
Draw nigh, come through the press to grips with me,
So shall ye learn what might wells up in breasts
Of Amazons. With my blood is mingled war!
No mortal man begat me, but the Lord
Of War, insatiate of the battle-cry.
Therefore my might is more than any man's."