The Fall of Troy
Page: 105But nigh the foe were they in the Horse, and now
Looked they for death, and now to smite the town;
And on their hopes and fears uprose the dawn.
Then marked the Trojans upon Hellespont's strand
The smoke upleaping yet through air: no more
Saw they the ships which brought to them from Greece
Destruction dire. With joy to the shore they ran,
But armed them first, for fear still haunted them
Then marked they that fair-carven Horse, and stood
Marvelling round, for a mighty work was there.
A hapless-seeming man thereby they spied,
Sinon; and this one, that one questioned him
Touching the Danaans, as in a great ring
They compassed him, and with unangry words
First questioned, then with terrible threatenings.
Then tortured they that man of guileful soul
Long time unceasing. Firm as a rock abode
The unquivering limbs, the unconquerable will.
His ears, his nose, at last they shore away
In every wise tormenting him, until
He should declare the truth, whither were gone
The Danaans in their ships, what thing the Horse
Concealed within it. He had armed his mind
With resolution, and of outrage foul
Recked not; his soul endured their cruel stripes,
Yea, and the bitter torment of the fire;
For strong endurance into him Hera breathed;
And still he told them the same guileful tale:
"The Argives in their ships flee oversea
Weary of tribulation of endless war.
This horse by Calchas' counsel fashioned they
For wise Athena, to propitiate
Her stern wrath for that guardian image stol'n
From Troy. And by Odysseus' prompting I
Was marked for slaughter, to be sacrificed
To the sea-powers, beside the moaning waves,
To win them safe return. But their intent
I marked; and ere they spilt the drops of wine,
And sprinkled hallowed meal upon mine head,
Swiftly I fled, and, by the help of Heaven,
I flung me down, clasping the Horse's feet;
And they, sore loth, perforce must leave me there
Dreading great Zeus's daughter mighty-souled."
In subtlety so he spake, his soul untamed
By pain; for a brave man's part is to endure
To the uttermost. And of the Trojans some
Believed him, others for a wily knave
Held him, of whose mind was Laocoon.
Wisely he spake: "A deadly fraud is this,"
He said, "devised by the Achaean chiefs!"
And cried to all straightway to burn the Horse,
And know if aught within its timbers lurked.
Yea, and they had obeyed him, and had 'scaped
Destruction; but Athena, fiercely wroth
With him, the Trojans, and their city, shook
Earth's deep foundations 'neath Laocoon's feet.
Straight terror fell on him, and trembling bowed
The knees of the presumptuous: round his head
Horror of darkness poured; a sharp pang thrilled
His eyelids; swam his eyes beneath his brows;
His eyeballs, stabbed with bitter anguish, throbbed
Even from the roots, and rolled in frenzy of pain.
Clear through his brain the bitter torment pierced
Even to the filmy inner veil thereof;
Now bloodshot were his eyes, now ghastly green;
Anon with rheum they ran, as pours a stream
Down from a rugged crag, with thawing snow
Made turbid. As a man distraught he seemed:
All things he saw showed double, and he groaned
Fearfully; yet he ceased not to exhort
The men of Troy, and recked not of his pain.
Then did the Goddess strike him utterly blind.
Stared his fixed eyeballs white from pits of blood;
And all folk groaned for pity of their friend,
And dread of the Prey-giver, lest he had sinned
In folly against her, and his mind was thus
Warped to destruction yea, lest on themselves
Like judgment should be visited, to avenge
The outrage done to hapless Sinon's flesh,
Whereby they hoped to wring the truth from him.
So led they him in friendly wise to Troy,
Pitying him at the last. Then gathered all,
And o'er that huge Horse hastily cast a rope,
And made it fast above; for under its feet
Smooth wooden rollers had Epeius laid,
That, dragged by Trojan hands, it might glide on
Into their fortress. One and all they haled
With multitudinous tug and strain, as when
Down to the sea young men sore-labouring drag
A ship; hard-crushed the stubborn rollers groan,
As, sliding with weird shrieks, the keel descends
Into the sea-surge; so that host with toil
Dragged up unto their city their own doom,
Epeius' work. With great festoons of flowers
They hung it, and their own heads did they wreathe,
While answering each other pealed the flutes.
Grimly Enyo laughed, seeing the end
Of that dire war; Hera rejoiced on high;
Glad was Athena. When the Trojans came
Unto their city, brake they down the walls,
Their city's coronal, that the Horse of Death
Might be led in. Troy's daughters greeted it
With shouts of salutation; marvelling all
Gazed at the mighty work where lurked their doom.