The Fall of Troy
Page: 110Nor seetheless were the Danaans in the fray:
With beakers some were smitten, with tables some,
Thrust in the eyes of some were burning brands
Snatched from the hearth; some died transfixed with spits
Yet left within the hot flesh of the swine
Whereon the red breath of the Fire-god beat;
Others struck down by bills and axes keen
Gasped in their blood: from some men's hands were shorn
The fingers, who, in wild hope to escape
The imminent death, had clutched the blades of swords.
And here in that dark tumult one had hurled
A stone, and crushed the crown of a friend's head.
Like wild beasts trapped and stabbed within a fold
On a lone steading, frenziedly they fought,
Mad with despair-enkindled rage, beneath
That night of horror. Hot with battle-lust
Here, there, the fighters rushed and hurried through
The palace of Priam. Many an Argive fell
Spear-slain; for whatso Trojan in his halls
Might seize a sword, might lift a spear in hand,
Slew foes—ay, heavy though he were with wine.
Upflashed a glare unearthly through the town,
For many an Argive bare in hand a torch
To know in that dim battle friends from foes.
Then Tydeus' son amid the war-storm met
Spearman Coroebus, lordly Mygdon's son,
And 'neath the left ribs pierced him with the lance
Where run the life-ways of man's meat and drink;
So met him black death borne upon the spear:
Down in dark blood he fell mid hosts of slain.
Ah fool! the bride he won not, Priam's child
Cassandra, yea, his loveliest, for whose sake
To Priam's burg but yesterday he came,
And vaunted he would thrust the Argives back
From Ilium. Never did the Gods fulfil
His hope: the Fates hurled doom upon his head.
With him the slayer laid Eurydamas low,
Antenor's gallant son-in-law, who most
For prudence was pre-eminent in Troy.
Then met he Ilioneus the elder of days,
And flashed his terrible sword forth. All the limbs
Of that grey sire were palsied with his fear:
He put forth trembling hands, with one he caught
The swift avenging sword, with one he clasped
The hero's knees. Despite his fury of war,
A moment paused his wrath, or haply a God
Held back the sword a space, that that old man
Might speak to his fierce foe one word of prayer.
Piteously cried he, terror-overwhelmed:
"I kneel before thee, whosoe'er thou be
Of mighty Argives. Oh compassionate
My suppliant hands! Abate thy wrath! To slay
The young and valiant is a glorious thing;
But if thou smite an old man, small renown
Waits on thy prowess. Therefore turn from me
Thine hands against young men, if thou dost hope
Ever to come to grey hairs such as mine."
So spake he; but replied strong Tydeus' son:
"Old man, I look to attain to honoured age;
But while my Strength yet waxeth, will not I
Spare any foe, but hurl to Hades all.
The brave man makes an end of every foe."