The Fall of Troy
Page: 113Then hearkened they, and as a God did all
Look on him. Forth the city hasted he
Whither his feet should bear him, while the foe
Made havoc still of goodly-builded Troy.
Then also Menelaus in Helen's bower
Found, heavy with wine, ill-starred Deiphobus,
And slew him with the sword: but she had fled
And hidden her in the palace. O'er the blood
Of that slain man exulted he, and cried:
"Dog! I, even I have dealt thee unwelcome death
This day! No dawn divine shall meet thee again
Alive in Troy—ay, though thou vaunt thyself
Spouse of the child of Zeus the thunder-voiced!
Black death hath trapped thee slain in my wife's bower!
Would I had met Alexander too in fight
Ere this, and plucked his heart out! So my grief
Had been a lighter load. But he hath paid
Already justice' debt, hath passed beneath
Death's cold dark shadow. Ha, small joy to thee
My wife was doomed to bring! Ay, wicked men
Never elude pure Themis: night and day
Her eyes are on them, and the wide world through
Above the tribes of men she floats in air,
Holpen of Zeus, for punishment of sin."
On passed he, dealing merciless death to foes,
For maddened was his soul with jealousy.
Against the Trojans was his bold heart full
Of thoughts of vengeance, which were now fulfilled
By the dread Goddess Justice, for that theirs
Was that first outrage touching Helen, theirs
That profanation of the oaths, and theirs
That trampling on the blood of sacrifice
When their presumptuous souls forgat the Gods.
Therefore the Vengeance-friends brought woes on them
Thereafter, and some died in fighting field,
Some now in Troy by board and bridal bower.
Menelaus mid the inner chambers found
At last his wife, there cowering from the wrath
Of her bold-hearted lord. He glared on her,
Hungering to slay her in his jealous rage.
But winsome Aphrodite curbed him, struck
Out of his hand the sword, his onrush reined,
Jealousy's dark cloud swept she away, and stirred
Love's deep sweet well-springs in his heart and eyes.
Swept o'er him strange amazement: powerless all
Was he to lift the sword against her neck,
Seeing her splendour of beauty. Like a stock
Of dead wood in a mountain forest, which
No swiftly-rushing blasts of north-winds shake,
Nor fury of south-winds ever, so he stood,
So dazed abode long time. All his great strength
Was broken, as he looked upon his wife.
And suddenly had he forgotten all
Yea, all her sins against her spousal-troth;
For Aphrodite made all fade away,
She who subdueth all immortal hearts
And mortal. Yet even so he lifted up
From earth his sword, and made as he would rush
Upon his wife but other was his intent,
Even as he sprang: he did but feign, to cheat
Achaean eyes. Then did his brother stay
His fury, and spake with pacifying words,
Fearing lest all they had toiled for should be lost:
"Forbear wrath, Menelaus, now: 'twere shame
To slay thy wedded wife, for whose sake we
Have suffered much affliction, while we sought
Vengeance on Priam. Not, as thou dost deem,
Was Helen's the sin, but his who set at naught
The Guest-lord, and thine hospitable board;
So with death-pangs hath God requited him."
Then hearkened Menelaus to his rede.
But the Gods, palled in dark clouds, mourned for Troy,
A ruined glory save fair-tressed Tritonis
And Hera: their hearts triumphed, when they saw
The burg of god-descended Priam destroyed.
Yet not the wise heart Trito-born herself
Was wholly tearless; for within her fane
Outraged Cassandra was of Oileus son
Lust-maddened. But grim vengeance upon him
Ere long the Goddess wreaked, repaying insult
With mortal sufferance. Yea, she would not look
Upon the infamy, but clad herself
With shame and wrath as with a cloak: she turned
Her stern eyes to the temple-roof, and groaned
The holy image, and the hallowed floor
Quaked mightily. Yet did he not forbear
His mad sin, for his soul was lust-distraught.