The Fall of Troy
Page: 122Answered the Sire with heart-assuaging words:
"Child, not for the Argives' sake withstand I thee;
But all mine armoury which the Cyclops' might
To win my favour wrought with tireless hands,
To thy desire I give. O strong heart, hurl
A ruining storm thyself on the Argive fleet."
Then down before the aweless Maid he cast
Swift lightning, thunder, and deadly thunderbolt;
And her heart leapt, and gladdened was her soul.
She donned the stormy Aegis flashing far,
Adamantine, massy, a marvel to the Gods,
Whereon was wrought Medusa's ghastly head,
Fearful: strong serpents breathing forth the blast
Of ravening fire were on the face thereof.
Crashed on the Queen's breast all the Aegis-links,
As after lightning crashes the firmament.
Then grasped she her father's weapons, which no God
Save Zeus can lift, and wide Olympus shook.
Then swept she clouds and mist together on high;
Night over earth was poured, haze o'er the sea.
Zeus watched, and was right glad as broad heaven's floor
Rocked 'neath the Goddess's feet, and crashed the sky,
As though invincible Zeus rushed forth to war.
Then sped she Iris unto Acolus,
From heaven far-flying over misty seas,
To bid him send forth all his buffering winds
O'er iron-bound Caphereus' cliffs to sweep
Ceaselessly, and with ruin of madding blasts
To upheave the sea. And Iris heard, and swift
She darted, through cloud-billows plunging down—
Thou hadst said: "Lo, in the sky dark water and fire!"
And to Aeolia came she, isle of caves,
Of echoing dungeons of mad-raging winds
With rugged ribs of mountain overarched,
Whereby the mansion stands of Aeolus
Hippotas' son. Him found she therewithin
With wife and twelve sons; and she told to him
Athena's purpose toward the homeward-bound
Achaeans. He denied her not, but passed
Forth of his halls, and in resistless hands
Upswung his trident, smiting the mountain-side
Within whose chasm-cell the wild winds dwelt
Tempestuously shrieking. Ever pealed
Weird roarings of their voices round its vaults.
Cleft by his might was the hill-side; forth they poured.
He bade them on their wings bear blackest storm
To upheave the sea, and shroud Caphereus' heights.
Swiftly upsprang they, ere their king's command
Was fully spoken. Mightily moaned the sea
As they rushed o'er it; waves like mountain-cliffs
From all sides were uprolled. The Achaeans' hearts
Were terror-palsied, as the uptowering surge
Now swung the ships up high through palling mist,
Now hurled them rolled as down a precipice
To dark abysses. Up through yawning deeps
Some power resistless belched the boiling sand
From the sea's floor. Tossed in despair, fear-dazed,
Men could not grasp the oar, nor reef the sail
About the yard-arm, howsoever fain,
Ere the winds rent it, could not with the sheets
Trim the torn canvas, buffeted so were they
By ruining blasts. The helmsman had no power
To guide the rudder with his practised hands,
For those ill winds hurled all confusedly.
No hope of life was left them: blackest night,
Fury of tempest, wrath of deathless Gods,
Raged round them. Still Poseidon heaved and swung
The merciless sea, to work the heart's desire
Of his brother's glorious child; and she on high
Stormed with her lightnings, ruthless in her rage.
Thundered from heaven Zeus, in purpose fixed
To glorify his daughter. All the isles
And mainlands round were lashed by leaping seas
Nigh to Euboea, where the Power divine
Scourged most with unrelenting stroke on stroke
The Argives. Groan and shriek of perishing men
Rang through the ships; started great beams and snapped
With ominous sound, for ever ship on ship
With shivering timbers crashed. With hopeless toil
Men strained with oars to thrust back hulls that reeled
Down on their own, but with the shattered planks
Were hurled into the abyss, to perish there
By pitiless doom; for beams of foundering ships
From this, from that side battered out their lives,
And crushed were all their bodies wretchedly.
Some in the ships fell down, and like dead men
Lay there; some, in the grip of destiny,
Clinging to oars smooth-shaven, tried to swim;
Some upon planks were tossing. Roared the surge
From fathomless depths: it seemed as though sea, sky,
And land were blended all confusedly.