The Fall of Troy
Page: 13Then Ares' heart was thrilled with grief and rage
For his child slain. Straight from Olympus down
He darted, swift and bright as thunderbolt
Terribly flashing from the mighty hand Of
Zeus, far leaping o'er the trackless sea,
Or flaming o'er the land, while shuddereth
All wide Olympus as it passeth by.
So through the quivering air with heart aflame
Swooped Ares armour-clad, soon as he heard
The dread doom of his daughter. For the Gales,
The North-wind's fleet-winged daughters, bare to him,
As through the wide halls of the sky he strode,
The tidings of the maiden's woeful end.
Soon as he heard it, like a tempest-blast
Down to the ridges of Ida leapt he: quaked
Under his feet the long glens and ravines
Deep-scored, all Ida's torrent-beds, and all
Far-stretching foot-hills. Now had Ares brought
A day of mourning on the Myrmidons,
But Zeus himself from far Olympus sent
Mid shattering thunders terror of levin-bolts
Which thick and fast leapt through the welkin down
Before his feet, blazing with fearful flames.
And Ares saw, and knew the stormy threat
Of the mighty-thundering Father, and he stayed
His eager feet, now on the very brink
Of battle's turmoil. As when some huge crag
Thrust from a beetling cliff-brow by the winds
And torrent rains, or lightning-lance of Zeus,
Leaps like a wild beast, and the mountain-glens
Fling back their crashing echoes as it rolls
In mad speed on, as with resistless swoop
Of bound on bound it rushes down, until
It cometh to the levels of the plain,
And there perforce its stormy flight is stayed;
So Ares, battle-eager Son of Zeus,
Was stayed, how loth soe'er; for all the Gods
To the Ruler of the Blessed needs must yield,
Seeing he sits high-throned above them all,
Clothed in his might unspeakable. Yet still
Many a wild thought surged through Ares' soul,
Urging him now to dread the terrible threat
Of Cronos' wrathful Son, and to return
Heavenward, and now to reck not of his Sire,
But with Achilles' blood to stain those hands,
The battle-tireless. At the last his heart
Remembered how that many and many a son
Of Zeus himself in many a war had died,
Nor in their fall had Zeus availed them aught.
Therefore he turned him from the Argives—else,
Down smitten by the blasting thunderbolt,
With Titans in the nether gloom he had lain,
Who dared defy the eternal will of Zeus.
Then did the warrior sons of Argos strip
With eager haste from corpses strown all round
The blood-stained spoils. But ever Peleus' son
Gazed, wild with all regret, still gazed on her,
The strong, the beautiful, laid in the dust;
And all his heart was wrung, was broken down
With sorrowing love, deep, strong as he had known
When that beloved friend Patroclus died.
Loud jeered Thersites, mocking to his face:
"Thou sorry-souled Achilles! art not shamed
To let some evil Power beguile thine heart
To pity of a pitiful Amazon
Whose furious spirit purposed naught but ill
To us and ours? Ha, woman-mad art thou,
And thy soul lusts for this thing, as she were
Some lady wise in household ways, with gifts
And pure intent for honoured wedlock wooed!
Good had it been had her spear reached thine heart,
The heart that sighs for woman-creatures still!
Thou carest not, unmanly-souled, not thou,
For valour's glorious path, when once thine eye
Lights on a woman! Sorry wretch, where now
Is all thy goodly prowess? where thy wit?
And where the might that should beseem a king
All-stainless? Dost not know what misery
This self-same woman-madness wrought for Troy?
Nothing there is to men more ruinous
Than lust for woman's beauty; it maketh fools
Of wise men. But the toil of war attains
Renown. To him that is a hero indeed
Glory of victory and the War-god's works
Are sweet. 'Tis but the battle-blencher craves
The beauty and the bed of such as she!"