The Fall of Troy
Page: 22Achilles heard; his heart was thrilled with grief:
He glanced across the rolling battle, saw
Memnon, saw where in throngs the Argives fell
Beneath his spear. Forthright he turned away
From where the rifted ranks of Troy fell fast
Before his hands, and, thirsting for the fight,
Wroth for Antilochus and the others slain,
Came face to face with Memnon. In his hands
That godlike hero caught up from the ground
A stone, a boundary-mark 'twixt fields of wheat,
And hurled. Down on the shield of Peleus' son
It crashed. But he, the invincible, shrank not
Before the huge rock-shard, but, thrusting out
His long lance, rushed to close with him, afoot,
For his steeds stayed behind the battle-rout.
On the right shoulder above the shield he smote
And staggered him; but he, despite the wound,
Fought on with heart unquailing. Swiftly he thrust
And pricked with his strong spear Achilles' arm.
Forth gushed the blood: rejoicing with vain joy
To Aeacus' son with arrogant words he cried:
"Now shalt thou in thy death fill up, I trow,
Thy dark doom, overmastered by mine hands.
Thou shalt not from this fray escape alive!
Fool, wherefore hast thou ruthlessly destroyed
Trojans, and vaunted thee the mightiest man
Of men, a deathless Nereid's son? Ha, now
Thy doom hath found thee! Of birth divine am I,
The Dawn-queen's mighty son, nurtured afar
By lily-slender Hesperid Maids, beside
The Ocean-river. Therefore not from thee
Nor from grim battle shrink I, knowing well
How far my goddess-mother doth transcend
A Nereid, whose child thou vauntest thee.
To Gods and men my mother bringeth light;
On her depends the issue of all things,
Works great and glorious in Olympus wrought
Whereof comes blessing unto men. But thine—
She sits in barren crypts of brine: she dwells
Glorying mid dumb sea-monsters and mid fish,
Deedless, unseen! Nothing I reck of her,
Nor rank her with the immortal Heavenly Ones."
In stern rebuke spake Aeacus' aweless son:
"Memnon, how wast thou so distraught of wit
That thou shouldst face me, and to fight defy
Me, who in might, in blood, in stature far
Surpass thee? From supremest Zeus I trace
My glorious birth; and from the strong Sea-god
Nereus, begetter of the Maids of the Sea,
The Nereids, honoured of the Olympian Gods.
And chiefest of them all is Thetis, wise
With wisdom world-renowned; for in her bowers
She sheltered Dionysus, chased by might
Of murderous Lycurgus from the earth.
Yea, and the cunning God-smith welcomed she
Within her mansion, when from heaven he fell.
Ay, and the Lightning-lord she once released
From bonds. The all-seeing Dwellers in the Sky
Remember all these things, and reverence
My mother Thetis in divine Olympus.
Ay, that she is a Goddess shalt thou know
When to thine heart the brazen spear shall pierce
Sped by my might. Patroclus' death I avenged
On Hector, and Antilochus on thee
Will I avenge. No weakling's friend thou hast slain!
But why like witless children stand we here
Babbling our parents' fame and our own deeds?
Now is the hour when prowess shall decide."