The Fall of Troy
Page: 42Still sped the contests on; and many rose
Now for the leaping. Far beyond the marks
Of all the rest brave Agapenor sprang:
Loud shouted all for that victorious leap;
And Thetis gave him the fair battle-gear
Of mighty Cycnus, who had smitten first
Protesilaus, then had reft the life
From many more, till Peleus' son slew him
First of the chiefs of grief-enshrouded Troy.
Next, in the javelin-cast Euryalus
Hurled far beyond all rivals, while the folk
Shouted aloud: no archer, so they deemed,
Could speed a winged shaft farther than his cast;
Therefore the Aeacid hero's mother gave
To him a deep wide silver oil-flask, ta'en
By Achilles in possession, when his spear
Slew Mynes, and he spoiled Lyrnessus' wealth.
Then fiery-hearted Aias eagerly
Rose, challenging to strife of hands and feet
The mightiest hero there; but marvelling
They marked his mighty thews, and no man dared
Confront him. Chilling dread had palsied all
Their courage: from their hearts they feared him, lest
His hands invincible should all to-break
His adversary's face, and naught but pain
Be that man's meed. But at the last all men
Made signs to battle-bider Euryalus,
For well they knew him skilled in fighting-craft;
But he too feared that giant, and he cried:
"Friends, any other Achaean, whom ye will,
Blithe will I face; but mighty Alas—no!
Far doth he overmatch me. He will rend
Mine heart, if in the onset anger rise
Within him: from his hands invincible,
I trow, I should not win to the ships alive."
Loud laughed they all: but glowed with triumph-joy
The heart of Aias. Gleaming talents twain
Of silver he from Thetis' hands received,
His uncontested prize. His stately height
Called to her mind her dear son, and she sighed.
They which had skill in chariot-driving then
Rose at the contest's summons eagerly:
Menelaus first, Eurypylus bold in fight,
Eumelus, Thoas, godlike Polypoetes
Harnessed their steeds, and led them to the cars
All panting for the joy of victory.
Then rode they in a glittering chariot rank
Out to one place, to a stretch of sand, and stood
Ranged at the starting-line. The reins they grasped
In strong hands quickly, while the chariot-steeds
Shoulder to shoulder fretted, all afire
To take the lead at starting, pawed the sand,
Pricked ears, and o'er their frontlets flung the foam.
With sudden-stiffened sinews those ear-lords
Lashed with their whips the tempest-looted steeds;
Then swift as Harpies sprang they forth; they strained
Furiously at the harness, onward whirling
The chariots bounding ever from the earth.
Thou couldst not see a wheel-track, no, nor print
Of hoof upon the sand—they verily flew.
Up from the plain the dust-clouds to the sky
Soared, like the smoke of burning, or a mist
Rolled round the mountain-forelands by the might
Of the dark South-wind or the West, when wakes
A tempest, when the hill-sides stream with rain.
Burst to the front Eumelus' steeds: behind
Close pressed the team of godlike Thoas: shouts
Still answered shouts that cheered each chariot, while
Onward they swept across the wide-wayed plain.