The Fall of Troy
Page: 58At first the Argives bore the ranks of Troy
Backward a little; but they rallied, charged,
Leapt on the foe, and drenched the field with blood.
Like a black hurricane rushed Eurypylus
Cheering his men on, hewing Argives down
Awelessly: measureless might was lent to him
By Zeus, for a grace to glorious Hercules.
Nireus, a man in beauty like the Gods,
His spear long-shafted stabbed beneath the ribs,
Down on the plain he fell, forth streamed the blood
Drenching his splendid arms, drenching the form
Glorious of mould, and his thick-clustering hair.
There mid the slain in dust and blood he lay,
Like a young lusty olive-sapling, which
A river rushing down in roaring flood,
Tearing its banks away, and cleaving wide
A chasm-channel, hath disrooted; low
It lieth heavy-blossomed; so lay then
The goodly form, the grace of loveliness
Of Nireus on earth's breast. But o'er the slain
Loud rang the taunting of Eurypylus:
"Lie there in dust! Thy beauty marvellous
Naught hath availed thee! I have plucked thee away
From life, to which thou wast so fain to cling.
Rash fool, who didst defy a mightier man
Unknowing! Beauty is no match for strength!"
He spake, and leapt upon the slain to strip
His goodly arms: but now against him came
Machaon wroth for Nireus, by his side
Doom-overtaken. With his spear he drave
At his right shoulder: strong albeit he was,
He touched him, and blood spurted from the gash.
Yet, ere he might leap back from grapple of death,
Even as a lion or fierce mountain-boar
Maddens mid thronging huntsmen, furious-fain
To rend the man whose hand first wounded him;
So fierce Eurypylus on Machaon rushed.
The long lance shot out swiftly, and pierced him through
On the right haunch; yet would he not give back,
Nor flinch from the onset, fast though flowed the blood.
In haste he snatched a huge stone from the ground,
And dashed it on the head of Telephus' son;
But his helm warded him from death or harm
Then waxed Eurypylus more hotly wroth
With that strong warrior, and in fury of soul
Clear through Machaon's breast he drave his spear,
And through the midriff passed the gory point.
He fell, as falls beneath a lion's jaws
A bull, and round him clashed his glancing arms.
Swiftly Eurypylus plucked the lance of death
Out of the wound, and vaunting cried aloud:
"Wretch, wisdom was not bound up in thine heart,
That thou, a weakling, didst come forth to fight
A mightier. Therefore art thou in the toils
Of Doom. Much profit shall be thine, when kites
Devour the flesh of thee in battle slain!
Ha, dost thou hope still to return, to 'scape
Mine hands? A leech art thou, and soothing salves
Thou knowest, and by these didst haply hope
To flee the evil day! Not thine own sire,
On the wind's wings descending from Olympus,
Should save thy life, not though between thy lips
He should pour nectar and ambrosia!"