The Fall of Troy
Page: 59Faint-breathing answered him the dying man:
"Eurypylus, thine own weird is to live
Not long: Fate is at point to meet thee here
On Troy's plain, and to still thine impious tongue."
So passed his spirit into Hades' halls.
Then to the dead man spake his conqueror:
"Now on the earth lie thou. What shall betide
Hereafter, care I not—yea, though this day
Death's doom stand by my feet: no man may live
For ever: each man's fate is foreordained."
Stabbing the corpse he spake. Then shouted loud
Teucer, at seeing Machaon in the dust.
Far thence he stood hard-toiling in the fight,
For on the centre sore the battle lay:
Foe after foe pressed on; yet not for this
Was Teucer heedless of the fallen brave,
Neither of Nireus lying hard thereby
Behind Machaon in the dust. He saw,
And with a great voice raised the rescue-cry:
"Charge, Argives! Flinch not from the charging foe!
For shame unspeakable shall cover us
If Trojan men hale back to Ilium
Noble Machaon and Nireus godlike-fair.
Come, with a good heart let us face the foe
To rescue these slain friends, or fall ourselves
Beside them. Duty bids that men defend
Friends, and to aliens leave them not a prey,
Not without sweat of toil is glory won!"
Then were the Danaans anguish-stung: the earth
All round them dyed they red with blood of slain,
As foe fought foe in even-balanced fight.
By this to Podaleirius tidings came
How that in dust his brother lay, struck down
By woeful death. Beside the ships he sat
Ministering to the hurts of men with spears
Stricken. In wrath for his brother's sake he rose,
He clad him in his armour; in his breast
Dread battle-prowess swelled. For conflict grim
He panted: boiled the mad blood round his heart
He leapt amidst the foemen; his swift hands
Swung the snake-headed javelin up, and hurled,
And slew with its winged speed Agamestor's son
Cleitus, a bright-haired Nymph had given him birth
Beside Parthenius, whose quiet stream
Fleets smooth as oil through green lands, till it pours
Its shining ripples to the Euxine sea.
Then by his warrior-brother laid he low
Lassus, whom Pronoe, fair as a goddess, bare
Beside Nymphaeus' stream, hard by a cave,
A wide and wondrous cave: sacred it is
Men say, unto the Nymphs, even all that haunt
The long-ridged Paphlagonian hills, and all
That by full-clustered Heracleia dwell.
That cave is like the work of gods, of stone
In manner marvellous moulded: through it flows
Cold water crystal-clear: in niches round
Stand bowls of stone upon the rugged rock,
Seeming as they were wrought by carvers' hands.
Statues of Wood-gods stand around, fair Nymphs,
Looms, distaffs, all such things as mortal craft
Fashioneth. Wondrous seem they unto men
Which pass into that hallowed cave. It hath,
Up-leading and down-leading, doorways twain,
Facing, the one, the wild North's shrilling blasts,
And one the dank rain-burdened South. By this
Do mortals pass beneath the Nymphs' wide cave;
But that is the Immortals' path: no man
May tread it, for a chasm deep and wide
Down-reaching unto Hades, yawns between.
This track the Blest Gods may alone behold.
So died a host on either side that warred
Over Machaon and Aglaia's son.
But at the last through desperate wrestle of fight
The Danaans rescued them: yet few were they
Which bare them to the ships: by bitter stress
Of conflict were the more part compassed round,
And needs must still abide the battle's brunt.
But when full many had filled the measure up
Of fate, mid tumult, blood and agony,
Then to their ships did many Argives flee
Pressed by Eurypylus hard, an avalanche
Of havoc. Yet a few abode the strife
Round Aias and the Atreidae rallying;
And haply these had perished all, beset
By throngs on throngs of foes on every hand,
Had not Oileus' son stabbed with his spear
'Twixt shoulder and breast war-wise Polydamas;
Forth gushed the blood, and he recoiled a space.
Then Menelaus pierced Deiphobus
By the right breast, that with swift feet he fled.
And many of that slaughter-breathing throng
Were slain by Agamemnon: furiously
He rushed on godlike Aethicus with the spear;
But he shrank from the forefront back mid friends.