The Fall of Troy
Page: 70Two sons he slew of Meges rich in gold,
Scion of Dymas—sons of high renown,
Cunning to hurl the dart, to drive the steed
In war, and deftly cast the lance afar,
Born at one birth beside Sangarius' banks
Of Periboea to him, Celtus one,
And Eubius the other. But not long
His boundless wealth enjoyed they, for the
Fates Span them a thread of life exceeding brief.
As on one day they saw the light, they died
On one day by the same hand. To the heart
Of one Neoptolemus sped a javelin; one
He smote down with a massy stone that crashed
Through his strong helmet, shattered all its ridge,
And dashed his brains to earth. Around them fell
Foes many, a host untold. The War-god's work
Waxed ever mightier till the eventide,
Till failed the light celestial; then the host
Of brave Eurypylus from the ships drew back
A little: they that held those leaguered towers
Had a short breathing-space; the sons of Troy
Had respite from the deadly-echoing strife,
From that hard rampart-battle. Verily all
The Argives had beside their ships been slain,
Had not Achilles' strong son on that day
Withstood the host of foes and their great chief
Eurypylus. Came to that young hero's side
Phoenix the old, and marvelling gazed on one
The image of Peleides. Tides of joy
And grief swept o'er him—grief, for memories
Of that swift-footed father—joy, for sight
Of such a son. He for sheer gladness wept;
For never without tears the tribes of men
Live—nay, not mid the transports of delight.
He clasped him round as father claspeth son
Whom, after long and troublous wanderings,
The Gods bring home to gladden a father's heart.
So kissed he Neoptolemus' head and breast,
Clasping him round, and cried in rapture of joy:
"Hail, goodly son of that Achilles whom
I nursed a little one in mine own arms
With a glad heart. By Heaven's high providence
Like a strong sapling waxed he in stature fast,
And daily I rejoiced to see his form
And prowess, my life's blessing, honouring him
As though he were the son of mine old age;
For like a father did he honour me.
I was indeed his father, he my son
In spirit: thou hadst deemed us of one blood
Who were in heart one: but of nobler mould
Was he by far, in form and strength a God.
Thou art wholly like him—yea, I seem to see
Alive amid the Argives him for whom
Sharp anguish shrouds me ever. I waste away
In sorrowful age—oh that the grave had closed
On me while yet he lived! How blest to be
By loving hands of kinsmen laid to rest!
Ah child, my sorrowing heart will nevermore
Forget him! Chide me not for this my grief.
But now, help thou the Myrmidons and Greeks
In their sore strait: wreak on the foe thy wrath
For thy brave sire. It shall be thy renown
To slay this war-insatiate Telephus' son;
For mightier art thou, and shalt prove, than he,
As was thy father than his wretched sire."