The Fall of Troy
Page: 72BOOK VIII
How Hercules' Grandson perished in fight with the Son of Achilles.
When from the far sea-line, where is the cave
Of Dawn, rose up the sun, and scattered light
Over the earth, then did the eager sons
Of Troy and of Achaea arm themselves
Athirst for battle: these Achilles' son
Cheered on to face the Trojans awelessly;
And those the giant strength of Telephus' seed
Kindled. He trusted to dash down the wall
To earth, and utterly destroy the ships
With ravening fire, and slay the Argive host.
Ah, but his hope was as the morning breeze
Delusive: hard beside him stood the Fates
Laughing to scorn his vain imaginings.
Then to the Myrmidons spake Achilles' son,
The aweless, to the fight enkindling them:
"Hear me, mine henchmen: take ye to your hearts
The spirit of war, that we may heal the wounds
Of Argos, and be ruin to her foes.
Let no man fear, for mighty prowess is
The child of courage; but fear slayeth strength
And spirit. Gird yourselves with strength for war;
Give foes no breathing-space, that they may say
That mid our ranks Achilles liveth yet."
Then clad he with his father's flashing arms
His shoulders. Then exulted Thetis' heart
When from the sea she saw the mighty strength
Of her son's son. Then forth with eagle-speed
Afront of that high wall he rushed, his ear
Drawn by the immortal horses of his sire.
As from the ocean-verge upsprings the sun
In glory, flashing fire far over earth—
Fire, when beside his radiant chariot-team
Races the red star Sirius, scatterer
Of woefullest diseases over men;
So flashed upon the eyes of Ilium's host
That battle-eager hero, Achilles' son.
Onward they whirled him, those immortal steeds,
The which, when now he longed to chase the foe
Back from the ships, Automedon, who wont
To rein them for his father, brought to him.
With joy that pair bore battleward their lord,
So like to Aeacus' son, their deathless hearts
Held him no worser than Achilles' self.
Laughing for glee the Argives gathered round
The might resistless of Neoptolemus,
Eager for fight as wasps [whose woodland bower
The axe] hath shaken, who dart swarming forth
Furious to sting the woodman: round their nest
Long eddying, they torment all passers by;
So streamed they forth from galley and from wall
Burning for fight, and that wide space was thronged,
And all the plain far blazed with armour-sheen,
As shone from heaven's vault the sun thereon.
As flees the cloud-rack through the welkin wide
Scourged onward by the North-wind's Titan blasts,
When winter-tide and snow are hard at hand,
And darkness overpalls the firmament;
So with their thronging squadrons was the earth
Covered before the ships. To heaven uprolled,
Dust hung on hovering wings' men's armour clashed;
Rattled a thousand chariots; horses neighed
On-rushing to the fray. Each warrior's prowess
Kindled him with its trumpet-call to war.
As leap the long sea-rollers, onward hurled
By two winds terribly o'er th' broad sea-flood
Roaring from viewless bournes, with whirlwind blasts
Crashing together, when a ruining storm
Maddens along the wide gulfs of the deep,
And moans the Sea-queen with her anguished waves
Which sweep from every hand, uptowering
Like precipiced mountains, while the bitter squall,
Ceaselessly veering, shrieks across the sea;
So clashed in strife those hosts from either hand
With mad rage. Strife incarnate spurred them on,
And their own prowess. Crashed together these
Like thunderclouds outlightening, thrilling the air.
With shattering trumpet-challenge, when the blasts
Are locked in frenzied wrestle, with mad breath
Rending the clouds, when Zeus is wroth with men
Who travail with iniquity, and flout
His law. So grappled they, as spear with spear
Clashed, shield with shield, and man on man was hurled.