The Fall of Troy
Page: 81So when they all stood mailed in battle-gear,
Forth of the gates they poured all eager-souled
For war. Against the chariots of the Greeks
Their chariots charged; their ranks of footmen pressed
To meet the footmen of the foe. The earth
Rang to the tramp of onset; pealed the cheer
From man to man; swift closed the fronts of war.
Loud clashed their arms all round; from either side
War-cries were mingled in one awful roar
Swift-winged full many a dart and arrow flew
From host to host; loud clanged the smitten shields
'Neath thrusting spears, 'neath javelin-point and sword:
Men hewed with battle-axes lightening down;
Crimson the armour ran with blood of men.
And all this while Troy's wives and daughters watched
From high walls that grim battle of the strong.
All trembled as they prayed for husbands, sons,
And brothers: white-haired sires amidst them sat,
And gazed, while anguished fear for sons devoured
Their hearts. But Helen in her bower abode
Amidst her maids, there held by utter shame.
So without pause before the wall they fought,
While Death exulted o'er them; deadly Strife
Shrieked out a long wild cry from host to host.
With blood of slain men dust became red mire:
Here, there, fast fell the warriors mid the fray.
Then slew Deiphobus the charioteer
Of Nestor, Hippasus' son: from that high car
Down fell he 'midst the dead; fear seized his lord
Lest, while his hands were cumbered with the reins,
He too by Priam's strong son might be slain.
Melanthius marked his plight: swiftly he sprang
Upon the car; he urged the horses on,
Shaking the reins, goading them with his spear,
Seeing the scourge was lost. But Priam's son
Left these, and plunged amid a throng of foes.
There upon many he brought the day of doom;
For like a ruining tempest on he stormed
Through reeling ranks. His mighty hand struck down
Foes numberless: the plain was heaped with dead.
As when a woodman on the long-ridged hills
Plunges amid the forest-depths, and hews
With might and main, and fells sap-laden trees
To make him store of charcoal from the heaps
Of billets overturfed and set afire:
The trunks on all sides fallen strew the slopes,
While o'er his work the man exulteth; so
Before Deiphobus' swift death-dealing hands
In heaps the Achaeans each on other fell.
The charging lines of Troy swept over some;
Some fled to Xanthus' stream: Deiphobus chased
Into the flood yet more, and slew and slew.
As when on fish-abounding Hellespont's strand
The fishermen hard-straining drag a net
Forth of the depths to land; but, while it trails
Yet through the sea, one leaps amid the waves
Grasping in hand a sinuous-headed spear
To deal the sword-fish death, and here and there,
Fast as he meets them, slays them, and with blood
The waves are reddened; so were Xanthus' streams
Impurpled by his hands, and choked with dead.
Yet not without sore loss the Trojans fought;
For all this while Peleides' fierce-heart son
Of other ranks made havoc. Thetis gazed
Rejoicing in her son's son, with a joy
As great as was her grief for Achilles slain.
For a great host beneath his spear were hurled
Down to the dust, steeds, warriors slaughter-blent.
And still he chased, and still he slew: he smote
Amides war-renowned, who on his steed
Bore down on him, but of his horsemanship
Small profit won. The bright spear pierced him through
From navel unto spine, and all his bowels
Gushed out, and deadly Doom laid hold on him
Even as he fell beside his horse's feet.
Ascanius and Oenops next he slew;
Under the fifth rib of the one he drave
His spear, the other stabbed he 'neath the throat
Where a wound bringeth surest doom to man.
Whomso he met besides he slew—the names
What man could tell of all that by the hands
Of Neoptolemus died? Never his limbs
Waxed weary. As some brawny labourer,
With strong hands toiling in a fruitful field
The livelong day, rains down to earth the fruit
Of olives, swiftly beating with his pole,
And with the downfall covers all the ground,
So fast fell 'neath his hands the thronging foe.