The Fall of Troy
Page: 86He spake, and gave the hero those fair gifts.
Then answered Poeas' mighty-hearted son;
"Friend, I forgive thee freely, and all beside
Whoso against me haply hath trangressed.
I know how good men's minds sometimes be warped:
Nor meet it is that one be obdurate
Ever, and nurse mean rancours: sternest wrath
Must yield anon unto the melting mood.
Now pass we to our rest; for better is sleep
Than feasting late, for him who longs to fight."
He spake, and rose, and came to his comrades' tent;
Then swiftly for their war-fain king they dight
The couch, while laughed their hearts for very joy.
Gladly he laid him down to sleep till dawn.
So passed the night divine, till flushed the hills
In the sun's light, and men awoke to toil.
Then all athirst for war the Argive men
'Gan whet the spear smooth-shafted, or the dart,
Or javelin, and they brake the bread of dawn,
And foddered all their horses. Then to these
Spake Poeas' son with battle-kindling speech:
"Up! let us make us ready for the war!
Let no man linger mid the galleys, ere
The glorious walls of Ilium stately-towered
Be shattered, and her palaces be burned!"
Then at his words each heart and spirit glowed:
They donned their armour, and they grasped their shields.
Forth of the ships in one huge mass they poured
Arrayed with bull-hide bucklers, ashen spears,
And gallant-crested helms. Through all their ranks
Shoulder to shoulder marched they: thou hadst seen
No gap 'twixt man and man as on they charged;
So close they thronged, so dense was their array.
Now were the Trojans all without the town
Of Priam, armour-clad, with battle-cars
And chariot-steeds; for still they burnt their dead,
And still they feared lest the Achaean men
Should fall on them. They looked, and saw them come
With furious speed against the walls. In haste
They cast a hurried earth-mound o'er the slain,
For greatly trembled they to see their foes.
Then in their sore disquiet spake to them
Polydamas, a wise and prudent chief:
"Friends, unendurably against us now
Maddens the war. Go to, let us devise
How we may find deliverance from our strait.
Still bide the Danaans here, still gather strength:
Now therefore let us man our stately towers,
And thence withstand them, fighting night and day,
Until yon Danaans weary, and return
To Sparta, or, renownless lingering here
Beside the wall, lose heart. No strength of theirs
Shall breach the long walls, howsoe'er they strive,
For in the imperishable work of Gods
Weakness is none. Food, drink, we shall not lack,
For in King Priam's gold-abounding halls
Is stored abundant food, that shall suffice
For many more than we, through many years,
Though thrice so great a host at our desire
Should gather, eager to maintain our cause."
Then chode with him Anchises' valiant son:
"Polydamas, wherefore do they call thee wise,
Who biddest suffer endless tribulations
Cooped within walls? Never, how long soe'er
The Achaeans tarry here, will they lose heart;
But when they see us skulking from the field,
More fiercely will press on. So ours shall be
The sufferance, perishing in our native home,
If for long season they beleaguer us.
No food, if we be pent within our walls,
Shall Thebe send us, nor Maeonia wine,
But wretchedly by famine shall we die,
Though the great wall stand firm. Nay, though our lot
Should be to escape that evil death and doom,
And not by famine miserably to die;
Yet rather let us fight in armour clad
For children and grey fathers! Haply Zeus
Will help us yet; of his high blood are we.
Nay, even though we be abhorred of him,
Better straightway to perish gloriously
Fighting unto the last for fatherland,
Than die a death of lingering agony!"