The Fall of Troy
Page: 96Aeneas hurled his spear; it found the waist
Of Anthalus' son, it pierced the navel through,
Dragging the inwards with it. Stretched in dust,
Clutching with agonized hands at steel and bowels,
Horribly shrieked he, tore with his teeth the earth
Groaning, till life and pain forsook the man.
Scared were the Argives, like a startled team
Of oxen 'neath the yoke-band straining hard,
What time the sharp-fanged gadfly stings their flanks
Athirst for blood, and they in frenzy of pain
Start from the furrow, and sore disquieted
The hind is for marred work, and for their sake,
Lest haply the recoiling ploughshare light
On their leg-sinews, and hamstring his team;
So were the Danaans scared, so feared for them
Achilles' son, and shouted thunder-voiced:
"Cravens, why flee, like starlings nothing-worth
Scared by a hawk that swoopeth down on them?
Come, play the men! Better it is by far
To die in war than choose unmanly flight!"
Then to his cry they hearkened, and straightway
Were of good heart. Mighty of mood he leapt
Upon the Trojans, swinging in his hand
The lightening spear: swept after him his host
Of Myrmidons with hearts swelled with the strength
Resistless of a tempest; so the Greeks
Won breathing-space. With fury like his sire's
One after other slew he of the foe.
Recoiling back they fell, as waves on-rolled
By Boreas foaming from the deep to the strand,
Are caught by another blast that whirlwind-like
Leaps, in a short lull of the north-wind, forth,
Smites them full-face, and hurls them back from the shore;
So them that erewhile on the Danaans pressed
Godlike Achilles' son now backward hurled
A short space only brave Aeneas' spirit
Let him not flee, but made him bide the fight
Fearlessly; and Enyo level held
The battle's scales. Yet not against Aeneas
Achilles' son upraised his father's spear,
But elsewhither turned his fury: in reverence
For Aphrodite, Thetis splendour-veiled
Turned from that man her mighty son's son's rage
And giant strength on other hosts of foes.
There slew he many a Trojan, while the ranks
Of Greeks were ravaged by Aeneas' hand.
Over the battle-slain the vultures joyed,
Hungry to rend the hearts and flesh of men.
But all the Nymphs were wailing, daughters born
Of Xanthus and fair-flowing Simois.
So toiled they in the fight: the wind's breath rolled
Huge dust-clouds up; the illimitable air
Was one thick haze, as with a sudden mist:
Earth disappeared, faces were blotted out;
Yet still they fought on; each man, whomso he met,
Ruthlessly slew him, though his very friend
It might be—in that turmoil none could tell
Who met him, friend or foe: blind wilderment
Enmeshed the hosts. And now had all been blent
Confusedly, had perished miserably,
All falling by their fellows' murderous swords,
Had not Cronion from Olympus helped
Their sore strait, and he swept aside the dust
Of conflict, and he calmed those deadly winds.
Yet still the hosts fought on; but lighter far
Their battle-travail was, who now discerned
Whom in the fray to smite, and whom to spare.
The Danaans now forced back the Trojan host,
The Trojans now the Danaan ranks, as swayed
The dread fight to and fro. From either side
Darts leapt and fell like snowflakes. Far away
Shepherds from Ida trembling watched the strife,
And to the Heaven-abiders lifted hands
Of supplication, praying that all their foes
Might perish, and that from the woeful war
Troy might win breathing-space, and see at last
The day of freedom: the Gods hearkened not.
Far other issues Fate devised, nor recked
Of Zeus the Almighty, nor of none beside
Of the Immortals. Her unpitying soul
Cares naught what doom she spinneth with her thread
Inevitable, be it for men new-born
Or cities: all things wax and wane through her.
So by her hest the battle-travail swelled
'Twixt Trojan chariot-lords and Greeks that closed
In grapple of fight—they dealt each other death
Ruthlessly: no man quailed, but stout of heart
Fought on; for courage thrusts men into war.