The Fall of Troy
Page: 98Odysseus and Eurypylus made assault
Unresting on the gates that fated the plain
And looked to the swift ships. From wall and tower
With huge stones brave Aeneas made defence.
In battle-stress by Simons Teucer toiled.
Each endured hardness at his several post.
Then round war-wise Odysseus men renowned,
By that great captain's battle cunning ruled,
Locked shields together, raised them o'er their heads
Ranged side by side, that many were made one.
Thou hadst said it was a great hall's solid roof,
Which no tempestuous wind-blast misty wet
Can pierce, nor rain from heaven in torrents poured.
So fenced about with shields firm stood the ranks
Of Argives, one in heart for fight, and one
In that array close-welded. From above
The Trojans hailed great stones; as from a rock
Rolled these to earth. Full many a spear and dart
And galling javelin in the pierced shields stood;
Some in the earth stood; many glanced away
With bent points falling baffled from the shields
Battered on all sides. But that clangorous din
None feared; none flinched; as pattering drops of rain
They heard it. Up to the rampart's foot they marched:
None hung back; shoulder to shoulder on they came
Like a long lurid cloud that o'er the sky
Cronion trails in wild midwinter-tide.
On that battalion moved, with thunderous tread
Of tramping feet: a little above the earth
Rose up the dust; the breeze swept it aside
Drifting away behind the men. There went
A sound confused of voices with them, like
The hum of bees that murmur round the hives,
And multitudinous panting, and the gasp
Of men hard-breathing. Exceeding glad the sons
Of Atreus, glorying in them, saw that wall
Unwavering of doom-denouncing war.
In one dense mass against the city-gate
They hurled themselves, with twibills strove to breach
The long walls, from their hinges to upheave
The gates, and dash to earth. The pulse of hope
Beat strong in those proud hearts. But naught availed
Targes nor levers, when Aeneas' might
Swung in his hands a stone like a thunderbolt,
Hurled it with uttermost strength, and dashed to death
All whom it caught beneath the shields, as when
A mountain's precipice-edge breaks off and falls
On pasturing goats, and all that graze thereby
Tremble; so were those Danaans dazed with dread.
Stone after stone he hurled on the reeling ranks,
As when amid the hills Olympian Zeus
With thunderbolts and blazing lightnings rends
From their foundations crags that rim a peak,
And this way, that way, sends them hurtling down;
Then the flocks tremble, scattering in wild flight;
So quailed the Achaeans, when Aeneas dashed
To sudden fragments all that battle-wall
Moulded of adamant shields, because a God
Gave more than human strength. No man of them
Could lift his eyes unto him in that fight,
Because the arms that lapped his sinewy limbs
Flashed like the heaven-born lightnings. At his side
Stood, all his form divine in darkness cloaked,
Ares the terrible, and winged the flight
Of what bare down to the Argives doom or dread.
He fought as when Olympian Zeus himself
From heaven in wrath smote down the insolent bands
Of giants grim, and shook the boundless earth,
And sea, and ocean, and the heavens, when reeled
The knees of Atlas neath the rush of Zeus.
So crumbled down beneath Aeneas' bolts
The Argive squadrons. All along the wall
Wroth with the foeman rushed he: from his hands
Whatso he lighted on in onslaught-haste
Hurled he; for many a battle-staying bolt
Lay on the walls of those staunch Dardan men.
With such Aeneas stormed in giant might,
With such drave back the thronging foes. All round
The Trojans played the men. Sore travail and pain
Had all folk round the city: many fell,
Argives and Trojans. Rang the battle-cries:
Aeneas cheered the war-fain Trojans on
To fight for home, for wives, and their own souls
With a good heart: war-staunch Achilles' son
Shouted: "Flinch not, ye Argives, from the walls,
Till Troy be taken, and sink down in flames!"
And round these twain an awful measureless roar
Rang, daylong as they fought: no breathing-space
Came from the war to them whose spirits burned,
These, to smite Ilium, those, to guard her safe.