The Fall of Troy

Page: 59

  Faint-breathing answered him the dying man:
  "Eurypylus, thine own weird is to live
  Not long: Fate is at point to meet thee here
  On Troy's plain, and to still thine impious tongue."

  So passed his spirit into Hades' halls.
  Then to the dead man spake his conqueror:
  "Now on the earth lie thou. What shall betide
  Hereafter, care I not—yea, though this day
  Death's doom stand by my feet: no man may live
  For ever: each man's fate is foreordained."

  Stabbing the corpse he spake. Then shouted loud
  Teucer, at seeing Machaon in the dust.
  Far thence he stood hard-toiling in the fight,
  For on the centre sore the battle lay:
  Foe after foe pressed on; yet not for this
  Was Teucer heedless of the fallen brave,
  Neither of Nireus lying hard thereby
  Behind Machaon in the dust. He saw,

  And with a great voice raised the rescue-cry:
  "Charge, Argives! Flinch not from the charging foe!
  For shame unspeakable shall cover us
  If Trojan men hale back to Ilium
  Noble Machaon and Nireus godlike-fair.
  Come, with a good heart let us face the foe
  To rescue these slain friends, or fall ourselves
  Beside them. Duty bids that men defend
  Friends, and to aliens leave them not a prey,
  Not without sweat of toil is glory won!"

  Then were the Danaans anguish-stung: the earth
  All round them dyed they red with blood of slain,
  As foe fought foe in even-balanced fight.
  By this to Podaleirius tidings came
  How that in dust his brother lay, struck down
  By woeful death. Beside the ships he sat
  Ministering to the hurts of men with spears
  Stricken. In wrath for his brother's sake he rose,
  He clad him in his armour; in his breast
  Dread battle-prowess swelled. For conflict grim
  He panted: boiled the mad blood round his heart
  He leapt amidst the foemen; his swift hands
  Swung the snake-headed javelin up, and hurled,
  And slew with its winged speed Agamestor's son
  Cleitus, a bright-haired Nymph had given him birth
  Beside Parthenius, whose quiet stream
  Fleets smooth as oil through green lands, till it pours
  Its shining ripples to the Euxine sea.
  Then by his warrior-brother laid he low
  Lassus, whom Pronoe, fair as a goddess, bare
  Beside Nymphaeus' stream, hard by a cave,
  A wide and wondrous cave: sacred it is
  Men say, unto the Nymphs, even all that haunt
  The long-ridged Paphlagonian hills, and all
  That by full-clustered Heracleia dwell.
  That cave is like the work of gods, of stone
  In manner marvellous moulded: through it flows
  Cold water crystal-clear: in niches round
  Stand bowls of stone upon the rugged rock,
  Seeming as they were wrought by carvers' hands.
  Statues of Wood-gods stand around, fair Nymphs,
  Looms, distaffs, all such things as mortal craft
  Fashioneth. Wondrous seem they unto men
  Which pass into that hallowed cave. It hath,
  Up-leading and down-leading, doorways twain,
  Facing, the one, the wild North's shrilling blasts,
  And one the dank rain-burdened South. By this
  Do mortals pass beneath the Nymphs' wide cave;
  But that is the Immortals' path: no man
  May tread it, for a chasm deep and wide
  Down-reaching unto Hades, yawns between.
  This track the Blest Gods may alone behold.
  So died a host on either side that warred
  Over Machaon and Aglaia's son.
  But at the last through desperate wrestle of fight
  The Danaans rescued them: yet few were they
  Which bare them to the ships: by bitter stress
  Of conflict were the more part compassed round,
  And needs must still abide the battle's brunt.
  But when full many had filled the measure up
  Of fate, mid tumult, blood and agony,
  Then to their ships did many Argives flee
  Pressed by Eurypylus hard, an avalanche
  Of havoc. Yet a few abode the strife
  Round Aias and the Atreidae rallying;
  And haply these had perished all, beset
  By throngs on throngs of foes on every hand,
  Had not Oileus' son stabbed with his spear
  'Twixt shoulder and breast war-wise Polydamas;
  Forth gushed the blood, and he recoiled a space.
  Then Menelaus pierced Deiphobus
  By the right breast, that with swift feet he fled.
  And many of that slaughter-breathing throng
  Were slain by Agamemnon: furiously
  He rushed on godlike Aethicus with the spear;
  But he shrank from the forefront back mid friends.