The Fall of Troy

Page: 95

  Nigh to Aeneas then Apollo came,
  And to Eurymachus, brave Antenor's son;
  For these against the mighty Achaeans fought
  Shoulder to shoulder, as two strong oxen, matched
  In age, yoked to a wain; nor ever ceased
  From battling. Suddenly spake the God to these
  In Polymestor's shape, the seer his mother
  By Xanthus bare to the Far-darter's priest:
  "Eurymachus, Aeneas, seed of Gods,
  'Twere shame if ye should flinch from Argives! Nay,
  Not Ares' self should joy to encounter you,
  An ye would face him in the fray; for Fate
  Hath spun long destiny-threads for thee and thee."

  He spake, and vanished, mingling with the winds.
  But their hearts felt the God's power: suddenly
  Flooded with boundless courage were their frames,
  Maddened their spirits: on the foe they leapt
  Like furious wasps that in a storm of rage
  Swoop upon bees, beholding them draw nigh
  In latter-summer to the mellowing grapes,
  Or from their hives forth-streaming thitherward;
  So fiercely leapt these sons of Troy to meet
  War-hardened Greeks. The black Fates joyed to see
  Their conflict, Ares laughed, Enyo yelled
  Horribly. Loud their glancing armour clanged:
  They stabbed, they hewed down hosts of foes untold
  With irresistible hands. The reeling ranks
  Fell, as the swath falls in the harvest heat,
  When the swift-handed reapers, ranged adown
  The field's long furrows, ply the sickle fast;
  So fell before their hands ranks numberless:
  With corpses earth was heaped, with torrent blood
  Was streaming: Strife incarnate o'er the slain
  Gloated. They paused not from the awful toil,
  But aye pressed on, like lions chasing sheep.
  Then turned the Greeks to craven flight; all feet
  Unmaimed as yet fled from the murderous war.
  Aye followed on Anchises' warrior son,
  Smiting foes' backs with his avenging spear:
  On pressed Eurymachus, while glowed the heart
  Of Healer Apollo watching from on high.

  As when a man descries a herd of swine
  Draw nigh his ripening corn, before the sheaves
  Fall neath the reapers' hands, and harketh on
  Against them his strong dogs; as down they rush,
  The spoilers see and quake; no more think they
  Of feasting, but they turn in panic flight
  Huddling: fast follow at their heels the hounds
  Biting remorselessly, while long and loud
  Squealing they flee, and joys the harvest's lord;
  So rejoiced Phoebus, seeing from the war
  Fleeing the mighty Argive host. No more
  Cared they for deeds of men, but cried to the Gods
  For swift feet, in whose feet alone was hope
  To escape Eurymachus' and Aeneas' spears
  Which lightened ever all along their rear.

  But one Greek, over-trusting in his strength,
  Or by Fate's malice to destruction drawn,
  Curbed in mid flight from war's turmoil his steed,
  And strove to wheel him round into the fight
  To face the foe. But fierce Agenor thrust
  Ere he was ware; his two-edged partizan
  Shore though his shoulder; yea, the very bone
  Of that gashed arm was cloven by the steel;
  The tendons parted, the veins spirted blood:
  Down by his horse's neck he slid, and straight
  Fell mid the dead. But still the strong arm hung
  With rigid fingers locked about the reins
  Like a live man's. Weird marvel was that sight,
  The bloody hand down hanging from the rein,
  Scaring the foes yet more, by Ares' will.
  Thou hadst said, "It craveth still for horsemanship!"
  So bare the steed that sign of his slain lord.