The Fall of Troy

Page: 98

  Odysseus 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.