The Fall of Troy
Commentary: A few comments have been posted about
The Fall of Troy.
text-only version is available for download.
The Fall of Troy
Translated by A. S. Way
How the Sons of Troy for the Last Time Fought from Her Walls and Her
Troy's daughters mourned within her walls; might none
Go forth to Paris' tomb, for far away
From high-built Troy it lay. But the young men
Without the city toiled unceasingly
In fight wherein from slaughter rest was none,
Though dead was Paris; for the Achaeans pressed
Hard on the Trojans even unto Troy.
Yet these charged forth -- they could not choose but
For Strife and deadly Enyo in their midst
Stalked, like the fell Erinyes to behold,
Breathing destruction from their lips like flame.
Beside them raged the ruthless-hearted Fates
Fiercely: here Panic-fear and Ares there
Stirred up the hosts: hard after followed
Dread With slaughter's gore besprent, that in one
Might men see, and be strong, in the other fear;
And all around were javelins, spears, and darts
Murder-athirst from this side, that side, showered.
Aye, as they hurled together, armour clashed,
As foe with foe grappled in murderous fight.
There Neoptolemus slew Laodamas,
Whom Lycia nurtured by fair Xanthus' stream,
The stream revealed to men by Leto, bride
Of Thunderer Zeus, when Lycia's stony plain
Was by her hands uptorn mid agonies
Of travail-throes wherein she brought to light
Mid bitter pangs those babes of birth divine.
Nirus upon him laid he dead; the spear
Crashed through his jaw, and clear through mouth and
Passed: on the lance's irresistible point
Shrieking was he impaled: flooded with gore
His mouth was as he cried. The cruel shaft,
Sped on by that strong hand, dashed him to earth
In throes of death. Evenor next he smote
Above the flank, and onward drave the spear
Into his liver: swiftly anguished death
Came upon him. Iphition next he slew:
He quelled Hippomedon, Hippasus' bold son,
Whom Ocyone the Nymph had borne beside
Sangarius' river-flow. Ne'er welcomed she
Her son's returning face, but ruthless Fate
With anguish thrilled her of her child bereaved.
Bremon Aeneas slew, and Andromachus,
Of Cnossus this, of hallowed Lyctus that:
On one spot both from their swift chariots fell;
This gasped for breath, his throat by the long spear
Transfixed; that other, by a massy stone,
Sped from a strong hand, on the temple struck,
Breathed out his life, and black doom shrouded him.
The startled steeds, bereft of charioteers,
Fleeing, mid all those corpses were confused,
And princely Aeneas' henchmen seized on them
With hearts exulting in the goodly spoil.
There Philoctetes with his deadly shaft
Smote Peirasus in act to flee the war:
The tendons twain behind the knee it snapped,
And palsied all his speed. A Danaan marked,
And leapt on that maimed man with sweep of sword
Shearing his neck through. On the breast of earth
The headless body fell: the head far flung
Went rolling with lips parted as to shriek;
And swiftly fleeted thence the homeless soul.
Polydamas struck down Eurymachus
And Cleon with his spear. From Syme came
With Nireus' following these: cunning were both
In craft of fisher-folk to east the hook
Baited with guile, to drop into the sea
The net, from the boat's prow with deftest hands
Swiftly and straight to plunge the three-forked
But not from bane their sea-craft saved them now.
Eurypylus battle-staunch laid Hellus low,
Whom Cleito bare beside Gygaea's mere,
Cleito the fair-cheeked. Face-down in the dust
Outstretched he lay: shorn by the cruel sword
From his strong shoulder fell the arm that held
His long spear. Still its muscles twitched, as
Fain to uplift the lance for fight in vain;
For the man's will no longer stirred therein,
But aimlessly it quivered, even as leaps
The severed tail of a snake malignant-eyed,
Which cannot chase the man who dealt the wound;
So the right hand of that strong-hearted man
With impotent grip still clutched the spear for
Aenus and Polydorus Odysseus slew,
Ceteians both; this perished by his spear,
That by his sword death-dealing. Sthenelus
Smote godlike Abas with a javelin-cast:
On through his throat and shuddering nape it rushed:
Stopped were his heart-beats, all his limbs collapsed.
Tydeides slew Laodocus; Melius fell
By Agamemnon's hand; Deiphobus
Smote Alcimus and Dryas: Hippasus,
How war-renowned soe'er, Agenor slew
Far from Peneius' river. Crushed by fate,
Love's nursing-debt to parents ne'er he paid.
Lamus and stalwart Lyncus Thoas smote,
And Meriones slew Lycon; Menelaus
Laid low Archelochus. Upon his home
Looked down Corycia's ridge, and that great rock
Of the wise Fire-god, marvellous in men's eyes;
For thereon, nightlong, daylong, unto him
Fire blazes, tireless and unquenchable.
Laden with fruit around it palm-trees grow,
While mid the stones fire plays about their roots.
Gods' work is this, a wonder to all time.
By Teucer princely Hippomedon's son was slain,
Menoetes: as the archer drew on him,
Rushed he to smite him; but already hand
And eye, and bow-craft keen were aiming straight
On the arching horn the shaft. Swiftly released
It leapt on the hapless man, while sang the string.
Stricken full front he heaved one choking gasp,
Because the fates on the arrow riding flew
Right to his heart, the throne of thought and strength
For men, whence short the path is unto death.
Far from his brawny hand Euryalus hurled
A massy stone, and shook the ranks of Troy.
As when in anger against long-screaming cranes
A watcher of the field leaps from the ground,
In swift hand whirling round his head the sling,
And speeds the stone against them, scattering
Before its hum their ranks far down the wind
Outspread, and they in huddled panic dart
With wild cries this way and that, who theretofore
Swept on in ordered lines; so shrank the foe
To right and left from that dread bolt of doom
Hurled of Euryalus. Not in vain it flew
Fate-winged; it shattered Meles' helm and head
Down to the eyes: so met him ghastly death.
Still man slew man, while earth groaned all
As when a mighty wind scourges the land,
And this way, that way, under its shrieking blasts
Through the wide woodland bow from the roots and
Great trees, while all the earth is thundering round;
So fell they in the dust, so clanged their arms,
So crashed the earth around. Still hot were they
For fell fight, still dealt bane unto their foes.
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.
Aeneas 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
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
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.
But now when many had perished in the dust,
Then did the Argive might prevail at last
By stern decree of Pallas; for she came
Into the heart of battle, hot to help
The Greeks to lay waste Priam's glorious town.
Then Aphrodite, who lamented sore
For Paris slain, snatched suddenly away
Renowned Aeneas from the deadly strife,
And poured thick mist about him. Fate forbade
That hero any longer to contend
With Argive foes without the high-built wall.
Yea, and his mother sorely feared the wrath
Of Pallas passing-wise, whose heart was keen
To help the Danaans now -- yea, feared lest she
Might slay him even beyond his doom, who spared
Not Ares' self, a mightier far than he.
No more the Trojans now abode the edge
Of fight, but all disheartened backward drew.
For like fierce ravening beasts the Argive men
Leapt on them, mad with murderous rage of war.
Choked with their slain the river-channels were,
Heaped was the field; in red dust thousands fell,
Horses and men; and chariots overturned
Were strewn there: blood was streaming all around
Like rain, for deadly Doom raged through the fray.
Men stabbed with swords, and men impaled on
Lay all confusedly, like scattered beams,
When on the strand of the low-thundering sea
Men from great girders of a tall ship's hull
Strike out the bolts and clamps, and scatter wide
Long planks and timbers, till the whole broad beach
Is paved with beams o'erplashed by darkling surge;
So lay in dust and blood those slaughtered men,
Rapture and pain of fight forgotten now.
A remnant from the pitiless strife escaped
Entered their stronghold, scarce eluding doom.
Children and wives from their limbs blood-besprent
Received their arms bedabbled with foul gore;
And baths for all were heated. Leeches ran
Through all the town in hot haste to the homes
Of wounded men to minister to their hurts.
Here wives and daughters moaned round men come back
From war, there cried on many who came not
Here, men stung to the soul by bitter pangs
Groaned upon beds of pain; there, toil-spent men
Turned them to supper. Whinnied the swift steeds
And neighed o'er mangers heaped. By tent and ship
Far off the Greeks did even as they of Troy.
When o'er the streams of Ocean Dawn drove up
Her splendour-flashing steeds, and earth's tribes
Then the strong Argives' battle-eager sons
Marched against Priam's city lofty-towered,
Save some that mid the tents by wounded men
Tarried, lest haply raiders on the ships
Might fall, to help the Trojans, while these fought
The foe from towers, while rose the flame of war.
Before the Scaean gate fought Capaneus' son
And godlike Diomedes. High above
Deiphobus battle-staunch and strong Polites
With many comrades, stoutly held them back
With arrows and huge stones. Clanged evermore
The smitten helms and shields that fenced strong
From bitter doom and unrelenting fate,
Before the Gate Idaean Achilles' son
Set in array the fight: around him toiled
His host of battle-cunning Myrmidons.
Helenus and Agenor gallant-souled,
Down-hailing darts, against them held the wall,
Aye cheering on their men. No spurring these
Needed to fight hard for their country's walls.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
But from Aeneas valiant-souled afar
Fought Aias, speeding midst the men of Troy
Winged death; for now his arrow straight through
Flew, now his deadly dart, and smote them down
One after one: yet others cowered away
Before his peerless prowess, and abode
The fight no more, but fenceless left the wall
Then one, of all the Locrians mightiest,
Fierce-souled Alcimedon, trusting in his prince
And his own might and valour of his youth,
All battle-eager on a ladder set
Swift feet, to pave for friends a death-strewn path
Into the town. Above his head he raised
The screening shield; up that dread path he
Hardening his heart from trembling, in his hand
Now shook the threatening spear, now upward climbed
Fast high in air he trod the perilous way.
Now on the Trojans had disaster come,
But, even as above the parapet
His head rose, and for the first time and the last
From her high rampart he looked down on Troy,
Aeneas, who had marked, albeit afar,
That bold assault, rushed on him, dashed on his
So huge a stone that the hero's mighty strength
Shattered the ladder. Down from on high he rushed
As arrow from the string: death followed him
As whirling round he fell; with air was blent
His lost life, ere he crashed to the stony ground.
Strong spear, broad shield, in mid fall flew from his
And from his head the helm: his corslet came
Alone with him to earth. The Locrian men
Groaned, seeing their champion quelled by evil doom;
For all his hair and all the stones around
Were brain-bespattered: all his bones were crushed,
And his once active limbs besprent with gore.
Then godlike Poeas' war-triumphant son
Marked where Aeneas stormed along the wall
In lion-like strength, and straightway shot a shaft
Aimed at that glorious hero, neither missed
The man: yet not through his unyielding targe
To the fair flesh it won, being turned aside
By Cytherea and the shield, but grazed
The buckler lightly: yet not all in vain
Fell earthward, but between the targe and helm
Smote Medon: from the tower he fell, as falls
A wild goat from a crag, the hunter's shaft
Deep in its heart: so nerveless-flung he fell,
And fled away from him the precious life.
Wroth for his friend, a stone Aeneas hurled,
And Philoctetes' stalwart comrade slew,
Toxaechmes; for he shattered his head and crushed
Helmet and skull-bones; and his noble heart
Was stilled. Loud shouted princely Poeas' son:
"Aeneas, thou, forsooth, dost deem thyself
A mighty champion, fighting from a tower
Whence craven women war with foes! Now if
Thou be a man, come forth without the wall
In battle-harness, and so learn to know
In spear-craft and in bow-craft Poeas' son!"
So cried he; but Anchises' valiant seed,
How fain soe'er, naught answered, for the stress
Of desperate conflict round that wall and burg
Ceaselessly raging: pause from fight was none:
Yea, for long time no respite had there been
For the war-weary from that endless toil.