METMORHOSES BOOK 12, TRANS. BY BROOKES MORE
EVENTS IN AULIS
 Sadly his father, Priam, mourned for him,
not knowing that young Aesacus had assumed
wings on his shoulders, and was yet alive.
Then also Hector with his brothers made
complete but unavailing sacrifice,
upon a tomb which bore his carved name.
Paris was absent. But soon afterwards,
he brought into that land a ravished wife,
Helen, the cause of a disastrous war,
together with a thousand ships, and all
the great Pelasgian nation.
not long have been delayed, but the fierce winds
raged over seas impassable, and held
the ships at fishy Aulis. They could not
be moved from the Boeotian land. Here, when
a sacrifice had been prepared to Jove,
according to the custom of their land,
and when the ancient altar glowed with fire,
the Greeks observed an azure colored snake
crawling up in a plane tree near the place
where they had just begun their sacrifice.
Among the highest branches was a nest,
with twice four birds—and those the serpent seized
together with the mother-bird as she
was fluttering round her loss. And every bird
the serpent buried in his greedy maw.
All stood amazed: but Calchas, who perceived
the truth, exclaimed, “Rejoice Pelasgian men,
for we shall conquer; Troy will fall; although
the toil of war must long continue—so
the nine birds equal nine long years of war.”
And while he prophesied, the serpent, coiled
about the tree, was transformed to a stone,
curled crooked as a snake.
 But Nereus stormed
in those Aonian waves, and not a ship
moved forward. Some declared that Neptune thus
was aiding Troy, because he built the walls
of that great city. Not so Calchas, son
of Thestor! He knew all the truth, and told
them plainly that a virgin's blood
alone might end a virgin goddess' wrath. The public good at last prevailed above
affection, and the duty of a king
at last proved stronger than a father's love:
when Iphigenia as a sacrifice,
stood by the altar with her weeping maids
and was about to offer her chaste blood,
the goddess, moved by pity, spread a mist
before their eyes, amid the sacred rites
and mournful supplications. It is said
she left a hind there in the maiden's place
and carried Iphigenia away. The hind,
as it was fitting, calmed Diana's rage
and also calmed the anger of the sea.
The thousand ships received the winds astern
and gained the Phrygian shore.
THE HOUSE OF FAME AND THE TROJAN CYGNUS
 There is a spot
convenient in the center of the world,
between the land and sea and the wide heavens,
the meeting of the threefold universe.
From there is seen all things that anywhere
exist, although in distant regions far;
and there all sounds of earth and space are heard.
Fame is possessor of this chosen place,
and has her habitation in a tower,
which aids her view from that exalted highs.
And she has fixed there numerous avenues,
and openings, a thousand, to her tower
and no gates with closed entrance, for the house
is open, night and day, of sounding brass,
reechoing the tones of every voice.
It must repeat whatever it may hear;
and there's no rest, and silence in no part.
There is no clamor; but the murmuring sound
of subdued voices, such as may arise
from waves of a far sea, which one may hear
who listens at a distance; or the sound
which ends a thunderclap, when Jupiter
has clashed black clouds together. Fickle crowds
are always in that hall, that come and go,
and myriad rumors—false tales mixed with true—are circulated in confusing words.
Some fill their empty ears with all this talk,
and some spread elsewhere all that's told to them.
The volume of wild fiction grows apace,
and each narrator adds to what he hears. Credulity is there and rash Mistake,
and empty Joy, and coward Fear alarmed
by quick Sedition, and soft Whisper—all
of doubtful life. Fame sees what things are done
in heaven and on the sea, and on the earth.
She spies all things in the wide universe.
 Fame now had spread the tidings, a great fleet
of Greek ships was at that time on its way,
an army of brave men. The Trojans stood,
all ready to prevent the hostile Greeks
from landing on their shores. By the decree
of Fate, the first man killed of the invaders' force
was strong Protesilaus, by the spear
of valiant Hector, whose unthought-of power
at that time was discovered by the Greeks
to their great cost. The Phyrgians also learned,
at no small cost of blood, what warlike strength
came from the Grecian land. The Sigean shores
grew red with death-blood: Cygnus, Neptune's son
there slew a thousand men: for which, in wrath,
Achilles pressed his rapid chariot
straight through the Trojan army; making a lane
with his great spear, shaped from a Pelion tree.
And as he sought through the fierce battle's press,
either for Cygnus or for Hector, he
met Cygnus and engaged at once with him
(Fate had preserved great Hector from such foe
till ten years from that day).
Cheering his steeds,
their white necks pressed upon the straining yoke,
he steered the chariot towards his foe,
and, brandishing the spear with his strong arm,
he cried, “Whoever you may be, you have
the consolation of a glorious death
you die by me, Haemonian Achilles!” His heavy spear flew after the fierce words.
Although the spear was whirled direct and true,
yet nothing it availed with sharpened point.
It only bruised, as with a blunted stroke,
the breast of Cygnus! “By report we knew
of you before this battle, goddess born.”
The other answered him, “But why are you
surprised that I escape the threatened wound?”
(Achilles was surprised). “This helmet crowned,
great with its tawny horse-hair, and this shield,
broad-hollowed, on my left arm, are not held
for help in war: they are but ornament,
as Mars wears armor. All of them shall be
put off, and I will fight with you unhurt.
It is a privilege that I was born
not as you, of a Nereid but of him
whose powerful rule is over Nereus,
his daughters and their ocean.” So, he spoke.
 Immediately he threw his spear against Achilles,
destined to pierce the curving shield through brass
and through nine folds of tough bull's hide.
It stopped there, for it could not pierce the tenth.
The hero wrenched it out, and hurled again
a quivering spear at Cygnus, with great strength.
The Trojan stood unwounded and unharmed.
Nor did a third spear injure Cygnus, though
he stood there with his body all exposed.
Achilles raged at this, as a wild bull
in open circus, when with dreadful horns
he butts against the hanging purple robes
which stir his wrath and there observes how they
evade him, quite unharmed by his attack. Achilles then examined his good spear,
to see if by some chance the iron point
was broken from it, but the point was firm,
fixed on the wooden shaft. “My hand is weak,”
he said, “but is it possible its strength
forsook me though it never has before?
For surely I had my accustomed strength,
when first I overthrew Lyrnessus' walls,
or when I won the isle of Tenedos
or Thebes (then under King Eetion)
and I drenched both with their own peoples' blood,
or when the river Caycus ran red
with slaughter of its people, or, when twice
Telephus felt the virtue of my spear.
On this field also, where such heaps lie slain,
my right hand surely has proved its true might;
and it is mighty.” So he spoke of strength,
 But as if in proof against
his own distrust, he hurled a spear against
Menoetes, a soldier in the Lycian ranks.
The sharp spear tore the victim's coat of mail
and pierced his breast beneath. Achilles, when
he saw his dying head strike on the earth
wrenched the same spear from out the reeking wound,
and said, “This is the hand, and this the spear
I conquered with; and I will use the same
against him who in luck escaped their power;
and the result should favor as I pray
the helpful gods.” And, as he said such words,
in haste he hurled his ashen spear, again
at Cygnus. It went straight and struck unshunned
Resounding on the shoulder of that foe,
it bounced back as if it hit a wall
or solid cliff. Yet when Achilles saw
just where the spear struck, Cygnus there
was stained with blood. He instantly rejoiced;
but vainly, for it was Menoetes' blood!
 Then in a sudden rage, Achilles leaped
down headlong from his lofty chariot;
and, seeking his god-favored foe, he struck
in conflict fiercely, with his gleaming sword.
Although he saw that he had pierced both shield
and helmet through, he did not harm the foe—his sword was even blunted on the flesh. Achilles could not hold himself for rage,
but furious, with his sword-hilt and his shield
he battered wildly the uncovered face
and hollow-temples of his Trojan foe.
Cygnus gave way; Achilles rushed on him,
buffeting fiercely, so that he could not
recover from the shock. Fear seized upon
Cygnus, and darkness swam before his eyes.
Then, as he moved back with retreating steps,
a large stone hindered him and blocked his way.
His back pushed against this, Achilles seized
and dashed him violently to the ground.
Then pressing with buckler and hard knees the breast
of Cygnus, he unlaced the helmet thongs,
wound them about the foeman's neck and drew
them tightly under his chin, till Cygnus' throat
could take no breath of life. Achilles rose
eager to strip his conquered foe but found
his empty armor, for the god of ocean
had changed the victim into that white bird
whose name he lately bore.
CAENEUS TRANSFORMED INTO A BIRD
 There was a truce
for many days after this opening fight
while both sides resting, laid aside their arms.
A watchful guard patroled the Phrygian walls;
the Grecian trenches had their watchful guard.
Then, on a festal day, Achilles gave
the blood of a slain heifer to obtain
the favor of Athena for their cause.
The entrails burned upon the altar, while
the odor, grateful to the deities,
was mounting to the skies. When sacred rites
were done, a banquet for the heroes was
served on their tables. There the Grecian chiefs
reclined on couches; while they satisfied
themselves with roasted flesh, and banished cares:
and thirst with wine. Nor harp nor singing voice
nor long pipe made of boxwood pierced with holes,
delighted them. They talked of their own deeds
and valor, all that thrilling night: and even
the strength of enemies whom they had met
and overcome. What else could they admit
or think of, while the great Achilles spoke
or listened to them? But especially
the recent victory over Cygnus held
them ardent. Wonderful it seemed to them
that such a youth could be composed of flesh
not penetrable by the sharpest spear;
of flesh which blunted even hardened steel,
and never could be wounded. All the Greeks,
and even Achilles wondered at the thought.
Then Nestor said to them: “During your time,
Cygnus has been the only man you knew
who could despise all weapons and whose flesh
could not be pierced by thrust of sword or spear.
But long ago I saw another man
able to bear unharmed a thousand strokes,
Caeneus of Thessaly, Caeneus who lived
upon Mt. Othrys. He was famed in war
yet, strange to say, by birth he was a woman!”
 Then all expressed the greatest wonderment,
and begged to hear the story of his life.
Achilles cried, “O eloquent old man!
The wisdom of our age! All of us wish
to hear, who was this Caeneus? Why was he
changed to the other sex? in what campaigns,
and in what wars was he so known to you?
Who conquered him, if any ever did?” The aged man replied to them with care:—“Although my great age is a harm to me,
and many actions of my early days
escape my memory; yet, most of them
are well remembered. Nothing of old days,
amid so many deeds of war and peace,
can be more firmly fixed upon my mind
than the strange story I shall tell of him. If long extent of years made anyone
a witness of most wonderful events
and many, truly I may say to you
that I have lived two hundred years; and now
have entered my third century.
 "The daughter of Elatus, Caenis, was
remarkable for charm—most beautiful
of all Thessalian maidens—many sighed
for her in vain through all the neighboring towns
and yours, Achilles, for that was her home.
But Peleus did not try to win her love,
for he was either married at that time
to your dear mother, or was pledged to her. Caenis never became the willing bride
of any suitor; but report declares,
while she was walking on a lonely shore,
the god of ocean saw and ravished her.
And in the joy of that love Neptune said,
`Request of me whatever you desire,
and nothing shall deny your dearest wish!’—the story tells us that he made this pledge.
And Caenis said to Neptune, `The great wrong,
which I have suffered from you justifies
the wonderful request that I must make;
I ask that I may never suffer such
an injury again. Grant I may be
no longer woman, and I'll ask no more.’ While she was speaking to him, the last words
of her strange prayer were uttered in so deep,
in such a manly tone, it seemed indeed
they must be from a man.—That was a fact:
Neptune not only had allowed her prayer
but made the new man proof against all wounds
of spear or sword. Rejoicing in the gift
he went his way as Caeneus Atracides,
spent years in every manful exercise,
and roamed the plains of northern Thessaly.
 “The son of bold Ixion, Pirithous
wedding Hippodame, had asked as guests
the cloud-born centaurs to recline around
the ordered tables, in a cool cave, set
under some shading trees. Thessalian chiefs
were there and I myself was with them there.
The festal place resounded with the rout
in noisy clamor, singing nuptial verse;
and in the great room, filled with smoking fire,
the maiden came escorted by a crowd
of matrons and young married women; she
most beautiful of all that lovely throng. And so Pirithous, the fortunate son,
of bold Ixion, was so praised by all,
for his pure joy and lovely wife,
it seemed his very blessings must have led
to fatal harm: for savage Eurytus,
wildest of the wild centaurs, now inflamed
with sudden envy, drunkenness, and lust,
upset the tables and made havoc there
so dreadful, that the banquet suddenly
was changed from love to uproar. Seized by the hair,
the bride was violently dragged away.
When Eurytus caught up Hippodame
each one of all the centaurs took at will
the maid or matron that he longed for most.
The palace, seeming like a captured town,
resounded with affrighted shrieks of women.
 "At once we all sprang up. And Theseus cried, `What madness, Eurytus, has driven you
to this vile wickedness! While I have life,
you dare attack Pirithous. You know
not what you do, for one wrong injures both!’
The valiant hero did not merely talk:
he pushed them off as they were pressing on,
and rescued her whom Eurytus had seized.
Since Eurytus could not defend such deeds
with words, he turned and beat with violent hands
the face of him who saved the bride and struck
his generous breast. By chance, an ancient bowl
was near at hand. This rough with figures carved,
the son of Aegeus caught and hurled it full
in that vile centaur's face. He, spouting out
thick gouts of blood, and bleeding from his wounds—his brains and wine mixed,—kicked the blood-soaked sand.
His double membered centaur brothers, wild
with passion at his death, all shouted out,
`To arms! to arms!’ Their courage raised by wine!
In their first onset, hurled cups flew about,
and shattered wine casks, hollow basins— things
before adapted to a banquet, now
for death and carnage in the furious fight.
 "Amycus first (Opinion's son) began to spoil
the inner sanctuary of its gifts.
He snatched up from that shrine a chandelier,
adorned with glittering lamps, and lifted high,
with all the force of one who strives to break
the bull s white neck with sacrificial axe,
he dashed it at the head of Celadon,
one of the Lapithae, and crushed his skull
into the features of his face. His eyes
leaped from his sockets, and the shattered bones
of his smashed face gave way so that his nose
was driven back and fastened in his throat.
But Belates of Pella tore away
a table-leg of maple wood and felled
Amycus to the ground; his sunken chin
cast down upon his breast; and, as he spat
his teeth out mixed with blood, a second blow
despatched him to the shades of Tartarus.
 "Gryneus, seeing a smoking altar, cried,
`Good use for this,’ with which words he raised up
that heavy, blazing altar. Hurling it
into the middle of the Lapithae,
he struck down Broteas and Orius:
Mycale, mother of that Orius,
was famous for her incantations,
which she had often used to conjure down
the shining twin-horns of the unwilling moon.
Exadius threatened, `You shall not escape!
Let me but have a weapon!’ And with that,
he whirled the antlers of a votive stag,
which he found there, hung on a tall pine-tree;
and with that double-branching horn he pierced
the eyes of Gryneus, and he gouged them out.
One eye stuck to the horn; the other rolled
down on his beard, to which it strictly clung
in dreadful clotted gore.
 "Then Rhoetus snatched
a blazing brand of plum-wood from an altar
and whirling it upon the right, smashed through
the temples of Charaxus, wonderful
with golden hair. Seized by the violent flames,
his yellow locks burned fiercely, as a field
of autumn grain; and even the scorching blood
gave from the sore wound a terrific noise
as a red-hot iron in pincers which the smith
lifts out and plunges in the tepid pool,
hissing and sizzling. Charaxus shook
the fire from his burnt locks; and heaved up on
his shoulders a large threshold stone torn from
the ground—a weight sufficient for a team
of oxen. The vast weight impeded him,
so that it could not even touch his foe—and yet, the massive stone did hit his friend,
Cometes, who was standing near to him,
and crushed him down. Then Rhoetus, crazed with joy,
exulting yelled, `I pray that all of you
may be so strong!’ Wielding his half-burnt stake
with heavy blows again and again, he broke
the sutures of his enemy's skull, until
the bones were mingled with his oozing brains.
 "Victorious, then rushed he upon Evagrus,
and Corythus and Dryas. First of these
was youthful Corythus, whose cheeks were then
just covered with soft down. When he fell dead,
Evagrus cried, `What glory do you get,
killing a boy?’ But Rhoetus did not give
him time for uttering one word more. He pushed
the red hot stake into the foeman's mouth,
while he still spoke, and down into his lungs.
He then pursued the savage Dryas, while
whirling the red fire fast about his head;
but not with like success, for, while he still
rejoiced in killings, Dryas turned and pierced
him with a stake where neck and shoulder meet. Rhoetus groaned and with a great effort pulled
the stake out from the bone, then fled away,
drenched in his blood. And Orneus followed him.
Lycabas fled, and Medon with a wound
in his right shoulder. Thaumas and Pisenor
and Mermerus fled with them. Mermerus,
who used to excell all others in a race,
ran slowly, crippled by a recent wound.
Pholus and Melaneus ran for their lives
and with them Abas, hunter of wild boars
and Asbolus, the augur, who in vain
had urged his friends to shun that hapless fight.
As Nessus joined the rout, he said to him, `You need not flee, for you shall be reserved
a victim for the bow of Hercules!’ But neither Lycidas, Eurynomus
nor Areos, nor Imbreus had escaped
from death: for all of these the strong right hand
of Dryas pierced, as they confronted him.
Crenaeus there received a wound in front.
Although he turned in flight, as he looked back,
a heavy javelin between his eyes
pierced through him, where his nose and forehead joined.
 “In all this uproar, Aphidas lay flat,
in endless slumber from the wine he drank,
incessant, and his nerveless hand still held
the cup of mixed wine, as he lay full stretched,
upon a shaggy bear-skin from Mount Ossa.
When Phorbas saw him, harmless in that sleep,
he laid his fingers in his javelin's thong,
and shouted loudly, `Mix your wine, down there,
with waters of the Styx!’ And stopping talk,
let fly his javelin at the sleeping youth—the ashen shaft, iron-tipped, was driven through
his neck, exposed, as he by chance lay there—his head thrown back. He did not even feel
a touch of death—and from his deep-pierced throat
his crimson blood flowed out upon the couch,
and in the wine-bowl still grasped in his hand.
 "I saw Petraeus when he strove to tear
up from the earth, an acorn-bearing oak.
And, while he struggled with it, back and forth,
and was just ready to wrench up the trunk,
Pirithous hurled a well aimed spear at him,
transfixed his ribs, and pinned his body tight,
writhing, to that hard oak: and Lycus fell
and Chromis fell, before Pirithous. They gave less glory to the conqueror
than Helops or than Dictys. Helops was
killed by a javelin, which pierced his temples
from the right side, clear through to his left ear.
And Dictys, running in a desperate haste,
hoping in vain, to escape Ixion's son,
slipped on the steep edge of a precipice;
and, as he fell down headlong crashed into
the top of a huge ash-tree, which impaled
his dying body on its broken spikes.
 "Aphareus, eager to avenge him tried
to lift a rock from that steep mountain side;
but as he heaved, the son of Aegeus struck
him squarely with an oaken club; and smashed,
and broke the huge bones of that centaur's arm.
He has no time, and does not want to give
that useless foe to death. He leaps upon
the back of tall Bienor, never trained
to carry riders, and he fixed his knees
firm in the centaur's ribs, and holding tight
to the long hair, seized by his left hand, struck
and shattered the hard features and fierce face
and bony temples with his club of gnarled
strong oak. And with it, he struck to the ground
Nedymnus and Lycopes, dart expert,
and Hippasus, whose beard hid all his breast.
And Rhipheus taller than the highest trees
and Thereus, who would carry home alive
the raging bears, caught in Thessalian hills. Demoleon could no longer stand and look
on Theseus and his unrestrained success.
He struggled with vast effort to tear up
an old pine, trunk and all, with its long roots,
and, failing shortly in that first attempt,
he broke it off and hurled it at his foe.
But Theseus saw the pine tree in its flight
and, warned by Pallas, got beyond its range—his boast was, Pallas had directed him!
And yet, the missle was not launched in vain.
It sheared the left shoulder and the breast
from tall Crantor. He, Achilles, was
your father's armor bearer and was given
by King Amyntor, when he sued for peace.
 "When Peleus at a distance saw him torn
and mangled, he exclaimed, `At least receive
this sacrifice, O Crantor! most beloved!
Dearest of young men!’ And with sturdy arm
and all his strength of soul as well, he hurled
his ashen lance against Demoleon,
which piercing through his shivered ribs, hung there
and quivered in the bones. The centaur wrenched
the wooden shaft out, with his frenzied hands,
but could not move the pointed head, which stuck
within his lungs. His very anguish gave
him such a desperation, that he rose
against his foe and trampled and beat down
the hero with his hoofs, Peleus allowed
the blows to fall on helm and ringing shield.
Protected so, he watched his time and thrust
up through the centaur's shoulder. By one stroke
he pierced two breasts, where horse and man-form met. Before this, Peleus with the spear had killed
both Myles and Phlegraeus and with the sword
Iphinous and Clanis. Now he killed
Dorylas, who was clad in a wolfskin cap
and fought with curving bull's horns dripping blood.
 "To him I said, for courage gave me strength,
`Your horns! how much inferior to my steel!’ --
and threw my spear. Since he could not avoid
the gleaming point, he held up his right hand
to shield his forehead from the threatened wound.
His hand was pierced and pinned against his forehead.
He shouted madly. Peleus, near him while
he stood there pinned and helpless with his wound,
struck him with sharp sword in the belly deep.
He leaped forth fiercely, as he trailed his bowels
upon the ground, with his entangled legs
treading upon them, bursting them, he fell
with empty belly, lifeless to the earth.
 "Cyllarus, beauty did not save your life—if beauty is in any of your tribe—your golden beard was in its early growth,
your golden hair came flowing to your shoulders.
in your bright face there was a pleasing glance.
The neck and shoulders and the hands and breast:
and every aspect of his human form
resembled those admired statues which
our gifted artists carve. Even the shape
of the fine horse beneath the human form
was perfect too. Give him the head and neck
of a full-blooded horse, and he would seem
a steed for Castor, for his back was shaped
so comfortable to be sat upon
and muscle swelled upon his arching chest.
His lustrous body was as black as pitch,
and yet his legs and flowing tail
were white as snow. Many a female of his kind
loved him, but only Hylonome gained
his love. There was no other centaur maid
so beautiful as she within the woods.
By coaxing ways she had won Cyllarus,
by loving and confessing love. By daintiness,
so far as that was possible in one
of such a form, she held his love; for now
she smoothed her long locks with a comb; and now
she decked herself with rosemary and now
with violets or with roses in her hair;
and sometimes she wore lilies, white as snow;
and twice each day she bathed her lovely face,
in the sweet stream that falls down from the height
of wooded Pagasa; and daily, twice
she dipped her body in the stream. She wore
upon her shoulders and left side a skin,
greatly becoming, of selected worth. Their love was equal, and together they
would wander over mountain-sides, and rest
together in cool caves; and so it was,
they went together to that palace-cave,
known to the Lapithae. Together they
fought fiercely in this battle, side by side.
Thrown by an unknown hand, a javelin pierced
Cyllarus, just below the fatal spot
where the chest rises to the neck—his heart,
though only slightly wounded, grew quite cold,
and his whole body felt cold, afterwards,
as quickly as the weapon was drawn out.
Then Hylonome held in her embrace
the dying body; fondled the dread wound
and, fixing her lips closely to his lips
endeavored to hold back his dying breath.
But soon she saw that he indeed was dead.
With mourning words, which clamor of the fight
prevented me from hearing, she threw herself
on the spear that pierced her Cyllarus and fell
upon his breast, embracing him in death.
 “Another sight still comes before my eyes,
the centaur Phaeocomes with his log.
He wore six lion skins well wrapped around
his body, and with fixed connecting knots
they covered him, both horse and man. He hurled
a trunk two yokes of oxen scarce could move
and struck the hapless son of Olenus
a crushing blow upon the head. The broad
round dome was shattered, and his dying brains
oozed out through hollow nostrils, mouth, and ears,
as curdled milk seeps down through oaken twigs;
or other liquors, crushed out under weights,
flow through a well-pierced sieve and, thick,
squeeze out through numerous holes. As he began
to spoil his victim—and your father can
affirm the truth of this—I thrust my sword
deep in the wretch's groin. Chthonius, too,
and Teleboas fell there by my sword.
The former had a two-pronged stick as his
sole weapon, and the other had a spear,
with which the wounded me. You see the scar.
The old scar still is surely visible! Those were my days of youth and strength, and then
I ought to have warred against the citadel
of Pergama. I could have checked, or even
vanquished, the arms of Hector: but, alas,
Hector had not been born, or was perhaps
a boy. Old age has dulled my youthful strength.
What use is it, to speak of Periphas,
who overcame Pyretus, double-formed?
Why tell of Ampyx, who with pointless shaft,
victorious thrust Echeclus through the face?
Macareus, hurling a heavy crowbar pierced
Erigdupus and laid him low.
A hunting spear that Nessus strongly hurled,
was buried in the groin of Cymelus.
Do not believe that Mopsus, son of Ampycus,
was merely a prophet of events to come,
he slew a daring two-formed monster there.
Hodites tried in vain to speak, before
his death, but could not, for his tongue was nailed
against his chin, his chin against his throat.
 "Five of the centaurs Caeneus put to death:
Styphelus, Bromus, and Antimachus,
Elymus, and Pyracmos with his axe.
I have forgot their wounds but noted well
their names and number. Latreus, huge of limb,
had killed and stripped Emathian Halesus.
Now in his armor he came rushing out,
in years he was between old age and youth;
but he retained the vigor of his youth;
his temples showed his hair was mixed with grey.
Conspicuous for his Macedonian lance
and sword and shield, facing both sides -- each way,
he insolently clashed his arms; and while
he rode poured out these words in empty air. `Shall I put up with one like you, O Caeneus?
For you are still a woman in my sight.
Have you forgot your birth or that disgrace
by which you won reward—at what a price
you got the false resemblance to a man?!
Consider both your birth, and what you have
submitted to! Take up a distaff, and
wool basket! Twist your threads with practiced thumb!
Leave warfare to your men!’ While puffed-up pride
was vaunting out such nonsense, Caeneus hurled
a spear and pierced the stretched out running side,
just where the man was joined upon the horse. The Centaur, Latreus, raved with pain and struck
with his great pike, the face of Caeneus.
His pike rebounded as the hail that slants
up from the roof; or as a pebble might
rebound from hollow drum. Then coming near,
he tried to drive a sword into the hard side
of Caeneus, but it could not make a wound.
‘Aha!’ he cried, ‘this will not get you off.
The good edge of my sword will take your life,
although the point is blunt!’ He turned the edge
against the flank of Caeneus and swung round
the hero's loins with his long, curving arm.
The flesh resounded like a marble block,
the keen blade shattered on the unyielding skin. And, after Caeneus had exposed his limbs
unhurt to Latreus, who stood there amazed,
`Come now,’ he said, `and let us try my steel
against your body!’ And, clear to the hilt,
down through the monster's shoulder-blade he plunged
his deadly sword and, turning it again,
deep in the Centaur's entrails, made new wounds
within his wound.
 "Then, quite beside themselves,
the double-natured monsters rushed against
that single-handed youth with huge uproar,
and thrust and hurled their weapons all at him.
Their blunted weapons fell and he remained
unharmed and without even a mark. That strange sight left them speechless. `Oh what shame!’
at length cried Monychus, `Our mighty host,—a nation of us, are defeated and defied
by one who hardly is a man. Although
indeed, he is a man, and we have proved,
by our weak actions, we are certainly
what he was! Shame on us! Oh, what if we
have twofold strength, of what avail our huge
and mighty limbs, doubly united in
the strongest, hugest bodies in this world?
And how can I believe that we were born
of any goddess? It is surely vain
to claim descent of great Ixion, who
high-souled, sought Juno for his mighty mate;
imagine it, while we are conquered by
an enemy, who is but half a man!
Wake up! and let us heap tree-trunks and stones
and mountains on him! Crush his stubborn life!
Let forests smother him to death! Their weight
will be as deadly as a hundred wounds!’ While he was raving, by some chance he found
a tree thrown down there by the boisterous wind:
example to the rest, he threw that tree
against the powerful foe; and in short time
Othrys was bare of trees, and Pelion had no shade
Buried under that mountainous forest heap,
Caeneus heaved up against the weight of oaks
upon his brawny shoulders piled. But, as
the load increased above his face and head,
he could not draw a breath. Gasping for life,
he strove to lift his head into the air,
and sometimes he convulsed the towering mass,
as if great Ida, now before our eyes,
should tremble with some heaving of the earth.
 "What happened to him could not well be known.
Some thought his body was borne down by weight
into the vast expanse of Tartarus.
The son of Ampycus did not agree,
for from the middle of the pile we saw
a bird with golden wings mount high in air.
Before or since, I never saw the like. When Mopsus was aware of that bird's flight—it circled round the camp on rustling wings—with eyes and mind he followed it and shouted aloud: `Hail, glory of the Lapithaean race,
their greatest hero, now a bird unique!’
and we believed the verdict of the seer. Our grief increased resentment, and we bore
it with disgust that one was overwhelmed
by such a multitude. Then in revenge
we plied our swords, till half our foes were dead,
and only flight and darkness saved the rest.”
PERICLYMENUS IN COMBAT WITH HERCULES
 Nestor had hardly told this marvellous tale
of bitter strife betwixt the Lapithae
and those half-human, vanquished Centaurs, when
Tlepolemus, incensed because no word
of praise was given to Hercules, replied
in this way; “Old sir, it is very strange,
you have neglected to say one good word
in praise of Hercules. My father told
me often, that he overcame in battle
those cloud born centaurs.” Nestor, very loth,
replied, “Why force me to recall old wrongs,
to uncover sorrow buried by the years,
that made me hate your father? It is true
his deeds were wonderful beyond belief,
heaven knows, and filled the earth with well earned praise
which I should rather wish might be denied.
Deiphobus, the wise Polydamas, and even
great Hector get no praise from me.
Your father, I recall once overthrew
Messene's walls and with no cause destroyed
Elis and Pylos and with fire and sword
ruined my own loved home. I cannot name
all whom he killed. But there were twelve of us,
the sons of Neleus and all warrior youths,
and all those twelve but me alone he killed.
Ten of them met the common fate of war,
but sadder was the death of Periclymenus.
 “Neptune, the founder of my family,
had granted him a power to assume
whatever shape he chose, and when he wished
to lay that shape aside. When he, in vain,
had been transformed to many other shapes
he turned into the form of that bird, which
is wont to carry in his crooked talons
the forked lightnings, favorite bird of Jove.
With wings and crooked bill and sharp-hooked talons,
he assailed and tore the face of Hercules.
But, when he soared away on eagle wings
up to the clouds and hovered, poised in air,
that hero aimed his too unerring bow
and hit him where the new wing joined his side.
The wound was not large, but his sinews cut
failed to uphold him, and denied his wings
their strength and motion. He fell down to earth;
his weakened pinions could not catch the air.
And the sharp arrow, which had lightly pierced
the wing, was driven upward through the side
into the left part of my brother's neck. O noble leader of the Rhodian fleet,
why should I sing the praise of Hercules?
But for my brothers I take no revenge
except withholding praise of his great deeds.
With you, my friendship will remain secure.” When Nestor with his honied tongue had told
these tales of old, they all took wine again
and they arose and gave the night to sleep.
THE DEATH OF ACHILLES
 But Neptune, who commands the ocean waves,
lamented with a father's grief his son,
whose person he had changed into a bird—the swan of Phaethon, and towards Achilles,
grim victor in the fight, his lasting hate
made him pursue resentment far beyond
the ordinary manner of the gods.
After nine years of war he spoke these words,
addressing long haired Sminthean Apollo:
“O nephew the most dear to me of all
my brother's sons, with me you built in vain
the walls of Troy: you must be lost in grief,
when you look on those towers so soon to fall?
Or do you not lament the multitudes
slain in defence of them—To name but one: Does not the ghost of Hector, dragged around
his Pergama, appear to you? And yet
the fierce Achilles, who is bloodstained more
than slaughtering war, lives on this earth,
for the destruction of our toil. Let him
once get into my power, and I will make
him feel the action of my triple spear.
But, since I may not meet him face to face,
do you with sudden arrow give him death.” The Delian god, Apollo, gave assent,
both for his own hate and his uncle's rage.
Veiled in a cloud, he found the Trojan host
and, there, while bloody strife went on, he saw
the hero Paris shoot at intervals
his arrows at the nameless host of Greeks.
Revealing his divinity, he said:
“Why spend your arrows on the common men
if you would serve your people, take good aim
at great Achilles and at last avenge
your hapless brothers whom he gave to death.” He pointed out Achilles—laying low
the Trojan warriors with his mighty spear.
On him he turned the Trojan's willing bow
and guided with his hand the fatal shaft.
It was the first joy that old Priam knew
since Hector's death. So then Achilles you,
who overcame the mighty, were subdued
by a coward who seduced a Grecian wife!
Ah, if you could not die by manly hands,
your choice had been the axe.
 Now that great terror of the Trojan race,
the glory and defence of the Pelasgians,
Achilles, first in war, lay on the pyre.
The god of Fire first armed, then burned, his limbs.
And now he is but ashes; and of him, so great,
renowned and mighty, but a pitiful
handful of small dust insufficient for
a little urn! But all his glory lives
enough to fill the world—a great reward.
And in that glory is his real life:
in a true sense he will never know the void
of Tartarus. But soon his very shield—that men might know to whom it had belonged—brings war, and arms are taken for his arms.
Neither Diomed nor Ajax called the less
ventured to claim the hero's mighty shield.
Menelaus and other warlike chiefs,
even Agamemnon, all withdrew their claims.
Only the greater Ajax and Ulysses
had such assurance that they dared contest
for that great prize. Then Agamemnon chose
to avoid the odium of preferring one.
He bade the Argolic chieftains take their seats
within the camp and left to all of them
the hearing and decision of the cause.